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Duffy's Diner

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on July 12, 2014 / review policy

duffys diner torontoDuffy's Diner is right next door to Bloordale dive bar institution Duffy's Tavern (a big, red, rusty "DINER" metal arrow indicates this outside to clear up any confusion). The two were featured on an episode of Food Network Canada's Restaurant Takeover, which led the diner to be one of our most anticipated Toronto restaurant openings for 2013. Delays pushed back its debut until a few months ago (city bylaws required it to build a washroom downstairs), but now it's finally here, in all its throwback glory.

The decor has a funky, flea-market-finds kind of feel, with old signs and rusty license plates hanging on the walls. The background soundtrack features a playlist of old-school country classics of the Johnny Cash variety (I believe someone there is a huge fan of the Man in Black, as I heard "Walk the Line" played three times over the course of an hour).

duffys diner torontoWith six black booths in the space and four stools lined up along the window, the diner only looks to fit a max of 30 diners at a time.

Since it's right next door to its Takeover makeover companion, the two share a kitchen, but the menus differ slightly. The diner menu offers all-day breakfast, burger/sandwich options and diner classics (poutine, mac'n'cheese, fish & chips, etc.), with veggie and vegan options clearly marked. My companions and I all zero in on the all-day breakfast items, because really - who can resist all-day breakfast?!

duffys diner torontoThe $9 omelettes sound tempting, but I opt for the stuffed French toast with cream cheese and cranberry ($8), which can also be stuffed with banana and Nutella instead. I drench it in the syrup it's served with and dig in. It tastes how I expect it to: like French toast stuffed with cream cheese and cranberry. Nothing more, nothing less. It comes with "delicious fresh fruit" (as the menu puts it), which translates to three slices of orange and a few cubes of watermelon. The plate also unexpectedly comes with a heaping mound of home fries, which aren't mentioned in the description, but are a welcome surprise.

duffys diner torontoHuevos rancheros ($9) are also more or less what one would expect: two fried eggs on corn tortillas with refried black beans, pico de gallo, homefries and a bit of fruit on the side. Everything tastes fine, but the tortillas are maybe a tad too crunchy. The menu mentions the dish comes with avocado, but it's actually guacamole.

duffys diner torontoAgain, the menu wording is inaccurate for the avocado BLT ($9). Instead of slices of avocado, we're surprised when guacamole makes another appearance, mixed in with the chipotle mayo in the sandwich. It's a bit of sauce overload. The guacamole also has tinges of brown in some places, which indicate it may be a carry-over from the previous day. Of the three, this is the one I'd probably not order again.

duffys diner torontoDespite a few minor hitches, overall, this is a solid place to come for a reasonably priced brunch (with $2 bottomless cups of coffee) if you're in the area. Like the neighbourhood itself, it's nothing fancy, but good enough, and definitely has a lot of potential.

duffys diner torontoWriting by Christina Cheung. Photos by Jesse Milns.



Nolan / July 12, 2014 at 10:56 am
This place can be great on the weekends, and terrible on weekdays. Food is entirely different depending on what day you visit!

I think the week day chef just guesses what each item is. The plates are even different depending on the chef! Weekends are square plates, weekdays are circle.
Gillian / July 13, 2014 at 09:56 am
My friends and I live in the neighborhood and eat at Duffy's Diner at least once or twice a week. In our opinion, the above write-up DOES NOT accurately describe this wonderful establishment! The staff of blogTO may simply have experienced a very isolated off-day-
We've never had a bad meal or experience there (unless one would complain about meals nearly meant for two, for under 10 bucks as a bad thing!?) The food is always fresh, home cooked and very tasty...we love it and would highly recommend Duffy's Diner for a visit and a fantastic meal!
Ryan replying to a comment from Nolan / January 4, 2015 at 10:18 am
I went on a Sunday evening and the food was nothing special, the service was horrible but I found a Micro SD card under my table so it all turned out great in the end.
James / May 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm
I have lived in this neighborhood for many years and give Duffy's Tavern all my love, respect and loyalty! They were around when no one else was (Including 3-Speed, Bar Neon, The Emerson...). They have risen to the occasion and should be crowned 'King of Bars' in Bloordale Village! Since Harrison (owner) took possession, they have overcome all bureaucratic and social obstacles and have stood their ground proudly! I personally commend their efforts and sacrifices over the past decade. Many people may not truly understand what the title of being 'One of the oldest bars in Toronto' means....let's face it folks, 66 years is a long time! Congratulations Duffy's, you deserve it!

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