Diners and travelers know Toronto is an eater's city, but with so many places to dine, choosing the best restaurants can be a challenge. Geography holds the answer; each neighborhood boasts its own unique culinary appeal. Here’s where to start.
This diverse neighborhood is home to Tibetan and West Indian populations, in addition to a growing cadre of artists and hip young people, resulting in an unparalleled dining scene.
To call the menu at chef Matty Matheson’s beloved restaurant eclectic would be an understatement: Dishes include Nashville hot chicken (some of the spiciest we’ve had), dan dan noodles with lamb, steak tartare, and large-format cote de boeuf. Catch live music downstairs.
Grant Van Gameren’s new spot is an updated diner with a gut-busting breakfast served until 4 p.m. Expect burgers and comfort food classics like chicken fingers—actually just one “finger” topped with hot sauce, ranch dressing and Japanese barbecue sauce.
If you love tacos, head to Grand Electric, and don’t miss the wings with mole "dust" and crema. For vegetarians, there’s a tempura cauliflower taco.
Of all the Tibetan restaurants, Himalayan Kitchen is the best choice. There are momos of all kinds served with spicy chile sauce, and be sure to order a thali platter.
West Queen West
Adventurous eaters looking to indulge in current trends should hit up West Queen West. The area is also well known for its galleries and design shops.
This new restaurant is one of a handful pioneering new ground in Canadian cuisine. Try the salty and plump cold-water shrimp, small and sustainably harvested in nearby Cape Breton. The trout is prepared with fermented leeks and rose cider vinegar, evoking the fragrant flowers of the provinces.
A favorite of restaurant obsessives, Dandylion is reasonably priced and vegetable centric, with a changing menu consisting of simply prepared meats and composed salads. Complimentary freshly baked bread with fromage blanc kicks off every meal.
The pro move at this cozy diner-like dive is the Swan Plate: Mix and match a main with two sides. The fried chicken is heavenly, and the pumpkin grits strike the perfect balance between salty and sweet.
This new spot specializes in locavore-centric Canadian cuisine. Dishes on the four-course tasting menu include of-the-moment ingredients like nettles, nasturtiums, celeriacs and ramps. For dessert, indulge in buckwheat ice cream.
You can judge a city based on the delicious dining options of its Chinatown—and by this criterion, Toronto gets an A+.
This spot prepares 27 types of dumplings; try the classic pork and chive and the beef and white turnip.
Barbecue duck is the specialty, and the best way to enjoy it is served in soup, dumplings bobbing alongside the fatty and crisp meat. You can also order it with rice or panfried noodles. More typical fare is also top notch here.
This enclave and National Historic Site features hippie shops selling free-flowing clothing and incense; vintage stores; and a diverse range of groceries, bakeries and restaurants.
Tortas are the thing at this market staple. Expect a line, order at the counter and hope you can grab a stool in the window. Try the cochinita pibil with roast pork and plantains, or the del chavo, with ham and Oaxaca cheese.
This restaurant and wine bar is the latest from renowned Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg (Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar). The inventive menu is described by the team as "new North American or whatever, I dunno," which translates to dishes like sunchokes with salt cod, chives and black olives, and lamb with fava beans, feta and herbs.
Hit up this bakery for its famous sourdough; you’re in for an appealingly dense loaf with delightful acidic notes.
Little Italy packs in the charm with bakeries and trattorias, yet also has a bustling nightlife.
This modern Korean spot features an ever-changing menu, but you can expect inventive dishes like the Waldorf salad made with perilla leaves and spicy gochujang-laced ratatouille.
A Toronto mainstay, this tapas and cocktail bar (with a drinks menu heavy on vermouth and sherry) is as fun as it is tasty. Try the stracciatella and boquerones, the chicken liver mousse with rhubarb and any of the "canned specialities."
Georgia Kral is a reporter and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow her food and travel adventures at @georgiakral.
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