Exploring the disappearing old school diners of Toronto took me to Vesta Lunch in The Annex district slightly northwest of University of Toronto. Vesta Lunch was founded in 1955.
It's a small but prominent yellow shop at the busy Dupont and Bathurst Street intersection.
It's a basic classic diner set up. Open kitchen, long bar counter, swivelling padded bar stools, narrow aisle back to large street side windows. The well worn bar counter was laid with greyish formica which was chipped and peeling at the edges with age.
The single staff greeted me "signore" (sounds like xing neo le) as I walked in - I am not sure it was Italian or Spanish but this is just north of Toronto's Little Italy.
The atmosphere was quiet, laid back, even a bit listless as this was 4pm on a chilly but bright Canadian summer afternoon. The diner is usually busy with regulars during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vesta Lunch is also a popular late night snack hangout as it opens 24/7/365.
At the inside end, a muted television was tuned to the news. Of course, the only news on was on the Toronto Raptors' historic victory over the Oakland Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship on 13 Jun 2019 - the first time a non USA team won the title.
Miriam Reinoso and her hubby bought the humble diner in 1955. She is a kind hearted, warm spirited angel. My daughter met her years before during her school days and remembers her fondly. Miriam wasn't in when I was there this time.
If Miriam isn't in the house, service is the luck of the draw depending on who's on duty when you are there and whether you are a regular. Hence reviews are mixed - you can read them on Google map. During my visit, there was a change of shift and the difference noticeably slid from polite to indifferent.
The menu is up there in the kitchen which we can see from the counter. It's the usual greasy spoon stuff like bacon, eggs, fries, toasts, ham, sausage, burgers, fish and chips, you know.... .
I ordered a peameal bacon which was cooked right there in the kitchen.
I can see, smell and even hear my food sizzling on the hot griddle - that's what make old school diners charming to me. Raised on street food, not seeing my food being cooked takes away some of the fun of eating out (like at fine dine places).
Peameal bacon is pork loin, trimmed of fat, wet cured in brine and then rolled in milled corn before packing.
Peameal bacon is a Toronto thing. Not invented here, but in the early 1900s, Toronto's William Davies Company was the largest meat packer in the whole British Empire and peameal bacon was their top export.
Everything here CDN15 altogether including tax and tip. The peameal bacon comes with two fried eggs, buttered toasts and home fries (potato).
I have fallen in love with peameal bacon.
I like its tender moist texture with a slight chewy crunch and mild savoury salty flavour.
Coffee is brewed Americano style - very mild citrusy bitter taste and coffee aroma. The deal at diners is free flow coffee (bottomless cup they say here).
Information for you 👌 Food at Vesta Diner is just okay lah. But, I enjoy slices of authentic everyday ordinariness for its insights on unembellished local culture, heritage and history.
I enjoyed this vintage video on Vesta Lunch. It's like some kind of voyeur pleasure, peeking at life in 1970s Toronto. How can anyone not love and miss the intimate feel of this lovely place 😊
Sadly Traditional diners is a disappearing food heritage in Toronto steadily replaced by the likes of ubiquitous Tim Horton's and Starbucks. I am trying out Toronto's few remaining diners one by one this summer because I may be seeing less when I come back next time 👈 click
Restaurant name: Vesta Lunch
Address: 474 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R 1W5
GPS: 43°40'23.7"N 79°24'51.2"W 🌐 43.673253, -79.414228
Nearest TTC station: Dupont
Tel: 1(416) 537-4318
Hours: 24 Hours 24/7/365
Date visited: 16 Jun 2019