Saying goodbye to a restaurant is like saying goodbye to an old friend. Sometimes, it's almost welcomed. They may not have treated you right, stole your man etc. But other times you find yourself missing their warm embrace, the way they smell - ugh! I feel a bad romance novel in the works. But you feel us. Over the years Toronto has had to say goodbye to some unreal culinary spots.
One of the highlights of living in Toronto though? The fact that the saying, when one door closes another opens, can be taken very literally in the six. Restaruants are opening every single day it seems, but you can't just replace your favourite so easily! Not when it meant so much! So what is a foodie to do?
Well, no need to worry because we did the work for you. We scoped the city for some amazing restaurants that keep the favourite parts of some of our favourite old friends, while also adding a new distinct twist. The result? We really know now just how flexible our definition of favourite can be. Explore the city and get out of your comfort zone, your taste buds won't be sorry.
1. Liked Valdez? Head to their revamped spot, Baro!
If you used to hit up Valdez every other night (guilty) for their awesome Latin American Street food, then you're probably like us too and wondering what you're going to do without your hip weekly dose of Steven Gonzalez's delicious food. No worries, because you can head to THEIR NEW LOCATION at 485 King St. West - Baro's open. You get the same high quality eats like Chori Papa, unreal Churros, and more adventurous Latin food but Gonzalez is also expanding his already bougy cocktail menu. Hit up the bar manager Wes Galloway for the perfect cocktail pairing to any delicious dish in this multi-story, hip foodie spot.
2. Loved Moo Milk Bar? You'll adore The Red Bench.
Moo Milk Bar was the beloved Beaches spot for anything and everything cookie related. From decadent red velvet cookies to their luxuriously creamy ice cream sandwiches, it's safe to say a couple people shed some tears when this gem closed down (not me though duh, SPORTS YA!). So where does a cookie lover go nowadays to get a unique, gourmet cookie? Just south of Younge and Bloor there's a little shop marked by a Red Bench that symbolises pure happiness. Coffee, tea, frozen yoghurt and DIY/baked to order cookies? Have em' all here. You can select your choice of dough (peanut butter please!), choose some mix-ins, wait five minutes and you have personalised gourmet cookies ready to go. Even better? You can make customized ice cream sandwiches here too.
3. Obsessed with Boil King? Head to The Captain's Boil.
Boil King was only on the foodie scene for a short amount of time, but that doesn't mean we got HOOKED (lol) on its Louisiana Cajun seafood goodness. And when it closed down we needed to find another place to fill our mercury quota, so we headed straight to the DELICIOUS Captain's Boil, a Toronto favourite that takes Louisiana Creole-inspired crawfish boil and adds Asian aromatics to the boil to give it a fresh twist. A weird bonus? On top of their secret blend of spices that add an unreal flavour to the boil they don't provide fork or chopsticks, so there's no pesky middle-man between you and your flavourful boil.
4. Missing Oats & Ivy? Head to Bolt Fresh Bar.
Oats & Ivy was a haven in Liberty Village for any health nut/body builder/yoga fanatic organic for their health-conscious meals and cold-pressed juice bar. No need to scrap your New Years Resolution just yet, all you need to do is bolt to (oh what do you know) BOLT fresh bar! This bright space will instantly brighten your day, especially with their amazing cold-pressed juices (from Greenhouse Juice Co.), Acai Parfaits, creative smoothies and a huge variety of creative salads and grain bowls. Try one of their After Party hydrators after your next King West night out, or one of their legendary energy parfaits with whipped coconut cream!
5. Feel lost without Splendido? You'll love Rasa!
When 25 years of bougy fine dining and exquisite tasting menus coming from Splendido stopped, we thought our days of acting classy and getting trashy we're through, but fear not! You won't even need to go far for a new creative tasting menu at Rasa. It's an industrially chic atmosphere that changes up the way you think of tasting menu dining while keeping the high quality of the food. The food dudes executive chef Adrian Niman is heading the kitchen, and this Harbord Village restaurant has a (relatively) less expensive "set Monday" tasting menu that serves an eclectic array of cuisine from Truffle Gnudi to a surprise chef's creation of either a soil, water, or land option!
6. Lived at The Daughter? You'll be obsessed with Pearl Diver.
The spinoff of Darcy MacDonell's Farmhouse Tavern served up an eclectic take of seafood and turf in a sleek yet chic Dupont spot, with great craft beer and cool cocktails like the black caesar. So where to get your next hip fix of seafood fare that'll have you hooked? Head to over to Adelaide St. East. They have a cool, dark atmosphere with exposed brick as the background for expansive oyster displays for you to feast on. Head over for Happy Hour Oysters and incredibly friendly service that'll make you love living the pearl diver life.
7. Having withdrawal from Joy Bistro? You'll adore Richmond Station!
If you headed to this Leslieville restaurant, odds are you went for the stunning ambience, exposed brick walls and chandelier lit dinner or brunch of North American classics. Looking for another space with a sleek, elegant, yet cosy feel and amazing eats? Head to Richmond Station for a bright, minimalist design that has a menu as eclectic yet classic as the city it's situated in. They have amazing staples such their take on a basic burger (that comes with rosemary fries, beet chutney, aged cheddar and a milk bun), to new age dishes like Eurobass Genobloise with potato gnocchi. They also feature rotating specials with seasonal ingredients all run by the head chef Heinrich, but don't let the gourmet meal intimidate you- he wants to keep the dining experience fun and easy, just a (pretty f*cking fantastic) stop during your bustling day.
8. Miss Cheesewerks? Check out decadent options at Cut The Cheese.
When a space that serves up artisan versions of the most comforting of the comfort foods closes, you know it's time to scope out the rest of the city for your daily dose of gooey, delicious, dairy. Cut The Cheese (hehe) is everything you could hope for in a grilled cheese spot and more. Their menu is simple, choose an artisan grilled cheese (classic, harvest, big bad wolf etc.), pick the type of bread you want, then pimp it out with additional toppings like fried buttermilk popcorn chicken, candied bacon, sauteed portobello and more. Bonus, check out their secret menu here. With so many options you may have to make more than one trip to this Junction gem. But don't worry, every time you go back will be just as delicious as the last, thanks to the amazing staff that never seize to disappoint.
9. Enjoy Crush Wine Bar? You'll love Local Kitchen & Wine Bar.
The owners of the King West staple, Crush Wine Bar, sold this hip, upscale French bistro to focus on their others business ventures in 2015, much to the dismay of the raving customers that flocked there nightly for their expansive wine list and amazing oysters. So where does a wine lover go looking for their next spot? The intimate, and eclectically decorated Parkdale favourite - Local Kitchen & Wine Bar. It's packed nightly with foodies flocking here for their farm to table southern Italian-inspired food and wine menu. Delicious dishes like their freshly pulled mozzarella pair perfectly with their huge wine list that has options for even the pickiest oenophilia.
10. Miss Geraldine? Get your fancy fix at Cluny Bistro.
When Parkdale spot Geraldine closed, we were immediately lusting for another pre-prohibition spot to feast on raw bar classics alongside absinthe fountains and a pristine white marble bar - because we're bougy like that. Head to Cluny for that high society (oh la la) feel while you embrace the stunning French decor and feast on beef tartare and duck confit pie. Its menu, of course, offers up gourmet French cuisine differing from Geraldine (duh it's a French Restaurant) but still offers up delicious cocktails you love and even has an absinthe fountain that makes you feel majestic. (I mean really, how often can you say you drank from an absinthe fountain? This isn't Harry Potter or something is it?!)
11. Wondering where to get legendary fish and chips like you used to at Penrose? Olde Yorke Fish & Chips is your go to.
After 64 years of serving classic fish and chips dishes, Penrose doled out its last catch in 2014. Missing their no-nonsense dishes? Head to Olde Yorke Fish and Chips, a traditional pub that serves up some kick ass fish and chips. Which makes sense considering the owners have been serving up the daily catch since 1969 in England. It provides all the comforts of home and gets back to the main purpose of a restaurant to serve up pure, high-quality food. Take out available as well!
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