Shawarma has become a big part of Canadian culture and we can thank the Arabs for that. The delicious wraps can be found all around Toronto, but they get more authentic the farther away you drive from the downtown core.
I am an Arab woman who grew up in the Middle East, and the one thing I miss the most about my homeland is the taste of authentic shawarma.
Shawarma, in my opinion, isn’t supposed to leave you in a garlicky food coma, and it really is an art to finding the perfect balance of wrap ingredients that leaves you wanting more.
One of my favorite shawarma spots in the world is a place called Shawerma Aldayaa in Amman, Jordan, and I enjoy it because the wrap is made with saj bread, flavored chicken and just enough garlic sauce.
You can also add fries and pickles to the sandwich, which makes the experience delicious. And the best part is they are cut up into smaller pieces and it somehow makes it taste way better.
That’s the standard that’s in my mind when I’m trying shawarmas in Toronto. I’ve already written about the top three best shawarmas in downtown Toronto, but there are a bunch more that people should try in the Greater Toronto Area — as long as you don’t mind a drive.
My favorite wrap was from Shawarmama, which is located on Queen Street West, because it was the closest thing I’ve found to the Al Dayaa sandwich. However, years and many kilometers later, I can safely say there are more incredible options around the city.
Here are 6 of the best shawarma restaurants around the GTA if you’re craving that garlicky consistency, according to an Arab (ie me).
Ghadir Meat & Restaurant
Address: 1848 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough
Why You Need To Go: Not only does Ghadir have groceries, meats, seafood and pastries that you can buy, but they have an entire kitchen filled with bites that you should grab while you shop.
Ghadir’s shawarma was one of the first GTA wraps I had that gave me hope for finding authentic Arab food in Toronto.
The chicken is juicy, the fries are crispy and you can choose to have your wrap westernized, which means adding a salad or having it plain and simple, which is how I like it.
Their garlic sauce is also delicious because it doesn’t smell so strong and even if you dip your fries in there, you might still make it to your plans without smelling like a shawarma.
Ghadir Meat & Restaurant Menu
Address: 1018 Eglinton Ave E Unit 2&3, Mississauga
Why You Need To Go: This shawarma joint is Syrian by origin and they have flavors that represent that. However, they do offer other foods like kebabs, and broasted chicken, which is basically a roasted chicken but better because it doesn’t have the Middle Eastern way.
I went to Alzaeem with my girlfriends during Eid and we enjoyed a large platter which included cut-up chicken shawarma, garlic sauce, vegetables and fries.
It was $45 and split four ways made the dish $11.25. Talk about cheap eats.
Shawarma Alzaeem Menu
Address: 5030 Maingate Dr., Mississauga
Why You Need To Go: Yaseen’s Shawarma is similar to Alzaeem in that it’s a Syrian spot, and offers more than just shawarma. But their wraps are really good. I went with my friends recently and could not stop eating both the chicken and meat wraps. But for the first time ever, I thought the meat shawarma was my favorite over the chicken.
The fries were also dangerously good, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge in some crispy potato bites.
Yaseen’s Shawarma Menu
Address: Various locations
Why You Need To Go: If you’re looking for a shawarma spot with Westernized vibes but authentic flavors, then Lazeez could be the place for you.
They have a whole bunch of toppings to choose from, like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and more, that can make your shawarma a bit more filling.
There are also various locations, including some that are closer to your downtown Toronto home.
Lazeez Shawarma Menu
Address: Various locations
Why You Need To Go: Osmow’s is a popular shawarma joint that has been around since 2001 and it is loved by many because it is convenient, cheap, fast and has a lot to offer customers. Also, it’s a family-run company which makes the idea of it even more appealing.
The restaurant has anything from customizable boxes to wraps, salads, daily specials, rice bowls, hummus, falafel, fries, baklava, brownies and even Beyond Meat for those vegan or vegetarian eaters.
Address: Various locations
Why You Need To Go: Adonis is known to be one of Canada’s best Middle Eastern grocery stores because it has such a diverse selection of everything, from produce to halal meats, dairy, deli, desserts and more.
They also have a kitchen that makes the most authentic dishes that remind me of what my mom cooks at home.
Aside from all that, they have shawarma and you know it’s going to be good because everything else is too.
I find it a bit heavy, but when I’m grocery shopping and smell the fresh-cut chicken and garlic sauce, I’m instantly enticed to order a wrap and pick up my produce at the same time.
Overall, I’ve written about my experience at some of the shawarma spots I’ve been to in the GTA, but there are many others to explore. Also, the restaurants’ prices are quite low, but getting a platter and sharing it with your family and friends could be even cheaper and result in more food. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Additionally, my favorite type of shawarma is chicken. I prefer it over beef mainly because I grew up eating it this way. But, if you’re a red meat eater, then I can say that you’re guaranteed to find beef products at the same spots, too, and you’ll have to tell me if they compare to the chicken.
I hope this list can give you a few ideas of what authentic shawarma really tastes like, and that you’ll now have multiple places to check out on your next food adventure outside the downtown Toronto core.