Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Downturn Downtown

Recently I was wandering around downtown in Canada’s largest city – Toronto – but was greatly disappointed.

It was around the noon hour, and I had some time to kill before my next meeting, so I figured I’d go grab something to eat.

Usually there is something for everyone, but not today. I had my choice of every greasy fast food joint known to the modern urbanite – from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, to Subway and Dairy Queen, and many other fine fast food places.

Not that there is anything wrong with fast food, in moderation. But sometimes it’s nice to hunker down in a nice restaurant, where you aren’t asked “do you want fries with that?”

Oh, there were other restaurants – other than fast food. I could have gone to Hooters if I wanted some eye candy to feast on, while chomping down on my over-priced greasy burger.

So, in Canada’s largest city, I had my choice between the grease, more grease, and greasy ladies serving more grease.

Not very impressive, not at all.

I even spent some time walking around – I must have meandered several city blocks, scouring the streets, looking for good eats.

Fast food isn’t bad eats, but it isn’t all that healthy eats. And it is nice to be waited on, rather than eating off a plastic food tray, al-a-cafeteria-style.

The city recently passed a law, allowing multicultural food to be served at licensed street vendors. This means that the hot dog stand of late, may soon be serving delicious Greek, Indian, Chinese and other foods, not associated with our North American diet of grease.

When I first got wind of this proposal, I wasn’t so sure. Part of the traditional makeup of Toronto’s downtown is the various hot dog vendors, often one right next to the other, each trying to woo you to their cart, with their personality.

I’ve seen hot dog cart vendors singing, dancing, even exchanging friendly insults between each other, which makes the city all the more lively and exciting.

With the lack of sit-down restaurants in the downtown core during the lunch-hour, maybe these new vendors are just what the city needs. There are lots of sit-down eateries in the downtown core, but most appear to only open for dinner.

The hot dog cart on the other hand, is open all year ‘round, at all hours of the day. I’ve seen them drape giant tent-like structures around themselves, with small propane heaters to keep warm in the winter.

Granted, it doesn’t solve my dilemma of where to go to enjoy a nice sit-down meal at lunch. But at least it gives me – and you – more options than the old “do you want fries with that” shop.

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