Toronto's best summer street food

Snacks of Summer

Toronto’s best street food, starring next-level hot dogs, brisket-stuffed patties, sloppy Italian beef sandwiches and other delights of the season

Park Snacks

1 This charming Cabbagetown café is straight out of a Hallmark movie set. Up for grabs: an abundance of picnic-perfect goodies, should one choose to spend the day in Riverdale Park. Since 1998, Bernard Dunford has been operating Park Snacks from April to October, serving burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, ice cream cones and scratch-baked treats to the neighbourhood’s kids and kids at heart. For those seeking something even more caloric, his Hungry Canuck ­Poutine—hand-cut fries covered with cheese curds, gravy and hunks of Hungarian Debrecener sausage—is the thing to get. 161 Winchester St., no website

Poutine, chicken tenders and a milkshake from Park Snacks in Cabbagetown

Related: These are Toronto’s best new patios


Fuoco Mio

2 Toronto’s so-called Ale Yards is a trio of breweries—Shacklands, Rainhard and Junction—hidden behind a maze of industrial buildings and meat-processing plants. But none of them has its own kitchen, which is where Frank Addesi comes in. What started as a weekend hot dog and panini pop-up in a parking lot has grown into a top-notch Italian restaurant run out of a 16-foot-long camper van with its own wood-fired oven. Fuoco Mio is a family affair: Addesi’s wife, Jacquie, handles food prep while their 11-year-old son, Michael, tackles odd jobs like taking out the garbage and delivering food to customers. Everything here, including the arancini and all the cured meats (capocollo, soppressata, cacciatore, prosciutto), is house-made. There are no duds on Addesi’s expansive menu, but the pizza—with a chewy, slightly thicker crust than a traditional Neapolitan and just the right amount of char—is the star. 100 Symes Rd., @fuoco_mio_to

Fuoco Mio is an Italian restaurant run out of a 16-foot-long camper van in Toronto's Ale Yards

Fuoco Mio's 16-foot-long camper van comes with its own wood-fired oven

Fuoco Mio by Ebti Nabag

Bhagy’s Bakehouse

3 After a successful stint on Master­Chef Canada, season six runner-up Andre Bhagwandat started a baked-goods delivery service. Now, he has a takeout window in a Scarborough plaza. Bhagy’s serves up square cookies, cakes and cereal bars with an emphasis on nostalgia. For the full experience, we recommend getting an assortment. Early fan favourites include the Cookies and Cream Cake, a grown-up take on a Deep’n Delicious slathered with fluffy vanilla buttercream and crunchy cocoa clusters. And Bhagwandat’s malt cookies—made with Ovaltine and each topped with a golden-brown bruléed marshmallow—taste like summer camp. 3380 Midland Ave., unit 7, bhagys.ca

Courtesy of Bhagi's Bakehouse

Castaways Rum Shack

4 Ward’s Island may not be part of a tropical archipelago, but this new tiki bar–inspired spot encourages us to pretend. Castaways Rum Shack, the offshoot of island restaurant the Riviera, has the kind of ramshackle charm one would expect from a beach town somewhere nearer to the equator than Toronto. The brightly coloured weekends-only outdoor bar and patio serves up frozen piña coladas, dark and stormys, and a rotating selection of other tropical cocktails. The snack menu remains on brand with an assortment of quick Caribbean-style bites like the Jerk Pork or the Cutter Fish Sandwich, a take on the Barbadian classic best accompanied by a glass of rum punch. Did someone say staycation? Ward’s Island, @castaways_rum_shack

Courtesy of Castaways Rum Shack

Related: Where to eat and drink in Prince Edward County, according to these Toronto chefs who moved there


Marq’s Chicago Beef

5 For the uninitiated (those who didn’t watch The Bear), Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches are made with paper-thin slices of roast beef that soak in their own drippings until oh-so tender, served on French rolls and topped with hot giardiniera or sweet peppers (or both). The idea is to baptize the sandwich in more jus, creating an architecturally unstable stack that’s best devoured with a Tide Pen at the ready. Pro tip: get an order of rooftop fries (crinkle-cut and smothered in cheddar cheese, tangy house sauces and sautéed onions) and eat the sandwich over them. That way, when the precious fillings inevitably escape the bun, the fries will be there to catch them. 707 Dundas St. W., marqsbeef.ca

Marq's Chicago Beef serves Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches

Related: Toronto’s 10 best sandwiches right now, according to a guy who calls himself Sammo Boi


Corner Crêpe Co.

6 This teeny-tiny family-run takeout window at College and Spadina specializes in jian bing, a popular Chinese breakfast made of thin crêpes layered with eggs and other add-ins, like crunchy deep-fried wonton wrappers and green onions. It all gets a squirt of hoisin, then it’s rolled up. We suggest mixing in some sausage and potato, which—in a surprise twist—is a sort-of sour Sichuan-­style shredded tater salad that adds just the right amount of tang. Heat seekers can level up with spicy sauce and grab a sweet soy milk to put out the flames. 267 College St., unit 5, no website


The Good Eats by Julian

7 The aroma of burning charcoal wafting through Scarborough’s GO station parking lot leads to the Good Eats by Julian, a food truck selling Jamaican street-style cooking—like jerk tacos filled with shredded smoked pork—to hungry people heading to and from work. Julian Fullerton’s specialty is his oxtail burger, with the meat piled sloppy joe–style on a grilled, mayo-brushed bun, then topped with coleslaw and thick, sticky slices of fried plantain. It’s enough to wash away all that commuter angst. 3615 St. Clair Ave. E., @thegoodeatsbyjulian

Related: Where the founder of Instagram’s Scarborough Spots goes for jerk chicken shawarma poutine, doubles and burgers


Arirang Hotdog

8 Korean corn dogs are all the rage. And at this North York hot-doggery, the trendy snacks on sticks are filled with a choice of pork or—get this—Wagyu beef sausage, plus mozzarella or marble cheese. But what’s on the outside counts just as much as what’s on the inside: Arirang’s dogs come coated in a crispy-chewy batter adorned with things like chicken nugget chunks, churros or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Chip fans will love the one covered in crunchy nacho cheese Doritos, which offset the juicy beef sausage inside. It’s the perfect stroll-and-scroll snack that somehow manages to stay on the stick. Arirang, 5 Byng Ave., 416-223-0808, ariranghotdog.ca

Korean corn dogs from Arirang Hotdog in North York

Arirang’s korean corn dogs come coated in a crispy-chewy batter adorned with things like chicken nugget chunks, churros or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Related: Toronto’s 10 best hot dogs to scarf down this summer


South Indian Dosa Mahal

9 South Indian Dosa Mahal—helmed by husband-and-wife team Logan and Naomi—has been a Bloordale fixture for nearly 35 years. (Their daughter and her husband run an identically named sister spot on Roncesvalles.) Their garlic-mint masala dosa is summer fresh: a fermented rice-and-lentil batter is spread crêpe-style over a hot pan and smattered with a bright, aromatic mint-and-garlic paste before being stuffed with a coriander-heavy potato masala. The massive dosa is rolled up, cut into three more-reasonably sized pieces for takeout and served with a heady spiced lentil masala stew and two tropical-tasting coconut-based chutneys. 1285 Bloor St. W. and 9 Roncesvalles Ave., dosamahal.com

Courtesy of South Indian Dosa Mahal

Yubu

10 Yubu serves up yubuchobap, Korean-style tofu skins filled with rice and other delicious mix-ins. The delicate three-bite treats look like overstuffed pillows. Some standout options are the kimchi fried rice (which comes topped with a darling sunny-side-up quail egg), bulgogi, mala tofu and spicy Buldak chicken (inspired by the popular brand of ­Korean instant noodles). The three- and four-packs, which come in convenient little containers, are perfect for park hangs. 3262 Midland Ave. E., unit E109, @yubu_ca

Courtesy of Yubu

Samba Brazil Eatery

11 Brazilians have an entire category of food called salgados, or savoury snacks. The heavyweight champion? Pastéis. These handheld pies are ubiquitous in Brazil, sold at markets, street fairs and roadside rest stops. The best of the bunch have a bubble-filled, light-as-air shell, much like a deep-fried wonton, that—seemingly against the laws of physics—manages to contain hefty, often very saucy fillings, like tender pork, barbecue sauce and cheese, all in one crispy, paper-thin package. 1646 St. Clair Ave. W. and 335 Yonge St., samba-brazil.eatery.business.site

Courtesy of Samba Brazil Eatery

Related: These are Toronto’s best new restaurants in 2023


Banh Mi Huy-Ki

12 The seemingly simple banh mi lives and dies by the freshness of its components—and Huy-Ky nails it every time. For five dollars (cash or e-transfer only), it’s one of the best grab-and-go lunches on Gerrard East. A butter-brushed baguette with a thin, flaky crust and a smooshy interior hugs lemongrass-and-garlic-laced pork, crunchy pickled carrot and white radish, and bright cucumber and cilantro. Kicky fresh chilies come with the spicy version, and they’ll even add more meat for an extra $1.50. Toward the end of September, during the mid-autumn festival, it’s worth tacking on a homemade mooncake or two. 1046 Gerrard St. E., no website

Banh mi from Banh Mi Huy-Ki on Gerrard East


Nasir’s Hot Dogs and Sausages

13 There’s no shortage of hot dog carts in the city, but this Scarborough vendor stands out for his top-notch street meat and sublime toppings. For over 15 years, Nasir Alhuttam has run his halal hot dog stand from the parking lot of a mosque on Lawrence East. His specialty jerk chicken sausage is served drowning in a secret signature spicy sauce tempered by a soft toasted bun. Alhuttam’s chili sausage is an equally delectable dog that doubles down on the cow: it’s an all-beef wiener topped with beef chili that his wife, Muna, makes daily. 3665 Lawrence Ave. E., @the.man.in.the.stand

Nasir's Hot Dogs and Sausages in Scarborough

Nasir's Hot Dogs and Sausages's chili sausage


Rey Mango

14 A sunny-day stroll through Kensington Market is best capped off with a visit to this colourful fruit stand for a healthy dose of B12—no shot required. Located in front of Latin American supermarket Perola’s, Rey Mango offers up cups full of juicy tropical fruits—like mango, pineapple, watermelon and jicama—that are seasoned with spicy Tajín and drizzled with sweet-and-smoky chamoy sauce. These quenching cups of summer are a far cry from Dole’s canned fruit cocktail. 247 Augusta Ave. (inside Perola’s), @reymango1

A fruit cup from Rey Mango in Kensington Market


The Butcher’s BBQ

15 Home to mostly abattoirs, Gunns Road isn’t a pretty strip, but there’s a wee white trailer among the meat-packing plants that’s worth a visit. Nothing on the menu is over $10, and everything is made with Ontario-raised meat. Originally a lunch truck for the staff of St. Helen’s Meat Packers, it got an overhaul in 2021—and now anyone is welcome to pop by for wings, Philly cheesesteaks or beef-and-bacon breakfast sandwiches. While the specials are appealing, the cheeseburgers are consistently excellent. The mostly chuck patty gets a hard sear on the flat-top, yet somehow it’s still juicy and perfectly pink inside—and the meat couldn’t be fresher. Served on a potato roll with crisp lettuce, tomato and house sauce, it raises the question: Who needs Shake Shack? 33 Gunns Rd., @thebutchersbbqto

Courtesy of the Butcher's BBQ

Sandwichito

16 Sebastian Galvez took his childhood love-hate relationship with his grandmother’s Chilean cooking and turned it into a successful business. With his takeout-and-delivery-only commissary kitchen just off of St. Clair West, Galvez uses his grandmother’s recipes as inspiration for his own creations. While she served carne mechada—Chilean braised beef—on spaghetti, Galvez instead piles it on a crusty loaf from Tre Mari Bakery slathered with garlic aioli. He serves it with an onion, cabbage and cilantro slaw and a side of jus for dipping. The hefty creation has a couple of pre­requisites: somewhere to sit—a park bench, a picnic blanket, a curb—and two free hands. 930 St. Clair Ave. W., unit 201, sandwichito.ca

Sandwichito serves Chilean-inspired dishes

Sandwichito by Joshua Best

Related: Sort-of-secret—Sandwichito, a one-man Chilean sandwich operation on St. Clair West


Maker Pizza

17 Chef Matty Matheson made his name as a burger specialist, but his contributions to the world of pizza are just as impressive. And nothing says street food like being able to grab a slice or a whole pie from the walk-up window of Maker’s Bloordale location. It’s tempting to gravitate toward the classic Dr. Pepperoni, with its curled cups, but Maker’s newfangled pies are even better. The sweet-and-spicy Tropic Thunder—covered in pickled jalapenos, fior di latte, salsa verde and chili-infused pineapple—is the full power of summer in a pizza. 995 Bloor St. W., makerpizza.com

Courtesy of Maker Pizza

Related: Toronto’s best pizza right now


Switzer’s

18 Half smoker, half bicycle, this mobile sandwich stand is run by Alexander Dalgliesh-Switzer, who saw a need for good smoked meat in Toronto. Best bets include pastrami on rye, prepared with local brisket that’s dry-cured, cooked sous-vide for up to three days, maple-smoked, sliced to order, and topped with sauerkraut and pepper mustard. Another standout: the BBQ Bits, a waste-not-want-not sandwich made with the brisket’s crispy, deeply flavourful debris and charred ends, slathered in barbecue sauce and served on a bun. @switzerstoronto

Courtesy of Switzer's

Related: Toronto’s best delicatessens


JunePlum

19 Imagine the most satisfying smoked brisket, braised for hours in rich oxtail gravy. Now picture it stuffed into a golden, flaky patty, X-shaped for maximum corner crunch. It takes Patois chef Craig Wong three whole days to make these over-the-top Jamaican specialties, which he sells from JunePlum—the new cute-as-a-button weekends-only retail shop next door to its parent restaurant. Besides patties, the store stocks a meticulously curated selection of retro-ish goods both edible and edible-adjacent, including candles in the shape of fried eggs. 796 Dundas St. W., @juneplumto

A Jamaican patty from JunePlum

Courtesy of JunePlum

Takoyaki6ix

20 When Kaori Hisada moved here from Hokkaido, she was unimpressed with the takoyaki. The one-bite cephalopod pancakes should be crispy on the outside and jiggly (almost custardy) on the inside. Back in Japan, there are food stalls dedicated solely to the art of takoyaki. In Toronto, they’re often deep-fried from frozen and served at sushi or ramen joints. Hisada’s—made with sous-vide Moroccan octopus and cooked on an imported Japanese griddle—are perfect: not too runny, not too hard and packed with umami thanks to the dashi that’s mixed into the wheat-based batter. 160 Baldwin St., unit 5, @takoyaki6ix

Takoyaki from Takoyaki6ix

This story appears in the July 2023 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe for just $39.99 a year, click here. To purchase single issues, click here.