General Discussion

Strip Malls are a Chowhound's best friend


General Discussion 40

Strip Malls are a Chowhound's best friend

gourmaniac | Jun 1, 2006 01:29 PM

I just returned from an excellent chow trip to Toronto and was thrilled by the diversity and quality of the small mom and pop places there. I had an epiphany on this trip: the strip mall is the choowhound’s best friend. The idea of strip malls and fine eating may not seem to go together, but please hear me out. Strip malls have been marginalized by big high end malls. Therefore, they provide low rent storefronts where the immigrant cook can open and not have to cater to the masses. In a sense, strip malls represent an unoccupied ecological niche that allows small ethnic places to survive while catering to their own culture, thus maintaining food that is not diluted to fit western tastes. In contrast, large malls are the exact opposite, where high rents and a heterogeneous client base make it impossible for anything to survive except chains serving mediocre generic food (think Olive Garden, Cheescake Factory, Manchu Wok etc). My best eating in Toronto was to be found in multi-cultural strip malls that dotted otherwise dull suburbs. Imagine roti, baklava amd pho in the same set of storefronts. It is a Chowhound's paradise. I post this on the general board hoping to foster dialog on your favorite local strip mall find.

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