Toronto is my current home, and also home to an ever-changing, exciting dining scene. These are not permanent or exhaustive lists, but rather a set of evergreen pages for those looking for my personal at-the-moment picks.
Feel free to leave other suggestions below!
For a Nice Dinner
Intimate birthday party and third date approved
You need a restaurant to impress your dinner guest. Maybe it’s a third date. Maybe it’s a birthday party. Maybe it’s a business client that you want to entertain over a great wine menu. The following restaurants will ensure that you have a good time, but more importantly, that you look good choosing it. Average price between $60-100 a person.
Drop in and eat something satisfying, with or without a drink or two
Sometimes you want a full meal, and sometimes you just need something to get you from Point A to Point B. In these circumstances, these places will do the trick. All of these restaurants feature easy, satisfying meals in a cool setting. Remember: cheap and easy doesn’t have to be mediocre. Average price between $10-20 a person.
A hardcore tradition of any self-respecting North American city
Bruch is an institution in Toronto largely driven by neighbourhood. The chances of you dragging your butt to Leslieville from the West End to stand in an hour-long line at 11 AM are pretty slim. Let’s face it–you’re probably going to head down the street to the place you always go. Then again, if you ever find yourself on someone’s else’s turf, here’s a list of places you should give a try, even if it’s just for another Eggs Benny. A good brunch place should provide something interesting, and be fun, without being stupid. Bonus points if they can manage an efficient and generally stress-free line. Average price between $18-25 a person (without mimosas).
Even though we don’t like to admit it, the dining experience isn’t just about the food. There are a few places that I’m willing to go largely to sit in their chairs, listen to their music, or generally be entertained by the spirit of the place. Have you ever organized a birthday party for a friend at a lame restaurant? Pick one of these restaurants to make up for that. Average price between $30-60 a person.
2017 was the year I finally mustered enough energy to finish my ramen tour of Toronto. Some may say that it’s incredibly difficult to make a bowl of warm salty noodles taste bad, but I would disagree. In fact, I feel so strongly against the many ramen shops producing mediocre or straight up bad noodles that I am only putting a few recommendations on this list for the time being. If you’re trying to make your own determination, look/taste for: Deep, multi-dimensional and flavourful broth, fresh, chewy and bouncy noodles, and well-cooked and well-prepared fresh toppings. If you’re trying to decide which kind of ramen to order, I would opt for a shio (salt) broth with chashu pork, which is one of the mildest and most traditional flavour profiles and combinations there is.
They have can the world as long as I can have my Italian pizza
I am not sure what I would do in a world without pizza. Toronto has lots of Italian (and mostly Italian) restaurants, but I’ve narrowed down the ones that do pizza particularly well. I’m not asking for much. All I want is a bit of well-prepared dough topped with fresh, high quality ingredients, made by someone who gives a little bit of a damn about their work. Is that so much to ask? Stop eating crappy pizza, and save your calories for the good stuff, right here. Average price between $15-25 a person (for the pizza).
If there is one thing that Toronto definitely needs more of, it’s desserts parlours. There are some amazing ones I’ve visited throughout the world, and we just don’t have enough of them. What we do have, however, is some high quality grab-and-go treats, especially in the gelato/ice cream and chocolate department. Average price between $5-20 per person.
You know what’s more important than dessert? Coffee. My criteria for a good coffee shop would include having a respect for the beans, having various methods of preparing good brewed coffees and espresso beverages, having a good tea selection, having excellent snacks and light meals, and all at a reasonable price point. Average price between $5-10 per person.
I eat a lot of meat, but I also eat a lot of vegetables. Frankly, I just eat a lot. We’re lucky to be in a city that not only accepts and respects vegetarianism and veganism, but boasts a ton of great plant-driven restaurants that even omnivores and carnivores would enjoy. Average price between $25-50 a person.
There are some dining establishments that I’ll visit for the sheer novelty of the experience (hello, themed cafes in Asia). It helps when the food is good too, but that’s really beside the point. In fact, some of these places barely have food! In any case, here’s my list of the most unique dining/drinking establishments in Toronto.