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T.O. Food & Drink Fest Returns Bigger and Tastier

A weekend of wide-ranging culinary delights for a variety of tastebuds in Toronto

By Monita MohanPublished about a month ago 7 min read
Sushi tacos from Albi Sushi (Image credit: Monita Mohan)

The first weekend of April 2024 saw the return of T.O. Food & Drink Fest, an indoor festival that gathers several food and drink vendors from across the Greater Toronto Area. The festival took place on a gorgeous sunny weekend. I attended on Saturday and was delighted by the variety of foods and cuisines on display.

Several vendors came back from the previous edition of the festival, but there were many new ones as well, giving returning audiences like myself enough of a new experience.

I reached the venue a little after showtime began, and the line to enter was already snaking. This time around, I knew to avoid the kiosks right in front of the entrance since everyone stops there and you get stuck. It definitely felt like there were more people in attendance, as well as more vendors, but I also felt that the layout allowed for more breathing room. I also spent more time in the seating area this time, but I still feel that they needed to add more chairs and tables for people to sit and eat.

On the flip side, the central area with the standing tables was absolutely impossible to stand at. There seemed to be fewer tables this time around and the giant speakers were blaring the loudest music possible right at the guests. I can’t fathom what the thinking behind this setup was. You have to stop somewhere to eat, but you can’t eat if your eardrums are being assailed.

What I did like, however, was that more vendors were open to giving out samples this time. That’s how it felt anyway. Though all the prices were higher (only a handful of single-figure transactions this time), I came away with a much more rounded experience. I ended up spending hours at the festival, partly because I got to sit from time to time to pace out my meals, but also because there was just so much to check out.

Like the year before, I attended T.O. Food & Drink Fest with my fellow writer and twin, which made the experience all that much more fun.

The Drinks

Lavender drink from Bubbles & Co. (Image credit: Monita Mohan)

One of the highlights of the festival this year was the number of mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks available for sampling and on sale. We tried out non-alcoholic rosé and IPA from a kiosk whose name I can’t remember—the rosé was delicious, and I had planned to buy some to take home with me, but forgot. The IPA had a fantastic orange flavour but also retained the bitterness of actual beer, so that was a bummer.

I also tried out some non-alcoholic Portuguese red wine, which was not to my liking at all, but the owners were so cheerful that it made up for the taste.

There was a lovely Jamaican kiosk that had samples of several cakes—I tried the black cake—and a hibiscus-based drink that tasted like Christmas. I wish I could remember the name of the store and the drink, but unfortunately, I’ve forgotten.

Tasty Fountain had several different mocktails on sale, and I immediately homed in on the mojito. I love non-alcoholic mojitos, it’s one of my favourite drinks. While Tasty Fountain’s flavours were good, I wish they’d kept the drinks on ice. A warm mojito is not very appetizing.

The best item I had during the entire event was the lavender lemonade from Bubbles & Co. It was cold, and refreshing, and the amount of lavender was perfectly balanced. We both enjoyed it so much that we had two!

Memorable Eats

Nachos and guacamole at Mexican House (Image credit: Monita Mohan)

Almost everything I bought was delicious; I still thought a few items could have had lower price points, but the food was all worth eating. I started off with two salmon sushi tacos from Albi Sushi. They’ve changed their taco sets so you can choose two of the same flavour, which is great for me since I love salmon sushi. The tacos did not disappoint—the aburi sushi on top was to die for. I’m so glad Albi Sushi came back.

Next, we stopped by at Mexican House—actually, one of the lovely ladies from the store came over and told us to try their guacamole. I mean, I didn’t even need to try the guac to know I wanted to buy it, but the sample itself was so divine, I had to get us a portion of nachos with guac and pico de gallo. The portion was enormous and the taste was so good! That pico de gallo still sings on my tongue.

As I wandered around, I spotted The Daily Dumpling Wonton Co. I had loved their dumplings at last year’s festival, and though still tasty this year, I felt the size of the dumplings had shrunk considerably, and they only gave us one sauce instead of opting for samples of all three like they had last year.

Even though I couldn’t find them on the map, Liko's Hawaiian Barbecue had a food truck in one corner. I discovered them at a different food festival in 2023, and their ahi poke bowl is unmissable. What I particularly like about Liko’s is the portion size of their poke bowl. It’s good bang for your buck.

We couldn’t leave the festival without trying out Toronto’s favourite meal, patties! Bashy Patties had these mini beef patties that were delicious. Just the right amount of spice, with enough juicy meat inside. If I have one complaint, it’s that they were too small and left you wanting more.

Roll This Way Sushi (Image credit: Monita Mohan)

We also stopped by at Roll This Way Sushi—like last time, I ordered the Red Dragon Roll. It was still absolutely unforgettable. I was surprised by how limited their menu was this time, but at least they’d set up their booth so that people could get some wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. The only problem was that all the accoutrement were placed at the cashiers, so you couldn’t grab the stuff without holding up the line.

After much dithering, I finally bought the Lobster Burger Bar’s mini lobster roll. It comes with chips—not fried potatoes, it’s literally chips. I had fun eating it, but was it worth $12? I don’t think so. The staff behind the LBB table were really sweet though, so I can’t complain.

My twin had been looking forward to trying out Happy Twist’s tornados. The experience was lacklustre, at best. First of all, the staff at the stand weren’t audible, so we had no idea they expected us to flavour the tornado ourselves; they had to explain it twice. Parts of the tornado were too crispy on the outside and soggy in the middle, and because they didn’t give us any guidance on how to flavour the tornado, a lot of it was just plain. That was a disappointing experience.

The last thing we ate was Mizzica Gelato’s chocolate and espresso gelato. Though I love anything chocolate flavoured, I have to say, the coffee gelato beat that flavour hands down. The cup was packed with ice cream, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Continuing the Treats at Home

Marry Me Mochi donuts (Image credit: Monita Mohan)

Despite a long journey home, we decided to bring some treats back with us. Last year, Kalamata Ltd. had been too busy to cater to all their guests, so we weren’t able to try their delicious-looking ganache on display. This time we did. The truffle ganache tasted like something from my childhood, and since I love orange and berry-flavoured chocolates, those three flavours returned home with me.

We were also handed some samples of freeze-dried Skittles by Monster Munch Food Co. I’ve never tried freeze-dried candy before so it was great to try a sample. But I’m not sure if this is something I would want to buy—I don’t eat candy and the intensity of the flavour wasn’t strong enough to change my mind.

There are always hot sauces galore at the festival. While I wasn’t all that interested in most of them, I went ahead and bought some of The Daily Dumpling Wonton Co.’s chilli oil because I had liked it so much last year. I really hope it’s worth the outrageous price it came for.

I was also roped into buying Scorched Bonnets’ hot sauce. I hadn’t planned to buy it, but I knew we had to since the sauce on the cheese and cracker sample they gave us was too scrumptious to pass up. The staff at the table were also a complete delight to chat with.

We stopped by at Oliviera's Bakery and picked up two stuffed cookies; a Biscoff one and a Nutella one. We’ve never had Biscoff before, but it’s not a bad flavour. I’m glad we decided to bring the cookies home though—there’s no way you can eat more than half a cookie in one setting. They gave us a sample of their red velvet cookie at the festival, but red velvet is not a flavour I like, and I dislike cream cheese intensely, so that was not a winner for me.

The coolest thing we brought back was the Marry Me Mochi donuts. My twin has been following them on social media for a while, and has been wanting to try them for some time, so this worked out brilliantly for us. We bought a six pack with two churros donuts, two chocolate donuts, one ube and one sesame. The ube was tasty, and the churros worked well, but the sesame is gorgeous. I intend to get some more whenever I’m in their neck of the woods.

Our last buy of the festival was…one litre of kimchi. I forgot how much I love kimchi, and it’s weird how little of it I’ve had since moving to Toronto. I’m glad we found So Daam Kimchi, and took the time to get in line and sample their kimchi. Now we have a lot of kimchi, and it surprisingly goes with everything.

Despite a few issues, the second edition of T.O. Food & Drink Fest that I attended was just as memorable and filled with delectable delights. I’m looking forward to next year.


About the Creator

Monita Mohan

When not dreaming of a one-way trip to Coruscant, I'm usually staring at a blank page, hoping my articles write themselves.

Website: lightspeedwriter.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Monita_Mohan

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