Maha’s Brunch is not a new restaurant in Toronto, but it is the first time that I was able to eat there since their opening in 2014! When Maha’s first opened, my mom and I immediately tried to go. Unfortunately for us, they were full every time we tried to go, and they don’t take reservations. And, by full, I mean lined up out the door. It is a far drive from where we live, but we finally set a date for breakfast the day after my last exam and planned to be there before they opened their doors at 8am.
Maha’s is owned and operated by an Egyptian family, and is named after the mother and head chef, Maha. Maha and her two children, Mark and Monika, who grew up on traditional Egyptian home-cooked meals made the decision to open a restaurant in 2014, and have been serving a packed house on Greenwood (just north of Gerrard). Their charming space only seats 24, unless their patio is open, nearly doubling capacity.
As planned, we were the first ones there this morning, and were invited in by Maha herself, just before opening. I am all about a savoury breakfast, especially since my visit years ago to Israel. My mom enjoyed a small pot of hibiscus tea, which came with a shot glass-sized mug to drink out of, which I found very cool. Even though the menu is quite large, we ordered right away – I had checked out the menu online prior to going, and always stick to the vegan options when the ingredients are not organic. This also makes my mom happy who likes to eat plant-based!
The first dish that came was the Chef’s Appetizer Platter. It was beautiful. Even though the bowls of various items are quite small, there is a LOT of food, all with interesting and varied flavours and textures that work so well together in different combinations. The pita around the outside with two big falafels in the centre were a feast for my eyes, as well as my stomach! Around the outside of the platter was their AWESMAZING hummus, smoky babaghanoush, lupini beans (that you pop out from the peel and enjoy with fresh lime), lemony artichokes, pickled hot peppers and baby grilled eggplant, and tahini – with lots of fresh parsley. Most consider parsley to be a garnish, but it adds great flavour to salads, dips and pesto. The most interesting dish on the platter, and something that I had never tried, was the little saucer of nut and spice “crumbs”. Our server told us to dip the pita into the oil first and then into the dish of ground spices and nuts – and it was unique and incredibly delicious, the flavour combination was perfect! This platter did not last very long, as my mother and I devoured it while enjoying each other’s company.
Being that I knew I wouldn’t likely be back at Maha’s again soon based on how long it took me to get there the first time, I might have over-ordered, but I wanted to try more than one thing. Our other dishes came quickly. Their award-winning lentil soup warmed me up from the slightly cooler weather, and I love that the soup had incredible depth of flavour and was served with housemade pickled onions, a spicy garlic tomato chopped salsa of sorts and bread. I added the onions into the soup, and it made for a great flavour combination! I also ordered a sandwich, which I knew was going to be a problem when it landed on our table and was HUGE. We had originally ordered a vegan eggplant and red pepper pita, but they didn’t have that, so opted for an Arnabeet sandwich, which was the most DELICIOUS deep-fried cauliflower inside a warm pita and drizzled with their housemade tomeya (garlic) and tahini sauce. I don’t eat a lot of deep-fried anything, but this was incredible and was served piping hot. I was unable to finish the sandwich then, but I really enjoyed having it for lunch today!
If you are able to get a table at Maha’s, consider yourself lucky. I would even say that on a nice day, it would be worth the wait. It’s a fun place to enjoy food with others. I would love if they started using more organic ingredients so I could enjoy the rest of their menu – as in ALL of their menu! Enjoy your awesmazing meal at Maha’s.