News / Toronto

Scarborough named 'best ethnic food suburb'

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Scarborough?

Maybe it’s the east-end Toronto suburb’s polarizing transit debate, its documented electoral support for Ford Nation, or its role as a new Canadian home for thousands of immigrants.

Whatever comes to mind, chances are it’s not food. But could this Toronto suburb be the dining capital of the world?

American economist Tyler Cowen recently posed that question in a blog post after tagging alongside representatives from the University of Toronto Scarborough’s multidisciplinary food studies initiative for a tour of the area’s ethnic offerings last week.

“I concluded Scarborough is the best ethnic food suburb I have seen in my life, ever, and by an order of magnitude,” wrote Cowen, author of An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies.

It’s a bold statement that’s casting a new light on an area that’s long lived in the shadow of downtown Toronto, the province’s cultural mecca for foodies and tourists.

Over the phone from his office at George Mason University in Virginia, Cowen noted that people in Toronto seem to perceive the new, hip restaurants to be elsewhere. “But it seems to me, you don’t come close to this part of town,” he said.

Rick Halpern, dean of UTSC and Cowen’s tour guide last Wednesday, agreed that most people are fixated on the downtown core. “No one goes east of the DVP,” he lamented.

Cowen’s post is making the rounds online, and sparking discussion on blogs and Reddit. Scarborough is “a foodie’s best kept secret,” as one commenter put it, though it’s no secret to locals.

“I would say that people who are into food, and who have a car, explore Scarborough and other suburbs,” said Jennifer Bain, Torstar News Service’s food editor, who has highlighted many of the area’s offerings over the years — including U

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