When it comes to spots for shawarma and other Middle Eastern comfort foods, Tahini’s is a name that’s becoming more widely known by the day in Hamilton and beyond.
It’s largely thanks to their terrific food, yes, but also in no small part due to their playful – and ever-growing – social media presence.
The small fast-casual franchise has been taking off recently on the globally popular video-sharing app TikTok, with an account that’s amassed well over 650,000 followers for snappy skits and sketches that are charming and engaging. They’ve got an even larger audience on YouTube, currently sitting at an impressive 1.2 million subscribers and counting.
Tahini’s wildly popular videos are just as good at making your mouth water as they are at making you chuckle; their colourful menu of Middle Eastern classics and fun fusion bites are on display to hundreds of thousands of people on social media every single day, and it’s likely that a portion of those people feel struck by a sudden craving.
Like most food spots, however, Tahini’s started quite small. The Ontario-born small business originally launched over 12 years ago, opening their first standalone location in London in 2012.
The shawarma spot only rose in popularity from there, eventually turning into a franchise restaurant which has carefully spawned two-dozen locations across Ontario including Toronto, Whitby, Brantford, Barrie, Guelph, Oshawa, and here in Hamilton. They’ve even recently opened their first location outside of Ontario in Airdrie, Alberta, with plans to expand further in the future.
In fact, Hamilton is now home to two locations of Tahini’s. The first opened in late 2021 in the west end at 1554 Main Street West, steps away from McMaster University.
The second opened mere weeks ago in Stoney Creek at 516 Centennial Parkway, Unit 4, bringing a more unique kind of food spot to a part of Hamilton that is relatively underserved by outstanding places to eat.
“We think the community in Stoney Creek needs a unique food experience,” says Aly Hamam, Chief Marketing Officer for Tahini’s. “We’re happy to be that option for them.”
Launching a successful chain of shawarma restaurants is far from an easy task. After all, cities like Hamilton are already well-saturated with places for excellent shawarma; do we really need another?
Tahini’s has worked hard to stand out, however, by focusing on fusion dishes with their menu. While much of their food is rooted in authentic Mediterranean recipes and ingredients, the restaurant has also crafted a selection of dishes that blend Middle Eastern eats with other international cuisines.
For instance, there’s an option to get Tahini’s chicken shawarma tossed in a house butter sauce to turn it into an Indian-style butter chicken, or in homemade jerk sauce for a flavourful take on Jamaican jerk chicken.
The Habibi Bowl is recognizable for its Greek influence, seeing shawarma over rice topped with zippy tzatziki, garlic, crunchy pita chips, and fresh parsley; and the comforting Chicken Poutine takes a classic of culinary Canadiana and gives it a Middle Eastern twist.
On top of those mainstay menu items, Tahini’s is also known to whip out new specials and features on a frequent basis, including other fusion bites you won’t see on the regular lineup.
“This is why our guests keep coming back for more,” adds Hamam. “We’re always innovating.”
As Tahini’s continues to grow across Canada, so will its audience and its offerings. In the meantime, Hamilton is seeing double with its pair of new Tahini’s locations, serving up shawarma and more that brings something a little different – and delicious – to the table.
Visit Tahini’s at its new Stoney Creek location at 516 Centennial Parkway, Unit 4, or at its West Hamilton location at 1554 Main Street West. See more on their website.