Street Food Fests

There’s nothing quite like a five-dollar meal, eaten in the open air of Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods. It’s no secret that the city is home to fantastic cross-cultural cuisine, but it takes until summer for the food to spill out onto the streets. But once it does, it does so in a big way. Here’s where you’ll want to chow down this summer.

1000 Tastes of Toronto
Luminato brings its high-brow mandate to a lower denominator with 1000 Tastes of Toronto, a free event that challenges some of Toronto’s best restaurants and chefs to create affordable, five-dollar versions of their famous eats. This is one of the few times you can enjoy Toronto culinary superstar Susur Lee’s signature food without breaking out the plastic, so enjoy it. June 18 to June 19, John St. between Adelaide and Wellington St. W.

Food Truck Eats
The food truck trend has already come and gone in places like Portland, Los Angeles and New York, but it hasn’t yet pierced through Toronto’s red-tape fun-police (let’s not forget what happened to the “Toronto A La Cart” program). This may soon change, as popular deli Caplansky’s is set to roll out a mobile eatery and join a small pool of Toronto wheeled-vendors that also includes Smoke’s Poutinerie. For this fest, at least three out-of-town trucks will join them – Gorilla Cheese, Cupcake Diner and El Gastronomo Vagabundo – and show Toronto what could and might be. July 2, Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St., 416-507-3454.

Night It Up!
and Downtown Toronto Waterfront Night Market
For years, discerning Torontonians have been making the trip to Markham as much for this Asian-style night market as  for the rare chance to enjoy some after-dark street food delicacies from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. As of last year, T&T Supermarket had brought its own version downtown, for those averse to crossing Steeles. July 15 to July 16, Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Blvd. and August 6 to August 8, T&T Supermarket, 222 Cherry St., 416-439-970.

Taste of the Danforth
This is the quintessential Toronto street food festival. Since its inception in 1994, the Greektown event has reached numbers up to 1 million over a three-day period, which means it can feel less like a celebration of Greek food and culture and more like a celebration of corporate sponsorship and sweaty, gawking masses. Is it worth it for some of the city’s best (and most reasonably priced) souvlaki, gyros and pastries? Debatable. If it is your bag, check out one of the copycat cultural events like Taste of Little ItalyFestival of South Asia and Corso ItaliaAugust 6 to August 8, Danforth Ave. from Broadview Ave. to Jones Ave.

Toronto Hot & Spicy Food Festival
If you’re the type to slather hot sauce over everything you eat, maybe you should drop the bottle of Frank’s and head to Harbourfront Centre, where the Hot & Spicy Food Festival offers palette-challenging dishes from all over the cultural and budgetary maps. The theme covers demonstrations, vendors and even film and music, so it’s best not to wimp out. In fact, many of Harbourfront Centre’s excellent (and often free) summer cultural festivals include a culinary component, so feel free to also check out Heart of MexicoIsland Soul, or the Vegetarian Food FairSeptember 2 to September 5, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen’s Quay W., 416-973-4600.

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Image courtesy of Toronto City Life.

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