Where to Find the Best Indian Street Food in Canada

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You might not make it to India this year, but these spicy street food joints across Canada will transport you there.

You’ve ordered butter chicken with a side of naan and pilau rice from your favourite Indian restaurant approximately 282 times since the pandemic started. Same. Date night and how‑is‑it‑only‑Tuesday takeout are getting dull. You’ve considered swiping right on sushi or falafel but DON’T. Cheating on Indian food to spice things up isn’t the answer. Indian street food in Canada is.

Don’t let North American notions of street food fool you – it is not limp hot dogs and food trucks with Michelin‑starred price tags. Indian street food is “snacky” (and who hasn’t become obsessed with snacks since the pandemic started?). Unlike heavier curries, which are generally for main courses, Indian‑style street food is made with simple and tasty ingredients cooked in front of you. Dishes mix textures and the four “s” flavours: sweet, spicy, sour and savoury.

The best options for Indian street food in Canada stay true to their roots – with just one bite transporting you to a busy corner of Delhi, where food stalls line the streets. From Mughal‑era kebabs to pani puri to idly sambar, the options are as varied as the country of 1.3 billion where they originated.

In street food you feel the energy of India, and right now, that’s a boost we all need. These are the eight best Indian street food restaurants in Canada:

April 23, 2021

Halifax

Pani Puri at Eeyaa Fusion Indian Street Food in Halifax
Pani Puri at Eeyaa Fusion Indian Street Food.   Photo: Eeyaa Fusion Indian Street Food
  1. Eeyaa Fusion Indian Street Food —

    Eeyaa was the first restaurant to introduce pani puri to Halifax and the dish has become a local favourite. It consists of hollow balls made from puri, a fried crisp flatbread. The tops of the puris are smashed in and filled with chickpeas, spiced soft potato, masalas (spices), sweet chutney, yogurt and imli pani (tamarind‑flavoured water). The fun is shoving a whole puri in your mouth and waiting for the competing flavours and textures to burst. Eeyaa switches up its menu each month, but the pani puri and momos (steamed dumplings popular in India’s northeastern states of Sikkam and Assam) are always available.

Montreal

A Wada Pav fried potato patty burger from Le Super Qualité in Montreal
Wada Pav at Le Super Qualité.   Photo: Marc-Antoine Charlebois
  1. Le Super Qualité —

    During trips to India, the team behind Le Super Qualité spent countless hours in their friends’ family home kitchens learning the art of making traditional street food and it shows. Their wada pav (often spelled vada pav) is a fried potato patty burger served in a homemade bun and garnished with three dry chutneys: garlic coconut, peanut coriander and tamarind jaggery. You can also order it with cheese. It’s no wonder wada pav is Mumbai’s favourite street food; it’s chewy and crunchy, soft and mildly spicy. Pav bhaji, which is a buttered bun served with a side of a tomato‑based veggie mash, and Gobi 65 (fried cauliflower) are also featured. Our advice? Pick anything on the menu because you really can’t go wrong.

A spread of different burritos and appetizers from SpiceBros in Montreal
SpiceBros.   Photo: mkfoto.com
  1. SpiceBros —

    SpiceBros offers a modern twist on Indian street food. The restaurant specializes in fresh grab‑and‑go items, one of the most popular being the Frankie Roll, otherwise known as the Bombay burrito. Traditionally, it is filled with a veggie cutlet (a pan‑fried mix of vegetables and potatoes coated in breadcrumbs), but SpiceBros lets you choose between a meat or veggie protein. Options include tandoori chicken, Bombay fish and spinach paneer. It comes wrapped in naan that is made to order in a special oven, a callback to the visual experience of buying street food in India. Also on the menu are the insanely cute Bro‑Gos, chicken kebabs wrapped in cornmeal batter then deep fried.

Toronto

Spring Dosa from Udupi Palace in Toronto
Spring Dosa at Udupi Palace.   Photo: Udupi Palace
  1. Udupi Palace —

    With its Gerrard Street East address placing it at the heart of Toronto’s Little India, you can’t talk about Indian street food in Canada without mentioning Udupi Palace – the original go‑to place for South Indian cuisine. For the uninitiated, navigating its endless menu can be daunting. If you’re a newbie, start with the masala dosa, a thin crisp crêpe made of lentils and rice filled with spiced potatoes and onions, served with a side of sambar (lentil stew) and chutneys. In the mood for comfort food? Try my all‑time favourite dish: idli, which is steamed rice and lentil patties smothered in sambar. If you’re somehow still hungry after all that then order uthapam, a soft pancake‑like dosa with toppings to choose from, such as tomato and peas, potato masala and pineapple chunks.

  2. Indian Street Food Co. —

    No one does Indian street food in Toronto more beautifully than Indian Street Food Co., which was founded as an ode to Delhi’s old coffee shops and street food hawkers. The menu starts with a section called Chaat Street (chaat being a category of street food) with 12 options including a samosa and pakora platter, baingan (eggplant) fries and galouti beef canopies – the chef’s take on traditional Mughal‑style kebabs. Fun fact, “galouti” means “melt in your mouth,” in Urdu and the original galouti kebab is rumoured to have 160 spices.

Saskatoon

  1. Delhi Chaat —

    When I grew up in the Prairies there were no Indian restaurants. Now they’ve popped up all over the place and it’s about time. Can you imagine living without the traditional Punjabi dish of chhole bhature? At Delhi Chaat, chickpeas are served with fried bread made from maida flour (an Indian white flour that is one hundred times better than all‑purpose flour). The dish screams, “made by mom,” which tells you all you need to know about its fluffy, warm gooeyness. Same for aloo kulche, a leavened flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes and spices. Want the best of both worlds? Try the amritsari chhole kulche, a specialty from the city of Amritsar, which is home to the Golden Temple.

Calgary

Nana Ji's Potatoes with yogurt from Calcutta Cricket Club in Calgary
Nana Ji’s Potatoes at Calcutta Cricket Club.
  1. Calcutta Cricket Club —

    Calcutta Cricket Club has earned a reputation as one of the best Indian restaurants in town thanks to dishes such as papri chaat (India’s most popular street food dish), which are as flavourful as the restaurant’s interior is stylish. Chaat translates to “delicacy” and “to devour noisily.” Not hard to imagine considering CCC’s chaat is a bright mound of spiced soft potato and chickpeas, drenched with tamarind‑date chutney, mint, pomegranate, sweet yogurt, crisp papri and yellow sev noodles. Add in the fragrant mixture of chili, toasted cumin and tangy black salt (the most important ingredient) and you will be doing exactly as the name says in no time: devouring noisily. Have dietary restrictions? The papri chaat and kale pakoras are both vegan and gluten free. Nana Ji’s Potatoes, smoky and hot off the grill topped with green hung yogurt, is also gluten free. Dairy free options are also available.

Vancouver

Pav Bhaji at Mumbai Local in Vancouver
Pav Bhaji at Mumbai Local.   Photo: Mumbai Local
  1. Mumbai Local —

    Mumbai Local, a modern and brightly decorated Davie Street eatery, features traditional street food dishes from, you guessed it, Mumbai. Try the mouthwatering “Mumbai Special” chili cheese toast – a butter‑toasted sandwich with spiced potatoes, mixed peppers, green chilies and cheese, served with a side of mint chutney and ketchup. If you’re extra hungry, you could also order a chaat sampler, featuring three chaat varieties and a side of bhel puri, a savoury dish consisting of puffed rice, fried lentils, crackers and chutney. There’s also the ragda patty, a loaded potato cake with gravy. And have I mentioned the kebab menu? Now I have.