Peoples Eatery: A Toronto Experience

There’s only one rule: eat with your hands.

The team behind popular late-night spot 416 Snack Bar – Adrian Ravinsky and David Stewart, along with new additions Matthew See and Chef Dustin Gallagher – has opened another resto-bar that aims to take you out of your comfort zone.

Peoples Eatery is a thin, two-storey space in the heart of Chinatown (307 Spadina Ave.). Currently, however, only the lower level finds itself in full operation while the second floor, we’re told, is about a month away from being ready.

Huge floor-to-ceiling windows can be pushed to the side to create a borderline patio feel right on Spadina. Gold touches pair with patterned wooden tables. Heads bob to great music. The overall atmosphere is inviting and decidedly laid-back. There’s good energy here. 

But back to the hands only rule. It’s not a joke. You won’t be given any cutlery to eat with no matter what you order (the spoon that comes with the oysters is only for adding garnishes), which is why we think it’s a great place for a date – you can tell a lot about a person by how they eat with their hands. 

The menu may seem simple at first but it’s full of fun and inventive dishes. The potato knish (caramelized cabbage, sour cream) is gone in three bites. It might have lasted longer with cutlery, but once it’s in your hands it’s too good to put down.

Our sabich (pita, eggplant, quail egg, herb salad) goes down pretty much the same way. It’s fun, full of flavour, and almost so pretty we don’t want to ruin it – almost. 

Leaving cutlery behind helps add to the easy-going nature of Peoples Eatery. This is a hospitality first kind of place – indeed, everyone who walks through the door is greeted with a familiar hello, even if they’re not a familiar face. It’s almost more of a hangout than a restaurant, albeit one that has great food and drink options.

Ravinsky says the idea behind Peoples Eatery is an amalgamation of identities, a truly Toronto experience. And after sitting at the bar for an hour or so, we completely understand what he means. 

Currently open seven days a week from 5pm-2am, Peoples Eatery hopes to offer a lunch menu by the fall as well. 

For us, the 20-seat dining room upstairs proposes perhaps the most intriguing upcoming addition to Peoples Eatery. Chef Gallagher will be putting together set menus that change on a weekly basis for private reservations only. Except for the quality of the food and drink, it sounds like nearly the opposite of what’s presently being delivered on the main floor.

Or, in other words, the best of both worlds. 

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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