All too often, Toronto’s media treats the suburbs and their large immigrant and racialized communities like some undiscovered country. Last March, when U.S. economist Tyler Cowen declared that Scarborough had the best ethnic food on the continent, media like the Toronto Star, City News, and CTV reacted predictably: with some surprise (mystifying to anyone who’s ever eaten east of Victoria Park) and some self-congratulation (psst: occasional “exotic” restaurant reviews don’t scratch the surface of the suburban food scene). Meanwhile, here at the Ethnic Aisle we were more than a bit baffled.

The suburbs (i.e. “the 905” plus Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke) are often treated like they aren’t really part of Toronto, or real at all. We've always wanted to challenge this bias. It’s nonsensical. Thousands of people work west of Kipling but live east of Yonge, or shop south of Dundas and live north of Steeles, crossing invisible borders every day. Mainly, we like good stories and the GTA is full of stories of art, and murder, and terrible transit and, yes, really good food. 

Welcome to the East to West issue of the Ethnic Aisle, in which we delve into the challenges and joys of life in Toronto's suburbs. 

Photograph by Kalpna Patel