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Really enjoyed danforth this year and so many side streets for parking, I don't know what it is , it seemed this year the food was better and the overall vibe was not as crowded I loved it!! As for freebies they gave out Sambra hummus, salsa and chips, also yogurt
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Here's my 3rd annual Saturday afternoon @ the Taste of the Danforth review (past reviews posted earlier in this thread):

General/the crowds:
We arrived at our usual parking area on Donlands at the eastern end of TotD at 1:40pm and were surprised to find only 3 cars in the parking lot! The morning had been quite cool with spots of rain, off-and-on, but it was now warm and blue sky was starting to take over from the clouds. As TotD opened at noon, we wondered "where is everyone?". Once we got onto the Danforth, we realized it wasn't a ghost-town by any means, just far quieter than our 2 previous visits - and I'd said last year it was not as busy as the year before.

Not only fewer people, but fewer vendors, and more spacing between them. People have mentioned the loss of Zorba's (known for their quails) but we were even more disappointed to find that Ocean's Treasures (known for their various barbecued seafoods) was gone, and Magic Oven, one of our favourites in past years for their great samosas had no stall this year, possibly explained by the "For Rent" sign in the window.

Much of the eastern half was either taken up by things in the middle of the road - a concert stage, a large Maple Lodge Farms tent with a huge line with only what appeared to be coupon give-aways (no food samples visible though surely there must have been), WonderList and OLG contest booths (all long lineups, didn't bother), 2 beer companies doing samples (shorter lines, see below), an Astro yogourt sample station tent, a huge Fontaine Santé hummus tent with a non-moving line, a pay for yogourt stand ($2 for a single serving of Krinos) located underneath the event sponsor's large seating pavilion, and a Toronto Star newspaper stand where it looked like if you signed up for home delivery they'd give you a free 1980's kitchen appliance that had previously been collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere. We also noticed that the amusement rides & games nearer the eastern end were this year positioned on the south side of the road, leaving the north side clear for pedestrian traffic - a good move because last year everyone was squeezed to the sidewalks by them, creating bottlenecks. The western side's middle of the street had a Toronto Argos booth, a Raptors booth, a TFC booth.. and unattended booth promoting a movie.. oh and another one of those Toronto Star booths - all with nobody at them.

Anyhow, from our beginning, heading westward, we got to Pape Ave (not quite halfway) in around 35 minutes, whereas in past years it would have taken us 1h-1h30 easy, stopping in at a few interesting stores or looking at their wares on outside stalls. Food lines to this point were literally 5 or 6 people at most vendors, if that. Around Pape, it got busier and nosier and smellier(in a good way!), less space between vendors, longer lines (8-12 avg, Messini Authentic Gyros being the exception to the rule with their usual 30x6(?) mega-crowd) and Greek music playing loudly everywhere! This is what we came for!

It remained that way for the next 3/4km (to Bowden), after which around Eastminster Church - same problem as always - DEAD.. no street vendors, no music, no atmosphere. We even passed underneath an official Totd banner, seemingly marking the end point of Totd - but we knew better. A couple of minutes walk west, I believe a full km away, there was a huge crowd gathered around a concert stage and a dozen or so restaurants trying to sell food, not very successfully because the crowds watching the stage were blocking access to their stalls.

Having taken 1 1/2hrs to do the north side, at 3:10PM we headed back east on the south side and noticed it was now properly busy. Not only was it busy but a few people were making it difficult for everyone by selfishly and deliberately walking against the flow, on both sides. What's wrong with you people??!! Also, despite me mentioning previously that organizers had been smart to move the amusements to one side of the street, we encountered a large fenced-in area containing a soccer net - set up for a Guinness World Record attempt (most people to attempt a penalty kick in 8hrs) but it funnelled foot traffic on the south from 20-wide down to 4-wide, creating a huge issue and traffic jam either side. And still people were pushing through against the flow! Sampling lines on the return leg were now ridiculously long (10-15 minute wait, I'd guess, vs max-5 earlier) so it was fortunate for us that most of them had been on the north side anyhow (we only hit up Nature's Path and Astro, Nature's Path because their give-away the previous year was great and Astro because they had quick lines due to doing giveaways on both sides of the tent).

We got back to our start point at exactly 4:40pm - so 3hrs total to do end-to-end and back, exactly the same as last year, to our surprise.

Food we purchased:
  • Turning the corner from Donlands onto The Danforth, the first sidewalk vendor we encountered was an old favourite, Ha Gow Dim Sum. We'd enjoyed their red bean sesame balls a few years back and though they had a few other tempting items available, also at $1/piece, we all asked for sesame balls. They were bigger than I remember, and better! Delicious! The red bean paste in the middle soft and sweet, the dough perfect. Highly recommended!
  • The Wing House was bbqing whole squids as well as plate-loads of tentacles - they smelled great and it was your choice for $5. We chose to split 1 whole. Although seasoned nicely, it was tough (and not ideal to try to rip apart with your fingers to share!). Only "ok" we all agreed, we wouldn't bother again.
  • 2 years ago, Athena Bakery had the most awesome-est walnut cake but last year they didn't have it. This year we didn't see it again, so asked, and one lady behind the counter had to ask the other, "Do we have it?". She pointed to a tray on the bottom rack, hidden from street view by something else in front. There it was, massive as ever (6"x3"x3"?)! At just $3 a piece, we took 1 each, and they were freaking AWESOME, oozing syrup and as good as we remembered.
  • Libretto Pizza was doing their D.O.P. margherita pizza slices again, at $3ea (same as last year). We split 1 piece 3-ways. Didn't go far but it satisfied.
  • We hit up Ouzeri for their lamb/rosemary pies again, and they were up $1 to $4ea this year. We took 2. The flaky pastry was great but though lamb and rosemary were visible, honestly the flavours were seriously lacking! Next year, I think we'll get 1 and split it, then decide if we should go back for more.
  • In the middle of the quieter western end, we saw Off the Hook selling open-faced fish tacos. Apparently their "gourmet fish and chips" restaurant was just around the corner at Danforth & Broadview. Price for the fish tacos was $3 for 1 or $5 for 2. We took 2. They also had "walking tacos", which I assume meant "meat". Anyhow the fish taco was a 5" piece of battered fried white fish of some kind (a bit greasy and under-cooked I thought) on a puffy fried tortilla, topped with mixed salad and salsa. It was a messy eat, but the flavours actually went together really well. Decent.
  • Sher-e-Punjab Restaurant had a few Indian offerings, we went for the veggie samosas because we hadn't seen anyone else selling them. $3 for 2, we took 2. Not bad, they had a thick heavy pastry and large chunks of potato, some peas and spices. They had a tamarind pouring sauce and a runny green sauce that I believe was mint-cilantro. Squirted both on at the server's recommendation. Certainly good to try, but not memorable.
  • Baklava - we'd been looking for some good baklava, most places had it for $2.50 to $3 a piece but most of them, including the charity ladies', looked rather small. We found a place on the south side, no name on the stand, but it was just outside of GreekWorld (and the server was wearing a Greekworld shirt) that was selling some large sized portions for $3. We took 3 to take home with us, had them the next day for dessert with the addition of homemade rosewater syrup. They were tasty, and they were indeed huge, but we had to pull out the steak knives as spoons weren't (literally) cutting it. It was like they skimped on butter or something between the many many layers of phyllo. Will keep looking for the ultimate baklava next year!
  • Finally, we hit up the Honey Balls (Loukoumades) stand with the yellow sign saying "$4/dozen" outside Frappé on the south side (at Fenwick Ave). We'd discovered last year that these were the ones to get! I finally noticed that the stand is run by Serano Bakery, which looking on Google, I see is actually located on Pape, a block north of Danforth, explaining why they're harder to spot than a lot of the other stands which are in front of their own business. Trust me, we were getting worried they weren't going to be there as we'd not seen their yellow sign when we were on the north side of the street. Hot, bursting with "juice" and deliciously doughy, they were great! Split 1 dozen.
Freebies:
  • We were only minutes into our adventure from the eastern end when we spotted Goose Island [link], a brewery out of Chicago that's new to Ontario this year. In an enclosed area, they were doing sample sized cups of either their "Goose IPA" (93 score on Ratebeer.com) or "Honkers Ale" (64 score). Decent stuff! Real taste and strength! We had to keep drinks within their area, not a problem!
  • A little further west, Shock Top also was doing beer samples. They had about 8-10 sample stations set up in their enclosed area, each offering visitors the opportunity to sample their choice of 2 of the 3 products on offer: Shock Top Lemon Shandy (9 score on Ratebeer), Shock Top Raspberry Wheat (11 score) or Shock Top Belgian White (a 14). I was thankful for the free refreshment (no free beverages of any kind last year) but the beers were "meh". I'd drink them again, but only if nothing better was available. I can see the raspberry being quite popular.
  • Astro Athentikos Greek "on the bottom"-style yogourt samples. They had a few flavour to choose from, I saw: honey, peach-&-passion fruit, strawberry, blueberry. I chose honey. They were handing out $1-off coupons, too... good for any non-single-serve Astro yogourt, nice! Even better, they were doing sample from both sides of the booth so when we came back along the south side, we hit them up again and tried another flavour. Peach/passion was great!
  • Sabra hummus & salsa & Stacy's Pita Chips - yes everyone gets 3 take home samples. Quick line, very nice products, and I told them so!
  • Fontaine Santé's 'Humm!' hummus - had a huge tent with an equally huge line. We stood there for 5 minutes and said (along with everyone else) "Why haven't we moved?" I went to investigate and saw they were doing taste testings of their various hummus/dips/sauces. I think you had to listen to a sales pitch before they'd let you sample, which was why the line was so slow. Didn't bother
  • Natures Path (health food store/brand) was giving away granola bars again. There was actually a long line (10min?) that we were willing to stand in, and it looked like they were doing a "spin the wheel" to determine if you got a take-home sample or just coupons. Someone came along with a tablet and said "Subscribe to our mailing list and bypass the line", so we did, and quickly left with a granola bar each. Good stuff!
So, all in all, a decent afternoon out. If my math is correct we spent $40 not including take home desert, for 3 people and we were stuffed, and had a bag full of sample sized snacks to take home. Great value! Crowd was down again, and I would say Totd definitely peaked a few years ago. Totd's overall organization could be improved and they really need to fill in the western end with something, but it's a great event and if you've never gone, you really should!

PS: No napkins raining on the ground at Athens Restaurant were seen, nor was there any evidence of it happening. [photo: 2012]. Either: a) we missed it; b) the message finally got through or c) they're being deliberately austere due to the Greek economy.
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I know I got turned off a few years back due to how crowded everything was. So I can only assume that many people have given up on it. Also, there seemed to be less advertising in general.

Super nice day. Maybe people actually made plans to other things + wanting to avoid the crowd.

So many other food festivals, that Taste of Danforth now seems a bit dated. Younger Hipster people (who like to go to places where you pay to get int) are not replacing the people now with young kids/toddlers who would avoid that like the plague.

Foodwise, it's also lost it's identity. Outside of your kabobs, I have no idea what you could get there.
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at1212b wrote:
Aug 9th, 2015 11:02 pm
I know I got turned off a few years back due to how crowded everything was. So I can only assume that many people have given up on it. Also, there seemed to be less advertising in general.

Super nice day. Maybe people actually made plans to other things + wanting to avoid the crowd.

So many other food festivals, that Taste of Danforth now seems a bit dated. Younger Hipster people (who like to go to places where you pay to get int) are not replacing the people now with young kids/toddlers who would avoid that like the plague.

Foodwise, it's also lost it's identity. Outside of your kabobs, I have no idea what you could get there.
Maybe it depends on where in the crowd you are.
Mid way, you could barely move in the crowd this year, and that's WITH Para Pan AM to compete with (on top of all other places to be)
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at1212b wrote:
Aug 9th, 2015 11:02 pm
I know I got turned off a few years back due to how crowded everything was. So I can only assume that many people have given up on it. Also, there seemed to be less advertising in general.

Super nice day. Maybe people actually made plans to other things + wanting to avoid the crowd.

So many other food festivals, that Taste of Danforth now seems a bit dated. Younger Hipster people (who like to go to places where you pay to get int) are not replacing the people now with young kids/toddlers who would avoid that like the plague.

Foodwise, it's also lost it's identity. Outside of your kabobs, I have no idea what you could get there.
Agreed on some points. I skipped it this year, just didn't feel like making the trek only to be crowded and was never really that impressed with the food.

I wouldn't mind paying to get into a venue, but it depends on what it is of course. If I'm paying, I expect quality service, it also get rid of some of the annoying riff raff.
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LostInTruth wrote:
Aug 10th, 2015 1:08 am
Agreed on some points. I skipped it this year, just didn't feel like making the trek only to be crowded and was never really that impressed with the food.

I wouldn't mind paying to get into a venue, but it depends on what it is of course. If I'm paying, I expect quality service, it also get rid of some of the annoying riff raff.
Yes, that would be a good part of the reason why Rodeo charges $50 for AYCE...and not just because of Taste of the Danforth either.
It keeps the riff raff out (better clientele) and it gives people (with money) a place to go to relax and get away from the crowds. (until 8pm when the dancing and live entertainment begins)

As for paying to get into an event, I wouldn't mind paying to get in, as long as everything inside the event is 100% free. That would be great, and I'd gladly pay $25-$35 to get in.
Yes, that means the food is in the form of samples, mainly, but if it means I get a little bit of everything, and maybe some coupons, that would be great!
(including free cans of pop to wash things down with)
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RenegadeX wrote:
Aug 9th, 2015 5:57 pm

PS: No napkins raining on the ground at Athens Restaurant were seen, nor was there any evidence of it happening. [photo: 2012]. Either: a) we missed it; b) the message finally got through or c) they're being deliberately austere due to the Greek economy.
I walked by Sunday night around 8:30pm and there were napkins everywhere! Not as much as in your pic though!
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TOD was just too packed. Stayed one hour only and got one wrap. It was just too crowded. I still loved the experience but the crowds and volume of people made me leave.
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I got a gyros today without any line.
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playnicee1 wrote:
Aug 10th, 2015 2:03 am
Yes, that would be a good part of the reason why Rodeo charges $50 for AYCE...and not just because of Taste of the Danforth either.
It keeps the riff raff out (better clientele) and it gives people (with money) a place to go to relax and get away from the crowds. (until 8pm when the dancing and live entertainment begins)

As for paying to get into an event, I wouldn't mind paying to get in, as long as everything inside the event is 100% free. That would be great, and I'd gladly pay $25-$35 to get in.
Yes, that means the food is in the form of samples, mainly, but if it means I get a little bit of everything, and maybe some coupons, that would be great!
(including free cans of pop to wash things down with)
I agree with that.

Next event up is Buskerfest. I tend to like this one, but the move to Yonge street just isn't the same as when they had it along Front Street/St. Lawrence Market area. Hope they bring it back there.
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It's Taste of the Danforth weekend again!
Didn't find a separate thread yet for this year's edition, so I'm bumping this annually-reused one, as it's full of past years' reviews, and tips.

I'll be heading down this afternoon.
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Another year I won't be going.

Too crowded with gapers and wild folks trying to show off in public.

Waiting in line at Astoria for 20 mins for gyro with fries. Lol

Less freebies than yesteryear.

Not that I go for freebies, but many do.

Only freebie I ever opted for was vitamin water one year and free starbucks iced coffee one year.

Plus no coconut cake and fewer places with spinach pies.

Those who go do enjoy though. It's better than nothing.

Lot's of people to look at if that's your thing and $5 corn on the cob etc.
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The new thing I spotted so far this year is @ the Pure Genius booth: Mocha Cola $1 for a 473ml can or 3 for $2.
Tastes sorta like a store brand cola with coffee added to it.
It's okay, but don't expect a coke or Pepsi taste...maybe (if lucky) a cott cola & Coffee kind of taste.
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i'll pass, there's not much there buy souvlaki or gyros.

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