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Reason to Love Toronto: because we’re serious about our bake sales

Reason to Love Toronto

(Image: Eamon Mac Mahon)

The complaint is so well-worn it’s become rote: Toronto, despite its lively, cosmopolitan dining scene, has an embarrassing dearth of good street food. The villains in this story are antiquated regulations and bureaucratic bungling of the kind that accompanied the Toronto a la Cart fiasco (the name alone elicits a shudder). Last April, a revolution was set in motion when Hassel Aviles, a 31-year-old mother of two, put out a call for ambitious, like-minded cooks to join her for the inaugural Toronto Underground Market, a culinary bacchanal where budding entrepreneurs and home cooks can sell their creations to hundreds of ravenous foodies. The scene at the Brick Works, where the gatherings happen roughly seven times a year, is electric, with hundreds of gourmands comparing notes on their butter chicken and waffles, wild mushroom arancini or huitlacoche taquitos. All the food is prepared in municipally inspected kitchens with a certified food handler present—this is, after all, still Toronto the Regulated. But Aviles’ market is just the kind of grassroots, entrepreneurial operation that was needed to launch Toronto’s street food into the post–hot dog era. And it’s about to get bigger: on May 5, Aviles teams up with Food Truck Eats, a wildly popular gathering of the city’s mobile eateries, to throw an epic block party (capacity is 3,000) at the Brick Works. The event kicks off the Toronto Street Food Project, a broad campaign to get city hall to ease off on some of its more draconian bylaws. Let the foodie revolution begin.


    Who cares about what ‘happened’ in the past? Toronto Life should publish upcoming street food opportunities, so we can actually be there instead of just watching and reading about how much fun some other people had. And try to talk about more than one event at a time, so that more than 100 people can possibly get to the front of the line and actually get some of this so-called amazing food. That’s the problem with Toronto — way too many people for way too few opportunities to actually experience the street food.

  • mmm

    Excuse me but what is wrong with “A LA CART”? I thought it was such a cute tag, it’s too bad what they did with the coulda-been concept was so pathetic. I don’t get why a city like Toronto can’t get their SH^T together and get some real street food culture happening!! We’re so far behind on everything so when an idea that’s already running its course elsewhere, it’s just making waves here. So sad and embarrassing sometimes. I’M NOT A HATER!