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Food & Drink

Could a Toronto underground street food market force us to eat our words? We sure hope so

Could a Toronto underground street food market force us to eat our words? We sure hope so

A couple weeks back, we told you about the San Francisco Underground Market, an all-night street food bacchanalia that we predicted could never happen in Toronto. Now Hassel Aviles wants us to eat our words, and frankly, we’d be glad to. If Aviles has her way, T.O. Underground Market will be set to delight Torontonian taste buds this fall.

For the past few months, Aviles, a Toronto-raised food lover, has been researching the feasibility of an underground market in Toronto. Up until April 26, the market was just an idea, but it seems our lack of faith spurred her to action. “Come on Toronto, let’s do it! Who’s in?” she posted on her new Tumblr blog. And so a market was born.

“The response to the underground market has put me a little off-guard,” Aviles told us. “I’ve received hundreds of emails since last week.” Scores of volunteers and vendors have expressed interest. Venue owners have even come forward offering up their space, although Aviles couldn’t tell us where the market would take place. She did let on that she’s looking for an indoor and outdoor space that could accommodate the different seasons. So far, the plan is for the market to be central and seasonal.

Aviles is also working with food safety experts, health inspectors and a lawyer in an effort to make sure the project remains above board. Ultimately, she would like the T.O. market to mirror its San Francisco inspiration, if our legal climate proves hospitable. The San Franciscan loophole—the market runs as a members-only club, with free membership, to avoid health inspections—might not hold up in Toronto, but she’s hoping she won’t have to tweak the structure too much.

While the Toronto à la Cart fiasco has taught us to approach any new street food initiative warily, we’ve got our fingers crossed. “There is a demand for alternatives,” Aviles insists. “It has become a community-driven event.”

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