Category Archives: Places to eat in Toronto

What Toronto Foodies Say About Charcoal Ice Cream

You are scrolling through Instagram when your thumb stops on a foodie’s photo.

toronto best ice cream queen street

“Charcoal ice cream?!”

You NEED to know more.

4 things to know about charcoal ice cream:

1. Is there really charcoal in it?

Pioneering Toronto shop Ihalo Krunch buys real charcoal in powder form at a “special health food store in the city” and infuses it into simple soft serve ice cream. On its own, active charcoal tastes chalky. However, when mixed with another flavour such as coconut or vanilla, the chalky taste becomes muted, and makes for a smooth tasting experience.

2. Could ice cream now be magically healthy?

Active charcoal is said to provide many health benefits such as teeth whitening, gas relief, and detoxification. While it’s not scientifically proven that eating charcoal ice cream produces the same effects, it is proven to turn your teeth and tongue black!

charcoal ice cream toronto iHalo Krunch

 

3. Is it worth the hype?

Many complain about the obnoxious lines, high price point, its quick melting messy nature and underwhelming flavour:

Ihalo Krunch Instagram

However, others have fallen for the new taste, beautiful aesthetic, and subtle not so sweet flavour:

4. Where to get your charcoal fix.

Ihalo Krunch opened on June 17, 2017 (across from Trinity Bellwoods Park at 915 Queen Street West) giving Toronto its first taste of charcoal and instantly Toronto’s hottest new food trend was born. Lineups for their black on black (charcoal ice cream served in their house made charcoal waffle cone $6.50) have been steady since.

Others businesses have quickly jumped on the trend adding their own touch:

Wooffles & Cream serves charcoal ice cream with sprinkles and an egg waffle skewer.

Millie Café offers a wide variety of charcoal desserts such as their Stardust Crepe Cake.

CutiePie Cupcakes offers charcoal dipped cones to go along with their vanilla or champagne-flavoured ice cream.

Light Café in Baldwin Village makes charcoal infused waffles topped with a house made black sesame sauce.

Bake Code in North York makes charcoal croissants filled with a variety of fillings such as Matcha, Thai Milk Tea, Roasted Milk Tea, and Earl Grey.

Is charcoal ice cream this summer’s must-try or is it a pass? 

Has Banh Mi Boys Lost Its Way?

Ever since Banh Mi Boys boldly entered Toronto’s food scene at the end of 2011, offering a twist on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich only blocks away from the city’s best banh mi in Chinatown, the three Chau brothers (owners) have become the city’s undisputed banh mi kings.

With rave reviews and lines of customers, the brothers expanded to capture the demand for their fresh, flavourful and cheap creations. Along with two new locations has come an unexpected compromise in flavour and quality for many customers.

Banh Mi Boys Review

Dry meat, overcooked meat, too much salt, bland flavour, poor quality meat and cold bao buns are some of the apparent results of the expansions, not to mention this Yelper who received no meat in their sandwich.

Banh Mi Boys Blog RevieSomething has been missing at Banh Mi Boys

Consistent quality is a common challenge for expanding restaurants

Richard Mulley, owner of Rashers who recently expanded to Ossington Ave, says “the key to consistency between restaurants is well-trained staff and not jumping the gun on opening new locations.”

Konrad Droeske, co-owner of Otto’s Berlin Döner, is planning to open a second location and “will centralize the prep work between restaurants and train the team extremely well” to address the challenges of maintaining consistent food quality and customer experience.

RELATED: Burger’s Priest had major challenges when it first expanded.

With so many new Toronto sandwich shops popping up, Toronto foodies have more options than ever. Lets see if the brothers can turn things around.

Banh Mi Boys did not respond to our interview request.

Sneaky Dee’s Unveils New Nacho Creation

Sneaky Dee’s has been a cultural staple for decades, and became Toronto’s go-to spot for sharing a massive plate of nachos with friends along the way (if you’re Drake you phone-in pickup).

Could there be greater bragging rights amongst your friends, than having that shared plate of nachos named after you?

Sneakys

“Northern Blues Nachos”  named after a song on long-time customer, and musician Dallas Green’s latest album, feature house-made tortilla chips and mounds of toppings: Diced steak, bacon, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, mixed peppers, green onions, jalapenos and Dine Alone Foods Northern Soul BBQ sauce ($22.50).

What Toronto food creation do you want named after you?

Tacos are Dead, Try these Instead

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but Toronto’s taco party has come to an end.

While we still love the endless possibilities of Mexican cuisine, Taquerias like the Anthony Bourdain praised Agave Y Aguacate have closed, the line at Grand Electric has disappeared and Playa Cabana’s new venture was empty on a recent Friday night.

Toronto’s craving for tacos is currently satisfied.

What could follow the great taco craze?

Could it be the sweet n’ spicy empanada? Or perhaps the gluten-free arepa?

Don’t think too hard, the answer is simple as… the sandwich.

Sandwiches? Really?

Yes. Really. But no, not a simple back-to-basics ham and cheese renaissance.

ChefRobChef Rob Bragagnolo puts the final touches on a roast chicken focaccia  

Chefs are changing the sandwich

Toronto chefs are using the sandwich as a canvas to change what you think a sandwich should be.

Specialized sandwich spots including La Cubana, Flock, Rashers, Caplansky’s and Porchetta & Co have all recently expanded anticipating new demand.

Exciting new sandwich spots are also popping up, and worth the visit.

5 best new sandwich shops:

#1 Torteria San Cosme, 181 Baldwin Street.

SanCosThe massive Yucatan pulled pork sandwich – $10.50

There’s no better symbol for the end of the taco craze than at this Kensington Market Torteria. Why? Because it’s a Mexican restaurant that only sells sandwiches. No Tortillas, just traditional Mexican street style sandwiches. Options include:  Smoked ham, pulled pork, steak, mole chicken and sides like corn on the cob with lime, crema, cheese and chilis.

#2 Teara Lab, 181 College Street.

TearoJapanese soy glazed pork belly sandwich – $10

Offering truly unique Japanese fusion sandwiches, this U of T spot is unlike anything we’ve tried before. Big Japanese flavours await you with menu items like the soy glazed pork belly sandwich and the yuzu teriyaki fish burger.

#3 Carver, 101 Peter Street.

Carver

Chef Rob Braganolo (Marben) does two roasted meats: porchetta and chicken. The focus is on using quality ingredients on par with high-end restaurants, but in a fast food format and price. Don’t expect to sit down; there are stand up tables for a quick bite, but most take a fluffy focaccia sandwich to go.

#4 Fresh Off The Boat 404 Queen Street West.

FOBFresh and crispy whole softshell crab sandwich – $16

While this seafood sandwich shop will satisfy your craving for classics like lobster rolls and softshell crab sandwiches, they are attracting regulars with The FOB which features battered catfish, kimchi, and chili aioli on a baguette. The clever Asian twist on classic seafood makes this place a Queen West must try.

#5 Brock Sandwich, 1260 Bloor Street.  

BrockMenyy

The lineup of sandwiches includes fan favourites like the chicken piri piri, and the new must-try shrimp and squid po boys. This tiny Bloordale spot also features vegan options including a crispy fennel sandwich as well as constantly changing specials such as a Mexican steak sandwich (shown in lead image).

Pick a sandwich shop, tag your taco-obsessed friend and be ready to re-imagine what you think a sandwich should be. 

New Summer Treats Shop in Kensington Market

Toronto’s top taco shop has just kicked off summer in the best possible way.

SevenOutside

Serving up new twists on classic Mexican and Californian frozen treats, Seven Lives Paleteria might be your new stop on a sunny day.

Forget the chocolate covered, cookie crusted, marshmallow topped ice cream you’ve come to love, and welcome fresh fruit with sweet and sour flavour combinations.

Owner Sean Riehl excitedly tells us about his “Mangonadas”. They combine mango soft serve with a fruity, sweet, sour and spicy syrup topped with a tamarind straw for a one-of-a-kind flavour.

SevenMango

       A “Mangonada” ($5) one of the many frozen treats at Seven Lives Paleteria

There is also a wide selection of paletas (Mexican style popsicles), perfect to accompany you on a stroll through Kensington Market. Located at 72 Kensington Ave across the street from Seven Lives Tacos. Hours: Noon-10pm.

SevenPaletta

Be the first of your friends to taste these frozen creations and let us know your thoughts below. 

Meet Toronto’s Sweet n’ Spicy Empanada Mama

1986 was the year Irene Morales left Santiago, Chile for Toronto.

Upon arrival she started  experimenting with Southern Chilean spices underground (her basement) to ready herself for Toronto’s street food scene.

EmpanadaMama

Toronto street food originator Irene Morales

In 1991, Irene was finally ready to bring her Chilean inspired creations from the basement to the streets.

She rented a tiny cart, setup right on Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market, and started selling empanadas. Her style of sweet n’ spicy consistently delivered, and public attention led to a permanent eatery on Augusta Ave, close to where she currently operates Jumbo Empanadas.

jumboempanadaJumbo Empanadas has operated at 245 Augusta Ave since 1999

Irene’s oven-gilded jumbo empanadas ($4.50) are served with a small sampling of her flavoursome house made salsa (can be bought in larger sizes for take home).

RELATED: Irene and her empanadas were part of the inaugural CraveTO event in 2013.

jumboempanada_12 (2)Jumbo empanadas come in chicken, beef or vegetable

 

jumboempanada_4A small variety of Chilean wines are also available by the glass at Irene’s counter service eatery