One of Toronto’s favourite culinary destinations is The Danforth, an area east of downtown otherwise known as Greektown. It’s a popular place to visit anytime, but its popularity peaks every summer when the Taste of the Danforth festival rolls around.
The event takes place annually over the first full weekend of August, and is one of the city’s biggest festival events of the year. Starting on the Friday, Danforth Avenue is shut down to traffic from Broadview Avenue to Jones Avenue and the road is turned over to the crowds, eager to celebrate the best of Greek food and culture.
Over a million visitors take part in the experience every year, making it the largest street festival in Canada!
While there are a wide variety of stages, booths and activities, the true heart of this event is the food. With so many great restaurants, Greektown is always a popular destination for food lovers seeking delicious Mediterranean food (although not exclusively).
Cuisine and Restaurants
Over the weekend, the restaurants along Danforth Avenue expand their operations onto the street, setting up large patios and outdoor grills. Most of the restaurants offer up a few special selections that are easy to eat while walking about, and serve them up from a table on the sidewalk.
Some of the food you can expect to find includes gyros, spanakopita, stuffed vine leaves, and fresh souvlaki grilled up right in front of you.
There are also desserts available, such as sweet baklava pastries, as well as a selection of other non-Greek food from other restaurants on the street (everyone is involved).
Pantheon, located near the intersection with Chester Avenue, is consistently in the running for best Greek restaurant in the city. They are known for their tender grilled calamari, authentic roast lamb and honey sponge cake.
Mezes is also in the running, featuring acclaimed dishes such as their grilled octopus, roasted eggplant with feta, and flaming saganaki cheese.
On the western edge of the Danforth’s is where one can find Asteria, a no-nonsense souvlaki house that is one of the neighbourhood’s most popular takeout places.
Of course, this makes their offerings well-suited to the street-food stylings of Taste of the Danforth. Other nearby options include The Friendly Greek and Mr. Greek.
Admission to the festival itself is free and there a variety of activities, live music, dance performances and interactive games on hand also at no cost to revellers.
For the young ones, there is a “Kids’ Fun Zone” where they can learn about Greek history, art and culture with fun activities such as dressing up like a Greek, learning Greek dancing, and making ancient art. There is also a circus training exhibition, as well as interactive displays from all the city’s pro-sports teams.
As for music and performances, Taste of the Danforth has three main stages: the Greek Stage, the Broadview Stage, and the Celebrity Stage.
At the end of the day, the people of Toronto look forward to participating in the Taste of Danforth every year. Find out more at Totally Toronto!