Toronto is a paradise for foodies where practically every style of cuisine is readily available. While there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to try, here are some of the most iconic and popular restaurants that shouldn’t be missed while you’re here.
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Utensil-less eating: 416 Snack Bar
Toronto-style tapas is the specialty at this utensil-free establishment. Look forward to an ever-changing assortment of finger foods ranging from steak tartare to Reuben sandwiches.
Hyper-fresh and foraged: Actinolite
Sourcing and promoting Canadian products from Canadian producers, the tasting menus from this Ossington Avenue restaurant are the perfect way to get a taste of what the land around us had to offer. Expect artful dishes showcasing seasonal harvests and hyper-fresh ingredients foraged from nearby fields.
Slow-smoked: Adamson Barbecue
Toronto isn’t usually recognized as a BBQ town, but this smokehouse tucked away in a Leaside industrial park is well worth discovering. Open only from 11 am until the meat sells out (or 2 pm, whatever comes first), go for platters topped with brisket, sausages, pulled pork, and moist turkey all done with great reverence to the Texas style which inspires it.
Book a table ASAP: Alo
Awarded on prestigious lists like The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants (for two years in a row) this French restaurant and cocktail destination is a must-try… if you can get in. Go for the blind, multi-course tasting menus and let Chef Patrick Kriss and team treat you right.
All-day tapas: Bar Raval
Chef Grant van Gameren’s stunning all-day tapas bar transitions from coffee to cocktails as the day progresses. Go here to sample Spanish-style small plates (think pintxos, croquetas, and conservas) that’ll transport your taste buds from Toronto to Barcelona.
Upscale Italian: Buca
Rustic Italian restaurant Buca has proved so popular in Toronto that its spawned multiple outposts. Visit the OG location on King West to see what all the fuss is about. Here the menu boasts nose-to-tail delights including scratch-made pizza, pasta, charcuterie, and more.
Trendy Italian: Campagnolo
Chef Craig Harding walks the line between modern and traditional at this Italian restaurant on Dundas West. The date-worthy destination is a local gem where the menu pairs burrata with roasted grapes, and roasted bone marrow with oxtail marmalade and stone fruits.
Contemporary Canadiana: Canoe
A bastion of fine dining on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, this acclaimed Toronto restaurant deals in contemporary Canadian cuisine. Menus change seasonally but have recently showcased foie gras from Québec, lobster from the Atlantic, and a northern woods mushroom soup.
Jewish soul food: Centre Street Deli
While Montreal might be best known for its smoked meat, Toronto is all about pastrami. Get it on rye, with yellow mustard, and pickles and latkes on the side at this old-school Jewish deli just north of the city.
Hidden treasures: Cold Tea
Cold Tea takes its name from an illicit tradition in Toronto. Ordering “cold tea” in Chinatown restaurants once summoned a teapot full of beer after legal serving hours. Now, tucked inside the Kensington Mall, this hidden gem is home to top-notch cocktails and bar snacks.
Address: 60 Kensington Avenue
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Yum Cha: DaiLo
The Asian brasserie from Chef Nick Liu showcases modern Chinese fare with a western twist! Go for the Big Mac Bao off the yum cha (dim sum) menu and stick around for truffled fried rice, pea dumplings with bone marrow, Hakka brown wontons, and more.
Bumpin’ rooftop patio: The Drake Hotel
It’s a hotel, it’s a live music venue, a cafe, a restaurant, and a rooftop patio! The pioneer on West Queen West has helped establish this area as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods according to Vogue.
Showstopping seafood: Fishman Lobster Clubhouse
Epic lobster mountains are the number one reason to visit this Chinese seafood restaurant in Scarborough. Bring reinforcements because you’re going to need help devouring this massive pile of deliciousness.
Sustainable seafood: Honest Weight
The fishmonger and lunch counter is the place to go to sample treasures from along the Canadian coastline. Try the okonomiyaki (savoury Japanese pancakes), shucked oysters, and shrimp and grits while you’re here.
Authentic Aboriginal cuisine: Kū-kŭm Kitchen
Chef Joseph Shawana celebrates Canada’s Aboriginal cuisines at this Mount Pleasant restaurant offering seal tartare with bannock, pemmican, and pine needle sorbet on its menu.
Beyond bacon & eggs: Maha’s Egyptian Brunch
Brunch is among Toronto’s all-time favourite pastimes, but its popularity isn’t restricted to just bacon and eggs. Expect to queue up at the ever-popular Maha’s in return for stellar morning meals featuring sunny eggs and foule, basturma scrambles, and soft boiled eggs wrapped in falafel.
Market fresh: Nom Nom Nom Poutine
Looking for the best poutine in Toronto? Track down this poutine purveyor in a shipping container at Market 707. Here, the chips are twice-fried and the cheese curds are authentic and squeaky as they should be… not to mention the gravy is so good you’ll want to bathe in it.
Address: 707 Dundas Street West
Neighbourhood: Dundas West
East meets west: Patois
Toronto’s Caribbean cuisine is starting to gain the high praise it rightfully deserves! Craig Wong’s Patois, serving Jamaican patty double downs and other Asian-Caribbean mash-ups, is a must try when in Toronto.
Fully loaded: Schmaltz
Toronto-style bagels courtesy of Kiva’s collide with culinary creations from Toronto Chef Anthony Rose at this old-school Jewish appetizing store. While the signature bagel, cream cheese, and lox sandwiches are available from the take-out counter on Dupont, the Ossington location offers plenty of seating, not to mention sightseeing nearby.
Melting pots: Yueh Tung Restaurant
Torontonians are obsessed with the chili chicken at this downtown Hakka joint. The 25-year-old restaurant serving Chinese-Indian dishes represents the delicious cross-cultural cuisines that excel in this city.
Okay, we could go on, but now do you believe us that Toronto is enough to satisfy your hunger and then some? Time to stop reading and start eating.
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