Eating Halal Food at the CNE

halal food at the cne

Eating halal food at the CNE is fairly easy thanks to the organizers who have thought about satisfying various needs of their projected 1.4 million attendees. Aside from food options, they also make sure people have a dedicated space to pray with two Prayer Rooms, one of which is open right until midnight.

Note of caution: please avoid purchasing seemingly vegetarian or halal items from places that also sell non-halal meat items. For example, there were several funnel cake and deep-fried vendors that had halal-friendly items cooked in vegetable oil, but they also had pork and other non-halal meats on the menu. With tight cooking quarters and shared fryers throughout the Canadian National Exhibition, cross-contamination is inevitable. There’s no harm in questioning before you buy.

The Canadian National Exhibition is open from August 19 until September 5, 2016!

CNE 2016 Food Building Look for the halal symbol but ALWAYS ask for meat sources! On our visit, many of the halal vendors turned out to be partially halal — meaning they also had non-halal meat on the menu.


Halal Food at the CNE

Despite the fact that most halal joints at the CNE serve shawarma, there are plenty of options when you do some out-of-the-box thinking and ask the right questions.

canadian national exhibition

halal food at the CNE

halal food at the CNE

Quick Pita and Steak & Cheese Factory had the strongest halal presence with over 3-4 locations throughout the Exhibition grounds, indoor and out. Can’t complain about the Philly, it was easy to eat, tender meat and savoury flavour with a spicy and tart kick. As the picture clearly illustrates, it was also messy, and a mouthful. If you’re not about getting sauce in your hijab or beard, skip this one. The chicken and rice was also noteworthy, and a lot easier to eat!

Moving on, we found some more halal food at the CNE with the help of this directory: CNE 2016 Food Building

However, since it’s not confirmed how the CNE’s process works to gain this halal icon on their restaurant listing, it’s best to double-check with the restaurant directly. Plus they could have a partial halal menu, serve pork, etc. So please don’t use this as a halal pass — make sure you investigate!

Next up, Anoush and The Original Shawarma and Falafel, two Middle Eastern spots that both get all of their meats from Solmaz (chicken is all hand-slaughtered).

halal food at the cne

Eating halal at the cne

Staying with the Lebanese theme, Family owned and operated Ghazala caught our eyes with their colourful spread of fresh salads, stews and of course, shawarma. A quick energizing salad from their impressive line up is a great lunch idea if you’re trying to escape Toronto’s sweltering summer heat. They get their chicken from Al Ahad (who sources their chicken from Sargent Farms which is hand slaughtered halal) and beef is from Corsetti Meat Packers.

Other than that, the other places we checked out didn’t meet our criteria for halal because they either wouldn’t disclose meat sources or they had non-halal meats including pork also on the menu — a big concern with tight cooking quarters as cross contamination is inevitable and often times unavoidable. This goes to show, even if the organizers label a vendor “halal” in their directory, we still have to do our due diligence and get more info.


Vegan & Vegetarian

Venturing off the halal track, why not approach some vegan and vegetarian stalls? With the right questions answered, you can safely eat, and most likely eat well. We purchased some mango lassi from Kala’s Kitchen (all vegetarian with no alcohol served or used) then went across the lane to Wild Child’s Kitchen.

Halal Food at the CNE

Paulette and her Wild Child’s Kitchen team are fun, energetic and passionate about their food. Even with lineups they took time to chat with us and answer our questions. Vegan, gluten-free, raw, their tagline is delicious, honest food — truth!

Even though we had limited choices while we ate our way through the CNE, we still felt the gluttony so this was saving grace at the end of a long afternoon of fryers upon fryers.

For an icy treat, their all natural lime and mint ice lolly sweetened with agave, hit the spot but was more of an adult taste with very strong fresh mint flavour. Opt for tropical or mango if you’re in a more fruit-minded mood.


Sweet Cravings

The owners of Quick Pita and Steak & Cheese Factory and have also introduced a new dessert branch called One Sweet Mama’s with a variety of apple dumplings containing no animal by-products.

halal food at the CNE

Another must-try is deep-fried cookie dough from Cookie Dough Me! 

Halal Food at the CNE

halal food at the cne

Also – who can forget a classics like Tiny Toms and Beavertails? Both present at this years Exhibition!


Food Truck Frenzy

If food trucks are your thing, Food Truck Frenzy happens between August 26-28 along Princes’ Boulevard across from Direct Energy Centre — this year only The Holy Grill has a halal menu. Vegetarian trucks include CORNehCOPIA and I Love Churros (Pancho’s Bakery).

halal food at the cne

Our experience was a great one at CNE 2016! Monday to Thursday take advantage of their $6 after 5pm ticket price (purchase at the CNE Gate). This deal excludes holiday Monday.

Let us know which halal food at the CNE you tried by leaving a comment below and remember to tag your pictures with #CNE2016 🙂


By: August 21, 2016


  • Great article! It’s nice to have lots of halal options. Wildchild’s Kitchen is my friend’s business and I can confirm that everything is 100% halal so enjoy!

    • Halal Foodie on August 21, 2013

      Thank you! Can’t wait to see how they grow. Will be watching out for them at future events!

  • Hi:

    Are the prayer rooms separate for men and women? Also, where did you park and was it a weekend? (I know this is not in context to your blog – Sorry)

  • Wow this article is so insightful, I usually just avoid meat at the Ex to be on the safe side, but no this time!

  • thank you for writing all of this for us. We really appreciate it. It not only gives us some insight into cross contamination, as you call it, and halal options and fun and interesting foods.
    Good post!

  • I’ve been working at the CNE for the past four years and Steak & Cheese Factory is new to this year. Quick Pita’s Sharwarma, I found to be disgusting for my palate. Tasteless, flavourless, and bland. I’ve sure Steak & Cheese Factory is supposed to be the non-Muslims version of Quick Pita, because I don’t see a difference in what they are serving. I’m glad Paramount, although for only three days, came this year. Better Sharwarma and better deal overall. As the only halal Asian food provider, I’m curious to know what Bua Thai food taste. It’s already hard enough finding halal Thai, Korean, Chinese or Japanese food in Toronto, so I hope they serve good food.

  • Being at CNE and looking for Halal food, we picked Steak & Cheese Factory for what it seemed like a good Philly sandwich. Boy were we wrong! The chicken Philly steak we ordered was dry and smelled old, it was precooked and reheated on the grill. We couldn’t eat more than one bite. Customer service was non-existent. Halal certificate they displayed is for a restaurant in the US, when asked about it, the cashier said “her dad was there.”
    Overall, I would avoid. Complain if you receive bad food, apparently, they did not like that at all ..

    • I agree with both Jonnyquesty2k and ansarico in regards to the steak and cheese factory. The customer service was very poor for both steak and cheese factory and quick pita. We got two beef shawarmas and a footlong steak, chicken and cheese sandwich. We paid 28 dollars for all three and it was a BIG FAT disappointment(oh we had to wait in line for over 45 mins). The sandwich barely had lots of beef but barely any chicken in it (even though it was suppose to be a steak and chicken sandwich) and tasted bland and even though it was suppose to have both hot sauce and bbq sauce I couldnt taste either one. Moreover the shawarmas were also quite dry and had the bare minimum of toppings in them. oh the meat in the shawarmas was definitely over-cooked. I’ve never went to one of their actual restaurants so I dont know if this bad taste+extremely poor customer service was because it was their first time at an exhibition where quick and fast service is the name of the game.

  • awesome article halalfoodie. working at the ex doesn’t necessary mean i have all the free time to investigate who’s halal and whos not. It was a huge challenge eating here especially during lunch break visits to the food building. With the one hour lunch break , I have minimal time chatting up with the restaurants. Your article and posts throughout the fair has made it easier for everyone to eat halal. I was always sceptical with the “halal” signs on these vendors so never bothered eating from them. Thanks halalfoodie for making my lunch trips to the ex easier 🙂

  • Truly appreciate in providing detail information on the Halal options at the EX and around the city. Keep up the great work!!!

  • Sounds great – it’s hard to find halal philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Can’t wait to try it !

  • Hehe. Saw my Uncles Restaurant on here.

  • Hi.

    Can anyone confirm if Jummah is being done at the CNE. Going there Friday, just wanted to make sure.


    • Halal Foodie on August 26, 2015

      Great question. Although I don’t have an answer, I do know that they have many, many muslim employees working at The Ex so someone there might have organized Jummah. Will try and find out!

  • on August 26, 2015

    How come you didnt mention GHAZALE ?

    • Halal Foodie on August 26, 2015

      It’s mentioned! We just didn’t have a picture, but added one now to make it more obvious.

  • 1) I had the deep fried cheesecake from a stall in the midway. They assured me the bacon had its own fryer. It’s a pastry deep fried sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with chocolate. Hard to cut if you want to share. It was good.
    2) I tried the cake poutine, it was in the main exhibit hall where all the shopping is. The campfire version, hold the marshmallows. It was ok, just cake with graham cracker crumbs drizzled with chocolate.
    3) Mexican chicken and cheese in the Food building was disappointing. Advertised as spicy, it was hardly that.
    4) My sister had butter chicken poutine from The Holy Grill and said it was delicious. Not surprising it also had the biggest lineup.
    5) Pizza never disappoints if it’s fresh!
    6) Overall, food at the CNE is overpriced. Corn is $4.50 and in one place it was even $5. Seriously?
    7) Shopping was great, some nice kurtis and lots of fabulous jewellery from international vendors and some from right here in Markham.
    Enjoy !

  • Had the chicken shawarma from Quick Pita yesterday. Well priced at 2 for $11 and was filling enough for 1 adult & 1 ten year old.

    Try the $3 candy apples as well (avoid the places that sell them for $5). Had 2 yesterday with my kids.

    Also Primo has their pasta cups (Primo spaghetti + meatless sauce) for .99 cents a cup, can’t go wrong there and they use separate spoons for the meat and meatless sauces so no cross contamination insha Allah.

  • Tanu_Unicorn on August 25, 2016

    Just had steak and cheese last night and it was bomb! I’m a very picky eater so take my word for it.

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