By Arianna Kennedy
Attending university in downtown Toronto means there’s absolutely no shortage of cool restaurants to eat at. But, if you’re anything like me, you go to the same places so often that the employees know your order (I’m looking at you, dude from Patties Express). That’s why we went out and tried some new food just for you, so you don’t have to. Namely, the mysterious food trucks nestled away in the lot across from the Student Learning Centre.
You’ll definitely need to grab a drink with this one if you’re used to saucier food. The chicken shawarma wrap is priced at $5.25 and comes with traditional toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions and turnips. While the chicken was plentiful, it was very dry and… shredded? I prefer my shawarma meat to be juicier and in one piece. The shredded chicken could have been forgiven if it was less dry. The seasoning was sort of heavy and didn’t tingle my taste buds. Like, I was getting some kind of flavour, but it certainly wasn’t that of the chicken. I know, I’m confused myself. Maybe the taste just wasn’t for me. I also wasn’t tasting any of the garlic or tahini sauces in the wrap, which are staples in any shawarma. The pita was chewy, so that was nice to enjoy as a lot of other small shawarma places tend to serve drier pita. Unfortunately, this was my least favourite of the four vendors, and it didn’t come with a special either.
As someone with a sweet tooth, the crêpe was hands down my favourite to eat. The vendor offers all the typical crêpes like Nutella or brown sugar, but I opted for the more decadent (and most expensive) Kinder Crêpe. Picture your basic crêpe, but with Kinder Bueno bars melted inside, topped with whipped cream. They’re made to order, of course, so you’ll have to wait a few minutes for it to be prepared, but you get to watch the process happen right in front of you. The crêpe is served on a styrofoam plate, not a proper container, so you have to eat it fast or have a friend there with you for support. But this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re having a study sesh at the SLC and need a quick pick-me-up. My only gripe is that it was $6.50 for one crêpe without any add-ons. It would have also been nice to have some fruit or at least icing sugar dusted on top for presentation marks, but that would have come with an extra charge.
Full disclosure, I manage a Mediterranean restaurant on the weekends, so my standards for shish tawook and shawarma are pretty high. The shish tawook wrap was delicious, although not what I’m used to. The chicken was heavily marinated, similar to a curry, and had a bit of a spicy aftertaste. It was warm and tasty, and came in a soft pita wrap with potato and pickles. The wrap itself looked more like a panini and was sort of flat, but I forgave it, because the special featured wraps for $4. Seriously! The vendors in this lot clearly understand the student budget life. This wrap is good enough for a big snack, or a full meal for those of you with smaller stomachs. The kind gentleman who worked at the stand also handed out samples for me to try beforehand, which warmed my heart more than the food.
This is one of the few places with a decent special. On Tuesdays and Fridays, you can get a burrito bowl (yes, the same size as Chipotle’s) for $6.99! The vendor offers chicken, steak and vegetarian options—talk about inclusivity! We went for the veg, and it was pretty solid. The toppings were fresh (crisp lettuce is a must for myself), and the bowl was about half lettuce and half rice, with the toppings like corn and refried beans drizzled on top. It wasn’t bad for the price, but you won’t be getting as much meat as you would from other places like Burrito Boyz or Chipotle.