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Eat & Drink

Taste of the Danforth

Posted by Dayna Winter / August 7, 2010

Taste of the DanforthTaste of the Danforth runs this weekend in Toronto. Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Jones is now closed to traffic as Greektown kicked off its 17th annual Taste of the Danforth festival last night. I, being (sadly) vegetarian, was dubious of my sampling options during our visit to the very meat-heavy event. But, flaky spanakopita and crunchy roasted corn were abundant and cheap. My carnivorous companion braved snaking lines to savour the meaty offerings from pork souvlaki to grilled calamari and shrimp skewers. Don't let the lines scare you - cash-only means they move fast. Seating is limited, too, so expect to eat on the run. And to spill tzatziki sauce on your date (ahem).

Taste of the DanforthRetro carnival games and lively international music acts attempted to attract crowds, but there was no denying that the food was the true star of the show. Come for a taste of Greek culture and cuisine, and stay for the jam-packed schedule of events taking place over the weekend.

Taste of the Danforth runs until this Sunday, August 8th at 8:00 pm.

Taste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthTaste of the DanforthPrevious coverage:

10 things you ought to know about Taste of the Danforth
Taste of the Danforth photos
Taste of the Danforth 2010 event info



EATMEAT / August 7, 2010 at 11:01 am
Why are you a vegetarian?
Lauren / August 7, 2010 at 11:55 am
Nice photos Dayna.
Brad / August 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm
Great pictures.

We stopped going, the crowds there are ridiculous, the festival has out grown the Danforth.
The organizers borrowed the idea for the festival from Taste of Chicago, and it outgrew the street it was on years ago and was moved to the gigantic Grant Park.
These guys should move this festival to a park too, people will come wherever it is.

Another negative is the prices, I went to the very first TOTD, and everything was a dollar, now the restaurants are just charging whatever the market will bear, sure it is a big windfall for them, but in most cases I can go to the Danforth next week and order full sized food for less than the samples are being sold.

Don't mean to spew hate all over this, some people really love it there, I hope they enjoy the crowds, the weather will be perfect.
Teena / August 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm
Though I've lived in Toronto for 20+ years, I've never been. I've stayed away because I heard the crowds are HUGE. But we are checking it out today to see what I've missed.
Parker / August 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm
Great pics!
Philbert / August 7, 2010 at 01:22 pm
I once made the mistake of buying a fixer-upper bike on Craigslist in that area during the festival. I had to carry it over my head for blocks and then try to wrestle it into the subway while moving against the crowds. Living hell, but people were surprisingly understanding and kind about giving me a hand when necessary.
n / August 7, 2010 at 01:36 pm
In my opinion it's worth going once in a while and not every year. The prices as mentioned are marked up, there's really nothing else except food and people and some music. And lots of people. I went maybe 7-8 years ago and I don't miss it. Maybe I'll go next year or the year after next.
Woohoo / August 7, 2010 at 02:02 pm
The best food and party ever!!!!
Athens Restaurant and Bar is a blast. We had the best Greek experience ever....
gtafunmuscle / August 7, 2010 at 04:10 pm
a round trip subway costs $6... so is it still a good deal? btw, did anyone check out the asian nigt market at downtown T & T?
john tsoukalakakakis / August 7, 2010 at 04:38 pm
i also stop going. crowds are insane for greek food you could get anywhere plus there really isn't anything to do. they should have a mini concerts or some other outdoor entertainment. oh once you wait 30 minutes for your souvlaki you get the treat of eating it on a dirty curb. that's if you could find a spot.
Teena in Toronto / August 7, 2010 at 08:51 pm
We spent the afternoon there. Waaaaaaaaaaaay too many people and not fun at all.
horizoncarrie / August 7, 2010 at 09:37 pm
thank god im Greek and dont feel the need to go there and deal with the crowds. over to my families house for the same food for FREE :P
But in all honesty, if you are not of Greek background you might like it for the cultural experience. the prices deffinately need to be lowered. Its just another cash grab for all the restaurants. that are bar far from hurting. its always bz there.
Frustrated / August 8, 2010 at 01:03 am
Man, what a nightmare. I never saw such filth in Toronto anywhere.. there were literally piles of garbage in the street. And crowds using elbows and stepping on toes, mediocre food and looong looong lineups; waited an hour almost in line to get a few stupid gyros.

I'll never step in there again in my life.
warmflash / August 8, 2010 at 04:29 am
I went today. It reminds me of Calcutta. Simply awful. Garbage, drug addicts, beggars and raw rotting garbage everywhere. And the food was absolutely mediocre. And often uncooked. What the hell is this event?
lizziep / August 8, 2010 at 07:32 am
Couldn't agree more with the comments above. My husband and I attended yesterday. Where are the organizers??? In mid afternoon the garbage bins were full and people were just piling their trash around them. The crowds were impossible. Its our third time attending and I've yet to be there at a time when there is authentic Greek music playing at any of the bandstands. But the topper was when we attempted to leave by the Broadview exit. There was some spanish dancer on the stage so people were standing around the stage watching leaving only narrow passages on either side. The crowd of people trying to enter and exit was so thick it took us 15 minutes just to get past the stage. Have never experienced anything so uncomfortable and frightening in my life. If the organizers had any brains they would have done something to try and control this, maybe by having one side of the stage as and entrance and one side as an exit. Once we finally goth through what we felt to be a dangerous situation, we found to of Toronto's finest just standing there watching. My husband mentioned to them that the situation was dangerous and their lame answer was "I understand, sir" :-(
Although the food was decent, there was nothing worth the long lineups. We won't be returning.
T / August 8, 2010 at 09:36 am
I went yesterday too and was kind of disappointed. The lineups for food were mixed in with the crowds of people walking so it was very frustrating trying to get through or find where lineups started. Some of the vendors were pretty grouchy too. It wasn't this bad last year, everything just seemed so disorganized this year. I agree that the event has outgrown the venue.
Mohammed replying to a comment from warmflash / August 8, 2010 at 10:03 am
What the hell is any event in Toronto? There is no culture, no tradition, little genuine human interaction, and it's always about commerce.

No thanks, I'd rather fly to Greece or Italy or wherever and see what a real (cultural) festival is like.
snowy / August 8, 2010 at 10:14 am
I live a few blocks from where this takes place, so stroll up and have a look pretty much every year. I agree with the above re crowds/trash/mediocre bought-in food etc and really can't fathom what attracts the people who come from out of town (or even just the other side of the city). Great photos though and glad you got something to eat!
Terry / August 8, 2010 at 11:35 am
That's why the locals call it the "Waste of the Danforth".
Darcy McGee / August 8, 2010 at 11:41 am
> These guys should move this festival to a park too, people will come wherever it is.

Yes, but it would change the nature of the festival fairly dramatically. What I used to love about Taste of the Danforth was merchants staying open late along with the street activity creating a nice mixed environment to explore.

In a park it would really be just about the food. A large outdoor Bar-b-Que really

In Vancouver, on the rare occasions we have a decent street festival merchants all close at their normal time of 6, the streets are empty and things go fairly flat.

Taste of the Danforth is really special. That doesn't mean it shouldn't change and evolve, but don't suck the spirit out of one of my favourite Toronto events.
Gina soukaralis / August 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm
i would not want to bring a child in crowds like that. period. look what happen in germany where 20 people were crushed to death. organizers NEED to plan NOW for crowd control, before ANYONE DIES.
Marc / August 8, 2010 at 07:26 pm
I completely agree with almost all of you, and most of the comments are exactly and precisely what I've felt. My family and I used to go to this festival, with the last times being in the early 2000s. It has outgrown the area. There are just too many people attending for the size of the area. There are also so many people acting third-world and unruly at the festival (same with other events), with examples from other comments here. There are also so many stubborn and lazy people who, rather than taking transit, bringing their cars down to the area (from God knows which outer 416 suburb or 905 city sprawl) who do not bother trying to park at the Green Ps, and instead head inside the Greektown neighbourhoods surrounding the Danforth, to just park anywhere as they please and cause chaos and a headache for residents. The festival has also become watered down and unauthentic. The Greek content is lacking. They have to show that its their district and festival!

This event has the obvious problems, but there's also the big picture, which cannot be ignored. Metro Toronto (you cannot escape the concept) and the surrounding GTA cities have too many people for its size, resources, infrastructure, and development level. A big error and injustice of the government was treating Toronto like its a NYC, when it is far from that. Just look at aerial views of downtown Toronto and the areas beyond that. Too small to be treated like a NYC and too small to have so many people. That is why we have too much sprawl going on, and the rate of houses/people to jobs and industry/opportunity is so unbalanced, which is why you see these types of festivals (ie. Danforth; Toronto Jazz on Queen St.) being swamped and
Marc / August 8, 2010 at 07:35 pm
cont'd (sorry! I pressed "add comment" too quickly)

being swamped and being outgrown for its areas. Don't forget that the outer 416 suburbs and the neighbouring 905 cities have nothing going on, lack of resources, and have poor poor city planning and layout - which is why they all flock to things going on in Toronto, such as these festivals. The 416 suburbs need to be more developed and be instilled with some urban qualities now, and the 905 cities must grow up, grow some balls and act like actual cities of their own (which they are). They have to have their own urban zones/density and downtowns, their own industries/companies/jobs, their own transit systems and to stop sprawling. They need to stop relying on Toronto.
torontomyway / August 8, 2010 at 09:02 pm
Went this year, live around the corner.

Makes me wonder why the street good in Toronto is so bad when the street food during the fest was so good.

Forget the Greek food, try some of the other gourmet places that didn't have lines, fantastic.

Queen E. should start a food fest at the same time to ease off the pressure.

n / August 8, 2010 at 09:09 pm
I went to the T&T Asian Waterfront market and that was definitely better. I even found the free street parking. The food was good and a little more exotic that just souvlaki or spanakopita. I will definitely come back to this one next year if it doesn`t grow too big. There were big line-ups but the food was way better than the Danforth. Maybe Taste of Danforth has really grown too big? And also the markup wasn`t huge (8 oysters for $10 is a great price I think or coconut for $2). I also went to Night it Up a month back but I did not enjoy it as much.
James / August 9, 2010 at 12:55 am
Yes, this festival is overcrowded, dirty, etc.., etc... but, this festival also provides many of the restaurants with a good percentage of their profit for their year. I can tell you that restaurant owners on the Danforth wait for this cash injection on a yearly and without it, many would be hard pressed to survive.

Sean / August 9, 2010 at 05:18 am
When I saw/read the hype of the event from the media, I stayed away. Had a Greek salad in Etobicoke on the weekend and quite enjoyed it, including sitting out on a nice patio. Nobody elbowed me either!
HUK / August 9, 2010 at 07:40 am
You're all a bunch of butthurt whiners.

Jim / August 9, 2010 at 02:30 pm
There was an incident on Saturday evening where people fainted and where crushed from the crowds. Quite a few people were hurt, sad that this event is forever tarnished now.
Rodney / August 9, 2010 at 02:35 pm
Not in the Annex = Do not care.
scott / August 10, 2010 at 11:45 am
oh no! it's busy and there's garbage. how uncivilized! learn to enjoy life a little people... not everything has to be toronto the good, ya know.
Mohammed replying to a comment from James / August 10, 2010 at 01:25 pm
So you need half the city to show up in your small neighborhood to turn up a profit? That sounds ridiculous. If the economics of the situation do not make good sense who is at fault?? Spare me the sob story.
Mohammed / August 10, 2010 at 01:28 pm
So you need half the city to show up just to turn a profit? Does this sound ridiculous to you? If the economics of the situation do not make sense who is at fault? Spare me the sob story.
islam / August 10, 2010 at 04:58 pm
Mohammed, is it no Kosher? BTW.
arun / August 10, 2010 at 09:41 pm
but in that crowd I met a girl and still trying to find her, knowing its impossible.
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