Ok so Toronto is buzzing these days. The NBA All Star Game is weeks away. We now have a train from the airport to the downtown core. And to top it all … we have amazing places to eat in this city. I love eating out, and I love good food. Here are my top picks for where to eat in Toronto. This is not a comprehensive list, just some of my favourite places!
1. Bar Raval – 505 College Street, Toronto
Yes, we have heard about Bar Raval time and again. But there is something about this place that makes you keep coming back. Whether it is the semi-heated outdoor patio where you freeze your butt off while eating tapas and sipping absinthe cocktails, or the indoor bar area with wooden arches, or the fact that you could be standing next to strangers and finding yourself conversing with them, Bar Raval is an experience. Grant van Gameren is probably my favourite chef in the city – his food is divine. Who ever thought bread with tomato could taste so good? But it does at Bar Raval. My favourites on the menu are the Manchego Cheese, the Mushroom Tower, the Chilled Octopus, and the Cuttlefish Fideo. Pair that with an Absinthe-minded cocktail and you are set for having a great night out!
2. Bar Isabel – 797 College Street, Toronto
Grant van Gameren makes an appearance again. This space has more of a restaurant feel to it, although I have sat at the bar and loved it. Food is spectacular – its Grant van Gameren after all. The King Crab is spectacular. Go there and experience it.
3. Seven Lives – 69 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
Yes, I know, tacos are like so 3 years ago … but, this tiny hole in the wall spot in Kensington Market has heavy lineups. If there is one taco in this city you want to try (trust me there are a lot of tacos in Toronto), it is Seven Lives. Baja Fish is my personal favourite, but the octopus taco is a close runner up. Oh and the ceviche. The ceviche is one of the best I have tried in the city. They only take cash and be prepared to wait, and then stand to eat your tacos, unless you can find a spot on the one communal table. Hours are sketchy sometimes, they close at 7 sharp, no exceptions.
4. Buca Yorkville – 53 Scollard Street, Toronto
I never understood the hype about Buca. I went to the King Street location and was underwhelmed. I decided to give Buca Yorkville a try this summer and well, what can I say, I was impressed. This place isn’t cheap so come prepared to spend a lot of money on excellent food. Seafood charcuterie anyone? The menu is heavily focused on seafood, which I don’t mind at all. Try the braised octopus or the zuppa di pesce – you won’t be disappointed.
5. Jacobs and Co. Steakhouse – 12 Brant Street, Toronto
There are some great steak places in Toronto. But Jacobs tops them all. Whether it is the service, the overall ambience, the piano in the entrance, or the table side caesar salad, Jacobs is where you want to eat your steak. They have an extensive steak menu, with varying prices of steak, but don’t be alarmed by the prices, you don’t need to spend $400 on a steak to have a good dining experience here. Let the waiters help you with ordering, they know what they are talking about. Sit back, relax and enjoy the experience that is Jacobs.
6. Byblos – 11 Duncan Street, Toronto
As much as I despise Charles Khabouth outposts for their lackluster food, and their “where to be seen” persona, Byblos actually has great food. The fare here is “Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine” – this isn’t your falafel joint, people. Start off with a Gulab cocktail – who doesn’t like rose petals in their cocktail? Then order the Turkish Manti Dumplings, the Yogort Baked Fluke and the Sweet Jeweled Rice. The food here is full of flavour, service is great and cocktails are delicious.
7. The Gabardine – 373 Bay Street, Toronto
If you find yourself in the financial district at lunchtime, this cozy restaurant is full of Bay streeters, getting away from the pretentiousness of it all. Home cooked meal – that is what the food at Gabardine tastes like. Delicious, simple food. Try the Mac and Cheese, the Po Boy, and the Chicken Pot Pie. They don’t take reservations at lunch so try getting here at 11:45 if you want a spot.
8. Burger’s Priest – various locations, Toronto
Sometimes you just want a good ol’ burger. But you don’t want a defrosted burger patty, that tastes rubbery. You want freshly ground burgers. That is what you get at Burger’s Priest. Melt in your mouth burgers. There are locations on Queen West, Queen East, and Adelaide Street. I personally like the Adelaide street location, it is bigger, lots of places to sit and no lineups. This is the best burger in the city hands-down.
The list can go on … Toronto is full of amazing places to eat, new restaurants are opening all the time. These are some of my favourites, places I go to repeatedly. Some other mentions here, Churrasco Villa on Eglinton Avenue (best Portuguese chicken in town), Pomegranate on College Street (best Persian in the city), Enoteca Sociale (Italian), and Queen Margherita Pizza.