Challal Bakery is a small Middle Eastern bakery in Scarborough that specializes in Lebanese pizza and pastries like spinach and meat hand pies. It sits quietly in the corner of a building in the vast land of Scarborough, but it's known for being a favourite of the Syrian bakers who run Crown Pastries .
With a lunch counter and display cases full of pastries, fans of Middle Eastern pastries come from far and wide to load up on goodies both sweet and savoury. You can grab dishes frozen for your personal stockpile, and they also do large events like corporate lunches.
The interior is humble and sparse, but there are a few tables and chairs as well as a long bar that abuts the front window where you can sit and enjoy a few slices of meat or cheese pizza, baklava, or "graibeh," a kind of variation on a butter cookie in a donut shape.
Snacking is super cheap and unpretentious here. Their meat pies are simply a mixture of beef, onion, and tomato, folded into pinched handmade dough, and are only ten dollars a dozen.
The spinach pies are the same price and are just spinach, olive oil, onion and lemon.
You can get both small ($4) and large (a dozen for $10) cheese pies, the larger one coming in a more recognizable circular format. Everything is made in house here from the dough to the final baked product. It's topped with mixed white and goat cheese, which is bubbly and just the right amount of oily with a nice little char on top, as well as some crunchy sesame seeds.
The meat pizza pie is topped with the same beef, onion and tomato mixture as the smaller hand pies. They're not licensed and are more of a takeout place, but Challal stocks a variety of sodas. The pies also come with house made pickles - they're julienned and go really well with the pizza in a way that is both logical and surprising.
There may not be many people milling around or taking selfies in here, but one woman who walks in while I'm there came all the way from Finch for her spinach pie fix and swears this is "the best food ever." Apparently one Russian customer comes once every week for a big order to demolish over the course of the upcoming days.
Photos by Hector Vasquez