You know it’s the holidays when people start taking pictures of their baking and posting them online. And for some reason, their Christmas trees too. Could never figure that one out, but that’s another story.
Can’t bake? Don’t want to? Here’s a list of Greek bakeries in Toronto that I think are worth your time, money and all the parking headaches.
The upside to this place is that you get pretty much everything you need under one roof. Groceries, pastries, the selection here is solid with plenty of fresh to choose from. And they provide what you need for children’s parties, wedding cakes, special occasion stuff, name it.
The downside is that because it’s so busy you often get treated like a number, customer service is iffy. On one occasion, ignored completely after raising a concern about a pastry sold. Here’s the thing. This place used to be cool. Like a band that plays small clubs and bars, lives and thrives for the music it writes and sings, gets paid in alcohol and comes back to play whenever they get invited.
Ya, that band. The band that’s all about the music.
But when that band gets ‘discovered’, plays sold out shows to self-entitled mainstreamers and forgets a bit about the quality of their music, they become all about the money. That’s Serano to me.
A one-time small guy who made really great stuff, turned into a big guy on the block who sells more things but compromised a bit on customer service and a bit on quality. Don’t get me wrong, the pastries are good and I understand that when business is good, you grow. But with growth comes greater responsibility. I mentioned a legit concern…buddy’s tooth got chipped and dislodged after biting down on what should have been a soft pastry. Manager wouldn’t hear of it. Bite careful my friends.
Where is it?
830 Pape Avenue, few blocks north of Danforth Ave.
Subway: Pape Station
Want attitude with that pastry? Hit up Athena. I don’t care much for the attitude, but because I understand the attitude, it doesn’t concern me. It’s old school. It’s the can’t-be-bothered-but-we-really-love-having-your-business attitude. The ‘why-aren’t-you-having-babies-yet-don’t-you-know-you’re-old’ attitude here. It’s funny if you get it. If you don’t, then you’ll be offended.
I like this place because it’s smaller, and it’s more intimate. There are plates and vases depicting mythical Greece scattered throughout the display window for sale, Greek and Mediterranean products to buy inside as well as several different types of pastry. It’s all good. You can get on a 1st-name basis with the Owners here and have a bit of conversation to go along with the whole buying experience. Fresh stuff, well priced and on the Greek strip.
Where is it?
598 Danforth Avenue, just west of Pape Avenue
Nearest subway station: Pape Station
I like Elite because they don’t buy into the whole Greek Town politics. They’re outside of it. Way outside of it. And because of that, you get better, more personable service. These guys can be bothered because they don’t seem to take things for granted. And because they’re in the east end, you don’t have to drive to Greek Town to get what you need. It’s a deli, it’s a bakery with pastries and cakes, it’s a grocery store and it’s a pleasant experience for a good price. Enough said.
Where is it?
1961 Kennedy Road in Scarborough
Nearest subway station: Ellesmere Station
I feel the same about this place as I do about Elite. It’s the type of place that you can at least have a conversation with the Owner and find out more about the quality of the product you’re buying. It’s not an in-and-out kind of thing. Family owned, the place has been in business for 40 years, making everything from pastries to homemade tzatziki and selling imported goods, various spreads, olives and feta cheese as well as ceramics.
Where is it?
811 St. Clair Avenue West
Nearest Subway station: St. Clair West station – get on the streetcar and go west a few blocks. It will be on the south side.
Deli. Bakery. Cafe. Another family owned business, these guys are pretty centrally located, keep things efficient and have plenty of everything you could need made fresh, competitively priced and ready to go. Yes, you’ll have some attitude here too but the fact that you can do some shopping, get a pastry and a coffee and enjoy them in their in-store cafe is a big bonus. In other words, why wait until you get home to eat, sit down now and indulge.
Where is it?
405 Donlands Avenue
Nearest Subway station: Donlands station (head north to O’Connor Drive)
Stany Greek Bakery
This place is the size of your living room, has the walking space of your pantry and looks like an organized basement. But you don’t need big size to create big quality.
It has solid mom and pop charm, doing something special, putting a little more heart into their product and delivering products and services the traditional, mild-mannered Greek way. Quality of pastry is amazing, putting in splashes of ingredients that make it that much more delectable all while providing cute, hospitable and sincere service at great prices. Overall, a great experience.
Where is it?
1015 Pape Avenue
Nearest Subway station: Pape station
Wondering what to get when you’re at any of these bakeries? That’s part of the fun. There are so many options and so many tastes, it’s really up to you and what you feel like eating. Just be aware that many Greek pastries have nuts in them so always ask before you consume.
Did I miss one? Got better suggestions? Hit me up and tell me what you think. Don’t be shy. Share!
Jim Bamboulis has held several posts over the past 12 years, including National Sportscaster, Food Host and Writer, Talk Show Host, Olympic Researcher and Travel Film-maker.
Born and raised in Toronto, Jim learned early on that the combination of travel and food meant ultimate living. Combining his insatiable creative spirit and desire to document his travels, Jim took his unshakable travel bug and set off to explore. Add the fact that Jim also grew up in a Greek household and he learned that not only does Mom always make the best meals, but as importantly learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the countless beautiful cultures and the integral role food plays in every corner of the World.
In August 2009, Jim founded Travel Mammal, a site that brings together his travels and experiences (both good and terrifying) with the hope that others are inspired to share their own. We are all storytellers, especially when it comes to travel and food. He urges everyone to be inspired, explore and love the world and the people that share it with us. Or in other words, Live to Travel and travel to live!