Toronto: Where To Eat
Planning a Toronto trip? Don’t go without reading this first!
Toronto has become one of my favorite cities to eat in. Due to its diverse mix of cultures, there are many amazing places to eat at the city at any budget. And with its population, it can support great restaurant culture and young upcoming culinary talent. I’ve visited Toronto twice in the past few years and each time, I get kinda chubby eating there. So that’s a great sign! If you’re planning a trip to Toronto, below is a list of a few places that I would recommend and that I would definitely go back to if returning.
Fahrenheit Coffee – 120 Lombard St
I only tried out a handful of coffee places in Toronto this past trip. When I was staying by St Lawrence Market, I went over to try Balzac’s Coffee one morning but then found Fahrenheit the next morning. I prefer Fahrenheit but if you can’t handle serious baristas, you may not like this place. Their coffees are excellent but going there is like being on an episode of Portlandia. When you order a cortado they ask you if you know it can only be drank in the shop. Hahaha. Balzac’s was fine and great if you’re right by St. Lawrence but the coffee was just okay. They do have a great tile floor though!!
Dark Horse – several locations
When I was wandering around Queen West on my previous trip, I went to Dark Horse. While I didn’t go this year I’m sure the coffee is good and they have several locations for your coffee needs.
*I didn’t try Sam James. I heard a lot about Sam James but there weren’t any locations that were super close to me. I walked by one late in the day but didn’t need a dose of caffeine. It looks like hipster coffee so I’m sure it’s alright.**
St. Lawrence Market – 92-95 Front Street East
If you like food markets, St. Lawrence Market is a must. I’ve written a post about my favorite markets around the world here and oh yeah…Nat Geo awarded it best food market in the world in 2012…so go! On Saturdays they have a farmers market that starts at 5am.
Banh Mi Boys – two locations
I’m sure there’s cheaper and “more authentic” banh mi at some Vietnamese cafe but Banh Mi Boys is great. It’s centrally located and it’s tasty. My friends and I ordered the kimchi fries, a pork belly bao, and a kalbi banh mi. Is it obvious I love pork?
Mothers Dumplings– 421 Spadina open till 10pm/10:30pm on weekends
Love dumplings? Mother’s Dumplings is great go to for Chinese eats. It’s cheap, semi cheerful, and comforting. I went solo once and ordered lamb shumai because I never see that on any menus. Lamb shumai! Tell me if you’ve ever seen that anywhere besides Mothers. I also went with my buddy recently and we ordered 4 kinds of dumplings and some veggies (to make ourselves feel better). They have xiao long bao here and while they are good, don’t expect Din Tai Fung-ness.
P&L Burger – 507 Queen West
P&L is part of the Parts and Labour family. I had the cheeseburger here and it’s tasty. Poutine was proper too. A great go to when you’re in the mood for a burger!!
Burgers Priest – many locations even in Edmonton and Hamilton now
When I was in Toronto in 2013 I tried out The Burgers Priest. I heard the guy wanted to make a burger similar to In n Out…they even have a secret menu. I like them!
California Sandwiches – several locations
Ok. I had heard so much about California Sandwiches for a while. I was super sad that I didn’t try it out when I was in Toronto in 2013. I even had lunch with people at Salumi in Seattle (Mario Batali’s dad’s place) who were raving about the veal sandwich at California. My cousins brought me and now I’m a convert. I need an Italian nonna to make me sandwiches!! Here’s a tip: order the sauce on the side to dip in.
Porchetta and Co – 825 Dundas St W
My cousins and I had an Italian sandwich afternoon and went here after going to California Sandwiches. We ordered a sandwich to share just so I could try it out. I love porchetta (extra crackling please), so I’m a fan of this place. We also had a arancini (deep fried, breaded rice ball hi!) as a snack because we may have addiction to food.
Seven Lives Mariscos – 69 Kensington Ave
One day I met up with some friends in Kensington for drinks and hangs. Seven Lives had just opened up (in 2013) so we had some eats. I don’t really remember the tacos but the ceviche was super tasty. I eat tacos all the time as a California resident so I’m a bit finicky but if you’re want a taco in Toronto, this is a good option.
West Indian/Trini Food
Toronto has a large West Indian population so if you’re a fan of West Indian food and island food, you’ll be psyched. The only thing is most really really good spots are in the suburbs.
Patty King – 187 Baldwin St in Kensington Market
Patty King is great for picking up a snack when you’re hungry and in Kensington Market. I usually get a double or a beef or goat patty.
Island Foods – 1182 King St W
I know Island Foods is basic but I like it and I’m fine with that. I know someone’s shaking their head and saying there are better but whatever!!! I like it! Get me a chana roti and a Ting and I’m irie man!
Ali’s Roti – 1446 Queen Street W (in Parkdale)
I was craving some island food so my friend Josh brought me to Ali’s Roti in Parkdale. It’s a hole in the wall too but really tasty. We shared jerk chicken and a buss up shut (translated: busted up shirt) aka goat paratha roti. This place does the job and is still in the city.
Pizza Libretto – 3 locations
Pizza Libretto has several locations and a good place if you are doing a group dinner and want pizza and pastas type meal. I went with a couple of friends and we share a bunch of appies and pizzas. Great pizza, nothing mind blowing but a good pizza go to.
La Mesa Filipino – 669 Queen St W
Since I’m Filipino, I love Filipino food but I don’t always get to eat it. I don’t cook a lot myself since I’m always traveling and my dear Mom has passed but when there are Pinoy restaurants around, I’ll check them out. I love it when I hear that young Filipino entrepreneurs have opened up dining establishments too!! I will full support! I went with my family and friends to La Mesa for a family dinner. We ordered from their prix fixe menu. Our party was all pleased with our meals which is basically a miracle when you have judgmental Filipino women (who can cook well) eating. I’m a fan!! guys!
Bar Isabel – 797 College St
I wanted to eat at Bar Isabel when I was in Toronto in 2013 but couldn’t find a group to go with. I love Spanish food so I was really sad to not have made it. When dining at an establishment like Bar Isabel, it’s good to go with a group so you can order a ton of different things to share.
It is still getting excellent reviews so I made a reservation for my cousins and I go to this past trip (June 2015). We were all extremely happy with the food, drinks, and service. I 100000000% vouch for this place. Apologies for my photos, it’s really dark in there. Bar Isabel is only open in the evenings sadly. Make a reservation early…we had to have dinner at 10:30pm in order to snag a reso for our group.
Bar Raval – 505 College St
I read that the owner of Bar Isabel was opening a new pintxo bar called Bar Raval. Being a lover of Basque food I was super excited and put this high on my Toronto to do list. We went for brunch/lunch and my cousins and I feasted like Spanish royalty! I was so so so so happy. Ordered a cortado to start and some tortilla (proper!) and many other things. We basically went H.A.M. here. I could eat here every day. It’s open at 8am till late. Don’t hesitate, just go.
416 Snack Bar – 181 Bathurst St
I’m a fan of 416. It’s super tiny but if you want to grab drinks with friends and some small plates, it’s an awesome vibe. Please note this place does not have forks. So if you’re trying to eat a fried whole fish you gotta pick at it with little chopsticks. That was my only complaint but I really like this place a lot.
La Carnita – Two Locations
La Carnitas is fun and the food was tasty. My favorites were the ribs (a special) and the paletas. It is super loud so if you’re on a date, it might not be the best place to go but for groups it’s fun. The host was a salty little hipster so make a reservation because this place is popular.
Campagnolo – 832 Dundas St W
I didn’t eat here this past June (2015) but from what I hear, it’s still excellent. Country style Italian food. Go with a group and share with your friends. Order lots of cocktails from the bar man GP. I had a killer blueberry old fashioned here and can’t stop thinking about it actually. And if it’s in season, the salt and pepper panna cotta dessert is amazing!
Black Hoof – 928 Dundas St W
While I didn’t eat at Black Hoof, I did eat at the Raw Bar for brunch two years ago. I think they it shut down or renamed it, I’m not sure. The Black Hoof is still opened though. They also opened up another bar called Rhum Bar which I read about just recently. I ordered deep fried sweet breads and waffles for brunch. It may not be your thing but they were really tasty as was the smoked mackerel hash. The Caesar cocktail here was awesome too.
Nadege Patisserie – several locations
Nadege is a very pretty patisserie. I come here to get macarons and eclairs when I’m craving something sweet. Besides desserts, they also have savory items like croissants and sandwiches as well as coffee and tea.
Bang Bang Ice Cream – 93 Ossington Ave
My cousins brought me to Bang Bang Ice Cream. They make ice cream sandwiches on homemade cookies here or you can have it in a cone/cup or even bubble waffle Hong Kong style!! OMG. I’m so sad I didn’t have the bubble waffle now!
- 416 Snackbar
- Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District
- Bar Isabel
- Bar Raval
- Drake Hotel (a bit scene-y but if that’s your thing)
Poutinis – 1112 Queen St W
What’s a trip to Canada without some poutine? Poutinis is awesome and even more awesome when you throw bacon on it.
This is by no means the be all, end all of dining and drinking in Toronto. These are just a few spots that I really loved and would go back to if I was going to Toronto. I always make these posts for my friends who often ask me where they should go eat. I’d love to go back and eat more, Toronto is an excellent city for great eats!
For more posts about Toronto: