Toronto Restaurant Guide

Like many others, I love food. I love both cooking my own meals and going out to restaurants as a treat. Being such a multicultural city, Toronto has an amazing culinary scene with lots of different food to offer. Over time, I’ve come to find that certain parts of the city may feature more of a particular cuisine over others. Nonetheless, it’s so much fun to explore different cuisines available in the city. Here are a few restaurant recommendations, categorized by neighborhood, to start you off on your Toronto food adventure. 

 

  1. 1. Chinatown (Spadina)

    Sample the best of Chinese (and a few other Asian) cuisine on Spadina Avenue. When you walk along the streets of Chinatown, you’ll see many unassuming restaurants that make amazing food. My personal favorite restaurant in this area is Rol San, which serves amazing dim sum even until very late at night. In addition to dim sum, Swatow Restaurant offers more traditional Chinese food (like fried noodles and stir fry) while R&D adds a modern twist to appeal more to the Canadian palate (their Peking duck is amazing too). For the upcoming colder months, stop by restaurants like Fudao Noodle House, Yunshang Rice Noodle and Hey Noodles for a nice bowl of noodles (or a hotpot meal to share with friends) that will warm you right up (veggie options are available). 

    When the craving for something sweet hits you, bubble teas are the way to go in Spadina. Bigger milk tea chain stores like CoCo, Chatime and Gong Cha are available in this area. If you’re looking to try something new, stores like OneZo Tapioca and Bubble Lee serve great brown sugar milk tea. Kung Fu Tea and Yi Fang mix traditional tea flavors into a range of modern milk tea drinks. Not a fan of bubble tea but still looking for desserts? Visit Icha Tea for tea infused desserts that are not too sweet or The Dessert Kitchen for popular Asian desserts like shaved ice, egg waffles, mochi and soup desserts.

  2. 2. Queen West

    This uber trendy area downtown has a diverse range of restaurants with varying prices. Here, you’ll find many fast casual restaurants serving food at an affordable price. North of Brooklyn Pizzeria and Poutini’s House of Poutine are great places to visit for a quick bite. If you want some take out, Gandhi Roti (serves East Indian style roti), Allwyn’s Bakery on Queen (amazing Caribbean jerk chicken and patties), and Banh Mi Boys (great Vietnamese banh mi and bao) are all worth stopping by. 

     

    If you have a bit more time on your hands for a casual sit down meal, stop by Buono which serves casual Italian food or Smoque n' Bones for a hearty Southern BBQ style menu. Enjoy the artsy interiors of these restaurants while you eat there too. There are also many ramen restaurants in this area and you can’t go wrong with a visit to either Ikkousha Ramen, Kinton Ramen or Ramen Isshin (my personal favorite). If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you have many options here such as Kupfert & Kim and more upscale restaurant Planta (both restaurants also serve gluten free and nut free options). 

    Queen Street West also has a great selection of higher end restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for a more elegant dining experience, try Alo (or its sister restaurant Aloette), AMA or Dandylion. Places like Bar Piquette (changes its menu daily), Convenience (80’s-themed bar), and PrettyUgly Bar (great cocktails) have a good selection of drinks and snacks which are perfect for a night out with friends. Other more lively bars include Tennessee Tavern, The Melody Bar and Bovine Sex Club, all of which regularly host live music and karaoke throughout the week.

  3. 3. Liberty Village

    Located at the southwest side of the city and home to many high-end condos, I’ve found that most restaurants in Liberty Village have a more chill and laid-back vibe. This is my favorite area downtown for inventive and modern brunch dishes, namely Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and School. ‘ONO Poké Bar, ULTRAMEN Japanese Noodle Bar and Koja Sushi Restaurant are some of the casual restaurants you can try if you’re ever in the area. Gastropubs such as Liberty Commons, The Craft Brasserie & Grille and Local Public Eatery are also popular in this area, serving hearty pub grub and beers on tap.

  4. 4. Old Town

    If you get hungry while you take a walk through Toronto’s historic old town, there’s some good food options available nearby. Although seating can be challenging, step inside St Lawrence Market where you’ll find a small group of shops that serve food ready to eat. Buster’s Sea Cove makes excellent fish sandwiches and fish and chips, along with other seafood dishes. Carousel Bakery has over 300 types of international breads and pastries for you to try, including their world famous and award winning peameal bacon sandwich. A trip to St Lawrence Market isn’t complete for me until I’ve stopped by St Lawrence Pizza & Ice Cream, serving fresh pizza, pasta and ice cream based on old family recipes. Their fresh ravioli with the combo sauce (a combination of pesto, alfredo and tomato sauce) is, in my opinion, the best pasta in Toronto and is definitely a must try! 

    A short walk from St Lawrence will bring you to the Distillery District which also has some pretty good restaurants, albeit at a slightly steeper price. Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill specializes in fresh seafood in addition to other modern fare. Mill Street Beer Hall presents its customers with a communal dining experience with food that pairs well with the different Mill Street brews. If you’re looking for dessert, visit Cacao 70 for some sweet treats and chocolatey goodness.

  5. 5. The Annex

    Surrounding the University of Toronto campus, The Annex specializes in casual dining with big portions at a student friendly price. Some great non-meat options include Mugi (vegan thai food) and Apiecalypse Now! (vegan pizza and snack bar). If you can’t decide on just one cuisine, food halls like Annex Food Hall and the more upscale Annex Commons are home to a selection of restaurants. 

    A short walk further down Bloor Street West will bring you to Koreatown where Korean BBQ is a must try. Take turns eating, grilling, and talking to friends at a BBQ spot like Arisu and Mapo Korean BBQ. If you’ve never tried Korean BBQ, it’s a fun in-table grilling and eating experience for a group. Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, The Owl and Sunrise House serves a variety of traditional Korean food from soups to hot stone bibimbap.

  6. 6. Kensington Market

    This hipster area is home to many eclectic local shops that you won’t find elsewhere. Kensington Market has a lot of vegan and vegetarian options that will also appeal to non-vegans such as Veggie D’light, TVX: The Vegan Extremist and Ital Vital Rastarant. For meat options, The Burgernator and Top Gun Burgers serve some awesome gourmet burgers made in-house. For flavorful tacos, visit Seven Lives taqueria serving Bajan-style tacos. Pow Wow Cafe is a unique spot that aims to introduce Torontonians to Indigenous food. 

    Kensington Market also has a lot of amazing cafes and cute dessert shops. Livelihood Cafe is a vegetarian non-profit cafe that serves great food and coffee while helping refugees and newcomers to Toronto. Dessert cafes like Daango Pastry Lab and Little Pebbles have great house-made Asian-inspired desserts that are also perfectly Instagrammable. If you’re looking to try the jiggly soufflé pancakes making the rounds on Instagram, you can try it at Hanabusa Cafe. Before leaving the area, I always stop by Dipped Donuts which serves unconventional donut flavors that always taste amazing. I’m always excited to try and bring home and their featured flavors. If you’re going on a weekend, do stop by early as donuts sell out quickly!

These are just a few of the restaurants in Toronto serving mind-blowing food. Although I’ve found some personal favorites, I keep getting surprised by the new restaurants that I try. There are other areas downtown that I’m yet to explore and other cuisines that I still have to try. Sample some of Toronto’s best whenever you’re in the area and feast upon the amazing flavors that these restaurants have to offer. Happy eating!