Outstanding Greek Food at Mamakas Taverna

Mamakas TavernaLocation: 80 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://mamakas.ca/

I had an idea that Mamakas Taverna was probably something special when I tried their pork souvlaki at the recent OssFest street festival and was completely blown away.  I was finally able to visit the restaurant itself, and yeah.  Yeah.  That souvlaki wasn’t a fluke.  Everything is so good.

Mamakas Taverna

It’s the type of place where you order a bunch of stuff and share, which works out well because everything is so incredibly delicious that you want to try the whole menu.

Mamakas Taverna

There’s the spanakopita, which is basically the platonic ideal of that dish, with a crispy, buttery exterior and an intensely flavourful spinach filling.  The filling was actually quite unique, with a mildly sweet, citrusy tang that does a great job of balancing out the richness of the dish.

Mamakas Taverna

There were these keftedes — perfectly-spiced beef and pork meatballs with a delightfully crispy exterior from the fryer.

Mamakas Taverna

This looks like a pretty standard salad, but the meaty lentils combined with the fresh herbs and the nice pops of sweetness and crunch from the pomegranate — not to mention a dressing that complements it perfectly and isn’t over-applied — made it just as memorable as any of the other dishes.

Mamakas Taverna

The octopus was probably the simplest dish I tried, and proof that if you’re working with great quality ingredients and preparing them well, further ornamentation is unnecessary.  The meat had a great amount of char from the grill, with a mild sweetness and nice meaty bite.  If you’re queasy about eating octopus, you need to get over yourself; you don’t know what you’re missing.  Bad octopus can be rubbery and horrible, but good octopus is like the delicious love-child between a scallop and a pork chop.

Mamakas Taverna

My favourite dish of the night was also easily the least photogenic.  No, this braised short rib doesn’t look like much, but holy moly it was ridiculously good.  Insanely tender (but not mushy) with just the right amount of perfectly creamy fat and an intensely beefy flavour, it was basically like the best pot roast you’ve ever had.

Mamakas Taverna

The dessert — a walnut spice cake with yogurt mousse — was just as delicious as everything else, because of course it was.  The cake was nutty and rich, and the tartness of the creamy mousse complemented it perfectly.

Tasty Greek Take-out at Agora

AgoraLocation: 921 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://theagora.ca/

Agora is a delightful little take-out gem from the people behind Mamakas Taverna.  As you might imagine, they serve tasty Greek eats.  The menu’s a bit more interesting than the typical gyro joint, with sandwiches, salads, and more substantial meals like moussaka or roasted chicken.  They have a few stools by the window, but for the most part it’s take-out only.

Agora

I tried the spanakopita, which is a mixture of spinach and feta wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry.  It was one of the better versions of that dish that I’ve had.  The filling was rich and satisfying, with lots of spinach flavour and nice pops of saltiness from the feta.  And the super crackly pastry shell was ridiculously buttery, with about a million paper-thin layers of crispy, crunchy goodness.

Agora

I also sampled the briam, which the woman behind the counter described as a Greek version of ratatouille.  And it was indeed extremely ratatouille-esque, with perfectly-cooked, flavour-packed chunks of zucchini and eggplant, among other vegetables.