Mamakas | 80 Ossington Avenue | ★★★★ | $$$
Over the last year, Mamakas has been repeatedly named as the best Greek restaurant in Toronto. That comes as no surprise, as the stretch of Ossington between Dundas and Queen hosts some of the city’s best restaurants (looking at you, Union and Pizzeria Libretto).
This taverna has been building its name on its offering of classic Greek fare against a “contemporary canvas”, which is to say that each dish has a lovely authentic, yet fresh and modern quality to it. The space is designed to feel like you’ve been transported to a family restaurant in Greece, where all of the dishes are meant to be shared and the seafood comes from the bustling open air fish markets earlier that morning.
One of Mamakas’ first draws is the interior aesthetic. During the day, the large windows let in swathes of natural light, illuminating the whitewashed concrete blocks and the marble countertop of its open front kitchen, and giving the place an airy feel.
After the sun has set, the restaurant takes on a homey atmosphere, with the comforting clamour of steel and brass pots and pans, the warm wood accents, and the array of string lights hanging in the back half of the room.
Outside of the all-Greek wine and beer list, Mamakas also offers a selection of delicious featured cocktails (try the Aphrodite and Vareli). After the cocktails, we enjoyed a few glasses of white and red that went great with our meal.
The food, by far, lives up to its reputation. Each of the dishes at Mamakas are incredibly rich in flavour and well-balanced. We tried an array of items on the menu and didn’t get a single miss.
Of the starters, we tried the Halloumi, Spanakopita (made in an unique spiral), and the Rodi salad.
For the entrée, trying the Psári (whole grilled fish of the day) is an absolute must. The seabass was perfectly salted and a great size for the four of us to share, knowing that we’d also try a few other mains.
Every time we visit a restaurant that has octopus, that dish needs to be ordered. Mamakas’ grilled octopus with Santorini fava, capers, and pickled onions was one of the best we’ve ever had.
And for red meat lovers, try the Stifádo. The beef cheek was so tender and melt-in-your-mouth, we wanted to order three more.
Make sure you don’t miss trying the Tiganités Patátes – a side dish of hand-cut potatoes drizzled with feta and accompanied by a spicy pepper sauce.
For dessert, we went traditional and got the baklava, which was the perfect finish to a wonderful meal. Baklavas can tend to be overly sticky-sweet, but this one was just right and extra delightful topped with milk & honey ice cream.
On aesthetic alone, Mamakas is worth booking a reservation for. If you’re looking for a new place to try in Toronto, this is your next destination. Be sure to let me know how it was for you!
Every month, my friends and I try a different restaurant in Toronto that we’ve never been to before in search of great food and delicious drinks. Follow me on Instagram @karriekwong to see what we’re eating next!
Have a recommendation for us to try? Let me know in the comments below!