Shish-taouk chicken at Toronto's best shawarma joints

When you’re craving fast food with character and flavour few things are better than marinated, grilled chicken, doused in garlicky yogurt sauce and wrapped in a warm pita blanket. Translated from Turkish, shish-taouk means “skewered chicken.” Technically, it can also mean kebobs, kebabs and donairs but the Toronto version is gently sizzling, chicken shawarma carved from a vertical spit.

Tabülè Middle Eastern Cuisine

1
2009 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z8

This is upscale Middle Eastern cuisine for times when you want more than an oozing handful of sauce-drenched chicken and pita. Look to the grill for a juicy skewer of Mennonite farm-raised marinated chicken breast with rice and onions for lunch or a double serving for dinner.

Dr Laffa

2
3027 Bathurst St, North York, ON M6B 3B5

Since when does the bread out-shine the shawarma? Regulars swear they come for the fluffy, freshly-baked laffa bread as much as the succulent chicken. Combined, it’s a cure for whatever ails ya. The shawarma wrap is a hulking two-hander guaranteed to fill that hole in your belly.

Paramount Fine Foods

3
10 Four Seasons Pl, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H7

It sounds like a cross between a movie theatre and a gourmet food shop but it’s neither. It’s a temple of Lebanese comfort good and baked goods on Yonge St. just south of Dundas. Itstake on shish-taouk nestles meaty skewers on a heaping family platter with all the trimmings.

Mersin Mediterranean Cuisine

4
1618 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1A7

This may be as close as you’ll come to Istanbul because of its authentic, Turkish-style kebobs and plates in endless combinations of chicken, beef and lamb, alone or together. The Chicken Iskender features tender slices basted in hot tomato sauce over pita slabs with yogurt and salad on the side.

Nora

5
141 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5V 2K8

This casual spot in the Entertainment District puts in long hours catering to the daily lunch crowd and late night party-goers. Typically, that means high turnover and freshness. Big appetites can handle the chicken shawarma platter tricked out with rice, potatoes, pungent cabbage and other veg.

College Falafel

6
450 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6G 3T2

The well-liked owners are local legends on the Ossington strip, mainly because of their commitment to freshly-prepared ingredients and friendly service. The marinated chicken shawarma sandwich with your choice of toppings is a notorious bargain. You’ll also find a tender chicken breast kebab.

Kabul Express

7
126 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B 1E2

Prepare for a dizzying array of ethnic influences from Afghan to Indian including traditional Hindi specialties and a variety of spiced and marinated meat entrees. Kabul Express does mild ground chicken skewers with fresh-baked naan and tangy, boneless, marinated breast dinners.

Mazzaar Restaurent

8
668 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2A6

The magical Mediterranean trio of garlic, lemon and olive oil informs everything served at this Yonge St. spot near Wellesley Station. The chicken shawarma platter is richly spiced and served on a bed of tender, garlicky potatoes as an option instead of rice.

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