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. 

Tried and True: 

  1. Edulis: Be warned, there are only two options on the menu: smaller and larger prix fixe. A cozy spot with a seasonal menu of wild and foraged foods used to create elevated Canadian dishes with a bit of Western European flair.
  2. Enoteca Sociale:  A very intimate and very Italian wine bar with a very edited list of small-plate (or as the Italians would say, the right size) pastas and other things. Lowly lit and very moody.
  3. Brothers Food & Wine: It’s so small you might just walk past it without realizing this is one of Toronto’s best restaurants for local, Contemporary Canadian Cuisine. Located right beside Bay Station, and reservations are definitely required.
  4. Piano Piano: This is one of those “phoenix from the ashes” restaurants where a chef (Victor Barry) closes his old restaurant to make room for something new. Italian, but with a twist. The service is excellent.
  5. Buca: Italian, Italian, Italian. Rob Gentile has created a landmark for Torontonians with his Buca empire.
  6. 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. 
  7. Ruby Watchco: The menu changes daily, and you can only eat what Chef Lynn wants to serve, but if you’re up for it, it’s a great Canadian experience in Toronto’s East End.
  8. Miku: A large-scale Japanese restaurant featuring clean lines and excellent service, this place is perfect for a special occasion. It does lend itself better to corporate than cozy. 
  9. TOCA: Ritz Carlton’s own upscale restaurant uses some of the freshest ingredients prepared with an elegant Italian focus. 
  10. Byblos: Pan-Mediterranean dishes designed to be shared, set in a beautiful space. It’s my favourite of the Iconink restaurants in Toronto.
  11. Marben: Contemporary Canadian with a bit of Spanish flair. The architecture is also key.
  12. Ardo: A relatively low-key Italian restaurant known for small-scale, authentic bites.

Honourable Mentions

  1. Stelivo: An unassuming Northern Italian Restaurant located at Queen and Spadina decked out in black and white. The neighbourhood isn’t the best for special events, but the food is very nice.
  2. Mr. Flamingo: This place does Italian food in a way that doesn’t scream Spaghetti and Mario (order the burrata).
  3. Campagnolo: A revolving menu of relaxed Italian fare offered in a chic setting, with a cocktail bar (however, not as good as it once was without head chef Craig supervising).
  4. Nota Bene: There are not many upscale restaurants on Queen Street West, but this one screams upper crust, in a nice way.
  5. Café Boulud: Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel has undergone a revamp and it looks and tastes better than ever.
  6. 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. It’s a bit “Yorkville-ish”, but you can’t deny it’s beauty.
  7. Pukka: If you’re looking for Indian fine dining, you’ll find it here (or go to its sister restaurant Concession Road down the street for great French fare).
  8. Boralia: For those looking for a truly unique “Canadian” experience without the poutine.
  9. Leña: A breath of fresh air attached to the Eaton Centre, this place does upscale South American food set in a beautiful space.
  10. Bosk: The ultra-modern Asian-driven menu here is as beautiful as the Shangri-La Hotel in which it is situated. Can I admit that they also have some of my favourite restaurant washrooms in the city?
  11. Grazie: A well-established Italian restaurant located near Yonge and Eglington that has a loyal fan base (though it is a little more family-style).

On my Radar: 

  1. Alo: This is literally the hottest ticket in town and all trusted friends who have been can confirm it’s greatness. Be warned: turn your volume down when visiting their website.
  2. Mira: Chef Stuart Cameron’s newest project is most likely a good thing.
  3. La Palma: What a beauty of a space and just across the street from Chef Craig Harding’s former spot, Campagnolo.
  4. Piano Piano: Chef Victor Barry’s new project after the closing of Splendido.
  5. Montgomery’s: Hopeful for this place to wow with its simple Canadian fare.
  6. Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse: The best steakhouse in the city, confirmed and double confirmed.
  7. Dandylion: Another Contemporary Canadian favourite that I hope to visit very soon.
  8. Canis: Must. try. soon.
  9. Grey Gardens: I hear it’s one of the best things to pop up in Kensington Market in a long time.
  10. Atlas Restaurant: Upscale Middle Eastern.
  11. Charbrol: This looks like the perfect bistro edition to Yorkville.

Last updated: August 2018