America’s largest weekly open-air food market landed at Toronto’s Harbourfront this weekend, and Dished was there for the highly anticipated launch.
Located at 7 Queens Quay East at the foot of the waterfront is Smorgasburg, the eight-week international food festival that attracts thousands in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami annually.
“Waterfront Toronto invited Smorgasburg to participate in this lot as part of their revitalization project,” explained Suresh Doss, renowned Toronto-based food writer who led the curation of the event.
“We are one of the most multicultural cities on the planet. I wanted to see if we can bring those cities and those worlds to the downtown core.”
The selection of over 50 diverse vendors that are featured at Smorgasburg Toronto achieves exactly that. Speaking with Eric Demby, who oversees the markets’ brand, daily operations, and curating of vendors in America, he expressed his excitement about bringing Smorgasburg to the city.
“When we think about a new city, we want to have a market that represents the place where it is, and feels like it’s birthed from Toronto. And that’s what’s happening here.” said Demby.
“We built a market that reflects what the city looks like. We feel almost overwhelmed by the bounty, which is really the core value of Smorgasburg.”
Dished got a peek inside the array of mouthwatering vendors, and here’s some food options we tried.
Alma + Gil
Alma + Gil‘s Taco de Canasta features stewed potatoes with tomatoes, caramelized onion, and anatto seed, wrapped in a beautiful banana leaf. “It comes from a place of love,” said the company representative. The $9 taco is featured alongside tamales, and the company’s staple beverages, kombuchas and horchatas.
Khao Se is Toronto’s Burmese-Pakistani fusion that brings forth the perfect unity of both cultures in one dish. I got to try the Khao Se Chicken, a delicious noodle dish laced in tangy coconut curry, and crunchy fixings for texture. The $15 dish is available with your choice of chicken or beef, and is a must try when visiting Smorgasburg Toronto.
Anh Dao is a family-owned business that has been around for three decades now, serving Vietnamese cultural staples. I tried the Chao Tom, a Shrimp Sugar Cane bowl over vermicelli noodles, served with fish sauce. The $15 bowl is also available with Betel Beef, BBQ Pork Skewers, and Lemongrass Tofu as the protein options.
LÀ LÁ Bakeshop
LÀ LÁ Bakeshop is a modern Vietnamese bakery inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine. Their products “fuse nostalgic Asian ingredients with modern technique,” and the Croissant Banh Mi does just that. The $6 “croissantwich” is a light and flavourful grab-and-go menu item if you’re looking to try a modern twist on a cultural favourite.
It was now time to get “lost in the sauce,” with Lits Sauces. The all-natural, vegan, low-sodium, gluten-free collection is a must try for those looking to try a selection of flavour-focused hot sauces. I started off ambitious with Lits’ hottest sauce, the OG Boodoo, which I immediately knew I had to take home with me. I then elected for a sweeter option, the Bodhi, which was their take on a spicy BBQ sauce. Don’t worry, I survived.
After taste-testing hot sauces, it was only fitting to find a pallet-cleansing beverage, and Nozomi offered exactly what I was looking for on a humid, summer day. Reminiscent of a summer sunset, The Pink Grapefruit Lychee Soda is available for $6, and was the perfect seasonal drink. The Asian-inspired comfort food vendor also offered enticing food items like the Salmon Poco and a Bulgogi Beef & Kimchi sandwich.
Ky-Mars Cove is a lovely Caribbean-style vendor that offers a fusion menu item that I have never come across before. The Jerk Chicken MacPie Poutine, offered for $15, features baked mac & cheese, savoury jerk chicken, and topped with the classic fixings of a traditional poutine. Each bite was packed with a remix of flavour that was the perfect marriage between Caribbean and Canadian cuisine.
Butter and Spice Bake Shop
It was now time for dessert, naturally, and Butter and Spice Bakeshop was certainly what the doctor ordered. The Earl Grey Creme Brûlée brownie is offered for $5, and torched right before your eyes. For a brownie enthusiast, this was a new take that I had never tried, and has me wanting to come back for more.
Smorgasburg Toronto is exactly as advertised: “Everyone from everywhere is welcome here.” Showcasing the very best that this multicultural hub has to offer, the curated food market is the perfect spot for those looking to take their tastebuds around the world and back.
For a full list of vendors available for you to try at Smorgasburg Toronto, visit the official website.
When: July 23, every Saturday through Sept. 10
Where: 7 Queens Quay East, at the foot of Yonge Street, on Toronto’s waterfront
Hours: 11 am to 6 pm