What’s on the menu at Miznon, Canada’s first location of the Tel Aviv–based Mediterranean street food chain
Step right up for whole roasted cauliflowers to go
Contact: 1235 Bay St., 416-922-2639, miznonca.com, @miznonto
Chef-owner: Eyal Shani
Accessibility: Fully accessible
Eli Benchetrit, the Israeli-born president of Miznon Canada, came to Toronto at the age of five but has spent every summer since in Israel. On one of these trips 10 years ago, he was taken by the freshness, quality and buzz of the Mediterranean street food hub Miznon. From then on, he made it a pit stop every time he was in the area. When Benchetrit learned that the brand had opened a location in New York, he wondered if it would ever make it to Canada. Then, when the pandemic prevented him from travelling, he tried to recreate chef Eyal Shani’s Minute Steak in his kitchen and pretend he was enjoying a meal at Miznon, which had become his home away from home. Though Benchetrit is an accomplished cook, that feeling just couldn’t be reproduced, so he—a virtual stranger to Shani—slid into his Instagram DMs and asked if he would be interested in coming to Toronto. The answer, we know now, was yes.
While this particular location is set up to serve the Yorkville crowd, the restaurant—with its cauliflower crates decoratively on display and a tomato paperweight on each table—is staunchly casual, a place where the food is fresh and hand-held, likely in a pita, probably eaten on the go. To that end, the warm and pillowy pockets, often brimming with fresh vegetables tinged with za’atar and punched up with Shani’s green chili sauce, are ordered at the counter and then brought to the tables by food runners. But the restaurant’s general manager, Eyal Kassirer, makes it clear: “We aren’t a fast-casual restaurant—good pita takes time to prepare.”
One would be hard-pressed these days to find a Mediterranean menu without a whole roasted cauliflower confidently on display, but Shani claims to have started it all at Miznon. The sweet, tender baby cauliflower is first boiled in salt water, then roasted in olive oil and cooked to be gently pulled from the stem and eaten. And, while cutlery is available, the menu encourages hand-to-mouth eating, from the falafel burger to Benchetrit’s top pick, the Minute Steak, thin slices of juicy rib-eye stuffed into a pita, not over-sauced but quietly complemented with all the necessary accoutrements.
With only three cocktails and two beers on offer (Toronto’s Burdock and Israel’s Goldstar), Miznon continues its mission to keep things simple. Standout signature drinks include the smoked sage negroni, a classic blend of gin, vermouth and Campari infused with smoked sage leaves, and the Bright and Stormy, a lighter take on the classic cocktail made with golden rum and ginger beer.
Every day at opening time, in each Miznon location across the globe, a rotating member of the team blares their favourite song and burns sage on a cast-iron pan, a ceremony to make the space fresh for a new day. The urban design—subway tiles, graffiti art, mismatched industrial chairs—mirrors the energy of a street-food spot buzzing with people to feed. As spiritual as the space may be, it’s definitely not pretentious: everything from the slapdash scrawls on the walls to the wooden stadium seating and paper-covered tomato crate tables tells customers to go ahead and eat with their hands.