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 $100-150 a person. 

Tried and True: 

  1. Edulis: A cozy, shabby chic spot with a seasonal menu of wild and foraged foods used to create elevated Canadian dishes with a bit of Western European flair. Oh, and if you’re wondering why there are so few photos online, it’s because of their strict no-photo, please-enjoy-your-meal-fully policy! You can select between two prix-fixe options at $85 and $105.
    Potential drawback: The space is small, and their largest table only fits six people.
  2. Alo: 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.
    Potential drawback: Some may consider the menu a bit precious, if you’re not into tiny plate dining and three desserts made of different layers of foam.
  3. Enoteca Sociale:  A very intimate and very Italian wine bar with an edited list of classic, high quality, small-plate pastas and other things. Nicely candlelit and very moody.
    Potential drawback: It’s candlelit and very moody.
  4. Canis: A calming restaurant with delicate stemware, “wabi-sabi” stoneware and light woods, this Contemporary Canadian spot will delight any Minimalist who favours that Scandinavian-Japanese aesthetic. The prix-fixe menu is currently $95 per person, and totally worth it.
    Potential drawback: The hectic surrounding Queen St. West area certainly doesn’t reflect the interior space.
  5. Brothers Food & Wine: It’s so small you might just walk past it without realizing this is one of Toronto’s best restaurants for contemporary Canadian cuisine. Located right beside Bay Station, and reservations are definitely required.
    Potential drawback: The desserts are not as exciting as the rest of the dishes.
  6. Piano Piano: This is one of those “phoenix from the ashes” restaurants. Chef Victor Barry closed down the formerly beloved Splendido, but only to make room for something new and exciting. Think egg yolk raviolo, supermarket-inspired pizza, and Italian fried chicken. Contemporary Italian with a twist.
    Potential drawback: They are a little heavy-handed on the salt.
  7. 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 pricepoint is a little high.
  8. 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.
  9. Byblos: Pan-Mediterranean dishes designed to be shared, set in a beautiful space. It’s my favourite of the Iconink restaurants in Toronto.
    Potential drawback: The food is excellent, but some may consider it a little too clean cut if you’re looking for a robust experience.
  10. Woods: It blows my mind that this downtown restaurant isn’t more celebrated, 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.

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Ruby Watchco: The menu changes daily, and you can only eat what Chef Lynn wants to serve. It’s a great Canadian experience in Toronto’s East End if you’re up for a little adventure.
    Potential drawback: The flavours are great, but there isn’t a culture of finesse here (partially on purpose).
  2. Miku: A Vancouver-based Japanese restaurant featuring clean lines and excellent service, this place is perfect for a special occasion, especially if you’re staying near the waterfront.
    Potential drawback: It does lend itself better to corporate than cozy. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  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. Ardo: A relatively low-key Northern Italian restaurant known for small-scale, authentic bites.
    Potential drawback: The restaurant is a little narrow.
  8. Marben: Contemporary Canadian with a bit of Spanish flair. The architecture is also key.
    Potential drawback: I haven’t been back in awhile so can’t speak to the last two years.
  9. Estia: This is another Iconink restaurant with a menu representing the upper part of the Mediterranean Coast. They have a good wine program, bread program, charcuterie program, and everything else required for a successful meal.
    Potential drawback: It’s a bit “Yorkville-ish”, but you can’t deny it’s beauty.
  10. Pukka: If you’re looking for Indian fine dining, you’ll find it here.
    Potential drawback: It’s pricey for what you would consider the price should be for Indian food, but you should really consider it in another category.

On my Radar: 

  1. Giulietta: Looking forward to trying out one of the newest Italian places 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. Wynona: A breezy seafood-focused Leslieville spot.
  4. La Palma: What a beauty of a space and just across the street from Chef Craig Harding’s former spot, Campagnolo.
  5. 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.
  6. Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse: The best steakhouse in the city, confirmed and double confirmed.
  7. Harbour 60: The other steakhouse that everyone else says is the best.
  8. Dandylion: Another Contemporary Canadian favourite that I hope to visit very soon.
  9. 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.
  10. Charbrol: This looks like the perfect bistro edition to Yorkville.

Last updated: October 2019