Spice City explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.
Contain yourself! A new market has opened up at Dundas and Bathurst, made up of businesses operating inside refurbished shipping containers. The market has promise as a place of interest for both foodies and lovers of creative cheap eats.
The Scadding Court Community Centre first launched the Live Local Marketplace last fall, with hopes of revitalizing this sombre corner, overshadowed by the Toronto Western Hospital across the street. They brought in surplus shipping containers from China that have been subdivided into tiny shops.
With the rent at just $350 a month, the containers have been quickly filling up with a wide variety of merchants hawking everything from handmade crafts to long-distance calling cards. Within a few weeks’ time, all the containers should be open for business.
Tony Sabherwal, the founder and owner of the organic pizza place Magic Oven, noticed the booths recently when he was driving by. “They spoke to me somehow,” he says. “I parked and walked in and said, ‘I’ll take one.’”
For $3, he sells “sloppy bunjo,” a dish he describes as a vegan version of a sloppy joe. It’s a bun filled with masala yellow peas cooked with tamarind sauce. “This is street food from the town I grew up in, in northeast India,” he says. “There it’s called ‘bun mutter.’” He also serves samosas, corn on the cob, and Japanese genmaicha ice tea made with brown rice and mint.
Tony says his wife takes care of the day-to-day operations of Magic Oven, allowing him to have a little holiday running the Scadding Court stall. “I’m doing it for fun and to feel connected to people who live in city,” he says. “It’s fun because on the street, people come from all over and ask all kinds of questions.”
Monforte Dairy, a Guelph-based business that is a staple of local farmers’ markets, also has a booth here. You can pick up tasty treats such as goat gouda and Swiss-style cheddar. “It’s a bit of an experiment, working out of a metal box at a community centre, but we’re really excited about it,” says Monforte’s Ben Szoller.
Ben will serve you a grilled cheese sandwich with the cheese of your choice for $5. It’s made with homemade butter and served on bread baked at the community centre. You can also get some top-quality ice cream made from water buffalo milk.
A few stalls down, Leon serves fruit shakes and bubble tea at his stall, The Original One. Leon has rented a second stall and plans to expand into dim sum soon. Other new businesses that are set to open include a bakery and a deli selling Montreal-style smoked and cured meats. There’s even talk of bringing a proper farmers’ market to the site next year.
The Live Local Marketplace is located at 707 Dundas Street West. Hours for each business vary, but they are generally open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Saturday noon–6 p.m. In the summer, the market is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays.
Photos by Sarah Efron. See more photos and future updates on the market at Spice City Toronto.