The top 5 Middle Eastern brunch restaurants in Toronto
Middle Eastern brunch in Toronto encompasses Persian and Levantine culinary traditions in a way that satisfies our westerners' brunch-lust. It's a broad category that shares a love of flat breads, soft cheeses, fresh herbs, olives, nuts and fresh fruits...oh, and strong, delicious coffee.
Honourable mentions go to Gilaneh, Anatolia, Darband, Red Rose Patisserie S. Lefkowitz, Tabule. None of them quite recognize the concept of "brunch" - though they serve mighty fine mid-day fare in a timeframe that falls into brunching territory.
Here are my picks for the top restaurants for Middle Eastern brunch in Toronto.
On College St., this Iranian breakfast nook serves up haleem ($10), a wheat berry porridge with lamb, sugar and butter, as well as fried egg dishes over turmeric scented potatoes ($10) or butter-soaked dates and walnuts with feta cheese and ardeh shireh, a sweet tahini ($9.50).
At this Dupont restaurant, the non-traditional brunch menu offers a playful spin on Israeli and Sephardic dishes. Find hearty morning staples, like shakshuka swimming with poached eggs and lamb meatballs ($17), or a babka bread pudding ($12) with halva and yogurt.
The weekend brunch menu served 10:30am to 3pm at this Middle Eastern spot on College offers an expansive array of options, including two-egg omelettes with pan-fried halloumi ($15), and manakeesh ($8), a flatbread pizza topped with akkawi cheese or labaneh and zatar. And while it might seem all too simple, this is the place to enjoy the simple delight of breakfast platters laid out with tomato, cucumber, pickles, olives, halloumi and boiled eggs sprinkled with zatar and olive oil ($13).
Paramount Fine Foods
On weekends, two locations of this Middle Eastern eatery serve brunch from 8am to 2pm. Served with fresh wood-oven baked pita bread, there are breakfast-specific dishes like ful ($7), a garlicky mix of braised chick peas, fava beans and lemon juice, and fatteh labban ($7), chick peas over thick yogurt with crispy fried pita bread topped with melted butter and nuts.
This kosher diner has two locations - both on Bathurst - that serve Israeli breakfasts all day long. Choose from assorted bourekas with ($4) or without ($2.79) hard boiled eggs, or opt for the shakshuka ($7) composed of three runny eggs poached in a rich tomato stew. Also of note are the three-egg Israeli breakfasts ($7.69) done any style and accompanied by chopped salad, fries or hummus and avocado, and a bagel or multigrain toast.
Aroma Espresso Bar
This chain of Israeli espresso bars might have as much ambience as a cafeteria, but its menu of quick, all-day breakfast options is actually kind of great. The Power Breakfast ($11) includes two eggs any style with mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, carrot, olives, feta cheese, cream cheese, avocado spread, freshly baked bread and butter. Also noteworthy is the sunny-side-egg topped shakshuka ($9.60) served with tahini and bread.
Did we miss any? Leave your favourite spots for Middle Eastern brunch in the comments.