Diverse eateries like these make Baldwin Street an excellent dining destination.
AKRAM'S (191 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-979-3116) This Kensington Market Middle Eastern grocery/take-away stuffs some of the tastiest pita pockets in town -- and they're all two bucks! Best: falafels topped with strong onion and even stronger homemade hot sauce; grilled veggie or fava-bean purée wrapped in pita or sold in containers; jars of pickled eggplant spiced with walnuts, pinenuts and garlic; pistachio-studded halwa. Complete dinners for $6 per person ($3 at lunch), including all taxes. Open Monday to Saturday 10:30 am to 7:30 pm, Sunday noon to 7 pm. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: Four steps at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNN
EATING GARDEN (43 Baldwin, at Henry, 416-595-5525) This long-time favourite seafood spot offers the usual 2-for-1 lobster special, but there's much more on the menu that makes this pleasant place a foodie find. Best: first-rate hot-and-sour soup brimming with shrimp, barbecued pork and pink tofu; shredded filet mignon in crisp bird-nest basket; retro egg foo yong frittata with veggies or shrimp; whole shrimp and sweet dwarf banana spring roll. Delivery, too. Complete meals for $25 per person, including all taxes, tip and a domestic beer. Open for lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm; for dinner 5 to 11:30 pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm. Fully licensed. Access: seven steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
KOLBEH (160 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-597-8296) Subtitled "a taste of Persia," this casual spot on the George Brown condo conversion's first floor offers inexpensive and filling dinners that mix the best of the Middle East with the fire of the Subcontinent. Best: Morgh-o-Polo -- boneless chicken breast sautéed with orange peel, slivered carrot, pistachios and almonds over saffron-scented basmati rice; Ghormeh Sabzi -- a slow-cooked aromatic stew of tender beef, onion, spinach and red kidney beans zapped with preserved lime. Complete meals for $18 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Monday to Saturday 11:30 am to 8:30 pm. Closed Sunday. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free front area, five steps to washrooms on lower level. Rating: NNN
MATAHARI (39 Baldwin, at Henry, 416-596-2832) The only exclusively Malaysian spot in town, this five-year-old bistro serves first-rate dishes mixing Malay, Thai, Indian and Chinese flavours. Ask for it spicy. Best: Casbah cashew chicken with peppers, onions, nuts and 'shrooms with tart tamarind bite; Sambal with garlicky grilled shrimp, crunchy green beans and shallots; dwarf bananas sautéed in rum and Kahlua. Complete dinners for $35 per person ($17 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine or bottle of beer. Open for lunch Tuesday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm, for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Closed Monday and long-weekend Sundays. Fully licensed. Access: steep ramp at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN SD