After eating through the city all summer long, I’ve summarized the Toronto restaurants I simply have the biggest feels for at the moment. Some are new, and some have been around for a little bit, but all are exciting and a little bit different. If you’re looking for the best Toronto restaurants by category, check out my lists here.
- Côte de Bœuf: This Parisian wine bar is also a butcher shop and French restaurant. It’s also just the most incredible open “foodie secret” on Ossington.
Potential drawback: The whole place (obviously) smells meaty.
- 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.
- 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.
- Osgoode Hall Restaurant: As a graduate from Osgoode Hall Law School, this restaurant holds special significance. Many people don’t realize that there is a beautiful restaurant in the heart of this courthouse! Most of the patrons of the restaurant are lawyers, but it is open to the public from 11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Potential drawback: You will have to dine with a whole room of lawyers.
- Pastiche: I was sad when Boralia closed, but was super delighted to discover that my friend Nick Ruggiero, a super creative chef and great guy, had taken over the kitchen. The dishes are international fusion, tailored to an adventurous Toronto palate. Think Crocodile with miso and arugula chimichurri, or Algerian Crepes with Saffron Stewed Chicken.
Potential drawback: It’s incredibly dark in here.
- Aloette: Oh, this is a great diner alright, and a stylish establishment that doesn’t miss a beat. You can add an egg onto the famous Alo Burger free of charge to make it a brunch item.
Potential drawback: It’s hard to get a spot at this no-reservations place.
- 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.
- Kōjin: Momofuku has done a bit of a revamp lately, and Colombian head chef Paula Navarrete has totally brought a cool, South American vibe to the beautiful space. The corncakes are addictive.
Potential drawback: It feels very different than the Momofuku you once knew, in case you were feeling nostalgic.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pinky’s Ca Phe: You could walk by this house several times and not realize it is the best hipster Vietnamese restaurant/bar in town. Think sticky fish sauce chicken wings and tiger’s milk ceviche with taro chips. If you’re in a fun mood, try their “Foco Loco” cocktails.
Potential drawback: There isn’t much seating, and even less room to maneuver after you sit down.
- à toi: This is an elegant speakeasy that can be found behind Coffee Oysters Champagne near St. Andrew Station. I attended their secret grand opening and it was truly an impressive experience.
Potential drawback: There is a fun French burlesque vibe that may not be to everyone’s tastes or comfort level.
- Maple Leaf Tavern: An amazing menu set in a large, brassy, space. They serves one of the best burgers in Toronto, and their pickles are pretty great too.
Potential drawback: The food is quite heavy.
- Omai: A contemporary minimalist Japanese restaurant that focuses on handrolls and izakaya food, all served at the counter (the restaurant only has 20 seats, and most of them are counter).
Potential drawback: Traditionalists beware: their handrolls are not cone-shaped.
- Kingyo: Japanese izakaya with major theatrics, without compromising any of the flavour. Like several restaurants that came to us from Vancouver, Kingyo maintains their original integrity. The bathrooms are also excellent.
Potential drawback: It’s tucked away in residential Cabbagetown.
- Mira: Think exciting ceviches, popcorn, sausages, pickles, and fun rice dishes in a modern, Peruvian King Street setting. Make sure to order the Pisco-based drinks.
Potential drawback: Some may say that portions are pretty small for the price.
- True True Diner: King Street East had been anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the former hip pizza spot for months, and I’m pleased to say we now have our final product. This place is not only good, it’s got a cool story as well (see website to learn more).
Potential drawback: There are still a few “new restaurant concept” tweaks they’re workshopping.
- Midfield Wine Bar: There’s more wine than food, but if you love the former, you’re going to have a fun evening here. This place is an unpretentious sommelier favourite.
Potential drawback: The vibe is extremely mellow (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)
- The White Lily Diner: This place provides the greasy spoon experience without most of the grease, and all of the spoon. The cozy, mustard-yellow booth seating is a perfect backdrop for their high quality, wholesome dishes such as biscuits and gravy, and homemade doughnuts.
Potential drawback: The space is tiny, and the wait time is real.
- The Green Wood: This is the kind of place to take those out-of-town friends who want to experience a quality “typical Toronto” meal. Proudly using locally-sourced Ontario ingredients, their Toronto-style international breakfast dishes will leave you with that “just right” feeling you crave on a Sunday morning.
Potential drawback: The stairs leading down to the restaurant may be a problem for some.
Looking for more recommendations? Check out “For Bars with Good Food“, “For Something Cheep and Cheerful” or “For a Nice Dinner“.
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