Culinary class act: Bastion's Shawarma & Grill
What it is
Bastoni’s Shawarma & Grill serves up authentic, Mediterranean cuisine that treat your taste buds to a marriage of smokey flavours and aromatic seasonings. Besides shawarma, the menu includes kabobs, gyros and falafel, as well as a variety of appetizers, salads, wraps and rice plates. The King St West staple is situated in a modest space that is not fancy by any means; you’d likely walk past without paying any attention to it. Its charm derives from how it doesn’t try to be something that it is not. Bastoni’s is an unassuming neighbourhood joint that offers up some seriously delicious comfort food at great prices.
How to get there
Take any downtown bus (1, 5, 51) and get off at Main and Caroline. Turn left onto Caroline Street South and walk until you hit King Street West. Once you’ve reached the corner of King and Caroline, turn left onto King Street West and the destination will be to your right. The aroma of savoury shawarma and flavourful falafel will waft towards you as you make your way down the short stretch on King Street West, so don’t worry about getting lost.
Bastoni’s is perfect for students on a budget — you don’t have to break the bank to score some seriously tasty food when you’re tired of the same PB and J sandwich you’ve been eating for the past five days. Prices range from $3.00 for a small order of fries to $14.00 for their mixed grill plate which features a variety of kabobs and shawarma with rice and salad.
What to get
The chicken shawarma plate is a great pick — a layer of tender, marinated chicken shawarma on a bed of warm basmati rice, seasoned to perfection. You also have the option of selecting over a dozen toppings — from pita chips to pickled turnips to customize your order to your heart’s content.
Sultan, the father of the father-son duo who runs the restaurant, finishes off each and every shawarma order with his signature phrase: “White sauce, hot sauce?” (I have seriously contemplated starting a line of baseball caps or t-shirts that feature this iconic slogan. Stay tuned.) White sauce refers to his homemade garlic-tzatziki sauce; I suggest you say a resounding yes to both.
If you’re craving chicken shawarma but have less of an appetite, the chicken shawarma wrap is just as tasty. All the same toppings and sauces apply. Another customer favourite is the chicken shawarma poutine, which tastes as delicious as it sounds.
For vegans and vegetarians, do not fret as Bastoni’s falafel rivals the popularity of their signature chicken shawarma. In addition, other popular meat-less items include their hummus, tabouli salad and lentil soup.
Why it’s great
There are few things in life better than local, neighbourhood food spots that forgo pretension and thrive off honest and good food at solid prices. Bastoni’s shows that you don’t have to settle for mediocrity purely due to the confines of a budget. With generous portions and hearty ingredients, a trip to this Mediterranean kitchen guarantees a scrumptious bang for your buck that hits the spot. The restaurant is also open late on most days, satisfying late night munchies of Hess Street party-goers and neighbourhood regulars alike.