You need a restaurant to impress your dinner guest. Maybe it’s a third date. Maybe it’s an intimate birthday party. Maybe it’s a business client that you want to entertain over a great wine menu. The following fine dining restaurants will ensure that you have a good time, but more importantly, that you look good choosing it. Average price between $120-200 a person. Note: This is the upscale list – I have another For a Fun Dinner list you may also want to check out.
Tried and True:
- 20 Victoria Come here if you’d like to be immersed in a place where you can sit 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. Potential drawback: There is only one prix-fixe option.
- 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 only.
Potential drawback: Don’t come if you think tiny plate dining and three desserts made of different layers of foam is too precious for your liking.
- Edulis: 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. Potential drawback: They have a strict no-photo enjoy-you-meal-fully policy (which many will love!). Also, this is not a great spot for a group dinner, as the space is a bit small and their largest table only fits six.
- Quetzal: This is for when 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! Potential drawback: You will be smelling like a campfire leaving the space (they wood smoke everything but the ventilation is pretty good all things considered and I think the smell is actually pretty lovely)
- Dova: Come to Dova (or sister restaurant Ardo) 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. Potential drawback: Ardo can be a little more laid back for some more formal events, whereas Dova can be a little less cozy.
- Enoteca Sociale: This is 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. Potential drawback: This is only appropriate if you are looking for a candelit and moody vibe.
- George: This is one of the best places to come for a white tablecloth service with a classic French but with a twist menu. I love the private dining spaces and they do large group dining well. Potential drawback: The neighbourhood where the restaurant is located has frequently been described as…not as nice.
- Miku: 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.
- Byblos: Come here for Pan-Mediterranean dishes designed to be shared, set in a beautiful space. It’s my favourite of the Iconink restaurants in Toronto. There is a downtown and updown location. Potential drawback: There is a strong King West vibe here.
- Wynona: This is a place that feels like a “hidden gem” outside of the downtown core; a cozy Contemporary Canadian restaurant in East Chinatown that has great service and an excellent wine menu. Potential drawback: This is in an out-of-the-way location from most other spots.
- 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: They have now shut down their lunch service.
- MIMI Chinese: This is a place that serves “fancy regional contemporary Chinese” in Toronto, because they do it pretty darn well. Potential drawback: It is tricky to say this because on one hand, I am glad that they are fighting the tradition of Chinese food being perceived as not elevated, but some of the food is admittedly gimmick-y and some may not appreciate what they are trying to do.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Giulietta: Looking forward to trying out this “slightly newer” Italian place with lighter but quality fare.
- 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.
- La Palma: What a beauty of a space and just across the street from Chef Craig Harding’s former spot, Campagnolo.
- 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.
- Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse: The best steakhouse in the city, confirmed and double confirmed.
- Harbour 60: The other steakhouse that everyone else loves.
- 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.
- Charbrol: This looks like the perfect bistro edition to Yorkville.
- Dreyfus: It just looks perfect.
- Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto
Last updated: July 2023