SpiceCityTo

Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Monday, October 17, 2011

Excellent halal grilled meat across from the Danforth mosque

In the shadow of the beautiful Madina Masjid mosque at Danforth and Donlands, there's a solid block of  of halal restaurants. Makkah restaurant, located in the middle of the block at 1020 Danforth, is known in the neighbourhood for its top notch Pakistani and Indian eats. Makkah is the formal name of the city of Mecca, which is depicted in a large photo in the restaurant's dining room. 


 
Grilled meats are one of the specialities here. On my first visit, I had a plate of piping hot spiced beef kebabs for just $5. It came with salad and naan bread, which is baked in clay oven in the front window of the shop (see photo above). The plate came with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce that was so tasty I had to eat the very last drop.

  
 
On a subsequent visit, I tried the tandoori chicken (below). This tender pink chicken is marinated in spices and yogurt and broiled over charcoal, giving the edges an authentic barbecue flavour.

I also sampled some food from the steam tray. If you're expecting the lukewarm, bland, overcooked fare you normally get from Indian steam tray restaurants, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I ordered the meat thali for $6.99. I got chili chicken--big chunks of good quality boneless chicken coated with an intense layer of spices. It came with piping hot dahl with telltale red chilis sticking out to warn you of its fieriness. The plate also came with perfectly cooked mixed veggies and an entire plate of pilau rice.

 
 
The restaurant was established 18 years ago by two owners from Bangladeshi, although some staff, like the charming man above, come from India. The customers come from a wide range of backgrounds and neighbourhoods.

"I live downtown but I come here because I love spicy food," enthuses one client, Farhad. "I'm from Pakistan originally. My mom was too tired to cook today, so I came here. This place feels like home." He ordered two whole tandoori chickens ($15.95 each) to go.

There are some other interesting items on offer here: you can get tandoori quail, complete with salad and rice or naan, for $7.99, and foot-long kebab sandwiches for $4.49. On Tuesdays, they offer their spicy chicken biryani for a eyebrow-raising price of just $3.49.



Thanks to Miguel and Neeraj for the tip. 
Makkah restaurant is located at 1020 Danforth Avenue at Donlands. Tel: 416 406-2500. Delivery from 3pm til 11pm with $15 minimum order. Makkah has a second location at 2980 Danforth Ave at Victoria Park. Tel 416 693 2222. 

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3 comments:

  1. Wow. I can't believe someone else found this great gem. Makkah serves some of the best indian/pakistani food in the east end. A couple of my favorites are the chicken tikka and lamb vindaloo. They're also willing to make things spicier upon request. Oh and they also deliver!

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  2. Stick to the Tandoori items and you're set. The other curries are too greasy. But their chicken tikka, foot-long kabobs and tandoori naan are amongst the best in the city.

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  3. I used to live in the East End, and I stopped here at least twice a week to pick up food to take home. I think their nans are the best in the city, and their chana masala is fantastic. I loved the food here, and now that I'm living in the West End, I miss it. In fact, this past Sunday I made the trip out just for the foot long kabob/nan sandwich. Loved it!

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