Little India Toronto

The top 5 restaurants in Little India

Toronto's Little India neighbourhood, or the Gerrard Indian Bazaar as its officially known, might be getting less Indian by the day (we're not using the G word) but a walk along Gerrard between Greenwood and Coxwell is still filled with tantalizing smells of rich goat curries, stewed chick peas and piping hot samosas. For those in search of somewhere to eat, it can be a hit or miss proposition.

With apologies to Guatama, Moti Mahal, Siddhartha Pure Vegetarian and The Famous, here are five restaurants that stand out from the crowd.

Udupi Palace (1460 Gerrard St. East)
Vegetarians and vegans flock to this spacious subterranean restaurant for its meat-free offerings, like the mysore sada dosa (a thin pancake filled with spiced onions and potatoes, topped with a spicy chutney) and kadai bhindi (curried okra). With prices topping out at $9.95, you'll even be able to afford dessert: choices range from gulab jaman ice cream to rasmalai, a creamy dessert made from sugar, cream and paneer.

Lahore Chaat & Paan House (1344 Gerrard St. East)
This is not a destination that prides itself on looks; however, it does pride itself on the authenticity of its paan, bun kebabs and pistachio kulfi. Paan, a mixture of nuts, spices and sometimes tobacco wrapped in leaf and shaped into a triangle, is a popular digestive aid after a heavy dinner; Lahore Chaat & Paan House makes one of the best. Their kebabs are spicy and satisfying, and cheap to boot, and are a satisfying snack when washed down with a perfectly crafted Kashmiri chai tea.

New Haandi 2000 (1401 Gerrard Street E)
The competition for best buffet spot is fierce in Little India, with offerings touted on sidewalk menus every three steps. New Haandi 2000, formerly Haandi, stands out among its competitors for its diverse buffet menu: mutton curry, pani puri and six flavours of ice cream are among the highlights, while their a la carte menu offers interesting dishes like keema naan (a stuffed naan bread with minced meat) and chicken mughlai (chicken cooked in a dry fruit gravy).

Bombay Chowpatty (1386 Gerrard Street E)
Nevermind the name, this snack spot is quite popular, and has become well known for their Indian street food items, like samosas, pakoras and vada pav (a fried potato sandwich). Masala fries and traditional creamy shakes, like mango lassis and the 'Royal Falooda', round out the menu.

Lahore Tikka House (1365 Gerrard Street E)
The crown jewel of Gerrard, this Halal Pakistani restaurant, named after the capital of the Punjab province, draws customers from all over the GTA. Its flamboyant decor and loud music sets the tone of a crowded bazaar, with servers bustling around each other delivering sizzling skewers of lamb and chicken kababs, butter naan and sweet, icy almond and pistachio kulfi.

What did I miss? Add your favourite Little India spots to the comments below.

Writing by Amelia Ingram. Photo by Ian Muttoo in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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