Toronto Life - The Informer

Insider intel on the politics and personalities shaping the city. Sign up for Preview newsletter for weekly updates

Features, Neighbourhoods


Gerrard Street East Guide: our nine favourite places along Little India’s main drag

The shop lights on Gerrard Street East stay on till nine—a late-night tradition that started out with the old Bollywood movie house that originally brought Indian merchants to the strip. Now sari shops, glowing neon signs for Kashmiri tea and sidewalk stands selling spiced corn on the cob keep the area filled with Pakistani Canadians from nearby Victoria Park, South Asian families in from the burbs, and residents from the slowly-but-surely gentrifying side streets. The retail bustle is creeping west of Jones, where several new businesses are revitalizing a dreary stretch of empty storefronts, noodle houses, laundro­mats and hair salons.

Start the Gerrard Street East tour »

  • alecta

    #1, Most of the business you cire are not part of Little India. Gerrard East, yes, but not Little India. The Indian Bazaar has more than enough to fill an article without reaching beyond.

    #2, How could you miss mentioning Moti Mahal? Not that I want it to be any more popular than it is, but it serves the best butter chicken in the city, hands down. Rang Home Store is also not to be missed.

    Sadly, since 9/11 and SARS, this community is suffering a significant loss of tourism that is hurting all the local businesses.

  • Shiona

    As one who spent 17 years in south Asia and as a lifetime aficionado of curry and vegetarian fare, I commend you for choosing Halal 786 and Udupi Palace, my two favourites in that neighbourhood. I wish them both every success and hope that their menus and recipes never change!

  • Disturbed

    I can’t believe you would promote this hole of a neighborhood. By far Toronto’s WORST area to live in. Gerrard East looks East Hamilton’s crack haven. Good luck to the businesses in this neighborhood – they will need it.

  • indin food lover

    Most of the places you mention are not even in the Bazaar, but rather are west of Greenwood or even west of Jones. These are not in “Little India” at all, but more like Chinatown East. There are some great places in Little India proper that should have been profiled for this article.

    To Disturbed…you must be looking at this neighbourhood as an outsider bc you are not seeing it for what it really is, a neighbourhood with great restaurants, interesting culture, and some fabulous homes off Gerrard. And with such close proximity to Leslieville and the Beaches, it is a great place to hang out! The Little India Festival in the summer is one of my fave street festivals. Come out and try the ‘hood sometime, bet you’ll be surprised.

  • Christine

    I will always make the trip to Lahore Tika House.

  • Chai

    Most of the places featured are not in Little India as other readers correctly stated.

    Lahore Tikka House is awesome. I try to go there when I am in Toronto.

  • Catherine

    Thanks for this article about one of my favourite “Little” ‘hoods in Toronto! Can’t wait to try Udupi Palace…Lahore Tikka House is fantastic!
    Disturbed – clearly, you don’t frequent this part of town on a regular basis. Your comments seem very out of touch. Little India is fast becoming a wonderful destination for all things Indian AND great real estate (still affordable – but not for long!)

  • Preena Chauhan

    Udupi Palace is the best, the service and food reminds me of a restaurant in India. It’s definitely worth the trip to Gerrard East. Now I’m craving a dosa!

  • Susan

    Thanks for the article! Makes me miss living a 10 min walk away from Little India – mmm, miss Lahore & Udupi (did they ever have their spicy dosa eating contest?)

  • Robert

    I love Pizza Pide. The food is always fresh, and the pizza never upsets my stomach, unlike certain “chain” pizza places (which I won’t name here). Flavourful, fresh food, and the staff are genuinely nice people. A+

  • @sircelebritaire

    Dear Disturbed,

    I guess you are also wishing the new Starbucks good luck on the corner of Jones E/Gerrard E?

    _ _ _
    “I can’t believe you would promote this hole of a neighborhood. By far Toronto’s WORST area to live in. Gerrard East looks East Hamilton’s crack haven. Good luck to the businesses in this neighborhood – they will need it.”
    January 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm | by Disturbed

  • Steve

    Hey Disturbed. Stay out of our neighborhood. The west end is calling.

  • tina

    How did you miss Famous Indian Cuisine? Hands down the BEST Indian food. My faves are the butter chicken, eggplant, shrimp, and goat. Those are just my faves, but I love everything!

  • Rishi J

    Dear writer there are some restaurants not from Little India, unless its extended now, I like Udupi Palace been there since they opened lot of new items and service the best on the street also been to their new location Nitya, great selection of Vegetarian N Non veg…..the next place my fav would be the burger joint wish them all the best :)

  • Errrrr

    I have to agree with Alecta… I think the author has never been to the area before and his boss must’ve made her run down there for the article… missing Motimahal is a *huge* mistake… most of the restaurants are not Little India.. Another catch as a non-regular… Bombay Chowpatty while innovative… def not worth a mention

  • Peter

    Lahore Tikka House? Really? Not only is the restaurant grossly overrated, it’s always packed and the service is horrendous. One of the least authentic Indian experiences you could ask for. Every wonder why they’re never finished renovating?

  • MmmButterChicken

    I’m a sucker for Indian food, especially for this one place in Toronto that inarguably serves THE BEST butter chicken there is (sorry Alecta!)…and I mean the butter chicken from off the menu. It’s the Poonam on the Danforth (I know, not Little India, but their BC is totally worth a mention), right across the Canadian Tire (cough*free parking*cough)…their naan is always great too so that with their butter chicken, you just can’t go wrong, trust me…oh and their shrimp tikka masala (so the shrimp instead of the usual chicken) is just as bada%s…

  • Fesso

    Thanks for mentioning The Sideshow Cafe! Best coffee in the East End! Also, thanks for the Lunacy Caberat Props but who are you calling “low rent” ? (Just kidding- if that description will keep people like Disturbed out then we’ll take it) I also want to mention the Circus Crew loves the Tali at Mahar” it’s the best on the strip.
    @Disturbed: Ya, best you stay out of our ‘hood!

  • Anaida

    @ Steve: Best response ever!

  • Niki

    Dear Disturbed

    Have to agree with Steve, please stay out of our fabulous and vibrant neighbourhood!! You obviously have no vision and probably live in some prefab condo building!! People in the know already ‘know’ how fabulous this area is, and whilst I loathe Starbucks coffee, they dont just open their stores in any old hood…and certainly not ‘crack havens’!! More importantly though, how could the author not have mentioned BBQ Hut??? This is honestly the best of all the Indian Restaurants….their Chicken Tikka is to die for!!

  • S.Parkes

    I live in this neighbourhood. Not only is it safe but the neighbours are great and the proximity to culinary diversity is amazing- Danforth, Mosaic neighbourhood, Chinatown, little India. I particularly welcomed the info on the Centre of Gravity Vaudeville Theatre- we’re definitely going to check this out. As for Pizza Pide- it’s the only place to buy.

  • Newmarket

    My wife and I love to walk the neighbourhoods of Toronto but found a problem with “Little India” Do not venture to this are if you need access to a washroom. There is no coffee shop or municipal bldg. where you would feel welcome. Maybe it is just our age.

  • KiritP

    I can’t believe the number of readers who are upset that the “Gerrard Street East Guide” included more than just Little India. At least we didn’t have to hear any complaints that ‘it is actually India Bazaar’ like in another blog devoted to the area! perhaps the editor should have used something like ‘More than just Little India!’ for the subtitle to convey the exciting changes taking place west of Greenwood. But I agree, if they can feature 21 places on the Danforth, they could have included Motimahal and at least a half dozen East and SE Asian places worth mentioning near Broadview.

  • Kostemo

    Hey Steve,
    Leave the west end out of this. Lots of west-enders appreciate the fine offerings on Gerrard. Disturbed was not speaking on our behalf…

  • Tanya

    I live in this hood and to better “get” what Disturbed is saying, you just need to walk to Coffee Time corner.Stay there for 2min. and you will be offered crack from scary looking women and man in their 40′s. So, ignore them, stroll down Gerrard and you will find amazing food in any food joint you step in.I shop at BJ supermarket and get a lot of organic, good priced yummies.

  • Ricardo in Riverdale

    Lahore Tikka single-handed is the heart of the strip, thanks to God. Best kebab this side of Pakistan!

    As for Disturbed, there will always be nay sayers. Just ignore them, jealousy will get them nothing.

  • Ben

    I have not figured it out. But when I do I’ll post it.Until then we’ll just have to enjoy our shiitgngs on the streets.I’ve seen several new ones since this post.Cheers.k

  • Leslie

    Kohinoor foods…one of my favourite places to shop…especially for warm fresh naan and dahl pouri

  • marc fedak

    My favourite restaurant in Little India is Upudi Palace — their vegetarian thali is great and especially their spicy rasam soup. Lahore Tikka House is also enjoyable. I would also highly recommend that small place on the north corner of Greenwood and Gerrard who’s name I unfortunately can’t remember that is open late (after 5pm) and is frequented by many cab drivers of S. Asian descent (so it must be authentic!) — they have incredibly good and cheap food there.

  • Davide

    Dwarika is our favourite buffet in Little India. We drive once a month from the west end for the $9.99 lunch buffet.
    You get 6 meat and about 12 veg choices and all you can eat naan( plain,butter or garlic-I love the garlic naan).

  • George

    I grew up at 971 gerrard beside pape park during the 60s until early 70s.It was always a rough area but it had great community spirit.
    Bills restaurant on the corner of pape was great for food.
    I read the leaf was looking for new tenants to upgrade its image seems like leslieville is becoming as posh as cabbage town.By the way any one knows me drop me a line George Davidson

  • dr. bob

    Dear Disturbed!

    I have lived in this area for 13 years and have seen it thrive and develop. Its residents are wonderful people who love the diversity and buzz that comes with inner city living – try it one day! Until then, try harder not to be so insulting…

  • Chica

    To Errrrr,

    It’s obvious that you have no knowledge of Indian/Pakistani snack street food which is what Bombay Chowpatty serves. And your comment “as a non-regular” says it all!

  • Ron Sheldon

    Alnoor Sayani, Toronto business man dies. He was both charming and caring of others. Deep sympathies to his three sons, Ayaz, Adam, Ayaan as well as his spouse. A truly great loss.