The top 10 manakeesh in Toronto
Manakeesh isn't easy to come by in Toronto. Some call it a Middle Eastern pizza, but I like to think of it as classic Arab street food at its finest. The oven-baked flatbread is typically topped with za'atar, melted cheese, or sometimes both - but there are other variations. Traditionally a breakfast food, manakeesh is best consumed when nursing a hangover, after partying at 3 am or when hungry but have nothing except a toonie.
Here are my picks for the top places to get manakeesh in Toronto.
Lebanese Bakery, located on Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough, was my childhood manakeesh spot, so it will always top my list - but maybe I'm biased. The manakeesh is made on the spot with thick dough and served old school style, folded into a half moon.
Paramount Fine Foods
Paramount Fine Foods is a great downtown spot. With a prime location near Yonge and Dundas - not to mention the plenty of other locations across the city - this is a sit-down restaurant with a vast menu of Middle Eastern classics. Paramount has 17 manakeesh flavours, including labneh (yogurt) mixed with za'atar or mortadella and cheese.
Mamajoun, Scarborough's Armenian pizzeria, offers standard flavours like za'atar, cheese, and some specialty recipes. But it's all about the "mamajoun", a spin on traditional Armenian pizza made with ground beef, tomatoes and peppers. The manakeesh or 'joun' comes open like a pizza, or can be made into a wrap filled with toppings.
Akram's Shoppe has been open in Kensington Market for over 20 years. Yes, Akram is the owner, and he is passionate about fresh, quality food. The specialties are the falafel and shawarma sandwiches, but Akram's also offers manakeesh and saj (round flatbread). Akram is super flexible with his manakeesh and will even put falafel in it if you ask.
District Oven takes its name from the century old Middle Eastern village practice of collective dough making in a public oven. Inspired by this tradition, this sit-down restaurant offers a fun twist on popular Middle Eastern dishes. The manakeesh, made on a stone oven, is sold as part of the brunch menu and comes in za'atar, cheese and labneh versions.
Haddad's Mid East Bakery
Open since 1994, Haddad's Mid East Bakery is located on Dufferin Street in North York. The bakery and restaurant offers six manakeesh options, including 'kishek' (crushed wheat mixed with yogurt). Aside from that, there are salads, hummous, and fatayer (pastries), as well as fresh baked kaak (sesame bread) and kaak sandwiches.
Arz Fine Food
Before Arz became a super-awesome grocery store, it was a super awesome bakery specializing in fresh bread and manakeesh. Staying true to its roots, a key component to the Scarborough grocery store is its bakery - which still makes different kinds of fresh bread and manakeesh daily.
Located in Mississauga, Golden Dough has 22 different kinds of manakeesh including kafta (minced meat), falafel and scrambled eggs. In business for over 25 years, this place also has a decent menu of sandwiches, main courses and grilled meats too.
For anyone who likes thin-crust manakeesh, The Saj is definitely the place. Located close to the UofT campus, The Saj is more of a saj place but nonetheless has a good manakeesh selection. My favourite is the mixed za'atar/cheese or 'nus nus' served open like a pizza.
Zeytouna is centrally located on Dundas between Bay and University. The manakeesh at Zeytouna is made Turkish style - long, sunk in and folded into a triangle at each end - kind of like a canoe.
What did I miss? Add your suggestions for where to find great manakeesh in Toronto in the comments.
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