Meet Elias Makhoul, falafel master and owner of the Mystic Muffin. Elias came to Canada from Lebanon at age 21 and fell in love with our fair city — enough that he ran for mayor in the last municipal election. At his lunchtime eatery he works at a hyperactive pace. He’ll take time to ask your name, ask how your day is, ask if you have any stories — and when you come in weeks later he’s ready to continue the conversation. It’s hard to catch his photo in focus.
Behind the counter he’s a magician, conjuring up fantastic falafels, salads, and his self-proclaimed work of art, “chili on the rocks,” a carefully-arranged combo of rice, chili and salad. The food is fresh, healthy, and inexpensive. Muffins are only $1. Most sandwiches are $3.50. You can also get coffee, banana bread, bagels, and soup.
Our favourite menu item is the Better Life Combo. You’ll receive a plate piled high with green salad, chickpea salad, cabbage salad, hummus, spicy potatoes, two falafel balls, lentils and pita for only $6.25.
The Mystic Muffin is also home to his famous apple cake. First-time visitors get a piece for free. You won’t have to tell anyone — Elias will recognize you’ve never been there before. He’s got an elephant’s memory for faces.
The Mystic Muffin is on the corner of Jarvis and Richmond. It’s open Monday to Friday from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm. Saturdays from 8:00 am to 3:00. Closed Sundays. It’s also home to some of Torontoist’s favourite chalkboard menus. Crammed between the items and prices are little messages (“It’s good — trust me”) and imagined conversations between the staff. They alone are worth the trip.