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Worth Your Salt: The Food District (Best Food in Mississauga)

    I had the pleasure of conducting a sit-in business meeting in Mississauga recently, marking my second visit to this vibrant city. As an outsider, I was astounded by the rapid urban development in the heart of Mississauga. During my stay, my employer arranged accommodations right amid this active urban landscape. Positioned conveniently close to Square One Mall, renowned as the Food District, my location provided easy access to this culinary paradise. Initially, upon hearing about Square One, I had assumed it to be a modest, unassuming mall. However, to my surprise, Mississauga shattered my preconceptions. The sheer scale and variety of dining options within Square One left me in awe. It was a revelation; how had I, inadvertently, overlooked this culinary gem in my first stay? I was about to correct that mistake with my second stay.

    You know, there’s something peculiarly comforting about malls—they have this distinct aroma that seems to cling to the air. I’ve wandered through malls in both Canada and the United States, and yet, there’s one scent that never fails to greet me: the irresistible aroma of freshly baked pretzels wafting through the air. There’s something about that savory scent that speaks to my soul—it’s like a siren call beckoning me to indulge in a symphony of salt and dough. Perhaps it’s my body’s way of signaling a primal craving for sodium, or maybe it’s just the sheer allure of sinking my teeth into that perfect blend of crispy exterior and soft, warm center. Whatever the reason, one thing’s for sure: when the aroma of pretzels fills the air, resistance is futile. Maybe it could be I used to work in a bakery. It just gets to me all the time. I resisted the temptation.

    During my youth, I embraced the Mallrat lifestyle, spending countless hours roaming the corridors of shopping malls. The food court was a cacophony of noise, filled with unruly youths who exuded an air of exaggerated coolness. The food court used to be tucked away in less prominent corners of the mall, featuring questionable food options that weren’t necessarily the healthiest. But things have taken a turn for the better.

    Nowadays, at places like Square One, the dynamics have shifted dramatically. Food has taken center stage, becoming a focal point of the mall experience, while shopping plays a supporting role. Despite the encroachment of online giants like Amazon, who have claimed a significant share of retail profits, the charm of dining out remains unconquered. Jeff Bezos may have revolutionized online shopping, but the allure of a sit-down restaurant experience eludes him. This shift in focus has become a survival strategy for malls, with many emulating malls such as the Square One model to stay relevant and attract patrons. It’s a testament to the enduring appeal of in-person experiences and the adaptability of traditional retail spaces in the face of digital disruption.

    The emergence of the Food Hall/Mall Phenomenon saw the Greater Toronto Area take the pioneering role, spearheading a culinary trend that swiftly gained momentum. Montreal and Calgary swiftly embraced this movement, contributing to its rapid spread across Canada. This trend revolutionized the dining landscape, offering consumers a diverse array of culinary options within the dynamic setting of a hall/mall environment. Food halls are not only generating foot traffic but also attracting consumers from broader geographical regions, consequently establishing themselves as vibrant community hubs.

    I couldn’t help but marvel at the gastronomic delights housed within the Food District. It’s a wonder I hadn’t stumbled upon this culinary haven sooner. The Food District is like a busy hub of delicious food, capturing the lively atmosphere of a bustling market. It brings together different types of food places, like cozy bakeries, fresh seafood spots, energetic juice bars, and lots of diverse restaurants. With more than 25 talented cooks, shop owners, and chefs, there are a ton of tasty choices to try. If you are to believe the signage, there are over 100 restaurants in the area. Believe me, I did not have the time to count. I will take their word for it. Below are a few restaurants that caught my eye.

    • Jollibee is a renowned Filipino fried chicken franchise famous for its overflowing buckets of Jolly Crispy Chicken and Jolly Spaghetti.
    • Fuwa Fuwa offers made-to-order Japanese soufflé pancakes known for their delightful fluffiness.
    • La Carnita features classics like In Cod We Trust, a crunchy cod taco, and a grilled steak taco with chipotle mayo, tomatillo salsa, crispy shallots, and vibrant cocktails and beer.
    • Patties Express provides fluffy coco bread stuffed with delicious fillings, creating a satisfying carb-on-carb delight.
    • Roywoods offers a jerk chicken sandwich, a hearty combination of spice-marinated chicken, coleslaw, onions, spicy mayo, and tomato, perfectly paired with a refreshing Caribbean soda.
    • Moxie’s Grill & Bar, savor the Chipotle Mango Chicken or Lemon Basil Salmon for your main course, followed by the delightful White Chocolate Brownie for dessert.
    • Sansotei Ramen serves authentic flavors from diverse Japanese regions, including the hearty Tonkotsu Black Ramen and the refreshing Yuzu White Ramen.
    • Jimmy the Greek is a fast-service restaurant specializing in gyro wraps, souvlaki, and Greek salad, providing a Mediterranean culinary experience.
    • Crepe Delicious offers fresh, premium sweet and savory crepes and handcrafted gelato, customized with your favorite ingredients for a personalized meal.

    Whether you’re craving a leisurely dining experience or need to grab a quick bite while on the move, The Food District has everything you need. It’s a culinary paradise offering diverse delectable treats, ranging from heavenly pastries to succulent seafood and revitalizing juices. Whatever your taste buds desire, you’re sure to find it here. Unfortunately, my brief one-day stay limited my ability to fully immerse myself in the myriad culinary delights that The Food District has to offer. Each week, it provides an assortment of rotating food pop-ups, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

    Food possesses a remarkable ability to offer comfort, especially in times of loss. A few weeks ago, I experienced the loss of my father, leaving a tangible void within me. Seeking solace and solitude, Mississauga indirectly provided solace during this difficult period for me. The generosity of my employers, who flew me in for this business meeting, proved to be a double-edged blessing. Not only did I have the opportunity to interact with an exceptional group of fellow workers within a company that prioritizes its employees’ well-being, but I also found the space I needed to contemplate and process my emotions.

    I hoped to find a dining experience that would offer a departure from the familiar comforts of home. Craving something nourishing for both body and soul, I searched for a hearty breakfast restaurant. Though my initial online searches yielded options that seemed a bit too distant to reach on foot, a serendipitous stroll led me to discover Pür & Simple. It felt like fate; the perfect destination to indulge in a substantial breakfast before diving into the afternoon’s business engagement.

    I woke up bright and early, gingerly I wandered through the mall, mentally mapping out my route like I was using Google Maps in my head, all in search of Pür & Simple. But things quickly turned out to be trickier than I anticipated. Not as simple as I thought. I felt like I was in a labyrinth, just like Daedalus in the old myth, surrounded by shops and twists and turns. Eventually, I realized that the entrance to the restaurant wasn’t inside the mall at all—it was outside. I couldn’t help but wish for a guiding string like the one in the story. Where are those waxed wings when you need them? So, I ventured outside and finally found my way to Pür & Simple. That was a healthy walk, I clocked over 13,000 steps that morning, and my iPhone can testify to that effect.

    Pür & Simple aligns with the typical breakfast spots you’d encounter in any town. I lean towards traditional breakfast options – a satisfying plate of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and perfectly diced potatoes paired with a hot cup of coffee suits me just fine. However, I do have a weakness for indulging in sweeter treats now and then; whether it’s a stack of fluffy pancakes or some delicious French toast drizzled with Nutella, adorned with fresh fruits, and topped with whipped cream, it always hits the spot. I chose the Xplosion meal, which included 2 eggs with bacon and French toast topped with bananas, strawberries, and hazelnut chocolate. I was excited to experience a unique breakfast that fulfilled all my preferences. I cherished the tranquility of my morning there, reflecting on my time while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Have you ever observed that at breakfast spots, individuals often leave their cantaloupe or honeydew slices untouched? Interestingly, cantaloupe boasts twice the vitamin C content compared to honeydew.

    Later, I headed off to shop for gifts to bring back home – because no trip is complete without souvenirs for loved ones.

    Each time I bid adieu to a city, a familiar longing for home washes over me. As I concluded my visit, I hailed an Uber. During both rides to and from the airport, my drivers maintained silence. They’re typically quite chatty, a dynamic I’ve grown to appreciate. Conversing with them usually offers me a chance to unwind and reflect, but this time, the quiet provided even more space for introspection. Upon reaching the airport, I settled in for a long wait. Amidst the busy terminal, I found time to unwind and anticipate my impending flight.

    As I boarded the plane, I found myself surrounded by a group of energetic teenagers whose chatter filled the air incessantly. They seemed incapable of remaining still for even a moment, reminiscent of the lively youngsters I used to encounter in the food courts of my youth. In that confined space, the cabin took on the ambiance of a loud food court. To complete my day, the stewardess distributed free small packets of pretzels as snacks. It was a simple indulgence, satisfying my craving for a sodium fix amidst the chaos of youth. Despite the unexpected turn of events, life continued on its course, reminding me of my emotional resilience amidst the unpredictable journey called life. This trip was worth its salt, pure and simple. However, my cardiologist would not be pleased with me. I have to stay away from salt, I have a heart condition.

    Square One goes beyond just food, providing an extensive range of options to satisfy every desire and imagination. Whether you’re in search of the latest trends, home decor, technology, or top-notch brands like Holt Renfrew, Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel, Hudson’s Bay, Apple, Rolex, Walmart and more, you’ll discover everything you need right here. It is located at 100 City Centre Drive in Mississauga.

    By Tony Medeiros

    Tony Medeiros

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