No doubt you’ve daydreamed about shawarma. From the moment you spot it skewered enormous on a vertical kitchen spit marinating like a meaty totem of patience and dedication, it hypnotizes. It’s a spell that’s broken (albeit only temporarily) upon devouring every juicy morsel. Before your next craving hits, brush up on where to satisfy it with this list of the city’s best.
COLLEGE FALAFEL | 450 OSSINGTON AVE.
Instead of streamlining its fast food business by narrowing the menu, this family operated takeout counter in Little Italy makes a strong case for menu diversification by offering beef, chicken, and lamb shawarma alongside a rainbow of dressing options, even when the late night crowd comes out to play.
LAFFA | 3027 BATHURST ST.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot that measures up to the immensity of portions and flavor of the dark meat chicken shawarma at this kosher North York Israeli-Iraqi restaurant, where the entire menu is informed by traditional recipes from Jerusalem.
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EURO SHAWARMA | 2706 KEELE ST. ST.
Purveyors of big platters of chicken and beef shawarma filled out with heaps of rice, pickles, and organic produce from the local farmer’s markets, this North York shawarma spot also packs the succulent meat into bulging pita pockets. Come hungry; they anticipate big appetites.
FLAMING STOVE | 21 DAVISVILLE AVE.
A popular if well kept secret, the Flaming Stove is a Davisville lunch counter that with one of the most peculiar dynamics in the GTA. Curiously occupying the space at the back of a Hasty Market, their chicken shawarma is a delicious tribute to patience and flavor fusion, marinated with a combination of 14 spices for three days before it’s served amongst an electric assortment of fresh sides and toppings.
ME VA ME KITCHEN EXPRESS | 240 QUEEN ST. W
Downtown and elsewhere throughout the GTA, Me Va Me showers their chicken shawarma dishes with a generous share of garlic and red onion “seasoning” (read: miniature side), whether they’re ordered skewered, stuffed into the restaurant’s signature laffa wraps, or on top of hummus apps.
PARAMOUNT FINE FOODS | 253 YONGE ST.
Well established across the suburbs, this chain specializing in traditional Lebanese standards offers halal chicken and beef shawarma in several different ways. Hand slaughtered and supplied through Paramount’s titular butcher shop located in Mississauga, it’s all roasted on a rotating charcoal barbecue spit, then laid over a cloud of hummus, wrapped in fresh vegetables and a wood oven baked pita, or à la carte with a side of tahini and/or garlic sauce.
SABABA | 390 STEELES AVE. W
A Thornhill staple since 1987, Sababa is an all-in-one family restaurant/grocery store/pita bakery hybrid that will fill your stomach with mouthwatering chicken or beef shawarma (in a fresh pita pocket or on its own) and send you off with the inspiration to conduct your own experiment with Middle Eastern cuisine at home, supplying you with everything you need to do it (fair warning, though: you’ll have a tough time replicating what they do).
SARAH’S SHAWARMA AND FALAFEL | 487 BLOOR ST. W
Open as late as five in the morning, this Middle Eastern Annex fast food establishment makes a reliable post-club pit stop. Sometimes offering a half price special, it’s a cheap, greasy remedy to late night hunger pangs, and it’s a rightfully popular spot on the weekends.
(Featured Image by Basheer Tome via Flickr)