Exploring strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best international food

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Maha's: Beautiful brunch on the Eastside

There's something special about a restaurant on an unremarkable stretch of Greenwood Ave. that attracts a lineup at 11:30am on a Thursday. If you've been to Maha's Fine Egyptian Cuisine—and many of my blog readers have—you'll know its popularity is well deserved. The brunch spot, which opened last fall at 226 Greenwood Ave., offers a rare combination of fresh food, home-like atmosphere and excellent service. 

I started off the meal with a cardamom latte, which was smooth and soothing, similar to chai. Then I tried the date grilled cheese, a luxurious sandwich crammed with oozing havarti, gouda and swiss and layered with buttery sautéed dates. The sweet/savoury combination may sound odd, but it's absolutely irresistible. On the side I had the cumin-dusted home fries, which had a nice sour kick from the pickled red onions. 

For a neighbourhood cafe, Maha's takes an unusual amount of effort to create visually appealing dishes. The Cairo Classic is a carefully arranged platter of foole (ful), a chunky, rich stew made from fava beans. The foole is covered with thin slices of hard boiled egg and a crispy ball of falafel, which as per Egyptian custom is also made from fava beans, not chickpeas. 

The big surprise is the pita bread. It resembles the tasteless white pita you see in the grocery store, but the similarity ends there. This slightly charred Egyptian pita or 'balady bread'—is made of whole wheat flour and is spongy, chewy and absolutely delicious. 

Maha's Fine Egyptian Cuisine is located at 22 Greenwood Ave., Toronto. Telephone: 416 462 2703. Operating hours are Monday to Friday 8am til 7pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am til 5pm. 

Thanks to Lisa & Gabby for the tip.