Hail to the ‘Dale

gatefishPeople don’t really think of Parkdale as being a foodie paradise. And yes, if you’re looking for high-end health food items, organic meat or artisanal bread or cheese, you’d be mostly out of luck. But as one of the most multi-cultural neighbours in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, we’ve got a lot of variety working in our favour.

Most folks tend to think of the ‘Dale as a low-end neighbourhood full of nothing but greasy spoons and burger joints. For sure, we’ve got two of the best. The Gate (1206 King Street West) sits at the corner of King and Dufferin and offers up filling breakfast, burgers and some damn fine fish and chips. Peggy, the waitress who’s been working the tables here since the late 60s when she came to Toronto to be a go-go dancer, tells regulars to help themselves to coffee. Further west along Queen, The Skyline (1402 Queen Street West) is about as retro as you can get in terms of diners, with that famous neon sign out front, and fast and efficient service inside from the flurry of activity that is Doris, once voted “best waitress in Toronto”. Other places that serve up a mean burger or all-day breakfast includes Harry’s Burgers (160 Springhurst Avenue) and Stavros (1530 Queen Street West).

Continue reading “Hail to the ‘Dale”

Who You Calling Cupcake?


As I mentioned last week when discussing sandwiches, there are a number of food trends that have taken off south of the border that just never got a footing here. Cupcake bakeries or boutiques – shops dedicated solely to cupcakes – is one of those trends that seems to have passed us by.

It looked like Toronto might ride the waves of buttercream frosting when The Cupcake Shoppe opened a few years ago, but no real competition stepped up. Sure there were plenty of bakeries that started offering the tasty treats in addition to their regular selection of pastries, but none willing to deal exclusively in the little, sweetly decorated cakes.

Which leaves anyone jonesing for a cupcake fix with no choice but to run around searching for good ones. Because not all cupcakes are created equal.

Continue reading “Who You Calling Cupcake?”

‘Wich Hunt


It’s fairly common knowledge that if you want to make money in the restaurant industry, you don’t open some high end joint specializing in truffles and caviar and lobster and champagne. Oh, sure, those places do well, but for most people who have mortgages and kids and car payments, $200 meals are for special occasions only, if at all. The smart restaurateur knows that the real money is in the small bills; coffee, muffins, and of course, sandwiches.

Since 1762, when the 4th Earl of Sandwich had his cook slap together a piece of meat between two slices of bread so he could eat while continuing at his card game, the sandwich has been known as a cheap, easy and filling meal. And in the restaurant biz, a repeat customer who buys an $8 sandwich and salad combo three times every week brings in far more revenue than someone splurging on that $200 meal once a year for a special occasion. Plus, the average sandwich shop, where most customers take their food to go, can serve considerably more diners per meal than a high-end restaurant with only 30 seats and a maximum of one turnover per service.

Continue reading “‘Wich Hunt”