Victoria day weekend provided an opportunity for me to visit some family, see a show (Conan O’Brien to be specific…it was AWESOME), and try some of Toronto’s popular foods. This visit, I was particularly interested in the late night eats. I wanted to sample some noodles, perhaps a shawarma, or even a good slice of pizza. I stayed around Bay and Queen West, which is a pretty popular area and is only a couple minute walk away from downtown core. Since bars and clubs in Toronto stop serving alcohol at 2:00am and close at 3:00am, I figured there has to be a plethora of places for people to eat. What I found was quite surprising.
First off, most food places in the area close around 11:00pm, leaving many stranded for some quality food. What’s left are a couple pizza places that are either popular chains or individual ones that look greasy and far form appetizing, and a handful of Lebanese style restos that look good, but really nothing special. Secondly, what I think is the best part of the late night food scene is clearly something you can’t miss: street meat.
Street meat includes hot dogs (beef, chicken, veggie), a wide variety of sausages (Polish, spicy Italian, German), fries, and poutine. I was a little taken back to see poutine on the menus, but who cares, as long as it’s done right which looked like it was. I chose not to taste it since the hot dogs looked plentiful at the time.
The hot dogs are first steamed, then placed on a little grill creating a great crispy snap with every bite. The toasted challah buns added some sweet flavor, complimenting the juicy dog, and held up to all the accoutrements. At every stand, there is a large selection of toppings: ketchup, mustard (regular, honey, dijon), relish, bbq sauce, mayo, coleslaw, hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions, etc. Many may find it a little gross to add some communal toppings, but I feel it is all part of the experience, so no hesitation was made. I enjoyed every bite. It felt like I was eating something that was so wrong yet so right. I was a happy man.
Toronto’s street meat is fantastic, but I was a little disappointed with the lack of variety of street foods late at night. There are some good spots to chow down at, but the locations are too spread out. This weekend made realize how lucky Montrealers are to have a wide variety of late night foods to eat at in a relatively small area. As much as I love our late night pickings, I do wish we had some street meat to go along with it.