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 $120-180 a person. 

Tried and True: 

  1. 20 Victoria
    You should go here if: You’d like to be immersed in a place where you can sit here for hours and not realize how much time has passed. From the former owners of Brothers, this is a restaurant that celebrates Canadian seasonal cuisine in a way feels like eating through a classical concert.
    You should not go here if: You are not an adventurous eater. There is only one prix-fixe option.
  2. Alo
    You should go here if: If you’re really looking to impress (and can score a reservation months in advance), Alo is simply the most exquisite contemporary French fare you can find in Toronto. Dining room prix-fixe is $145 per person.
    You should not go here if: If you think tiny plate dining and three desserts made of different layers of foam is too precious for your liking.
  3. Edulis
    You should go here if: You want a cozy, rustic spot with a seasonal menu of wild and foraged foods used to create elevated Canadian dishes with a bit of Western European flair. They’ve recently taken things even further in innovation and made a pay-in-advance, including tax and tip policy. You can select between various prix-fixe options usually between $85-$180.
    You should not go here if: You want to take photos, as they have a strict no-photo enjoy-you-meal-fully policy (which many will love!), or if you’re looking for a group dinner spot, as the space is also a bit small and their largest table only fits six.
  4. Quetzal
    You should go here if: You want to try a Toronto-based Mexican restaurant like you (probably) haven’t tasted before. Just tell them your dietary restrictions and let them create a menu for you and your guests. Grant van Garmeren’s latest venture is my favourite one yet!
    You should not go here if: You are adverse to smelling like a campfire leaving the space (they wood smoke everything but the ventilation is pretty good all things considered!)
  5. Ardo and Dova
    You should go here if: You are looking for a nice Italian restaurant that’s not in the Terroni family of restaurants. These are sister restaurants by Chef Roberto Marotta that are fantastic for different reasons. Ardo is a relatively low-key Northern Italian restaurant known for small-scale, authentic bites, and Dova is slightly more elevated and even more Sicilian (seafood and lemons) focused.
    You should not go here if: You don’t like notes of citrus and olive.
  6. Enoteca Sociale
    You should go here if: You are looking for an intimate and very Italian wine bar with an edited list of classic, high quality, small-plate pastas and other things. Their private dining room is excellent, nicely candlelit and very moody.
    You should not go here if: you are specifically not looking for a candelit and moody vibe.
  7. Piano Piano
    You should go here if: You want something playful, Contemporary Italian with a twist. Chef Victor Barry closed down the formerly beloved Splendido, but only to make room for something new and exciting and they have several locations now. Think egg yolk raviolo, supermarket-inspired pizza, and Italian fried chicken.
    You should not go here if: You have sodium concerns, as they are very heavy handed with the salt.
  8. Miku
    You should go here if: You want a clean, streamlined experience with excellent service, this is a Vancouver-based Japanese restaurant that is perfect for a corporate lunch or dinner, or post-graduation meal, especially if you’re staying by the waterfront. See their sister restaurant Minami as well in the Entertainment District.
    You should not go here if: You are looking for a cozy experience.
  9. Byblos
    You should go here if: You want Pan-Mediterranean dishes designed to be shared, set in a beautiful space. It’s my favourite of the Iconink restaurants in Toronto.
    You should not go here if: You know, the food is excellent, but it has a King West edit.
  10. Wynona
    You should go here if: You want to find a place that feels like a “hidden gem” outside of the downtown core. This is a cozy Contemporary Canadian restaurant in East Chinatown that has great service and an excellent wine menu.
    You should not go here if: You want to be near anything else, or do anything else after. It is in an out-of-the-way location from most other spots.

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Richmond Station: Carl Heinrich’s project from his Top Chef Season 2 win is still going strong, and this place is perfect for almost any occasion. They are particularly good at taking care of your guest’s dietary restrictions. Potential drawback: Sometimes when the management staff/Chef Heinrich are not watching closely, the food does suffer a little.
  2. Café Boulud: Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel has undergone a revamp and it looks and tastes better than ever. Potential drawback: The food is great, but sometimes feels like it sits in the shadow of its New York sister.
  3. JaBistro: An excellent little spot for very seasonal sashimi and aburi sushi in the Entertainment District. Potential drawback: It can see a little cold and isolated (although that is also the vibe they are going for).
  4. Buca: The standard of high quality Italian food in Toronto can be found at Buca and Buca Yorkville. Rob Gentile has created a landmark for Torontonians with his Buca empire, and he has a lot to be proud of. Potential drawback: The price point is a little high and the restaurant chain has been fraught with business and political controversy.
  5. TOCA: Ritz Carlton’s own upscale restaurant uses some of the freshest ingredients (they have their own cheese cave in the restaurant) prepared with an elegant Italian focus. Potential drawback: It’s still very much a hotel restaurant.
  6. Woodlot: La Carnita, Dailo and Bar Raval are some of the best restaurants in town, and Woodlot is right there beside them (literally). Potential drawback: In trying to create a casual vibe, the service becomes a little too relaxed.
  7. Marben: This Contemporary Canadian restaurant has transformed and grown in different ways and I’ve been so happy to be on the journey. I loved it when Chef Rob Bragagnolo was here, and love it now that Chef Chris Locke is at the helm. No tipping, local ingredients, tons of comfort and innovation with a hint of British influence. Potential drawback: The space could use a little renovation sometime soon.
  8. Pukka: If you’re looking for Indian fine dining, you’ll find it here. Potential drawback: They have a bit of an early 2000’s vibe in some of their fare.
  9. Woods: This downtown restaurant should probably get more attention, but having an Colborne Lane address means people have to really be looking for it. Elegant, Contemporary Canadian fare made with locally-sourced ingredients. Potential drawback: The location.

On my Radar: 

  1. Giulietta: Looking forward to trying out this “slightly newer” Italian place with lighter but quality fare.
  2. Don Alfonso 1890: I met the Italian founder of this amazing Neapolitan retreat a few years back, and I’m so excited that they chose Toronto to open their outpost.
  3. La Palma: What a beauty of a space and just across the street from Chef Craig Harding’s former spot, Campagnolo.
  4. Canoe: Yes, I have had their food. No, I have not been to a proper sit-down dinner, and it’s really time that I go soon.
  5. Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse: The best steakhouse in the city, confirmed and double confirmed.
  6. Harbour 60: The other steakhouse that everyone else loves.
  7. Grey Gardens: I hear Jenn Agg’s new project is one of the best things to pop up in Kensington Market in a long time.
  8. Charbrol: This looks like the perfect bistro edition to Yorkville.
  9. Dreyfus: It just looks perfect.

Last updated: November 2022