When I first heard that restauranteurs Chef Rony Goraichy and Diana Sideris were opening up a another Tabule in the Canary District, a stone’s throw away from their Queen East location, I figured they were packing it up on Queen and moving. Turns out, the concept for their third venture, Souk Tabule, is pretty different from their other full-service restaurants.
Souk Tabule is a fast casual restaurant and while there are a few overlapping items like falafel and hummus, they also offer many new dishes you won’t find at the other locations. Brunch lovers can rejoice – they offer brunch! All day, too.
While the inspiration for this restaurant comes from similar roots, the atmosphere is vastly different from the darker, cozy full-service restaurants. At the entrance, there’s a mini-market space where you’ll find Middle Eastern ingredients and condiments which you can purchase to create your own dishes at home. Not surprising, given that the word ‘souk’ translates to market in Arabic.
The entire menu can be found on the wall behind the cashier. Since it’s a fast-casual restaurant, you order and pay first. The cashier will give you a number and they’ll bring your order over to the table for you. Dishes will arrive as soon as they are ready.
Souk Tabule has a fairly extensive menu which is broken down into several sections: mezza (starters), soup & salad, over rice and wraps & sandwiches. Beverage-wise, they offer a fantastic selection of drinks. They’re licensed so they offer beer, cider and wine but they also have an excellent selection of Middle Eastern teas, coffees, specialty lemonade and craft sodas.
We started out with the Chef’s Sampler – babaganouj, labni, muhamara, beet mutable, quinoa tabule & Arabic slaw ($16). If you have three+ people in your party, this is an absolute must order. It’d be tough to tackle with just two people if you’re looking to order other dishes as well. We enjoyed every component of the sampler but my favourite was the muhamara, a roasted red pepper dip with walnuts, hot peppers, bread crumbs and pomegranate molasses. I had never heard of muhamara before but I’ll be on the lookout for it now!
The sampler comes with Saj Pita, a vegan flatbread which they make to order. I love the thicker pita variety which we’re normally accustomed to so I wasn’t sure if I’d like this version. But I thought it worked really well. I don’t think I’d enjoy it in the form of a wrap but it was great for dipping since it was much lighter and had this great chewiness to it. If we ate the dips with regular pita, I would’ve been way too full to eat anything else.
Mike’s mom ordered the Lentil Soup – pureed red lentils, carrots & celery ($5.50). I didn’t try any of it but she really enjoyed it. She wasn’t initially going to order it but she remembered how much she enjoyed it at Tabule on Queen. She said it was just as good as she remembered.
Up next was the Lebanese Hallum – seared hallum cheese, tomato, arugula & black olives drizzled in a pomegranate dressing ($10). This type of cheese lends itself well to being fried or grilled since it’s extremely firm which means it won’t melt through your grill/grates. The sear gives it a nice crispy exterior and the interior has a nice chewiness in it. It was served with much needed greens to cut the richness of the cheese.
The first of the mains to arrive was the Jedos Kefta Meatballs – ground lamb and garlic in a garlic tomato sauce served over dirty rice (ground beef rice) and topped with Arabic slaw ($12). We’re all big fans of lamb so these Middle Eastern meatballs were a huge hit. Topped with tomato sauce and served with a heaping pile of rice, this was a pretty hearty dish.
My favourite main was the Shakshuka – roasted tomato and red pepper sauce with three local free run omega soft-cooked eggs and a scoop of labni ($11), another hearty dish (if you want something on the lighter side, your best bet is a salad). The shakshuka is technically a brunch dish but their brunch offerings are available all day. Three perfectly poached eggs with still-runny yolks sat in a thick red sauce which had a very intense tomato and red pepper flavour. The generous scoop of labni was the cherry on top! The tart yogurt-based dip was the perfect accompaniment for the hearty sauce.
We also ordered a Middle Eastern staple, Falafel – served over mujaddara (rice and lentils) and topped with Arabic slaw ($11). We ordered this over rice but you can also order this as an appetizer or stuffed in a pita. You also have the option of getting these fried or baked. We opted for fried. These fried chickpea balls had a nice crispy exterior and were light and fluffy on the inside – exactly how falafel should be!
The last dish we shared was the Beef Shawarma – tender strips of Ontario beef stovetop shawarma served over dirty rice and topped with Arabic slaw ($12). Like the falafel, you can also order this stuffed in a pita. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for this dish. There was a spice used in the meat that I wasn’t a fan of (I couldn’t pinpoint what it was) and found it too overpowering. Mike didn’t mind it though so to each their own!
While I didn’t love the shawarma, I thought everything else was delicious. At these reasonable price points, Souk Tabule will definitely be added to our rotation!
At a glance:
- Middle Eastern fast-casual restaurant; the other Tabule’s are full-service restaurants
- Located in the Canary District (just east of the Distillery District)
- Open Tues to Thurs for lunch and dinner; weekends for brunch and dinner
- Closed Mondays
- Reasonable prices
- Extensive menu which includes all-day brunch options
- Highlights: Chef’s Sampler, muhamara, shakshuka
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 4 stars