Me Va Me exterior
When you're on a tight schedule, eating healthy can sometimes be a little daunting. When the need to eat strikes, temptation and time constraints—not to mention clever marketing campaigns—so often lead us straight to the nearest greasy fast food outlet for something quick.
It's at times like this that you need to visit Me Va Me Kitchen Express. Located in the heart of Toronto's bustling Queen West area (240 Queen St. W.), just a short walk from University Avenue and the city's financial district, this delightfully authentic Mediterranean quick service restaurant is the perfect alternative to those pervasive fast food outlets with their bulging burgers and fatty fries.
Opened in 2014 following the success of Me Va Me's full service locations in North York and Markham (more locations are opening later this year), this little gem is, for good reason, making something of a name for itself amongst Toronto diners. Why? Well, whether you're on a tight schedule and need something fast or have time enough to enjoy the full dine-in experience, Me Va Me Kitchen Express offers a tremendous selection of food that's both healthy and delicious. In short, they've made sure Torontonians no longer have any excuse not to eat fresh, wholesome, affordable food every day.
Lunch of the day by Me Va Me
Welcoming staff, welcoming décor
And it's not just the food at Me Va Me Kitchen Express that's so welcome of a change. The friendliness of the staff and the excellent service exceeds anything you might normally expect from a quick service restaurant.
Got a question about the menu (and you likely do, given the tremendous selections of available)? Then ask! We did, and the very helpful Mahsa, our server, not only took the time to seat us, she also ran through the menu, answering our many questions patiently while helping us decide the best options. She then cheerfully led us back to the counter service area overlooking the hard-at-work chefs and food preparers to help us place our order. Not that the menu's confusing. It's not. It's more to do with the tremendous variety of dishes on offer, as well as the many possible combinations available.
Back in your comfy (and very clean) booth, you'll have a few minutes to have a drink and admire the décor while waiting for your meal to be delivered. With its contemporary black and white design, the dining area consists of cozy side booths perfect for intimate groups, along with an amazingly long wooden table running down the middle of the restaurant—the perfect place for large groups to gather. (New this June is an outdoor patio—the perfect place to enjoy those wonderful warm summer nights in Toronto.)
Hummus vs. Hummus by Me Va Me
Food, glorious food
Lining the dark walls of the very long dining area are numerous interesting things not just to look at (who'd have thought the TTC subway map could ever look so good!) but also to read. A particular favourite is this ode to the restaurant's to-die-for hummus, one of their signature dishes:
An ancient and traditional Mediterranean dish, and a respected part of Middle Eastern cuisine. Dating back more than seven centuries, Hummus is highly nutritious, rich in fibre and protein. Our Hummus is prepared daily with great care, with only the freshest ingredients.
And how appropriate a tribute! Me Va Me Express Kitchen's hearty hummus (a puree of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice) was the first of our dishes to arrive, part of the tasty Trio Dip Plate. Perfect for sharing, this large platter boasted generous portions of hummus, baba ganoush (pureed eggplant and mayonnaise) and labaneh za'atar (a strained yoghurt cheese), garnished with extra virgin oil and fresh parsley and served with a generous portion of fresh tabboon-baked laffa bread.
Shawarma with fresh Laffa bread by Me Va Me
Continuing the sharing theme, we chose a variety of main course options, just to ensure we got a good sampling of the restaurant's other superb Mediterranean dishes. And don't be afraid to ask to mix things up a little. Platters can be built to suit any number of guests, but be warned: given their "fill-you-up-fast" potential, one or two pieces per person is usually enough.
Sticking with the trio theme, we opted for the following platters:
- Falafel: delicious crispy fried balls of ground chickpeas, herbs and spices, served with tahini sauce.
- Moroccan cigars: fried cigar-shaped pastry shells filled with spicy beef, also served with tahini.
- Schnitzel fingers: chicken breast filets coated in breadcrumbs and sesame seeds, served with fresh lemon and schnitzel sauce.
Alternatives worth considering are the chicken shawarma, grilled lamb burger sticks, grilled beef skewers and, for fish lovers, grilled Atlantic salmon skewers. (All of these dishes, and more, are also available as take-outs in Me Va Me's excellent lunch boxes, each including sides such as basmati rice and fresh grilled veggies and a salad.)
Salad by Me Va Me
Lemonana – Me Va Me's signature drink
Even if you choose to order an alcoholic beverage to accompany your meal, make sure you also try Me Va Me's famous signature drink, Lemonana, made from a delicious infusion of fresh mint and lemonade. And don't be put off by the drink's rich green colour—if nothing else, it proves it's healthy! That first sip will send your taste buds on a real adventure, with its clean, zesty flavour a heady mix of sweet and sour that surprises with every sip.
For those wanting something a little stronger, a variety of Ontario brewed craft beers are on tap (a pint of on tap Amsterdam Blonde or Steam Whistle lager goes well with these dishes), and both red and white wines are also available (again, on tap, something of a new trend amongst many Toronto restaurants).