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Toronto Restaurants of the 80s and 90s

Funky, pre-gentrified Jack Astors. Way more stuff hanging from the ceilings, wacky gags hidden everywhere. I haven't visited one in over a decade, but I think the Elvis Shrine was the last vestige of this era..




I remember that! Back in the 80s/90s a lot of corporate chain restaurants had unique distinctive decor. Mothers Pizza, looked like an antique store, 20s or 30s decor. Eastside Mario's had the faux new york city decor. Swiss Chelet bright red/white colours, i remember some locations had the Swiss alps wallpaper mural. The Keg i believe had salad bars and was pretty casual and family friendly compared to The Keg today.

Now a days the corporate chains are going for the "upscale" posh look. They all look the same to me now.
 
Just like all our shopping malls now. The blandification of this city is in full swing.

Whoa there.

While I'm the first to bemoan over corporatization and every 2nd restaurant being owned by Cara, LOL, this is a complete misrepresentation of reality.

Go wander down to the Eaton Centre Food Court and you tell me how much better it was in the old days, w/more variety, more authentic cuisines etc. I'm going to laugh you out of the room.

Food Courts were and still are for the masses w/most food watered down from its original.

That said, one can get South St. Burger, not merely McDs or Harveys, one can find 'Chinese food' some of it regrettable, but one can also find Szechuan Express, which actually has some decent and some spicy (well for a food court) food. One can find at least as many traditional offerings and more 'unique' or 'less common' ones than you ever could in the north or south food courts of the 1990s.

That isn't unique to that mall either.

Yes, malls aren't quite as 'original' in decor in this age; though one shouldn't oversell how much they were in the past. TEC has been badly molested, but many other malls were bland 30 years ago and just more contemporary bland today.

The absence of living trees gets on my nerves, for some reason virtually every mall got out of that, but otherwise, they're not worse than they were.

The store assortments were still chain dominated 30 years ago, just different chains, more banks, more men's stores, fewer unisex, Kresge not Dollar store.

Then again, the food tastes the same too, so there

AoD

Now honestly this is preposterous which is very unlike you.

As someone who grew up in the Toronto of the 1980s, let me tell you food tastes were infinitely blander, plainer, more spice-adverse, less varied and exotic than what they are today.

The array of choice and quality of same has improved by leaps and bounds.

As someone w/an appreciation of Thai Food, South Asian cuisines, authentic Mexican, the improvement in what's on offer is enormous.

I remember when finding pico de gaillo in Toronto (the real deal) was a massive effort and people thought salad was iceberg lettuce w/Kraft Italian dressing.

Thank goodness things have changed.

Not everything is for the better, there are always places, good and sometimes mediocre but that still had nostalgic value that have faded into history.

But overall food taste has improved in this town immeasurably.
 
Now honestly this is preposterous which is very unlike you.

As someone who grew up in the Toronto of the 1980s, let me tell you food tastes were infinitely blander, plainer, more spice-adverse, less varied and exotic than what they are today.

The array of choice and quality of same has improved by leaps and bounds.

As someone w/an appreciation of Thai Food, South Asian cuisines, authentic Mexican, the improvement in what's on offer is enormous.

I remember when finding pico de gaillo in Toronto (the real deal) was a massive effort and people thought salad was iceberg lettuce w/Kraft Italian dressing.

Thank goodness things have changed.

Not everything is for the better, there are always places, good and sometimes mediocre but that still had nostalgic value that have faded into history.

But overall food taste has improved in this town immeasurably.

It was a slight exaggeration, of course - but if you look the underlying fads/flavour of the month among major chain restaurants, they are very much the same. It's not a comparison to what was offered in the 80s - it was a comment on homogenization of the corporate mainstream (and not the restaurant scene at large).

AoD
 
It was a slight exaggeration, of course - but if you look the underlying fads/flavour of the month among major chain restaurants, they are very much the same. It's not a comparison to what was offered in the 80s - it was a comment on homogenization of the corporate mainstream (and not the restaurant scene at large).

AoD

Glad to see the clarification.

Don't disagree that corporate restos have a similarness to them.

Though again, I'd say, was it not ever so?

The thread overall feels like a lament for the past.

I don't remember the corporate resto scene ever being any better.
 
Yes, malls aren't quite as 'original' in decor in this age; though one shouldn't oversell how much they were in the past. TEC has been badly molested, but many other malls were bland 30 years ago and just more contemporary bland today.

The absence of living trees gets on my nerves, for some reason virtually every mall got out of that, but otherwise, they're not worse than they were.

The store assortments were still chain dominated 30 years ago, just different chains, more banks, more men's stores, fewer unisex, Kresge not Dollar store.

Not sure if it was the case for the Eaton Centre, but there definitely seemed to be some more small stores, businesses etc. in some suburban malls before they became "gentrified" (eg. Fairview pre- Sheppard subway days) if that's what's being talked about.

So, even though in the 80s and (well maybe not as much by the) 90s, ethnic diversity in cuisines was harder to come by in say a mall food court, it was still more possible to start a "mom and pop" hole in the wall place in the bigger malls then than now.
 
Yes, malls aren't quite as 'original' in decor in this age; though one shouldn't oversell how much they were in the past. TEC has been badly molested, but many other malls were bland 30 years ago and just more contemporary bland today.

If you experienced Yorkdale or Sherway from the 70's and 80's, you would alter that statement.
 
If you experienced Yorkdale or Sherway from the 70's and 80's, you would alter that statement.

Actually I was in both in the 80's, as a kid.

Though, I haven't been in Sherway since, and haven't been in Yorkdale since the 90's

My reference points would be mostly TEC, w/periodic visits to Fairview and STC. (I felt then as now, demolish both)
 
Before, it's very hard to get poutine in Toronto, even if it's just fries with shredded mozzarella cheese and canned gravy.

Now, poutine (authentic or not) is very difficult to avoid in Toronto.
I find it easy to avoid :p

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we had a fries and gravy concoction served up to us at the school cafeteria. Then I moved to Northern Ontario and tasted real poutine.
 
Johnny is correct. There was a time if one travelled west of Ottawa (in southern Ontario), poutine became harder to find, and if you did find it the curds were invariably replaced by shredded cheese.

It was a dark time.
 
Ponderosa Steakhouse. See link.


This! As a kid going to a 'real' buffet for the first time was amazing! They were largely gone here by the early 90s. There was one at Eglinton Ave. East and Bellamy Rd in Scarborough across the Eglinton GO Train station next to the Swiss Chalet which the building is still there (was a funeral home at some point).

I remember just the buffet bar was about $6 I believe but it was largely salads and pasta type foods. I in the US in 1996 and it was waay better. The buffet was more pricey but it served all kinds of hot food. Ribs, meatloaf, etc. And the steak was something like $4 more in the US whereas in Canada, it was like $15 more for the steak.
 
Ponderosa Steakhouse. See link.

Ponderosa Steakhouse

Yes, I remember that there was a video of a boy crying in front of his mother because he wanted to go back to the Ponderosa Steakhouse to win a car, but the mother insisted that he go home instead. He resisted getting back inside the car and threw temper tantrums instead (even punching someone else's car). It's part of a series of videos (along with the Rogers Centre streaker video from 2012) about identifying behaviour types and how to intervene for educators dealing with autistic students.

This! As a kid going to a 'real' buffet for the first time was amazing! They were largely gone here by the early 90s. There was one at Eglinton Ave. East and Bellamy Rd in Scarborough across the Eglinton GO Train station next to the Swiss Chalet which the building is still there (was a funeral home at some point).

I remember just the buffet bar was about $6 I believe but it was largely salads and pasta type foods. I in the US in 1996 and it was waay better. The buffet was more pricey but it served all kinds of hot food. Ribs, meatloaf, etc. And the steak was something like $4 more in the US whereas in Canada, it was like $15 more for the steak.
That Ponderosa Steakhouse became a church.
 
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