I’ve got 24 problems, but a pierogi ain’t one!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Tennessee Tavern, this funky little dive serving up Eastern European eats in Parkdale. Last time we were here, I chowed down on some too-legit-to-quit schnitzel and a pile of pillowy pierogis. My biggest regret was that I only ordered six of them. Good thing I don’t make the same mistake twice, though!!!

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Now, these little pieces of Polish perfection are boiled with bacon and onions, and served with a side of sour cream…make that two sides of sour cream. The pierogis are soft like butter, and small enough that I can scarf em down in just a couple bites — no knife needed! And while 24 is the largest size they serve ’em up on the menu, they do have AYCE pierogis after 6 pm on Sundays. Not sure how many I can polish off, but it’s definitely more than 24, bro!!!

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Real-deal Polish food @ Cafe Polonez

You know me, this is body by pierogis, bro! These potato dumplings of funk are served up all across Eastern Europe — and at a few funky joints here in Toronto, like Tennessee Tavern. But if you wanna get the real-deal, OG, Polish pierogis, you gotta go to this place that’s been servin’ em up since 1981… This is Cafe Polonez!

And Polonez ain’t just about pierogis, either. They’ve got all the classics like schnitzel, goulash, paprikash and cabbage rolls, to name a few. It’s hard to pick just one, son — so I went with the combo platter, which gives you pierogis, schnitzel, hunter’s stew and not one, but two types of salad. Hey, if you put salad in front of me, I guess I’ll eat it?

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Let’s start with the pierogis. These pillowy pieces of potatoey goodness are magically delicious! Nice and soft, stuffed with cheese, with a little sour cream and some minced pork on top — pretty sure I could slam, like, 32 of these!!!

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Dude, this schnitzel is too legit-zel to quit-zel! Pork is pounded and fried to perfection, and then you’ve got these fresh mushrooms on top — the mushrooms are what makes it!!!

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And then you’ve got this funky dish of deliciousness – bigos aka hunter’s stew. Basically, they’re slow-cooking sauerkraut with some sausage and pieces of roast pork. This dish is soooo bad and boujee, bro!!!

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Now, this place isn’t just serving up all the old-school, home-style Polish classics — they’ve got all the Polish beers, too: Zywiec, Okocim, Lezajsk, Tyskie, Lech, Warka and Tatra. They’re pretty much all pilsners, so I went with Lezajsk, which has a bit more of a kick, and tastes a lot like the Portuguese pilsner Sagres. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it properly!!!

 

Hungry for Hungarian at Country Style Restaurant

Now you know I like my chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night, chillin’ on a dirt road and all that good stuff. But fried chicken is not just a southern thing—there are a few funky Eastern European joints in Toronto that do it up right. Whether you go for chicken or pork, you gotta check out Tennessee Tavern, Schnitzel Queen, and this Hungarian joint that’s so old school it doesn’t even have a website. This is Country Style Hungarian, son!!!

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Now, whether you’re in Austria, Switzerland, Poland or Hungary, you’ll find some of the same Eastern European comfort food classics—like this pierogi and sausage plate. These pierogis are boiled until they fall apart, with stringy fried onions, sour cream and a few nice bits of Hungarian sausage. Dude, this is body by Hungarian sausage!!!

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And now it’s time for the main event. This Hunter Schnitzel is covered in onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomato sauce – sorta like a Philly cheese schnitzel, but without the cheese – and you KNOW it’s searching for love on these lonely streets again, Dokken Bro! Even though there’s not enough to go around this dinner-plate-sized orb of deep-fried flavour, the sauce and toppings keep the schnitzel from being too dry…and hiding beneath all that breaded goodness, we’ve also got Hungarian dumplings and gravy:

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Now, these little Flavourtown nuggets are sorta like spaetzle, except instead of being fried, I think they might be boiled or something. And they kinda look like cheese curds too, eh? Believe it or not, but there’s pretty much a whole plate of ‘em underneath all that meat!!!

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Now, they don’t have any Hungarian beer at Country Style (I guess the closest thing would be Pilsner Urquell?), so instead I went with a refreshing glass of Malnaszorp, this Hungarian raspberry soda. It’s kinda like drinking a glass of water with cherry syrup at the bottom…but instead of cherry, it’s raspberry—which is definitely something you don’t see every day on this side of the pond!

Let’s go back to Tennessee…you and me!

So, we’re hanging out at Tennessee Tavern, this funky, dingy dive bar serving up Eastern European food deep in the heart of Parkdale. Now, this place does have live country music some weekends, but it’s mostly known as a dining destination–even if it looks like your Polish grandfather’s basement. Man, this place knows all the hits: cabbage rolls, smoked fish, kielbasa, schnitzel, pierogis–they’ve even got ćevapi, for all you Serbians in the house.

Now me, I couldn’t decide between schnitzel and pierogis, so I decided to do both:

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So, we’re starting off with pierogis. This plate of pillowy Polish goodness comes garnished with bacon and green onions, with a big ol’ mound of sour cream–dude, this is body by sour cream–and you can get six for just seven bucks, bro! Man, that’s less than a pint of Molson Canadian at most places…and these actually taste good!

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Now, this super-sized veal schnitzel is about as big as the plate–that’s why they put the mustard in a jar lid on top. And dude, this might be some of the crispiest, crunchiest schnitzel I’ve ever munched. It ain’t no Sign of the Schnitzel Queen, but it’s still pretty doggone delicious!

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Now, when it comes to beer, there ain’t no Molson Canadian here, bro! Instead, they funk it up a notch with Pilsner Urquell on tap along with a whole buncha outta-bounds craft brewskis, like Don’t Kill My Vibe, a tangy peach Berliner from Stone City Ales–all the way from Kingston, Ontario. This beer’s so hip it ain’t even tragic, and you don’t even need a 50 Mission Cap to slam six or seven of these…although they tapped out the keg after I chugged my second one, son!

10 of the Most Canadian Meals

The other day, I was chowing down on a bacon poutine burger at Harvey’s, which might be the most Canadian sandwich of all-time. But the thing is, it’s only available for a limited time. So that got me thinking, what are some of the most Canadian meals across this country? We’re talking poutine, obviously, but what about P.E.I. lobster, Alberta beef and New Brunswick fiddleheads?

Now, I have been to every province in this country except Newfoundland, and I’ve eaten all kinds of outrageous, righteous, real-deal meals across the country, as well as right here in Toronto. So when it comes to dishes that best capture the essence of Canadian cuisine, I’d like to think that every province is represented here, even if half these places are in Hogtown. Check out this delicious list, bro!

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Nova Scotia Salmon Burger @ Fifth Pubhouse

The Fifth Pubhouse might be the most patriotic burger joint in this city, if not the entire country. This place has got no less than eight slammin’ sammies named after provinces and territories, including this Atlantic creation, the Nova Scotia Salmon Burger. Now that’s a beauty piece of fish, bro! They take baked salmon, top it with lettuce, tomato and a whole buncha chive mayo, and serve ‘er up with fries and coleslaw, all for just 15 bucks. That’s a whole lot cheaper than a plane ticket to Halifax!

READ MORE: And on the seventh day, he ate salmon…

 

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The Big Crack @ Smoked & Cracked

Now, I’ve had a few lobster rolls in my day, but this is probably the biggest one I’ve even seen. They literally take an entire 1.5 pound lobster, chop ‘er up and serve it all up on a hot, buttery roll, bro! It’s like a PEI lobster supper in sandwich form! Of course, all this lobster don’t come cheap–at 65 bucks (plus tax and tip), it’s probably the most expensive sandwich I’ve ever eaten…

READ MORE: This was the biggest lobster roll I’ve seen in Toronto!

 

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Lomo Saltado with Fiddleheads @ Baro

One cool thing about Canada is that we welcome all kinds of people from different countries, and they each bring their own cultural cuisine. Like Baro, this funky Peruvian joint on King West, that’s taking a Peruvian comfort-food classic, and putting a Canadian twist on it with the national vegetable of New Brunswick. Fiddlehead season is pretty short, but if you get ’em when they’re fresh, they can really kick it up a notch–especially when served beside beef tenderloin, bro!

READ MORE: LOMO arigato, Mr. Roboto!!!!

 

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La T-Rex Poutine @ La Banquise (Montreal)

There are so many killer poutines all over this country that would deserve to be mentioned here, from the wild boar poutine at the Tide & Boar in Moncton, to this honky-tonk redonkadonk lobster poutine I had once at Baton Rouge. But if there can be only one, then it would hafta be La T-Rex from La Banquise in Montreal. This place is legendary for serving up some of the best poutine in the poutine capital of Canada, and this insane-in-the-membrane version comes topped with ground beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dogs! No wonder they didn’t name it after a stegosaurus…

READ MORE: Poutine: It’s not just for breakfast anymore…

 

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Hogtown Sandwich @ Rashers

What can be more Canadian than Canadian bacon? Rashers is probably my new favourite sandwich shop, serving up Bomb.ca bacon burgers and the best BLT in Toronto. But their signature sammy is pure Canadian simplicity–back bacon and grainy mustard on a fresh, flaky bun. It does not get any better than this, bro!

 

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Aloha Smoke @ True True Pizza

Hawaiian pizza might be Canada’s most infamous culinary creation. Created by a Greek immigrant at this funky little joint in Chatham, Ontario, way back in 1962, this pie has gone worldwide–and attracted more than its fair share of haters. Me, I don’t mind pineapple on pizza, as long as it’s got some meat to it. And at True True Pizza, they serve up this twisted take using bacon instead of ham–shut the back door, bro!

READ MORE: This Hawaiian pie-an tastes better with bacon!

 

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Loaded Surf ‘n Turf @ Loaded Pierogi

For me, when I think Winnipeg, I think pierogis. It used to be known as the Ukrainian capital of Canada, back in the day, and it’s still one of the most notable concentrations of ethnic populations in the country. Now, pierogis are just starting to become a thing in Toronto, with funky joints like Loaded Pierogi serving up some crazy takes on this Ukrainian classic–like the Loaded Surf ‘n Turf, topped with lobster, crab and steak!

READ MORE: Loaded Pierogi’s serving up surf, turf ‘n earth, son!

 

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All You Can Eat KFC (Weyburn, SK)

Now, I can’t be the only one who’s ever ordered a 16-piece bucket for one, right? If eating KFC all day seems like time well spent, then Weyburn, Saskatchewan is a little slice of paradise. This town has an AYCE KFC buffet, one of the last of its kind, and when rumours surfaced last summer than the chicken chain wanted to kill the buffet counter, even the premier of Saskatchewan stepped up in defence of this cultural icon. Which reminds me, I’m way overdue for a trip out west…

READ MORE: Save Saskatchewan’s all-you-can-eat KFC buffet!

 

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Camel and Python and Yak… Oh My! @ Fireside Grill (Czar, AB)

Speaking of small-town destinations out west, this place is next on my roadtrip. I could not even find Czar on a map of Alberta–and I grew up in Calgary–but when I heard about the Fireside Grill, this funky local joint serving up all sorts of exotic meats, well, I knew I just had to come here some day. Did I mention their chef is a dead ringer for Guy Fieri?

READ MORE: This Guy Fieri lookalike is serving up some righteous roadkill in rural Alberta!

 

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Mr. Alberta @ The Elbow Room Cafe (Vancouver)

It figures that the best breakfast in Vancouver is something named after Alberta. I stopped by this funky little joint a couple years back when I was in town for the Grey Cup, and you know I wasn’t gonna have a vegan quinoa salad! This big-time brekkie contains a 5 oz sirloin, blackened tomatoes, scrambled eggs, hash browns and jalapeno toast. And the service is something else, lemme tell ya!

READ MORE: Breakfast of Champions in Vancouver

Loaded Pierogi’s serving up surf, turf ‘n earth, son!

Loaded Pierogi, this funky joint on Church Street, puts almost anything you can think of on these pillows of Ukrainian goodness, including buffalo chicken, duck confit and Philly cheesesteak. What’s better than steak and lobster? How about steak and lobster on top of pierogis?

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OK, let’s break it down. The pierogis are on point—warm and crispy, fried to perfection. (You can get ‘em boiled, too, but why boil food when you can fry it, bro?) You’ve got these thick chunks of peppery steak, a bit of kick from the onion, nice creaminess from the sour cream. The only complaint is that the lobster gets kinda lost here. It’s more stringy than chunky, and can’t really compete with the meat. Now, if they served it up thick and meaty like a lobster roll, this dish would be so far outta bounds that it might break your windshield in the parking lot. But it’s still in my top five pierogis of all time. Pretty sure I could eat 27 of these!

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Cool thing is, though, on Fridays, you can get the loaded surf and turf with a pint of the house brew for just 18 bucks. Dude, that’s less than it costs to park at a Jays game! And hey, the beer’s better, too…