Mediterranean cuisine hails some of the tastiest dishes on the planet. A breakfast shakshouka, warm pita dipped in labneh, iskander, Turkish tea…the list goes on and on. Thank the heavens that Hogtown has jumped on the bandwagon, giving birth to a number of establishments to satisfy our cravings. And for those who have traveled and tasted the goods firsthand, I’m sure you’ll agree that Toronto does Mediterranean food justice.
Byblos is the restaurant that all dreams were made of. Beyond the swanky and luxe décor featuring elaborate lighting fixtures, wooden chairs and leather booths, it serves up some of the best Lebanese, Israeli, Moroccan and Greek-inspired cuisine in the city. Begin your meal with the Turkish dumplings (eggplant-filled diamonds glazed with yogurt and molasses) and end with a Moroccan mint tea.
Everything I love about Fat Pasha in three words: relaxed, hearty and brunch. Yes, Fat Pasha does exceptional Jewish food, but the brunch is noteworthy. Gather five of your friends and sit out on the back patio. Orders of the “Holy Land” pitas, shakshouka and a round of a whole-roast cauliflower to share, and you’re golden.
With two locations in the city (Yonge and Davisville and King Street East), Tabule is the go-to spot for mixed mezze in Toronto. The midtown location was the original; it’s dimly lit, and will make you feel like you’re having dinner in the charming home of a beloved family member (one that you actually like). King East is the trendy offspring, hosting her parents’ recipes with a hip, spruced-up venue.
In the west end, you’ll find one of Toronto’s number one spots doing Mediterranean right. With traditional options like ouscous, lamb, olives, halloumi, how can you go wrong? If you’re wondering what to order, I can help: to start, the grilled calamari (it’s cooked perfectly and melts your mouth). Second, the tagine – choose from duck or lamb but know that both are exceptional.
Pristinely white and encased in large windows overlooking the Ossington strip, Mamakas is the first Greek-tapas joint that’s popped up in the six, and everyone adores it. Dishes to note include the lamb tartare, watermelon and smoked duck salad and the whole grilled fish of the day. Remember that the spot totes mostly sharing plates, so feel free to go overboard.
Fresh hummus, legendary fried tomatoes and comforting lentil soup – what else can you ask for from a restaurant? The prices are reasonable and the portions are hefty to boot. Jerusalem is a neighbourhood staple, so be sure to book ahead if you you’re looking for a weekend dinner, because everyone is there, and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
Exotic décor, belly dancing and party fever – if you’re looking for a unique dining experience look no further than The Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc. It’s a grand spectacle of a dinner on weekends (especially if you have guests in town) with live entertainment and a prefixed menu, which is only $55 per person.
Located in the heart of the Mediterranean village, the Danforth, Red Castle is that casual eatery we can all get behind. It does everything from the traditionals like lamb shank tagine to contemporaries like shawarma poutine – their own spin on classic Canadian grub. The falafels are fried to order, the cabbage rolls are spiced immaculately, and the creamy chicken swish tawouk will leave you wanting more.
Mersin in short? Authentic comfort food made with fresh ingredients in a spot run by a sweet husband and wife who want to feed you large portions at a cheap price. They do a house-made hot sauce as well as a rich garlic sauce, famous across the Bloor West/High Park Area. The chicken skewers are tender and juicy, the rice is oh-so buttery and the tabbouleh is on point. Last but not least? Mersin also delivers.