I normally resent when someone tells me, “you should eat at so-and-so! You’ll love it!” But, for some reason, a sign that declares “You love our t-bone steak”!, yet there isn’t a t-bone anywhere to be found on their menu, makes me squee. Welcome to the Ritz, East York’s hidden gem. It’s a time warp of sorts; Ritz is a legitimate 1960s diner, with wood panelled walls, vinyl multi-coloured bar stools and table-side juke boxes. Just like the sign promoting the t-bone, the jukeboxes are relics from an era long gone.
You can’t not love the Ritz. There’s one person who runs the front of the house, and when I say “run”, I mean that she’s literally at a near-run pace, flitting from the bar to the cash to the kitchen and back serving tables. She does it all with kindness and a huge smile on her face.
The menu has two parts to it. You have your typical North American diner food, including BLTs, club house and steak sandwiches. We saw the club house, which seems to be a long-forgotten sandwich in these parts, and I think I’ll be introducing one to my belly in a future visit. You can also get a Canadian breakfast, which includes three eggs, home fries and bacon (“regular or crispy?”, you’ll be asked). But what we came for were their Filipino breakfast and lunch offerings. You don’t expect a restaurant called the Ritz, located just a stone’s throw from Greektown, to be dishing out Filipino morning fare.
We decided to get the Adobo pork ribs and chicken and to get the Filipino breakfast. The chicken and ribs came smothered in adobo sauce and with a side of rice and a cafeteria-like corner of steamed vegetables. I dug into the hot, breaded cutlet of chicken and enjoyed the savoury gravy and slight spice it had. The ribs were cooked tenderly and were still bone in. It was a delicious hot mess and the ultimate Sunday morning hangover food.
Robin ordered Filipino sausage as her breakfast meat, which is a sweet, bright pink sausage of lord-who-knows-what-meat-it-is. But it doesn’t matter. It was tasty as sausage sin, and was sitting on a mound of over-easy eggs and rice.
Robin was still hungry after her $4.95 breakfast (you read that correctly), so she ordered a Filipino dessert. We were brought a leche flan, which was a yummy condensed milk custard cake that we polished off in minutes.
This quirky little throw-back restaurant feels more like it belongs on an American backroad than in Toronto…except for it serving Filipino food. Whether its for their decor or their food, there’s no way you can’t find some love for the Ritz. Unless, of course, you showed up for the t-bone steak.
310 Donlands Ave