Azkadenya is the Middle Eastern Fast Casual Restaurant We’ve Been Waiting For
Looking for a place to close your next deal? Let ‘Where To Take Your Clients’ be your guide to the most delectable spots in the city. Try this Mediterranean restaurant’s family-style spreads in an eclectic ’60s Middle Eastern space for a casual meal with colleagues.
Location: 235 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 2Z4
Must-try eats: Traditional dips like the hummus and baba ganoush (and their respective upgrades featuring beets, walnuts or pomegranate) are a must to start, but a meal at Azkadenya wouldn’t be complete without trying a table-side shawarma skewer — brought sizzling right to the table on a skewer with an assortment of tahini, onion parsley mix, tomatoes and house-made bread.
Libations: An assortment of current Middle Eastern and North American favourites including Barbican non-alcoholic beer and coconut water.
Where to sit so you’re in-and-out in 60 minutes: There’s no wrong choice at Azkadenya. A communal table at the front or individual booths off to the interior fit different needs. There’s even a standing counter for those looking to scarf down a quick meal before rushing off to their next meeting.
With locations in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Kurdistan, Azkadenya’s Toronto location is the first iteration of the chain outside the Middle Eastern region and in North America. This Tapas style fast casual restaurant, located steps from the Financial District transports diners into a ’60s golden era Arab pop art world. Vibrant murals splashed across the walls and eclectic accents in and around the dining areas help the eye will wander — at Azkadenya, so will tastebuds.
It’s recommended that guests arrive at Azkadenya with a group because Mezza dining — much like Spanish tapas — is typically a collection of small plates meant to be shared. However, with platters, wraps and salads on offer, there’s plenty for the solo diner as well.
A choose-your-own-adventure style platters also allows for increased customization with patrons able to pick preferred bases, protein, sides and a sauce. The diner is — with price and location considered — one of the most accessible ways in Toronto to sample a multitude of different flavour profiles from the Middle Eastern region.
Expect a traditional heavy Middle Eastern palate alongside select items infused with touches of the flavour that appeal to a wider audience and the lunch-time crowd, including a date arugula salad and a tomato sizzler clay pot.
Try the spicy garlic potatoes and falafel sliders to share before digging into some of the sizzler plates and table-side shawarma. Finish off with um ali (milk-drenched bread pudding with raisins, pistachios and coconut) or the cheesy kunafah balls, filled with pistachios and orange blossom syrup.
Test out the pop of choice for some Middle Eastern households, Vimto. Or, try out Barbican’s non-alcoholic beverage, also popular in the Middle Eastern region long before similar alternatives from other alcoholic brands.