Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants have made a surge in the last few years but Egyptian in particular is largely untapped in Toronto, especially in the east end. Yet, in a former kitchen and bath store up on an unassuming stretch of Greenwood, Maha's has become a local brunch hotspot that has gained a city-wide following since opening last fall. How? By offering a menu and experience more beautiful and exotic and far less predictable than the typical brunch fare.
Using an unrestricted and modern approach, owner Maha Barsoom masterfully redefines the flavours of the ancient cuisine in her café. Take the Cairo Classic, a $12 must-try dish for first-timers. It starts with foole, which is a fava bean staple of the Egyptian breakfast that's mixed with tomatoes, onions and seasonings. From there, a sliced boiled egg, falafel, a dollop of creamy, house-made tomato feta and charred balady bread round things out. Wait — balady bread? It's an Egyptian puffy pita perfect for scooping up all of the leftover sauces. House greens accompany on the side, and everything is fresh, healthy and scrape-your-plate delicious.
One thing is for certain with all of the unique items on Maha's menu — it's clear they take a significant amount of effort to create. The way each portion of food is arranged just so, the care and consideration make for a visually tantalizing presentation. Whether it's the Eqyptian falafel or basturma scramble, it's easy to see why Maha's has become a favourite for photo-snapping diners.
Flip the menu over, and you get a list of seven sandwiches including the Pharaoh's Po Boy, a $9 Cairo street-food export consisting of battered, deep-fried baby shrimp in mini balady bread, drizzled with tehina and lime juice. Other highlights include the Maha's Mind Blowing Chicken ($7) and Date Grilled Cheese ($12) served with cumin home fries or lentil soup.
Don't miss out on Maha's drink roster to give you a kickstart, which includes strong Turkish coffee packed with flavour along with an espresso menu and Egypitan black tea.
It's a family affair in the airy corner cafe, Barsoom's two children, Monika and Mark, help take orders, prepare dishes and make drinks. That's a good thing as there's usually an eager crowd lined up outside waiting for a table on weekends.
Signature: Try Maha's honey-cardamom latte for an instant addiction to the most wonderfully spiced espresso drink you've ever had.
226 Greenwood Ave.