One of the things that I appreciate most about Toronto is the diversity of foods available. From Thai to Cuban, I can probably do a world food tour in this one city. I used to have a “one time restaurant” rule, where I would try to go to a restaurant only once so that I could try more places. However, I’ve recently found myself wanting to return to some restaurants in Toronto, just because of the great food and service, and I’ll know what to expect walking in. Here’s a list of some of my favourite places to eat around the city and what to order.
- La Cubana: This Cuban diner offers a refreshing cultural take on the classic idea of brunch, serving Cuban sandwiches, rice dishes, and smashed plantains for a deliciously hearty meal.
- Maha’s Fine Egyptian Cuisine: The wait line for this popular brunch spot tends to be ridiculously long, especially on weekends, yet still justified by the amazing (and value) Egyptian dishes. The food is as colourful as it is delicious.
- Saving Grace: This homey restaurant is the Saturday morning spot to get a good home-cooked brunch in a warm, cozy setting. They have daily features as well as classic morning staples, including banana pancakes, French toast, and egg scrambles.
- Starving Artist: Everything at this joint is served on waffles, whether it be eggs benedict on miniature waffles or bacon sandwiched inside a warm square waffle. The creative dishes here combine unconventional flavours, yet still turn out delicious.
- Jacob’s Steakhouse: Renowned for its steak, Jacob’s has an impressive range of cuts available, and the chef here is sure to cook the steak exactly the way it’s been requested. Their Caesar salad also makes for a great starter, and it’s prepared table side.
- Trattoria Nervosa’s Capensate: Four juicy seared scallops are served on top of a chickpea puree and kale salad, dressed with an artichoke vinaigrette and sprinkled with pistachios. The large scallops are cooked perfectly and their taste contrasts nicely with the earthy complements.
NOODLE & RICE DISHES
- Gusto 101’s Mafalde ai Funghi: This complicated-sounding pasta features portobello, porcini, crimini, oyster mushrooms, parmigiano, truffle paste, and a light cream sauce. It’s rich and creamy, and although it did have a strong fungi taste, it wasn’t overwhelming.
- Mama’s Dumplings: This unassuming restaurant in Chinatown makes the best fresh handmade noodles and dumplings. Try the beef noodle soup and veggie dumplings.
- Momofuku Daishō Rice Cakes: Their rice cakes are pan fried, forming a crispy exterior while remaining soft and chewy on the inside. They’re mixed together with spicy pork sausage, Chinese broccoli, and tofu.
- Pai’s Khao Soi: Khao Soi is my favourite Thai dish, ever. It’s a thick curry-based soup with egg noodles and meat, topped with more crispy egg noodles. I also recommend trying the squash fritters and Thai milk iced tea at this restaurant.
- Lee’s Singaporean Style Slaw: This massive salad features 19 different ingredients; the flavours are explosive and complicated, yet work delightfully well together.
- Piano Piano’s Chopped Salad: This salad is made of many different ingredients but still maintains a good flavour balance; it consists of of salami, olives, feta, brussel sprouts, oregano, crisp polenta, and dandelions.
- Jabistro torched sushi: The torched sushi here is done perfectly; Jabistro’s fish is extremely fresh and contrasts well with the slight seared taste.
- Japango Butterfish Sushi: True to its name, the butterfish is so fresh it literally melts on your tongue like butter.
- Miku torched sushi: This restaurant by the waterfront is famous for its torched sushi. I would recommend getting the Miku set course dinner to celebrate a special occasion; it’s pricier but worth it for what you get.
- Bang Bang Ice Cream: The cookies and ice cream here are made in-store, and feature fun, creative flavours like London Fog and burnt toffee. I recommend getting an ice cream cookie sandwich so you get to try both the cookies and the ice cream here!
- Canoe’s Butter Tart: The ‘deconstructed’ presentation of the butter tart here is a creative twist on the classic favourite, and the view from this upscale restaurant isn’t half bad either.
- Emma’s Country Kitchen Donuts: This homey brunch spot features creative weekly specials for donuts, with flavours from maple bacon to lemon meringue.
- El Catrin: This eccentric restaurant in the Distillery District makes the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The cod is lightly battered, crispy, and oozes with fresh fish on the inside. El Catrin also features the option to add fried crickets in an order of guacamole; I’ve never tried it… but hey, maybe one day.
- Seven Lives: This iconic spot in Kensington Market serves some of the best tacos in the city, as demonstrated by its wait line that always seems to be trailing out the door. I recommend trying the Gobernador and Baja fish taco.
- Doomie’s: This “vegan junk food heaven” serves burgers, fries, poutine, and even delicious deep fried mac & cheese balls.
- Fresh Restaurant’s Quinoa Onion Rings: These humongous onion rings are coated with quinoa and battered to a deep golden perfection.
- Kupfert & Kim: I’m not vegan, but I enjoy going to Kupfert & Kim quite regularly. Their salad boxes are filling, tasty, and pair nicely with kombucha.