Old School Burritos at Burrito Gordito

Burrito GorditoLocation: 120 Peter Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.burritogordito.ca/

It’s hard to imagine this now, but there was a time in Toronto when you couldn’t find a shop selling baby-sized burritos on every other block.  But of course, Burrito Boyz opened on Peter Street in 2003 and basically launched a city-wide obsession.

After a split between the owners, that spot became Burrito Banditos, and now it’s Burrito Gordito.  I have no idea if either of the original Burrito Boyz boys are involved here, but the menu is pretty much the same.

Burrito Gordito

I ordered the steak burrito, which was always my favourite back in the original Burrito Boyz days, and yeah, it’s still good.  I don’t know if it’s quite as tasty as I remember it being way back in the early aughts, but then how can you possibly compete with warm and fuzzy memories from well over a decade ago?

Burrito Gordito

The quality of the steak itself is quite good, and there’s a generous amount of it.  It’s nice and tender but still has a satisfying chew, and it has a mild but enjoyable beefy flavour.

As for the rest of it, it’s as crammed with rice, beans, and sauces as you’re expecting, with a nice variety of zippy flavours.  I ordered it spicy and it was barely hot at all (I remember it being legitimately fiery back in the Burrito Boyz days), but aside from that it’s quite satisfying.

Burrito Gordito

It’s also nicely toasted on the outside — they even roll it over to toast it on its sides, which is a nice touch.

Tasty Turkish Flatbread at Best Istanbul Restaurant

Best Istanbul RestaurantLocation: 235 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://bestistanbul.ca/

I recently had a pide at Byblos Uptown that was good but not great; now here comes Best Istanbul Restaurant to show them how it’s really done.

I tried a couple of pides, and they were both seriously delicious.  There was the Sucuk Pide (“Turkish flatbread with mozzarella, sucuk meat and eggs”) and the Veggie Pide (“mozzarella, spinach and feta cheese”).

Best Istanbul Restaurant

Both were quite good, though the sucuk was my favourite of the two.  If you’re unfamiliar with sucuk (which is sometimes spelled sujuk), it’s a really tasty, intensely-spiced sausage that’s kind of like a turbo-charged version of pepperoni.  It’s so good.

Best Istanbul Restaurant

It works perfectly on the pide, with its assertive flavour matching perfectly with the mild, gooey cheese.  The crust is great too, with a nice exterior crispiness and a satisfyingly chewy/fluffy interior.  I didn’t notice the egg, however; either they forgot about it (the picture on the menu shows a full egg yolk on the pide), or they mixed it right in with the cheese (though it didn’t taste like they did).

Best Istanbul Restaurant

The Veggie was quite tasty as well, though the crust was slightly thinner and crispier, which wasn’t quite as satisfying as the other one.  It was also a bit underseasoned, though a spritz from the accompanying lemon wedge easily took care of that problem.

Pizza and Gelato at Eataly

EatalyLocation: 55 Bloor Street West, Toronto (inside the Manulife Centre)
Website: https://www.eataly.ca/

After years and years of speculation and hype, Eataly finally opened in Toronto last month; judging by the intense crowds, it’s a hit.  Apparently there were lines just to get in for the first few weeks, and on a recent visit on Saturday, the place was absolutely packed.

Eataly

So was it worth the wait?  It’s hard to say based on one relatively brief visit, but I’m gonna say yeah, it was.  It’s basically an enormous, high-end Italian grocery store crossed with a food hall.  They sell all kinds of really interesting looking stuff, and all the food I tried was tasty.  It’s delightful.

I tried a couple of things.  First up was a pizza at La Pizza & La Pasta, a sit-down restaurant with a wood-burning oven that pumps out authentic Neapolitan pizzas.

Eataly

The meal started with some seriously good-quality bread, which came with a bowl of intensely nutty olive oil for dipping.

As for the pizza, I had to try the margherita.  As I’ve said before, I think it’s one of the world’s few perfect foods.  It’s also a great way to judge the quality of a pizza joint; its simplicity puts the technique of the kitchen in full display.  There’s no fancy ingredients to hide behind.

Eataly

The version they serve here didn’t blow me away — the crust was slightly lacking in substance and flavour — but it was a solid B+.  In particular, the pizza had a perfect amount of char from the blazing hot oven.   The person manning the oven clearly knows what he’s doing.

Eataly

Just around the corner from the restaurant is Il Gelato Artigianale, which has a whole bunch of tasty-looking flavours of gelato on offer.  I went with stracciatella, and I quite enjoyed it.

Eataly

I found it a bit overly sweet at first, but the combo of the sweet ice cream and the very bitter chocolate (they’re definitely using a darker chocolate than the norm) won me over.  And the gelato itself is nice and creamy, even if it was slightly on the thin side.

Subtle, Tasty Ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Hakata Shoryuken RamenLocation: 225 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.hakatashoryuken.com/

A lot of times, the broth in a bowl of Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen can be overwhelmingly porky.  The one-note pork flavour can get a bit wearying.

I’m normally not a big condiments guy — I’ll just eat it as it comes — but with this type of ramen, condiments tend to be necessary.  In particular, pickled ginger does a good job of adding some vibrancy and cutting through the soup’s richness.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Oddly, however, the Hakata ramen at Hakata Shoryuken Ramen has the opposite problem; the flavour isn’t in-your-face at all.  It’s surprisingly mellow.

It’s unexpectedly low-key, but quite tasty.  The soup is nice and creamy, and though the porky flavour is subtle, it’s definitely there.  It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s a pleasant bowl of soup.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

The pickled ginger was still necessary, however — it gave the soup some welcome pops of flavour.  It’s a fifty cent add-on, but it’s worth ordering.

The egg was another add-on ($1.50), and it wasn’t great.  It was bland, and the texture was just odd — it was somewhere between an onsen tamago and a traditional ramen egg, and it wasn’t as good as either.

Hakata Shoryuken Ramen

Everything else was solid.  The chashu, in particular, was tender, tasty, and perfectly fatty.  The noodles were slightly too soft, but otherwise got the job done.

An Odd “Dessert” at 7 Baker

7 BakerLocation: 3 Wellesley Street West, Toronto
Website: https://7baker.ca/

The Chocolate Lava Croissant at 7 Baker is interesting?  It’s quite tasty, but also… different.

It’s a high quality pastry, no doubt about it.  The croissant is top-notch; it’s nice and buttery, with a good level of exterior crispiness and a tender texture.  It’s not the best croissant I’ve ever had, but it’s clearly above average.

7 Baker

It’s filled with an intense, cocoa-packed chocolate pudding that’s creamy and tasty but also… not sweet.  Not even a little bit.

7 Baker

It’s weird.  It generally tastes good (though without a little sweetness to round things out, the bitterness of the cocoa is overly pronounced), but with the lack of sugar, I’m not sure what it is.  It’s ostensibly a dessert, but… desserts are supposed to be sweet, aren’t they?

I certainly didn’t dislike eating it, but it’s flummoxing.  I’m flummoxed by it.