Taste of the Danforth: The east-end street braces for a 72-hour “gift to Toronto”

Taste of the Danforth: The east-end street braces for a 72-hour “gift to Toronto”

Rolling right along: Taste of the Danforth roars through the east end this weekend (Photo by Matthew Filipowich)

At last night’s launch party for the annual August feeding frenzy, Taste of the Danforth, we ate: stuffed phyllo triangle, roasted mushrooms, shrimp rice pilaf, olive tapenade, pad thai, a pakora, a souvlaki skewer, another bigger souvlaki skewer, an entire grilled squid, some unidentifiable pink stuff, a barbecued rib, a Portuguese custard tart, another helping of pad thai, some Singapore noodles, red pepper dip and gnocchi. We were crammed into resto-bar-lounge The Local Company and, like the rest of the fooderati and media types present, we either had our eyes trained on the food or wore the glazed over expression of a cadet emerging from the trenches. That’s roughly what visitors can expect this weekend at Taste of the Danforth, when over one million eaters will descend on Greektown, from Broadview to Jones, for 72 hours of food, culture, entertainment and more food.

“It’s kind of like our gift to Toronto,” said director Howard Lichtman, who expects crazier and bigger crowds than previous years, thanks to the recession. “People keep talking about staycations—well instead of flying away, this is the kind of thing to come to, because it’s free.” (If only the post-gorge Pepto was free too.)

Now in its 16th year, Taste of the Danforth has expanded beyond its old Mediterranean mainstays to include the Thai, Latin, halal and pub restaurants that now dot the Avenue. One hundred and seventy-five tasting stations have permits to serve their fare this year, but with only two beer stations, we wonder how wise it is to include a Mount Olympus climbing wall and belly dancing demonstrations.

Angelos Economopoulos, proprietor of The Local Company and a five-year veteran of the event, expects to draw two to three times the usual weekend volume. As any Summerlicious insider knows, though, more isn’t necessarily merrier for front of house. When we ask what part of the event he’s most looking forward to, Economopoulos responds: “Monday.”

Yikes. Don’t forget to tip your server.

Taste of the Danforth runs until August 9. For a full list of events and participating restaurants, please visit tasteofthedanforth.com.