Top 10 Restaurants in Toronto

Food & Drink

@maggieats recently messaged me on Instagram and asked about where she should eat in Toronto. This really got me to think about all the restaurants I’ve been lucky enough to try this past year.

There are so many amazing places to eat in Toronto and such a diverse range of cuisine that it’s hard to narrow it down. But for someone who is coming in from out of town I wanted to come up with a list of restaurants that not only serve great food but ones I would also give top marks in other areas like decor, atmosphere, service. etc.

So in no particular order, here are my favourite places to eat in Toronto in 2014 thus far.

10) Cafe Boulud 

Chef Daniel Boulud has opened up a restaurant and bar in the newly built Four Seasons hotel in Yorkville. There is D Bar, a casual lounge on the main floor, and then up the stairs is Cafe Boulud, a nice spot for dinner. I went here during Winterlicious 2013 and was so impressed by the food that I decided to go here again just a few days ago for Summerlicious 2014. The service is ace and the artwork by Mr. Brainwash (If you’ve seen Exit Through The Giftshop, you’ll know what I’m talking about) injects the space with personality.

Fun fact: If you like the artwork you see in the restaurant, they are available for purchase.

9) Luma

One of many Oliver and Bonacini restaurants in Toronto. While Canoe is the crowning jewel of O&B restaurants, Luma manages to be upscale but not pretentious. You can find Luma in the TIFF Lightbox serving Canadian cuisine with flair. The dishes are always simple and clean and they can do amazing things with fresh fish.

8) Gusto 101 

Might be too noisy for some as it is always packed during lunch and dinner time, but I have a soft spot for this Italian restaurant tucked away on King and Portland.I never like to order the same thing twice unless it’s really spectacular but they have a dish I keep going back to again and again: octopus salad. And trust me, with a menu that also features scallop, pork belly, and pizza, I’m all about that octopus. [Read Full Review]

7) Lee’s Restaurant 

This is an Asian Fusion restaurant owned by the great Suser Lee. They are only opened for dinner and dishes are meant to be shared. Make sure to order the Singaporean Slaw with seared tuna. It’s one of those dishes foodies should put on their bucket list. [Read Full Review]

6) Japango 

A small hole-in-the-wall near the Toronto Eaton Centre. Make reservations since there are not a lot of tables available and try the Japango Roll. It has fresh scallop on top. enough said.

5) Buca 

I’ve always said that the most important thing to me about a restaurant is the food. If the service is okay it doesn’t matter to me. But when our dinner reservations at another restaurant fell through at the last minute and we wandered into Buca one winter night, I was blown away by their excellent service and attentive staff. This is a really romantic nook with dim lighting and high ceilings. I was in a Rome last month and having had the chance to taste authentic Italian food in Italy, I still think Buca’s dishes are outstanding. [Read Full Review]

4) Beast 

Great brunch spot. They also serve freshly made doughnuts with ingredients like maple and bacon. [Read Full Review]

3) La Societe 

It was hard to choose between Le Select and La Societe which are both great spots to go to if you want to pretend you are in a French bistro but if you are like me and geek out about interior design, I think you will appreciate the rainbow glass ceiling above La Societe. It’s pretty Instagram worthy. (Note: I’ve only been here for brunch so I can’t go in depth about their lunch and dinner menu).

2) Stockyard’s 

This is a casual spot located on St. Clair West so it’s a bit of a trek if you are coming in from downtown but worth it if you have a craving for fried chicken. It feels chaotic sometimes but their staff is always warm and friendly if you have any questions.  I

f you know about a better fried chicken place in Toronto please let me know because I’ve been to a couple and nothing comes close to Stockyard’s.

1) Kim 

If you head down to Chinatown you can find Kim across from Dragon City. It’s easy to miss this spot but they are the only restaurant in this area to serve Fukien noodles. It’s simple, cheap, and delicious. And sometimes the best places aren’t the fancy four star restaurants but the ones that remind you of home. #ComfortFood

Let me know if you end up trying any of these places. And if you live in or frequent Toronto, what are your favourite places to eat in Toronto?


The Greek…..King St West, Toronto

Food & Drink

For all of the foodies who haven’t heard of The Greek, don’t freak out. It’s new. I can’t for the life of me remember what was here before (if anyone remembers please let me know, it’s driving me crazy) but it joins Sushi & Bento and The One That Got Away as another cheap eat option on this King West block. From the outside the place looks pretty small but you definitely realize it’s more spacious once you step inside.

It only takes a few seconds for one to realize that the design aesthetic of this charming little restaurant is right on point.

Whoever was in charge did a great job of making visitors feel like they’re sitting in an ocean side vista in Greece with the simple white and blue colors. Look up and you’ll see that even the ceilings are painted the most perfect shade of Tiffany blue.

They have their one pager menu written in chalk on the walls so you can decide on what to get before you make your way to the back to order. Items are simple. They offer a variety of yogurt as dessert, pitas, salads, and meat sticks. They also have snack options like Greek Poutine (which uses feta cheese), Fried Haloumi, and Loukoumades (honey balls). Even the pop is Greek!

I went with a chicken pita which was one of the more expensive items at $7.50 and a peach pop. We carried our red plastic cafeteria trays to the front of restaurant and unwrapped our food with anticipation. The chicken was smoky and flavorful, the pita soft, but overall it was pretty cold which was a bit surprising since it was just put together. The tomatoes and cucumbers were finely diced and the meat was good but there could have been a bit more sour cream. Portion wise, I don’t think it’s worth more than seven dollars, closer to four or five but by the end I felt relatively full and decided against ordering a snack item.

Some may also feel a bit put out by the small portions (having a daily lunch special could help) but if you’re more concerned about taste than cost, then come on by and try it for yourself. I would definitely come by again to try other options on their menu and hope it does well.



Beast…..Tecumseth St, Toronto

Food & Drink

I’ve been wanting to try Beast ever since I saw an Instagram picture of Rachel McAdams eating here, haha. I also heard from others that their weekend brunch is great and all of their specialty donuts are made in-house so I was really looking forward to this.

From the outside Beast resembles a small house just off of King and Tecumseth. Inside it felt a little drab with the roughly painted white walls and simple dark wood tables but the white chandeliers and bizarre artwork added some interesting design elements. In one painting is a man with a bird head and on the opposite wall is a woman with what looks like a kangaroo head.

The brunch menu was presented on a single piece of paper and everything sounded absolutely delicious and like it could possibly give you a heart attack.

I went for a Beastwich (buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken thigh, pork sausage gravy, fried egg and pimento cheese) and a Pimm’s Cup (so refreshing) while my friend went with huevos rancheros corn tortillas which came with chorizo, bean salad, avocado puree, egg, sheep’s milk feta, and tomato-red chili sauce.

Are you salivating after just reading those ingredients? Good, cause I am too. The fried chicken had a bit of a spicy kick to it but not too overwhelming. Even though we were stuffed afterwards I had to try one of their donuts so I ordered a maple bacon which, I know, sounds like a gross combination but I really enjoyed it! You can’t really taste the bacon, so the two ingredients weren’t fighting against each other but according to my sister (I halved it and took the rest home with me) you could definitely smell it.

Service was good (everyone was warm and attentive), drinks are cheap, around $5-7 and the portions are generous. You can definitely tell Chef Scott Vivian is a meat lover as many dishes incorporate meat as a side or as part of the gravy or sauce but I did see a vegetarian option on the menu too.

Would definitely come back here again.


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Buca…..King St West, Toronto


This was one of my favourite meals. Initially we made dinner plans at Spice Route but at the last minute they called to say we had to leave by eight o’clock since they had a company function. We had made reservations for 7 a week in advance. I was pretty steamed about this and do not plan on going there any time soon. I’ve already heard horror stories about their service but to be treated so rudely before getting to a restaurant is unbelievable.

We decided to go to Blowfish instead but they were closed for renovations so we walked down the street to Buca. This was an extremely cold day so we were pretty grumpy but upon being ushered into Buca, we were in awe of the high ceilings and brilliant light installation in this hidden Italian restaurant.

It’s easy to miss Buca if you don’t locate the dime sized red sign but definitely worth finding. Although we did not have reservations the host gave us the option of sitting at the chef’s table (an elevated large dining table close to the open kitchen). We were only a party of four so we asked if we could sit somewhere else. He quickly found us a table to our relief and I ordered a drink immediately. The food here was absolutely delicious. For starters we got the bruschetta and nodini, warm bread knot. The cured duck yolk in the bruschetta complimented it beautifully.

As a main I went for the ravioli with braised goose, foie gras, and roasted squash. The presentation was great and the taste sublime. This was my first time having goose and it tasted a lot like char siu (BBQ pork). We also got the Branzino (grilled sea bass) a simple and very well executed dish, Bigoli (duck egg pasta) which had great smoky flavors, and another pasta dish.

The service here was great and I loved the ambience a lot. Make sure to try the tiramisu and if you don’t decide to get dessert you will be glad to know that complimentary coconut macaroons come at the end of the meal.

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Wabora…..Wellington St W, Toronto

Food & Drink

The Thompson hotel has three restaurants located on the main floor. The Thompson Diner, Scarpetta (which is only open for dinner) and sushi restaurant, Wabora. This Japanese fusion restaurant run by chef Minsoo Kim offers a dizzying array of specialty rolls. There are also Korean dishes as well.

The sleek black interior gives it more of a club feel and I love how when you walk in you can see the display of porcelain plates signed by all the famous celebrities and athletes who have eaten there.

My boss loves sushi so he took us here twice the past few months for lunch. Their lunch special is very good, letting you spend around $10-12 dollars for two specialty rolls or a bento box. Their bento boxes are enormous! I got a Sushi bento which, if I’m remembering correctly, came with fresh sushi, dessert, seaweed salad (my favourite), japchae (my other favourite) and maybe something else. The second time I went for the Wabora roll with three kinds of raw fish (yellow tail, salmon, and tuna). The fish was fresh but overall the roll was kind of dry. It only came with five pieces which was a little disappointing since I was predicting 6-8 but I felt full afterwards.

The service here is great and is what comes to mind first when I think about Wabora. The food is okay. I prefer Sushi and Bento for sushi. The quality there is better but for those more interested in the other aspects of restaurant dining like service and atmosphere, give Wabora a try.

Sushi Bento Box (Close up of the sushi)

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Thompson Diner…..Wellington St W, Toronto


As an upscale diner, Thompson Diner hits all the right marks. The sleek black leather booths and large menu full of quick eats and comfort food is sure to satisfy your stomach. Plus it’s open 24 hours! Located on the main level of the Thompson Hotel (which is also home to the hot sushi spot Wabora and Italian restaurant Scarpetta), it’s perfect for lunch with friends or a business meeting.

I decided to go for a burger. Rather than offering only beef they also have turkey and a veggie option as well. I decided to be a bit different and get a Deep South turkey burger which comes with pulled pork and crispy onions. My friend got the mac and cheese. The turkey was so moist! I really enjoyed this even though the onions were a bit on the salty side. The mac and cheese was not very good. There was not a lot of taste to it. There’s a place nearby called Cheesewerks that specializes in mac and cheese so I think I’ll go there next time if I have a craving. The mac and cheese at Harlem Underground is very good too.

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Destingo…..Queen St West, Toronto

Food & Drink

Destingo is a large contemporary Italian restaurant located at 741 Queen St West It definitely stands out from the smaller eateries and restaurants like Harlem Underground in the area. I’ve been here twice for lunch during the weekday when it is relatively calm and quiet so I can’t speak to how loud it gets during the evening, but it’s a nice spot for a quick lunch with a friend. The glass windows let in a lot of naturally light and the decor is rustic and inviting. The first time I got the Agnolotti which was a bit too al dente. The second time around I opted for the lasagna which was delicious on such a cold winter day. The portions are large and prices are reasonable.

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The Gabardine…..Bay St, Toronto

Food & Drink, Food Adventure


On Monday night we went down to The Gabardine. It’s French for rustic or some other garble, says L on the other line. There’s a wait so we wander around a well lit HBC full of finer things, holiday sparkle, before coming back to the same place with the stained white circular sign of a black bird silhouette. Either a stately looking penguin or a sure footed pelican. We’re all excited. The place is dimly lit and resembles someone’s dark wood family room. We are seated in the back, a tiny nook the size of a fireplace. On the walls are frames with vintage sketches and bizarre news items. A worn watercolor ad for California lemons, one entry about THE MOON – “It looks like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints”

I feel like I’m having supper at an eccentric relative’s house complete with grandma plates, all flowery, the coral petals coming off like cursive, intertwining in loops. Delicate. But the flavors are robust Canadiana fanfare, simple mac and cheese, pulled pork sandwiches that tastes like brisket, everything tempered by homemade guac or spiked lemonade. There is a lot of wine in my tiny glass goblet of Hibiscus Royale. We start to hoard candles. The plaid waiter is onto us but doesn’t let on. He smiles behind his sleeve. We take pictures from all acrobatic angles. A snuffed candles earns an exquisite shriek, as if there’s been a death in the family. The loud room pulsates with a hearty hum. The place is too small to be impersonal, too noisy for romantic overtures, just a good spot for good food, loose conversation.

We’re in the business of not asking or telling, just watching, reacting, being.

Underneath the hanging lights, moonlit orbs, the world revolves a little slower, the brim of a glass sneaks closer to a plum colored mouth. M’s bracelet flashes, a silver horse shoe the size of a dime. We need more light but sometimes the darkness is nice too.  From across the room dark eyes dart back and forth, an open stare, it lingers. All of this exists on Bay and Richmond in a red-wine stamp of a room unaffected by the November cold.

*Gabardine means closely woven cloth