Toronto Restaurant Guide

A revolving door of the bests

Toronto is my current home, and also home to an ever-changing, awe-inspiring dining scene. This is not a permanent or exhaustive list, but rather an evergreen list for those looking for my personal at-the-moment picks.

Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments below!

 

For a Dressed-Up Dinner

All of these places are intimate birthday party and third date approved

  1. Cafe Belong: It’s a little out of the way, but if you are willing to drive out to Evergreen Brickworks, Chef Brad Long has done something incredible with this place and I can guarantee you won’t regret the trip.
  2. Mr. Flamingo: This place does Italian food in a way that doesn’t scream Spaghetti and Mario (order the burrata).
  3. Café Boulud: Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in the Four Seasons has undergone a revamp and it looks and tastes better than ever.
  4. Richmond Station: I really have a soft spot for Richmond Station and its desserts in particular.
  5. Enoteca Sociale: a very intimate and very Italian wine bar.
  6. Byblos: Pan-Mediterranean dishes meant to be shared, set in a beautiful space.
  7. Bosk: The food here is as beautiful as the Shangri-La Hotel in which it is situated.
  8. Marben: Contemporary Canadian with a bit of Spanish flair.
  9. Boralia: For those looking for a truly unique “Canadian” experience without the poutine.
  10. Sassafraz: This is a classic, upscale Yorkville restaurant, complete with grand piano serenade.
  11. Pukka: If you’re looking for Indian fine dining, you’ll find it here (or go to its sister restaurant Concession Road down the street for great French fare).
  12. Nota Bene: There are not that many upscale restaurants on Queen Street West, but this one screams upper crust, in a nice way.

 

 

 

For A Quick Bite

Sometimes you just want to drop in and eat something satisfying, with or without a drink or two

  1. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: After trying many places, this Japanese chain is still my favourite ramen spot in Toronto.
  2. Delica Kitchen: Elegant variations of soups and sandwiches with locations in midtown and Leslieville owned by Devin Connell.
  3. When the Pig Came Home: A Junction deli that packs a big punch: think porchetta and peameal sandwiches. 
  4. Sea Witch: These fish and chips are on another playing field, and you won’t know what I mean until you try.
  5. Fresh: You will never feel bad about yourself after eating at this vegetarian restaurant chain.
  6. Goods & Provisions: This Leslieville spot may be small, but it boasts an amazing cocktail menu and great food to go with it.
  7. WVRST: Come for the hot dogs and duck fat fries and beer, but make sure you have good conversation to go around because that’s literally all they serve.
  8. Phở Hưng: This Chinatown spot is my favourite place for Vietnamese pho.
  9. This End Up: A really fun place open long hours, they’ve got an excellent selection of anything you’d want at 1AM.
  10. Sunrise House: This is one of those Korean restaurants that is never empty. Their portions are so generous and satisfying that you’re guaranteed to leave happy. Three words: Gam Ja Tang.

 

 

 

For Brunch

Brunch in Toronto is a delicate institution so tread wisely

  1. Tavoos Restaurant: Persian bread and eggs, and some chai to go with it.
  2. Aunties and Uncles: Everyone loves the simplicity of this place and the breakfast burger is always on point.
  3. Lola’s Kitchen: Great options for vegetarians and the generally health-conscious who also enjoy an occasional mimosa.
  4. The Saint Tavern: This place makes gourmet breakfast doughnuts, and still has some kind of tavern-y charm.
  5. Saving Grace: The biggest problem with this place is that it’s almost impossible to get in with the small space and big lines, but the food is great. Their coffee is not as good as their food.
  6. The Tempered Room: Bertrand Alepée is a pastry genius and his French bakery has a fantastic selection of baked goods.
  7. Bareburger: No one seems to remember that Bareburger has one of the best brunch menus around. They do more than brunch burgers.
  8. Starving Artist: For anyone who’s obsessed with waffles.
  9. Bonjour Brioche: When you’re in the mood for a simple pain au chocolat, this place will hit the spot.
  10. White Brick Kitchen: It’s chic and simple, and the food equally so.

 

 

 

For A Fun Dinner

When the food is important but the vibe is key

  1. Bar Raval: Calling this place a Spanish tapas restaurant would be underselling this spectacular architectural destination that serves most of their gourmet food in tins.
  2. Mata Pestico Bar: The boys of Mata never disappoint with their Brazilian small plates.
  3. Soos: An upscale Malaysian eatery that brings all the right South Asian flavours you crave.
  4. Parts & Labour: Matty Mattheson has become a self-proclaimed “Instagram star” with his over-the-top brand that he shares with this restaurant.
  5. Thoroughbred Food & Drink: It’s small but dishes like the Kung Pow Cauliflower pack a punch.
  6. Big Crow: This place is like an outdoor barbecue, all the time.
  7. Pai: My favourite Thai restaurant in Toronto, and the Regulars’ (the owners) best creation yet.
  8. Home of the Brave: It’s as American as it gets with fun cocktails and a punchy New American menu.
  9. La Carnita: A go-to for birthdays and get-togethers, this taco joint (there are multiple locations) is always lively.
  10. Lamesa: the heart of the Filipino food movement in Toronto and the best place to go for a Kamayan-style dinner.
  11. Cantina: There are a few restaurants in the Playa Cabana family, but this one is my personal favourite to go for tacos and margs (it’ll even make you say margs).
  12. The Gabardine: If you love rich, cheesy, French gastropub food in a refined setting, you’ll love this place. Note their specific hours.
  13. The Carbon Bar: The design of this Queen East spot is great, but you really do have to be in the mood for BBQ to come here. Thankfully, I usually am.

 

 

 

When All You Want is Italian Pizza

They have can the world as long as I can have my Italian pizza

  1. Pizzeria Via Mercanti: Without a doubt, this is my favourite pizza establishment in town. Located in the heart of Kensington Market, it has a very laid back vibe and a lot of happy customers.
  2. Quattro e Quattr8: You won’t find anything else like this place in Toronto and everything tastes “homemade” in a comforting way. I just can’t get enough.
  3. Terroni: These guys have a great history and really great food. Just don’t go if you require any kind of substitutions at all.
  4. Levetto: It’s a chain, but the Romano style pizzas here designed by Shahir Massoud are some of my favourites. The Chinatown location even has a Peking Duck pizza!
  5. Pizzeria Libretto: It’s a solid, solid, can’t-go-wrong establishment. 
  6. Lil Baci Taverna: They’re a nice midtown restaurant that knows what they’re doing. The funghi pizza is my favourite.
  7. Angelo’s Coal Fired Pizza: They just opened and that oven gets up to 1000 degrees for maximum char, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  8. Gusto 101: Provided that it’s not too busy that night, this is a great pizza you can enjoy in a fun, romantic King Street environment.
  9. Pizzeria Defina: This one’s kind of out of the core, but it’s got a great mix of flavours that keep it Italian but always a surprise.
  10. A3 Napoli: Just get the margherita, and nothing else.
  11. Queen Margherita Pizza: I like them a lot. It’s just hard to keep up with their changing locations and constructions.

 

 

 

Just Desserts

Sweet tooth satisfaction when you need it the most

  1. Scoop Shop by Sweet Sammies: Sanober’s ice cream sandwiches are some of the most delicate I’ve ever had, and their gelatos go great in an affogato.
  2. Soma Chocolate: There are a few locations but I can’t help but get an affogato or Mexican hot chocolate from here every time I’m in the Distillery District.
  3. Tsujiri: There will probably be a lineup, but if you love matcha, it’s worth every minute.
  4. Death in Venice Gelato: There’s a lot of nepotism on my end for this one, but I love Maddalena and Kaya and their gelatos even more.
  5. Nadège Patisserie: Not as magical as it once was, but still worth a stop for a macaron or canalés.
  6. Bakerbots Baking: I seriously associate this place with childhood happiness, even if I didn’t discover it until I was 25. Get a half cookie ice cream sandwich if you can’t decide.
  7. Butter Avenue: The macarons here give Nadège a run for her money. It’s a slightly different vibe and their quality is impeccable. 
  8. The Red Bench: They have organic frozen yoghurt and will make you miniature cookies to order. Enough said.
  9. Through Being Cool: This is a vegan café but it might take you awhile to notice! These guys have scrumptious baked treats and a rotating selection of giant doughnuts that are so good, you won’t even miss the butter.
  10. Sweet Jesus: They started serving their paletas attached to La Carnita and became so sought after they opened their own stores, though I’m hoping the lines die down soon.

 

 

 

For an Espresso or Two

It’s so much more than just caffeine 

  1. Boxcar Social: This place epitomizes Toronto and its strong coffee scene. Their Rosedale location is wonderful (as long as you can handle extreme coffee aficionados crowding in to test out the newest cold brew apparatus all the time), and they have now replaced that awful cafeteria at Harbourfront Centre. Plus, they are fully licensed.
  2. De Mello Palheta: This is the place I usually stop in when I’m in the Yonge/Eg quadrant. They also have umbrellas all over the ceiling.
  3. Rooster Coffee House: This place is one of the best to hit up when you’re East of Yonge and looking for a fun, laid back place to read a book.
  4. Sam James Coffee Bar: There are multiple locations, but they do their brand well. I tend to end up at the one in the PATH, just like so many in the Financial District.
  5. Te Aro (Pilot Coffee Roasters): You can find Pilot Coffee in various locations, but Te Aro in Leslieville is still the heart of the operation.
  6. Dineen Coffee Co: It’s often too crowded, but this is still the best thing to happen to Queen and Temperance.
  7. Hot Black Coffee: This is a new addition to Queen West and they have a fresh appeal and still and sparkling water on tap along with juices from Village Juicery.
  8. Manic Coffee: No wifi, but better for it.
  9. Dark Horse Espresso Bar: The Queen Street location is dark to study, but not too dark to have a nice little afternoon pick me up with a few friends. The Spadina location is my favourite.
  10. R2 (Rsquared) Coffee: Notwithstanding the annoyance of never being able to tell who is staff and who is a patron, this place makes one of my favourite cappuccinos. 

 

 

 

To Visit Next

Invitations always welcome!

  1. Alo
  2. Miku
  3. Bar Isabel
  4. R&D
  5. Loka (in their Queen West home)
  6. Han Ba Tang
  7. Maha’s Restaurant
  8. Bar Fancy
  9. Black Hoof 
  10. Lee 
  11. Little Sister
  12. Buca 
  13. La Cubana
  14. Dr. Laffa
  15. JaBistro
  16. Oddseoul
  17. Pan on the Danforth
  18. Patria
  19. Splendido
  20. Mamakas Taverna
  21. Skin + Bones
  22. Yasu
  23. Come and Get It
  24. Concession Road

 

Last updated: May 4, 2017