Spice City Toronto: Dr. Laffa Moves South



Spice City Toronto: Dr. Laffa Moves South

A semi-legendary Iraqi-Israeli restaurant known for its freshly baked bread has finally opened up a branch south of the 401.


Toronto is in love with Dr. Laffa. Converts have been frequenting the restaurant’s Magnetic Drive location, buried deep inside a bleak industrial park near the 407, for a few years now. They go there to eat amazing Iraqi-Israeli food. The world-class falafels and shawarmas are served inside a stretchy, fresh bread (laffa) baked on-site in a clay oven. 

A few months ago, word got out that Dr. Laffa was opening up a new location south of the 401, and Toronto’s Jewish community—as well as the city’s food writers—have been salivating with anticipation. The wait is now over: Dr. Laffa On The Go opened Wednesday at 3023 Bathurst Street, just south of Lawrence Avenue.

I visited the day after the opening and the place was a madhouse. The small shop was crammed with people lining up to place their orders. It was a mosh pit of screaming toddlers, patient teens, and religious Jews wearing kippahs and black hats. The location is mostly take-out, although there are a few stools at the edge where you can eat.

A staffer struggled to make his way through the chaos with a giant vat of laffa dough. By 8:30, the cashier announced they were—gasp—out of shawarma. It took half an hour to get to the cash and another 15 minutes or so to get our food, but no one was complaining.

“We’re happy there’s a Dr. Laffa in the neighbourhood so we don’t have to schlep up north anymore,” says Miriam Rosenberg, a dentist who lives in the neighbourhood. “The food is fresh and it’s interesting, because it’s Israeli food with an Iraqi spin. It has a different flavour and I like it better than regular Israeli food.”

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Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.