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?

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Buca…..King St West, Toronto

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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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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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Epicure Cafe…..Queen St W, Toronto

Food & Drink

We had planned on going to Tequila Bookworm for lunch but for some reason it was closed so we walked two doors down to Epicure instead. It’s a small little cafe with lots of pasta options.  Aside from their regular lunch menu they also have a few selected items on their special 20 minute lunch menu consisting of pasta, wraps, and sandwiches. Basically if you don’t get your order in 20 minutes, it’s free! Each dish comes with a complimentary non-alcoholic drink.

The food took a little longer than twenty minutes to arrive, but the food was solid and definitely reasonably priced. I wasn’t blown away but would definitely come back to sample other dishes since I’m a hardcore pasta lover. And in comparison to other restaurants in this area,  like Gusto and Cibo, $10-13 for a pasta dish is quite a good deal.

 

Veal with Bowtie Pasta

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Decor

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Decor

Gusto 101…..Portland St, Toronto

Food & Drink

This is probably my favourite restaurant on King St. West. It serves authentic Italian food and has the best ravioli dish I’ve ever tasted.  Sadly, they are not currently offering it anymore on their fall menu but the pumpkin agnolotti is also quite delicious. The octopus salad is a must try!

gusto101_2 Octopus Salad

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Ravioli

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Pumpkin Agnolotti

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Upstairs Patio

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Cibo Wine Bar…..King St W, Toronto

Food & Drink

Apparently Cibo Wine Bar is a celebrity hotspot during TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival) and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a very spacious venue with a rustic feel  and individually decorated private rooms in the back.

The complimentary bread and olives were delicious, still warm from the oven and nicely seasoned. My friend got the rigatoni while I decided on the taglitelle with porcini mushrooms in a light cream sauce. Since we were there for lunch our mains were about $16 each, which is a bit on the pricy, but the portions were huge (even the salads were enormous) and it is definitely a great place to host a party or special event.

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Mixed Green Salad

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Tagliatelle

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Private Room

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Decor

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