Step right up, step right up! Gaze in wonder upon these amazing dishes! They look like the food you would get at a summer fair! Feast your eyes!
OK, so maybe that’s a little over the top, but any carnival barker will tell you that you have to be loud and rambunctious to get people’s attention in a crowd. The food you can find between the games and the rides, though, isn’t something you need only enjoy during a summer fair. These local restaurants prove you can get a little taste of summer throughout the year – although some of it is a little more elevated than you might find at the fairgrounds.
at The 3 Amigos
When the El Mysterio was placed in front of me at The 3 Amigos, I could only stare at it for a couple of minutes. It was like staring across the ring at a 400-pound luchador, waiting for the bell to sound. My only thought was, “How am I going to tackle this?”
Soon, though, I was wrestling it into submission. Churros – which you might get at a summer fair as long, straight sticks of sweet fried dough topped with cinnamon and sugar – are instead patties comprising the outside of the sandwich, with vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce inside and chocolate drizzled over top. The churro patties didn’t get soggy with ice cream; they remained as crisp as a well-timed dropkick. And the chocolate and strawberry sauces were a tag-team combination that made the whole dish a body slam of flavour and decadence.
Just make sure you come to The 3 Amigos hungry, or else El Mysterio might make you tap out. –Glenn Cook
Putting a variety of foodstuffs on a waffle is a time-honoured country fair tradition. And Teapsy Cafe on Whyte Avenue, east of where the tracks used to be, is kind of like a fair unto itself. You can rent private game rooms, or take one of the board games from the shelves. There’s also a HO model-train layout in a display case mounted into one of the walls.
The waffle, served warm, is covered in a variety of sauces and creams. For those keeping score: Whipped cream; whipped cream infused with green tea; green tea ice cream; chocolate sauce; powdered sugar; and strawberries. And, for good measure, a couple of Pocky sticks are driven in. Every bite is different. The sugar rush, a train set and video games – wait, is it Christmas? –Steven Sandor
If theatres or summer fairs served popcorn like this, you could expect the prices to be around $15 rather than $5. Luckily, this full bowl of some of the best popcorn in town is only $6, and it’s available almost every day of the year – without the added cost of admission.
So, what elevates this popcorn above all others? Well, for starters, you can pair it with wine if you so choose. If that isn’t enough, it is served freshly popped and is layered in a delectable (and none too greasy) white truffle and thyme butter.
Once you have popcorn this elevated (did I mention truffles?), you’d be hard-pressed to fondly remember the salty grease pits of popcorn past. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ll likely toil away at home, trying in vain to perfectly recreate the recipe. –Cory Haller
Regular poutine – fries, gravy and cheese curds – is indulgent enough, but Chartier takes it to a new level with its Poutine de la mer Rosenau. The dish starts with a house-made sourdough bread bowl, lined with a few small pieces of lobster and smoky bacon. Atop that comes a healthy portion of crisp fries covered with rich, meaty gravy and cheese curds.
Then, there’s the gravy boat filled with chowder broth that comes alongside the dish. While initially I timidly drizzle it over the bread bowl, the bartender gives me some advice – go big and saturate the bread. I take her advice, and it turns out she was right – the result, while perhaps not the lightest dish, is absolutely delicious.-Adrianna Szenthe
You don’t go to Brits Fish & Chips for the healthy options. That’s just science. Deep-fried haddock, halibut and other sea fare, deep-fried zucchini sticks, fries, imported beers and all manner of the most delicious greasy grub you can get your hands on is what brings diners in.
Admittedly, the traditional British version of seafood calls to me on more occasions than it should, and Brits is the place at which I indulge. But, in a heroic feat of self-discipline, I had always stopped myself short of ordering the deep-fried Mars bar. To me, it seemed too much like a later-years-Elvis level of indulgence. Of course, when I finally gave in, it’s not as if I was proven wrong.
A deep-fried Mars bar is battered and fried, giving it a crisp exterior. But that first bite reveals a pillowy centre oozing with a mixture of nougat, milk chocolate – and decadence. At Brits, they top that bad boy with two healthy dollops of whipped cream and caramel for added measure. It’s certainly not a dessert I recommend you eat every day but, if you never try it, you’ve never truly lived. –C.H.