“Buy local, eat local” – this is a phrase you hear everywhere. Nonetheless, big chain restaurants seem to be capturing the chunk of our hard earned money and getting stouter by the day. Small independent restaurants are born and die every day, and along with them dreams of many a local entrepreneur and chef.
In a slow-moving economy, constricted cash flow and strained finances are forcing many independent restaurants out of business. This article is an appeal to local readers to try local. Celebrate your next outing at a mom-and-pop owned joint. I find that the food is similar to what mothers around the world cook, and that when I visit one of these restaurants, I'm supporting a local family business, helping them put their kids through school, boosting local talent and keeping my money where it needs to stay – in our community!
1. Naan and Kabob
A flourishing restaurant extending its reach by opening new locations, Naan and Kabob certainly has things going in a great direction. Hands down, I can vouch that this is one of the best Afghan street food restaurants in the GTA. With two existing locations and two more coming up soon, this large family of brothers, sisters and cousins will not be content with mediocrity.
Naan and Kabob is Halal certified and has been quoted as one of the best Halal restaurants by halalfoodie.ca in 2014. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Naan and Kabob has recently come out with an eclectic breakfast menu to delight its patrons on weekends. They provide a well-fused variety of Afghan, Indian, Persian and African dishes to tease one’s palette and make one go for more.
Walk into lunch on a weekday and you’ll be instantly made to feel at home by Amani, my favorite hostess here. Best dishes to try here: Mantu for appetizer, Chapli Kabobs and Qabuli Pulao, and sheeryakh or firnee for dessert.
30 Bristol Rd, Mississauga, ON L4Z 3K8
2. Daal Roti - Indian Tadka House
Very inviting in cuisine and ambiance, this gem of a restaurant is tucked away from the city’s centre and is located in the office building next to Highland Farms. Daal Roti is the passion child of this young couple Payal and Hitesh Rana. Having served as chef in several prominent kitchens in India, Chef Hitesh brings a world of experience into his own restaurant to delight the taste buds of his patrons.
At Daal Roti, the kitchen is always exploring innovative ideas. If you are lucky during your visit, you might be surprised with a complimentary tasting dish that the chef has just created. Utilizing fresh seasonal ingredients, creative techniques and a few surprises here and there, Daal Roti is certainly making waves. With Chef Hitesh, creativity just met the hottest culinary talent in the city!
If you are a foodie or an experimenter I’d recommend you try their buffet for lunch and order ala carte for dinner. The most popular dishes here are Paneer Tikka Masala, Kaju Masala and Paan Kulfi.
25 Watline Ave #16,17, Mississauga, ON L4Z 2Z1
3. Hakka Ren
An Asian jewel in the Marketplace Plaza at Hurontario and Eglinton, this place is open for lunch and then dinner until midnight. Hakka Ren is not your average Chinese restaurant in any way.
Mike Chung who runs the restaurant understands that good food contributes to good health and that restaurants should cater to a complete customer experience by offering healthy choices. Unlike most Chinese restaurants, Hakka Ren uses low to no MSG in their food. The kitchen is overseen by Mike’s father-in-law who is an equal partner, and Mike’s wife helps out with marketing.
The primary theme of the cuisine adopted by Hakka Ren leans more towards Indo-Chinese. Their most popular dishes are Chilli Chicken, Yin Yang Rice and Golden fried spicy beef balls. Ask for “Drums of Heaven” and you’ll be served the most delicious Hakka style chicken wings!
4555 Hurontario St C2, Mississauga, ON L4Z 3M1
4. Zem One Restaurant
This restaurant, run by an uncle-nephew team, added on a significantly wide choice of menu items after they moved to their new location at 51 Village Square. Now set in an area surrounded by professional offices, Zem One added a variety of deli breakfast and lunch items to their existing Sushi and Thai food menu. The owner (uncle) Ellanan Gunam brings a ton of experience into the Zem One kitchen and management, from operating as a manager at Wendy’s fast food restaurant and then a popular South Indian restaurant.
The addition of deli to their sushi restaurant has certainly worked for this team as the restaurant is now packed with office-goers during breakfast and lunch. If you are a sushi lover, this restaurant makes the freshest and most delicious varieties. Visit them for dinner as the atmosphere is quieter, and you won’t have to shuffle in the crowd.
51 Village Centre Pl, Mississauga, ON L4Z 1V9
5. Adobo Café
It’s hard meeting with Chef Charles and not falling in love with his enthusiasm and passion for creativity. Having parted ways with The Marriott where he held the Lead Cook position, Charles slapped his creative ideas into his long nurtured aspirations of owning his own restaurant and put together a business plan. Angela, his wife, fueled the fire of his dreams and Adobo Café was born.
Adobo Café is one of the most unique restaurants I’ve had the chance to come across. Fusion at its height, there is no dish whose recipe comes purely from a particular line of cuisine. I’d say, rustle up something Greek, some English, Spanish, Chilean, Mexican, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, Filipino and something Eh, Canadian, and you have Adobo Café.
Chef Charles has a regular menu from which you can choose your breakfast, lunch or catering platter. But hey, he also has sudden outbursts of brainwaves almost every day and creates innovative dishes that become the special of the day! Some examples of the matchless fabrications he puts together are the “banana ketchup pulled pork sandwich,” “zesty salad with avocado and champagne dressing,” and “Buffalo chicken panini,” where he makes the buffalo sauce in his own kitchen with 4 pounds of butter!
5770 Timberlea Blvd, Mississauga, ON L4W 4W7
6. Cantina Mexicana
I’ve been to dozens of burrito joints all over GTA, but there's nothing like stepping into Cantina Mexicana in Streetsville to get the genuine feel and taste of Mexico. This place exhales authenticity. The restaurant is owned and managed by Maria, an elderly Mexican lady who upon the loss of her husband decided to carry forward his passion and take over the running of the restaurant. With minimal help, Maria runs a small sized bar and her patrons seem to order the Dos Equis Cerveza a lot.
A word of warning before you visit – this is by no means a fast food place and the kitchen does not do speed cooking. Everything in Maria’s kitchen is prepared once you order, so patience at the table is a must if you want to treat yourself here.
My favorite dishes so far are Tinga Poblana (a spicy pulled pork dish), and Nopales Del Norte, a spiced Mexican cactus doused in an interesting tomatillo sauce. Their chili Relleno - stuffed poblano pepper is also so worth a mention.
277 Queen St S, Mississauga, ON L5M 1L8
Visit these 6 and let them know an article on Modern Mississauga inspired you to give them a try!