AN ABBREVIATED TORONTO DINING GUIDE
Culinaria Project, UTSC
Over the last twenty years Toronto has become one of the great food cities of the world. Markets, delicatessens, fishmongers, bakeries, salumerie, patisseries, cheeseshops, chocolatieres, butchers, greengrocers, and countless other sorts of purveyors support a gastronomic culture that has very few rivals. As might be imagined, the restaurant offerings are rich and, given the multi-ethnic character of the city, varied. The list below is dramatically abbreviated and slightly idiosyncratic guide to a few of Toronto’s most notable dining spots.
$–cheaper eats, expect to pay up to $15 per person
$$–Inexpensive to moderate dining, expect to pay $20-30 per person or more depending on drinks
$$$–Moderate to expensive, expect to pay $30-50 per person
$$$$–High end, more than $50 per person, exclusive of wine or drinks.
Veg.: particularly wide selection of dishes that would appeal to vegetarian or vegans. The restaurant particularly caters to vegetarians. (Unless otherwise noted, restaurants listed will have some vegetarian choices.)
A — Accessible
A $$-$$$ – 93 Harbord
This Middle-Eastern is a long-time campus favourite. It serves excellent reinterpretations of Middle Eastern foods, including well-cooked tangines, vegetarian dishes, and fish.
93 Harbord St
A $$ – Asian Legend (Northern Chinese)
The downtown Chinatown branch of Toronto’s northern Chinese chain offers comfortable surroundings and reasonably priced foods. Appetizers might include crisped onion pancake wrapped around hoisin laced meat. Toothy rice cakes are standouts on the noodle menus.
418 Dundas St. W.
A $$-$$$ – Bar Mercurio (Italian)
Generous portions mark this campus neighbour. It is particularly known for creative pastas with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. If pastas or a smaller range of entrees and specials do not appeal, the thin crust pizzas are a good alternative. The restaurant is popular, partly because of its proximity to campus, so call ahead to grab the limited space.
270 Bloor St. W.
$$ – Barrio Coreano (Korean/Mexican)
Toronto’s take on the newly popular version of Korean-Mexican fusion. Bulgogi beef might be punched up with picled pears and tuna comes with yuzu. Known as well for creative cocktails.
642 Bloor St. W.
$$- Bedford Academy (Pub)
A comfortable, nearby pub offers a short menu stocked with British classics including fish and chips.
36 Prince Arthur Ave.
$$-Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu (Korean)
Despite its small menu, this Korean restaurant offers a range of dishes, from bulgogi to its signature soon tofu served alongside its hot stone bowl rice. Enjoy the generous and well prepared sides.
691 Bloor Street W.
A $$$$ – Café Boulud (French)
Toronto’s branch of the New York chef’s international empire is set within the luxurious Four Seasons hotel. Expensive and well-cooked food adapts mostly Canadian ingredients to Daniel Boulud’s French techniques. The food is elegant and satisfying, but the corporate feel can be off putting.
60 Yorkville Ave.
$ – El Trompo (Mexican)
One of the city’s original, and still best, taquerias. Excellent range of tacos and other Mexican dishes well prepared in the heart of Kensington Market. Their tacos al pastor, pork softened by pineapple and cilantro, is one of the city’s best versions.
A $$$ – Frank (Canadian)
Set in the Art Gallery of Ontario, this restaurant offers competent cooking in a lovely Frank Gehry designed space. The cooking uses Canadian ingredients, and an all-Canadian wine list, in a short but approachable menu.
317 Dundas St. W.
$- Fresh (Veg.)
This popular Toronto vegetarian chain serves standard veg food, from wraps to soups, at a reasonable price. This location is the one closest to campus.
147 Spadina Ave.
$-$$ – Green’s Vegetarian Restaurant (Veg. Chinese)
Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes re-interpreted in pure vegetarian and vegan cooking. A wide selection of mushroom, soups, and mock meat dishes, from mock beef to mock kidney.
638 Dundas St. W.
$$-$$$ – Guu Sakabar
559 Bloor St. W.
Guu Izakaya (Japanese)
398 Church Street Toronto, O.N. M5B 2A2
This loud, innovative restaurants have proved as popular in Toronto as the original Vancouver incarnations. Both offer the Japanese cuisine of the izakaya, or pub restaurant. Wide selections of drinks and sakes are complemented by excellent sushi and cooked dishes. Go early or expect a wait at either location.
$$-Harbord House (Pub)
This small pub provides a good beer list complemented by well-prepared, freshened interpretations of pub fare, including and beyond sandwiches and burgers.
$$$-Harbord Room (Canadian)
Creative use of ingredients mark this small Harbord Street restaurants. Many talk about the highly rated burger, but the menu ranges more broadly as well.
A $-Hot Beans (Veg., Mexican)
Creative veg and vegan takes on Mexican foods. Jackfruit is a lovely stand-in for meat and cashew crema for the dairy version.
160 Baldwin St.
$ – Hungary Thai (Hungarian and Thai)
This Kensington Market institution has existed this long for its cheap eats and eclectic combination of Hungarian and Thai specialities – neither of which are particularly well cooked. But, that said, it is a Toronto institution and likely the only Hungarian/Thai restaurant anywhere.
196 Augusta Ave.
$$ – Korean Village (Korean Village)
A table top BBQ place, you prepare your own kalbi (short ribs) and many other meats. The price can be slightly above what you might pay at other places in the Koreatown.
$ – Kenzo Ramen (Japanese)
A popular example of the city’s fascination with all things ramen, the satisfying Japanese wheat noodle soups. The range of classic interpretations of ramen are complemented by a short menu of other items. Not a lot of options for vegetarians, expect to wait at peak hours and not to linger.
372 Bloor St. W.
$ – Kinton Ramen (Japanese)
Expect to sit at communal bar-top tables and food comes quickly. They specialize in pork belly or shoulder in their fresh, beautifully prepared ramen.
51 Baldwin St.
A $$-$$$ – L’Unita (Italian)
Comfortable surroundings and an excellent (if pricey) wine list complement Italian cooking. Pastas and mains are well-cooked versions of occasionally predictable rustic fare.
134 Avenue Rd.
$ – La Tortilleria (Mexican)
Fresh tortillas are the hallmark of this Kensington Market standby. A small selection of foods is off-set by excellent quality.
277 Augusta Ave.
A $$ Matahari Grill (Veg., Malaysian)
This popular spot offers some of the classic laksas, rendangs, and curries from Malaysia. It offers ample choices for vegetarians.
39 Baldwin St.
$ – Mexican Salsas (Mexican)
This small Kensington Market cafe offers a range of Mexican street foods and tacos. Inexpensive, it offers little atmosphere but wonderful and often hard to find varieties. Perhaps take out and eat while strolling the market?
249 Augusta Ave.
A $$$ – Mistura (Northern Italian)
Classic northern Italian cooking like house made gnocchi or Nova Scotia scallops with porchini mushrooms is offered in comfortable surroundings.
265 Davenport Rd.
$$ – Maroli (Veg., Indian, South Indian)
Freshly cooked South Asian food with a small selection of specialties from the Kerala region, famed for seafood. One of the better Indian restaurants in the downtown core, it is a small space so call ahead if coming with a larger group.
630 Bloor St. W.
$ – Mother’s Dumplings (Northern Chinese)
This popular restaurant stands out from Chinatown noodle and dumpling restaurants for its wide range of freshly made dumplings. Some hard to find versions are served quickly, though some complain that the dumpling skin can be too thick.
421 Spadina Avenue
$$ – Museum Tavern (Pub)
A lovely bistro room across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum to enjoy trendy reinterpations of pub grub with classic cocktails and a good beer list.
208 Bloor St. W.
$$-Northern Chinese Flavours
$-$$ – Pho Pasteur (Vietnamese)
This Chinatown favourite features ample servings of pho alongside a comprehensive menu of Vietnamese classics, including seafood, noodles, and rolls.
525 Dundas St. West
$-$$ – Pho Hung (Vietnamese)
Another longstanding Vietnamese serving large bowls of hot pho. Add in mint leaves and the bean sprouts on the side and an inexpensive bowl is a full meal.
350 Spadina Ave.
F $$ – Playa Cabana
111 Dupont St
$$ – Real Thailand
A long standard on Bloor St., this modestly priced area restaurant excels with the classic dishes and has an extensive menu. Basil-chicken is a favorite, as are some of the soups and above-average curries.
350 Bloor St. W
A $$$$ – Splendido (Canadian)
This long-time high end destination serves flawlessly prepared seasonal and local foods in a quiet refined room. From shared dishes to seasonal tasting menus, it engages with the best of Canadian ingredients.
88 Harbord St.
F $$$ – The Host (Indian)
This Indian restaurant offers a comfortable space and a large menu ranging from Bengal to the Punjab, explaining its popularity. Unfortunately, the cooking can be indifferent. A well-prepared sauce, for example, might be marred by tough meat.
4 Prince Arthur Ave.
$$-$$$ The Oxley (British, Pub)
Excellent takes on traditional English foods in the cozy atmosphere of a well-upholstered pub. Meat pies and larger roasts take their place alongside Scotch eggs and other bar snacks. Not a particularly large selection for vegetarians.
121 Yorkville Ave.
A $$$ – THR and Co. (Canadian, Italian)
This popular Harbord Street restaurant is well recommended for its creative take on fresh ingredients, from farm eggs graced with porcini oil and pancetta to fresh burrata accented by watermelon. Pizzas might come with nettles and ricotta.
97 Harbord St.
$$ – Tofu Village-House of Soon Tofu (Korean)
Praised for its soft tofu warmed by a spicy soup broth, this small restaurant offers a range of Korean classics and good sides. It is best known, as the name suggests, for its tofu stews.
681 Bloor West
North of the University
$ – One Love Vegetarian Cafe (Veg., West Indian)
Vegetarian takes especially on West Indian rotis. The fillings are fresh, if underspiced.
854 Bathurst St.
$$$ – Le Paradis
Familiar bistro fare with a few dishes that edge towards Morocco. Most of the menu, though, are predictable, if well-prepared, versions of boeuf bourguignonne or duck confit.
166 Bedford Rd.
Downtown Core (South of Campus)
$$-$$$$ – Momofuku (Daisho, Shoto, Noodle Bar)
Ranging from the more modest noodle bar to the eponymous Shoto, with its open concept kitchen and tasting menu, New York chef David Chang has arrived in Toronto. But, reviews are mixed (and prices can be high). Some are full of praise. Others doubt that the Toronto outposts reach the New York standard.
190 University Avenue
It would be a shame not to include at least one place made famous by Mayor Rob Ford. An excellent beer list accompanies an indifferent menu (showcasing things cooked with beer, not surprisingly). (This is one of the places the Mayor showed up drunk and high.)
18 King Street East416-861-9872
West of Campus (Little Italy, Queen West, Roncevailes) Alongside old Italian and Portuguese standbys, this part of the city has become a hot bed for creative and reasonably priced restaurants.
$$ – Hogtown Vegan
This popular vegan restaurants offers a take on comfort food, including its well-known unchicken and waffles.
834 Bloor St. West
$$ – Nazareth Restaurant (Veg., Ethiopian)
This popular Ethiopian restaurant is praised for its ample portions and vegetarian platters. It does get busy so come early.
969 Bloor St. West
$-$$ – Pho Tien Thanh (Veg., Vietnamese)
A destination for excellent pho and an extensive and inexpensive menu of seafood, rolls, and meat dishes. It also features vegetarian versions of the otherwise meaty pho.
57 Ossington Ave.
$$-$$$ – Rock Lobster (Seafood)
Showcasing the choice seafood and preparations of the Maritimes, this is the city’s go-to place for lobster (and accompanying cocktails).
110 Ossington Ave.