I’m so freaking happy the first restaurant in the “up-and-coming” Canary District is finally open. Souk Tabule — the little sister of Toronto’s Middle Eastern restaurant mogul Tabule — is a fast-casual spot I fell in love with in a hurry. If you read my post about Halifax’s Lion & Bright a few years ago, you understand my affinity for places that are both cafes and bars.
I love a place where I can go have coffee and do work in the afternoon, until it’s time for dinner and drinks. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Open since September, Souk Tabule is only a few minutes’ walk from my house, which basically means it’s becoming my second home. I know for a fact other work-from-home individuals who live in my building head there on a regular basis, thankful for a spot to work outside the confines of the Distillery. The hip space is bright and airy, with white washed walls, turquoise accents and modern metallic light fixtures. Saj pita is made on a large domed griddle right up front adjacent to the counter and there are antiques highlighting the nooks and crannies of the dining room.
Fast casual and casually cool
A more relaxed spot than its delicious predecessors, Souk Tabule presents a fast casual concept: you’ve got to order up front and the server will bring food and drinks to the table. Patrons can help themselves to both cold and tepid water on tap.
Souk Tabule lends itself to afternoon coffee dates as much as it does to dinner. You can hang out with friends over honey cardamon lattes ($4.75) or Lebanese coffee paired with saj pita oozing with labni and honey ($5). A myriad of cold drinks are also on offer, from craft sodas to Tabule’s signature fresh juices and ayran, a popular Middle Eastern drink made with yoghurt and salt (it tastes way better than it sounds). There’s a small assortment of craft beer and cider, three types of wine by the can, as well as Lebanese mimosas ($9) and Harissa Caesars ($12) for brunch.
Don’t mezza with me
You need not worry, owners Diana Sideris and Rony Goraichy haven’t forgotten about the regulars and their love of falafel. Souk offers most of Tabule’s bread and butter — or in this case falafel and labni — keeping customers crowding their restaurants. There’s hot and cold mezzas and beef shawarma, but new and exciting dishes are the showcase here. Try the Saj pita with za’aatar ($4.50) or a pulled chicken wrap ($9), making for great lunches on the go. There’s also an assortment of all-day brunch options like shakshuka ($11). The full souk ($14) is piled high with falalfel, labaneh, hard boiled egg, veggies and foule.
The first time Adam and I ate there we both ordered the plates: I went with the falafel plate ($11) and Adam the beef shawarma ($12). Both are served with rice, pickled turnip and cabbage salad. My falafel were smothered in tahini and the perfect amount of crispy on the outside.
Last week I went for lunch/working afternoon with my friend Erin. She ordered a few smaller items including Phoenician fries ($4.50) which are tossed in za’aatar and enhanced by a more-than-generous drizzle of tahini. I got the Beirut falafel in a wrap ($7). It was huge, came with a little pickled turnip salad, and was totally money well spent.
Want to take some classic Tabule flavours home with you? There’s takeout (which is popular apparently, as there are big paper bags flying out of there every time I visit), and a market stocked with housemade spice-cupboard essentials like za’aatar, and tea blends with ripe cherries and rose petals.
You should go eat/drink/hangout at Souk Tabule. You’ll probably see me there.