Forget Uber Eats! Order This via Facebook

Josephine Louka Mesho runs a Facebook business making home-cooked Syrian dishes in the heart of Riverdale

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

by Marlene de Leon

Let’s face it: you’re busy. By the time you’ve had your coffee in the morning, you’ve probably dealt with a crying toddler, answered three urgent emails from your boss and somehow managed to find and put on socks that actually match.

After the long day ahead of you, the last thing you want to think about is what to cook for dinner, and the last thing you want to eat is a soggy pizza, a wilted salad from that diner halfway across town or a melted McFlurry for dessert.

Luckily for you, Josephine Louka Mesho has come to the rescue.

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

Along with tens of thousands of Syrian families who made the journey to Canada in 2016, Mesho, her husband, Msbah Mesho Olbeh, and their three children moved into a community co-op housing unit in Riverdale. Looking for a source of income, Mesho turned to social media instead of social assistance, cooking authentic Syrian food for local Torontonians.

“I like to show people something nice from our country – our culture and our food”, Mesho emphasizes. She is passionate about showing Canadians that Syria has more to offer than the conflict that it’s known for.

In January 2017, she started a business through a Facebook page called Josephine’s Syrian Kitchen. Mesho and her husband post the menu on Wednesday and accept orders throughout the week to be picked up the following Monday. All of the food is cooked the same day out of a commercial kitchen in their housing unit next to Withrow Park.

“We love this neighbourhood… They love to try the different foods!” Mesho beams about Riverdale.

Offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, Mesho’s menus include kebabs, fresh hummus, tabbouleh and various middle-eastern dishes. At $55, each meal feeds a family of four.

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

photo courtesy of Josephine's Syrian Kitchen Facebook page

Just as Mesho helps feed your family, your support helps Mesho feed hers. But at the end of the day, this business is more to Mesho than just a source of income; it’s a passion.

“I love to cook my food… I am always in the kitchen,” she smiles.

All of her food is made with the best ingredients in the same style that she prepares for her own family. With over 600 Facebook page loyal followers who continue to order her food, the quality of her fresh home-cooked dishes speaks for itself.

Mesho hopes to cater parties and events in the future, and is considering teaching cooking classes.

See what Riverdale is raving about and try Josephine’s Syrian Kitchen for yourself!

Josephine's Syrian Kitchen
100 Bain Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1E8 (Pick-Up Location)

Grazing with the neighbourhood at Goat Coffee Co.

by Emily Anne Fullerton

Historically, coffee shops have always been a place of gathering. A place to talk politics, catch up with old friends, and a place to focus when you have a few too many things on your to-do list. And now, what used to be a run-down Cash for Gold has quickly become one of Riverdale’s community hot spots.

Everyone from students needing a chilled-out place to do their homework, to sharply dressed professionals and politicians holding meetings, to mommy groups of 12 with their newborn babies nestled in their arms, Goat Coffee Co. is truly a place where the community gathers.

Opened in 2014, business owners Anna and Damian Michaelidis or “Mama Goat” and “Papa Goat,” as they lovingly refer to each other as, have been dedicated to providing members of their community with excellent local products and customer service that resonates on a deep and personal level.

As long-time members of the Riverdale community, and with Anna being a seasoned real estate professional, the couple wanted to create a local hub with style and pizzazz. With a space on the corner of Pape and Sammon Avenues ripe for the taking, they surveyed the neighbourhood to find out exactly what should go there. The neighbourhood asked, and they received: a coffee shop.

As a result, Anna and Damian have created a space that is welcoming, vibrant, artistic and indie: a direct reflection of the residents who go there.

The decor is rustic and beautiful. “Papa Goat” himself has done all of the woodwork using repurposed old whiskey barrels from the 1800s. There are hanging Edison light bulbs and cozy exposed brick. And of course, there’s the star of many Instagram photos, the signature red and light-up letters spelling “GRAZE” on the main wall, enticing passersby to stop in and do exactly that.

And they won’t be disappointed if they do. The brewed coffee is truly exceptional. The chef is cooking up incredible brunch-style menu items such as stuffed french toast on the daily, and products such as Sloan Tea and fresh-pressed juice from Forbidden Fruit, two local companies, are proudly being sold and supported as well.

Quickly becoming a neighbourhood legend, the name “Goat” was based on one itself: the legend of Kaldi, an Ethopian goatherd who noticed his goats getting hyped up by eating the cherry-red berries of the coffee shrubs, thus allowing coffee and its magical effects to be discovered.

So go ahead and graze at the Goat. You might just discover something wonderful.

Goat Coffee Co.
893 Pape Ave, East York, ON M4K 3V1
(416) 551-7737

Pinkerton’s Snack Bar: Riverdale’s trendy hot-spot for good eats and good beats

by Via Dulay

At 1026 Gerrard St. E. stands one of Riverdale’s newest additions to the food and beverage scene.

Everything from the industrial style tables and chairs, to the open-brick walls, to the customized traffic light letting people know when last call is, Pinkerton’s has made its mark as the go-to bar because of its unique perspective on everything from eats to beats.

With this dim-lit and cozy bar being only a little over a year old, it has gained its popularity with the Riverdale community because of its welcoming environment, delicious fusion food items, a vast selection of locally crafted beers and its reputation for being an advocate of women’s safety and security with the #OrderaDiana campaign.

The smell of small food items like the King Mushroom Nappa Rolls, B.C. Tuna Tostadas and Steamed Bao Buns linger in the restaurant while cans of locally brewed beer from Henderson’s, Lost Craft and Kensington Brewing Company get cracked open. You can’t help but socialize with the table that’s one-foot away from yours and talk about the food, music and vibes that this place encapsulates.

Owner Marc Baglio along with Maple Leaf Tavern owner Todd Morgan have made their reputable mark in the local bar scene by making patrons feel like they have many faces to turn to when they are not feeling safe in a bar environment. By ordering a “Diana” from a server or a bartender, it provides a way for both parties to “exit uneasy situations safely and without much noise”, says Jordan, a regular customer that comes to Pinkerton’s every Wednesday after work. It is truly meant to be a place that brings people together and the staff want to make sure the guests walk in happy and leave happy.

Pinkerton’s Snack Bar has revolutionized the “hole in the wall” bar scene with roots and values that run deep with Riverdale residents, multicultural experiences that take you from Toronto to Vietnam and introduces an entirely new meaning to inclusivity and safe space for all. 

Pinkerton's Snack Bar
1026 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Z5
(416) 855-1460

True delicious Montreal-style bagels right around the corner

Article and pictures by Ana Fernandes

Bagel Time is run by the brothers Irfan, Adnan and Imran Khan, who praise the meticulous art of producing this slightly sweeter and chewier bagel.

Salmon Sandwich

Salmon Sandwich

Brothers who immigrated from Pakistan cooking a Jewish recipe they learned in Montreal, at the heart of Greektown in Toronto. It can’t get more Canadian than that. And all of this cultural richness provided the neighborhood with delicious authentic Montreal-style bagels served right at Danforth Avenue.

As soon as you step in the Bagel Time store, the smell wins you over. The bagels are, as stated by the tagline, “baked fresh everyday”, actually every couple of hours. You can see them coming out from the wood-fired oven, beautifully toasted and in all different flavours: plain, sesame, poppy seed, garlic, cinnamon and raisins. The images on the walls show tasty sandwiches, from the popular smoked salmon to the simple yet flavourful cream cheese.

“These are the best bagels ever. It’s kind of dangerous that it’s so close to home,” says Riverdale resident Kerry Milligan, already a regular to the store, who has come over five times to Bagel Time in the last month.

The owner, Irfan Khan, learned from the best, working for the traditional St-Viateur and Fairmount bagel shops in Montreal. He says it is important to use the best ingredients and to follow the recipe meticulously. The trick, however, is the oven and the rolling of the bagels.

“I don’t have gas in my oven. In Toronto, 90 per cent [of bakeries] have gas [ovens]. And the second thing is we roll by hand, nobody rolls by hand in this city, just in Montreal, and we are rolling by hand. Machine rolling and hand rolling makes a big difference.”

The customers certainly seem to appreciate Irfan and his brothers Adnan and Imran’s attention to detail. 

The store opened by the end of April and, during the first month, they sold over 40,000 bagels. And the business is still growing. Bagel Time is now selling for grocery stores and soon it will have a second location. Irfan says he’s already got a place at the city’s west-end, close to Bathurst Street, which he plans to open in two months.

“My two younger brothers and I, we know this business,” says Irfan. “We make them from our own hands, with our own labour. If I keep the recipe good and provide good service, we can run good business.”
After working a while with construction, Irfan came back to the bagels for their business potential and also for the emotional connection. He says they didn’t have bagels in Pakistan, but quickly took pride in producing this unique type of bread. It might not be a dish from their past, but it is one that they have embraced for their future in a diverse country and in an inclusive neighborhood.



Bagel Time
582 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1R1
(416) 546-0177