Summers in Toronto can feel a bit overwhelming, with multiple festivals and events taking place every weekend. And, this summer in particular, the city has gone into overdrive like it’s trying to make up for the past two years. One of the most hungrily anticipated events is Smorgasburg Toronto, the first Canadian edition of the Brooklyn-born food-a-palooza. The weekly festival, which runs every Saturday from now through to September 10 at the foot of Yonge Street, features more than 50 vendors from across the GTA—many of them small pandemic start-ups—showcasing the culinary diversity of the region. We paid a visit last Saturday to find out what everyone had to offer. This is just a sampling, believe it or not.
Alma y Gil, Gerry Quintero
This pandemic project first popped up at Hot Black Coffee in Davisville but now has a permanent spot on Dupont in the Junction Triangle. They specialize in Mexican street food with a focus on tamales.
What to get: Tamales tinga is stewed chicken with tomatoes, chilies and onions. $6 each.
Parviz Bakery, Sharee Ahmed
This South African–inspired bakery turns out savory pies.
What to get: Spicy chicken hand pie. $7 each.
poppadum, Shereyas Nawker
Another pandemic-times business, Poppadum serves up a taste of Mumbai with Nawker’s unique twist on traditional Indian street food.
What to get: The chicken seekh kebab wrap, charcoal-grilled chicken wrapped up in naan with thinly sliced tomatoes, red onions and mint aioli ($9.25 each), and Mumbai-style charcoal-grilled corn with a deghi mirch aioli ($6.25 each).
Ky-Mars Cove, Miguel Campbell
Ky-Mars Cove is a home-based company from Pickering that specializes in Jamaican food. In Pickering, they’ll deliver to your door.
What to get: Jerk chicken poutine spiced with scotch bonnet chilies and a multitude of peppers. $15.
Holy SEA, Sara Tang
This collaboration between spice company Kopi Thyme and Hamilton-based restaurant Indonesian’s Flavor focuses on dishes from Malaysia and Indonesia.
What to get: Chicken satay, four grilled chicken skewers dressed with peanut sauce and some of Kopi Thyme’s signature spices.
LITS, Karthy Subramaniam
Before you ask, it stands for “Lost In The Sauce,” and there are five all-natural gluten-free hot sauces to choose from.
What to get: Try their OG Boodoo sauce, a fiery West Indian pepper sauce that’s a blend of habanero and scotch bonnet. $12.
Tam, Joseph Nguyen
This Junction kitchen sells homestyle Vietnamese classics and contemporary street food.
What to get: Banh mi muoi ot, baguette strips topped with Vietnamese sausage, scallion oil pork floss and a little bit of Laughing Cow cheese. $10.
Never Not Eating, Joel Solish
Solish founded his spice company during the pandemic. His current selection includes six hand-crafted Middle Eastern and North African spice blends.
What to get: Buy a jar of the bharat spice, a smoky and sweet blend of paprika, allspice, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cardamom and coriander ($15). There’s also the option of getting a slice of pizza (lamb or mushroom) with a dusting of spice ($6).
Pico De Gallo Tacos, Sergio Maldonado
Maldonado’s Mexican takeout business, based in Kensington Market, sells tacos, burritos and ceviche.
What to get: Al pastor tacos, pork marinated with sun-dried peppers and served on a corn tortilla. $14 for three.
Baby and Co., Cindi Arman
This Indonesian street food pop-up with a heavy focus on pork-based dishes has been operating since 2012.
What to get: Marinated pork satay with pickled cucumber. $10 for four.
Tropic Love, Marlon Porter
At this juice stand, Porter blends up fruit and saves on plastic cups by using the emptied-out rinds as vessels for the juice.
What to get: A choice of pineapple or watermelon juice. $12 each.
Albi Sushi, Melanie and Albert De La Cruz
This Scarborough-based sushi business mainly caters private events, so now’s your chance.
What to get: Salmon or tuna sushi tacos. The tuna is topped with mango chutney, turmeric and almonds while the salmon is torched with umami sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The shells are made with nori and rice paper. $12 for two.
Afrobeat Kitchen, Victor Ugwueke
Another pandemic-born business, this time focused on the flavors of West Africa.
What to get: Suya, skewers of smoked and spiced meat (in this case, steak).
Butter and Spice, Marchelle McKenzie
A small home bakery specializing in gourmet brownies and baked goods.
What to get: A Ferrero Rocher Brownie. Do we need to say more? $5.65 each.
Khao Se TO, Nabiha Hussain
Another pandemic-born, home-based food business, it aims to bring Karachi-style street food to Toronto—something its owners think is missing from our culinary landscape.
What to get: Khao se, noodles with either chicken or beef curry topped with a tangy coconut curry, green onions and crunchy chips. $15.
Saffron Spice Kitchen, Priya Mahendran
This popular Sri Lankan kitchen, with locations in Toronto and Mississauga, has been operating in Toronto for eight years.
What to get: A dosa. Lentil batter with green chilies, curry leaves and various spices made into a crêpe-like vessel filled with potato and chili paste and served with a vegetarian sambar and chutney. $15.
mamajoun, Mihran Boudakian
Based in Scarborough, Mamajoun makes pizza with an Armenian twist.
What to get: Sujuk, sausage flatbread topped with cheese, pickles and onions. $12.
Cookin’, Tobias Kuplens-Ewart
Cookin’ is not your normal food delivery company. It teams up with home-based cooks and professional chefs, then lets them open a store on its online marketplace where customers can order their dishes for delivery.
What to get: This menu will change weekly, with a new chef each Saturday. On our visit, chef Natasha Quagliato cooked up some brie gnocchi. $8.60 plus tax.
La La Bake Shop, Brian Tran
This pandemic bakery baby turns out sweet Vietnamese treats.
What to get: Tiramisu, but instead of espresso, it’s made with Vietnamese coffee, which adds a sweeter flavor to the dessert. $14.
Bhai Biryani Inc., Nimaz Careem
The halal biryani this kitchen specializes in is unique to the Muslim population of Sri Lanka’s Colombo region.
What to get: Chicken biryani with pineapple chutney and a drumstick on the side. $15.
Saints Island Pies, Chuck Ortiz
Head to this booth for pan pizza with regional Filipino toppings.
What to get: Spicy Laing, topped with spinach, coconut cream, fermented chilies, garlic and cheese. $6 for a slice, $20 for a whole pizza.
Chau, Jane Tran
Tran serves modern Asian bites influenced by flavors from her Canadian upbringing.
What to get: Pho beef grilled cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with the thinly sliced beef and spices usually found in a bowl of pho. It’s served with chips. $15.
Baan Thai Family Restaurant, Sand Tsoi
Baan Thai started as a delivery service during the pandemic. As the name suggests, they make Thai food using family recipes.
What to get: Thai mango salad topped with house dressing, roasted peanuts and shallots. $14.
Geladona, Mariana Palhares and Flor Bortolacci
Perfect for a hot summer day by the lake, Geladona makes hand-crafted freezies in Brazilian flavors like passionfruit, guava and avocado. Some are frutas (water based) while others are cremosas (cream based).
What to get: Palhares and Bortolacci recommend cupuaçu (a fruit related to the cacao tree) or soursop. $5 for regular size, $3 for kid size.
Baker Rae, Rhea Abyan
This Filipino baked goods business is a passion project and side-hustle for full-time nurse Abayan. It started during the pandemic as something to keep her positive.
What to get: Ube flan dusted lightly with sugar. $7.
Anh Dao, Tony and Ashley Nguyen
Open since 1983, Anh Dao is a Chinatown staple specializing in Vietnamese dishes. Tony and Ashley took over the restaurant when her parents retired during the pandemic.
What to get: Beef skewers served with spring rolls on a bed of steamed vermicelli. $15.
More photos from the event
7 Queens Quay E. (at the foot of Yonge St.), every Saturday until Sept. 10, 11 am to 6 pm