One of the most multicultural cities in the world, half of Toronto’s population was born outside Canada. This goes some way in explaining why the array of dining options there is SO extensive and fabulous.
There was no way, in my four months there (on an intern stipend), that I could do the food scene justice and provide an authoritative ‘must-eat’ list. So, here is a random countdown of some of my favourite foodie gems.
Pretty n posh
I could (and did) go on all day about my love for School. For those not in the know, we’re talking brunch. And not just any old eggs benny at a local greasy spoon. School offers gorgeously crafted dishes in Liberty Village’s finest, as well as a bakery, outdoor patio and general trendy aura. The decor is fab, but it’s the ‘krispy krunch French toast’ (pictured above) that truly stands out.
Top tip: Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is nearby, and also offers a brunch to remember.
Indonesian resto Little Sister is the best thing about midtown Toronto (not that that’s a particularly significant achievement – Eglinton isn’t the liveliest). The fun-loving bar/restaurant is a great place for a date, thanks to an abundance of interesting, sharing-style dishes which the photos don’t do justice. Start with the Balinese shredded chicken taco, continue with the tenderly cooked braised beef ‘Semur Java’ and finish with one of the intriguingly exotic cocktails.
Top tip: book in advance – even on weeknights it’s packed and buzzing!
A Thursday without Spice Route is like ending a night out without poutine – an epic Canadian faux pas. Glamorous in both location (King West) and interior (hello mood lighting), the sushi-serving bar is a major highlight of the downtown dining scene. Thursdays there equal $15 bottles of wine til 8 and ludicrously good sushi prices. It’d be foolish not to.
Top tip: it’s perfect for summer thanks to outdoor seating!
Origin North has a fabulous menu. Not pigeonholed by sticking to one cuisine, the offerings range from brunch to burgers to noodles. Usually this would be a recipe for disaster, but the classically cool food bar serves it all up in style. The ‘Chinois duck’ tortillas (pictured above) are glorious, and the prices are pretty decent too.
Top tip: it’s one of the (only) culinary gems of North York, so get to Bayview station ASAP.
Cool n casual
The nachos in the photo look relatively ordinarily. But fight through the tortilla chips, guac and sour cream of Sneaky Dee’s’ ‘Kings Crown’ and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful, hidden ground beef-filled centre. The portions aren’t for the faint-hearted, and neither is its graffiti/punky feel. But the Tex-Mex dive bar, situated on College and Bathurst, never fails to disappoint thanks to the failsafe combo of live music, alcohol and cheap food aplenty.
Top tip: half price nachos on Tuesdays!
Albert’s doesn’t mess around. The furniture is plain and standard, the staff blunt and uncharming and the prices are pretty average. Thankfully, the food is exceptional. Located in St Clair West, Albert’s looks set to continue serving jerk chicken (e.g in above sandwich) to its many fans for quite some time. The awards covering its walls attest to this, even if a rare uncrowded moment there suggests otherwise.
Top tip: they don’t take cards so come prepared with cash!
A newbie to Queen West’s busy dining scene, Buna’s Kitchen specialises in fresh, European food. Not many people seem to know about the drool-worthy delights of this gem off Spadina and Richmond, but it’s only a matter of time. The duck sandwich is amazing, as are all the salads. Oh, and the modern, bright decor makes it a perfect lunch go-to.
Top tip: use the Grabb app to order and get 35% off your first order.
St Lawrence Market
OK, so I may have slightly slated St Lawrence market as a tourist destination due to too much hype and excessive crowds. But, that’s not to say I wouldn’t grocery shop here 24/7 if I was rich. Full of fresh produce, everything here looks appetising. The veal parmigiana sandwich (pictured above) is top notch.
Top tip: get boasting – it was rated one of the world’s best food markets by National Geographic.
Also worth a mention…
Heavenly pizzas and a friendly, vibrant atmosphere make for the perfect three-restaurant Italian chain.
Flawless Thai restaurant in downtown. Quick service and delicious pad thai.
The first poutine-exclusive restaurant (OK, cafe) in Toronto. Fries, gravy and cheese curds have never been so bewitching. It’s totally customisable, cool and oh so Canadian.
I couldn’t not mention one of my favourite places. Not just a supermarket, there’s different daily offerings, all of which are healthy but actually tasty. It’s a dollar off sandwiches on Thursdays, whilst Friday’s burrito offerings are to die for. You heard it here first.