Alforat offers a wide selection of Middle Eastern dishes in a small, welcoming space.
The North York storefront — a fixture of its plaza since 2021 — is the first of two locations in the GTA. The second restaurant opened in Mississauga in early 2023.
The restaurant is dominated by a long counter, which separates the kitchen from the dining room. Shawarma spins on a large rotisserie, while rice, soup and sandwich fillings wait patiently on the hot table.The south wall is painted to look like a stylized desert landscape. Palaces and palm trees are rendered in bright colours, making them pop against a background of brown sand dunes.
During the lunch rush, customers stand shoulder to shoulder along this painted wall, watching as the chefs work their magic.Most menu items are portable, making them ideal for eating on the go. Other dishes, such as stews, skewers and rice bowls, are best enjoyed around the table.One such dish is the lentil soup ($6.99), a hearty soup that will warm you from the inside out.Another is fasolia ($6.99), a traditional Iraqi stew made from white kidney beans. Mixed with tomato broth and aromatic spices, each spoonful reminded me of homemade chili.Tebsi ($9.99) is a dish of fried eggplant, topped with tomatoes, onions, peppers and Alforat's signature sauce.
Though this dish is entirely vegetarian, the eggplant has a meaty, melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes it feel almost like a tender steak.The Lamb Samoon ($12.99) is a compact sandwich made from — you guessed it — slow-cooked lamb and samoon bread.
Diced tomatoes and a savoury-sweet sauce are added to give this simple dish a more complex flavour.The Falafel Samoon ($8.95) is filled with falafel, tomatoes and cucumbers and topped with amba sauce, a tangy condiment made from pickled mangoes.
The crunchy falafel and juicy vegetables make an excellent contrast to the soft, warm bread.
The Half Chicken meal ($24.99) is exactly what it sounds like: half of a huge rotisserie chicken, seasoned with Middle Eastern spices.
If that isn't enough for you, this massive piece of meat is served on a mountain of rice and peas with sides of garlic sauce, fasolia, tebsi and two pieces of tandoor bread.
The Alforat BBQ Mix ($39.99) is an even bigger meal, consisting of two kebabs, chicken and lamb tikka, with rice, grilled vegetables and tandoor bread.If you're looking for a lighter option — or want to add to an already stacked meal — Alforat has plenty of appetizers and sides to choose from.
These options vary in both texture and taste. Jajeek ($5.99) is a creamy dip made from cucumbers and yogurt, while eggplant salad ($9.99) and baba ganoush ($9.99) are both flavourful dishes made from eggplant.
My favourite appetizers were tabbouleh ($7.99) and hummus ($10.49). Though somewhat basic compared to the other choices, I enjoyed the former for its refreshing taste and the latter as a dip for my bread.
No meal is complete without a side of amba. Luckily, Alforat sells them by the bottle and displays them prominently near the door.
Alforat is located at 1756 Victoria Park Ave.