The Insta-famous foodie from Montreal @mtlfoodsnob shares her top restaurants she's discovered in Toronto.
I'm a food snob. Not only that, I'm a food snob from Quebec. Yup, you may start rolling your eyes now. For reputation's sake, I will never admit to anything being better than the food scene in la belle province. This said I've been spending quite a bit of time in the Toronto lately. My initial apprehension quickly gave way to febrile excitement!
There's no other way to put it: the Toronto food scene is thrilling! There's always a bold new player popping up but the Toronto institutions also keep raising the bar.
Discovering Toronto's food scene has been a humbling experience for the Quebecoise that I am and a truly delicious journey for my taste buds. To spread the love, allow me to share with you my Toronto favourites and a couple additional ones I'm excited to discover in 2019. If you get the chance to try them out before I do, please let me know what you think of them!
Without further ado, here are the 25 restaurants to discover in 2019!
Fun Night Out With Friends
Madrina Bar Y Tapas [Tested & Approved]
2 Trinity St, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Love tartare? What about bone marrow? You're in for a treat. At Madrina, the steak tartare is served on a fatty bone marrow that has been roasted forever. And don't even mention the manchego cheese foam and soy pearls that are thrown on top. Pure delight.
Mira Restaurant [Tested & Approved]
420A Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1E3
Peruvian food has been on everyone's mind lately and Mira delivers on the expectation. The vibe is fun, the action going on in the open kitchen is a show in itself, and you'll end up drinking more pisco sours than intended (sorry, not sorry).
If you have a sweet tooth, El Huevo Malo is an obvious dessert pick, especially if you're there with a group of friends. It’s an egg, made of chocolate. They bring it to your table and then crack it open. Inside, the walls of chocolate are covered with bits of crispy honeycomb, Yuzu marmalade and a touch of red fruits. Oh and there's also a scoop of coffee ice cream.
Pearl Diver [Tested & Approved]
100 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1K9
Seafood lovers mark your calendars! Tuesdays at Pearl Diver is Seafood Circus Tower day. For $35, you get to share two stories of oysters, crab lefts, shrimp cocktails and whatever else is in season.
Thursdays are even wilder with their 100 oysters for $100 special. I tell ya, get your bibs ready.
Annabelle Pasta Bar [Tested & Approved]
909 Davenport Rd, Toronto, ON M6G 2B7
Not to sound like a crazy couponing lady, but here's another great deal for you at a really awesome place. At Annabelle, pasta dishes of the day are only $10. And they feel like a hundred bucks because they're soooooo good.
If you're with a couple of friends, take over the bar counter on the first floor. Depending on your seat, you'll either be 3 inches the food prep counter or the cocktail station. Both pretty great views.
Patois [Tested & Approved]
794 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V1
Patois is the embodiment of fun. It's Margaret's birthday? Ask for sparkling candles on her pineapple cocktail (not a cocktail with pineapple juice, but rather, a whole pineapple filled with a liquor concoction).
Peter is starving? Get him "the whole shebang". Literally, the entire menu. If you can, sit at the bar. The staff is great to chat with and you'll be the envy of everyone waiting by the wall to be seated.
Paris Paris [Tested & Approved]
1161 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X4
It didn't take long for this new wine bar to become the HQ of everyone who's good looking in town. But that shouldn't come as a surprise: great wine brings out the most beautiful side of people! Cheesy quote aside, Paris Paris is a fantastic spot where to hold a girls night out.
The space is fabulous and the food even more so. Try the scarlet shrimp and scallop. True to the French spirit of the bar, the dish is baked en papillote, which means it comes steaming hot to your table where the staff will unwrap the divine crustacean in front of you. Ask for extra bread to sop up all the sauce.
Midfield Wine Bar & Tavern [Tested & Approved]
1434 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y7
Still the world of wine bars, Midfield is one that is sure to impress your new beau. Their wine list by the glass is exhaustive which allows for a fun "you pick my next glass"', "ok but only if you surprise me by picking one too". Good news: the list was curated by wine-experts that know more about the juice than all of our brains combined. Result? There are no bad choices on the menu, so any pick will make you look good.
Grey Gardens [Tested & Approved]
199 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4
Jen Agg did it again: she created a magical spot where love sparks are guaranteed to take place. If this is the first date, sit at the first bar counter, right at the front of the restaurant. High stools and wine glasses, you'll have the perfect set-up to play footsies.
If anything goes wrong, the door is close enough for you to pick your stuff and escape smoothly. Alternatively, if you are sure you want things to get serious: rsvp the banquette seating. You'll be able to stare into each other's eyes while feeding each other spoonful of whatever deliciousness you decide to pick from the menu.
Actinolite [Tested & Approved]
971 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6G 3V5
If Grey Gardens worked its charm, a follow-up rendez-vous at Actinolite may be a perfect next step in terms of the progression of sophisticated dates. It's a neighbourhood restaurant with an upscale food performance, yet a superb laid back ambiance. Dishes change according to seasons and showcasing the best of each ingredient is the restaurant's main mission.
In their own words "we became obsessed with the freshness and quality that came with picking produce and presenting it on the plate moments later." Actinolite is listed as one of Canada's top 100 restaurants. Your date will be smitten you thought her/him worthy of such a beautiful spot.
Pearl Morisette Winery [Tested & Approved]
3953 Jordan Rd, Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0
So far so good, your prospect passed the test at the two first dates. You want to get serious, but need to know if you two can travel together. Buckle up my friend and set your GPS to 3953 Jordan Rd, Niagara! Pearl Morisette is one of the finest, if not finest, Canadian winery and they now have a restaurant where you can taste thoughtfully crafted food paired with their delightful wines.
If you can, go for lunch and grab a table by the window. Your date will be mesmerized by the view of never-ending rows of vines. The perfect distraction for you to pick the best parts from their plate.
Coffee Oysters and Champagne [To Do]
214 King St W, Toronto, ON M5H 3S6
Alright, turns out picking from your date's plate at Pearl Morisette wasn't the greatest move. As a result, you're now back on the market. Don't worry my friend, I got you. Coffee Oysters Champagne is the new hot spot in town.
When I tried to go last week, it had an hour waitlist, so make sure to make a reservation ahead of time. The front part of the restaurant is a sleek, pastel pink, champagne bar. As soon as you sit down, ask for the secret-not-so-secret hidden speakeasy. They'll put you on (another) waitlist and call you in when space is available.
Village Pizza Dovercourt [Tested & Approved]
759 Dovercourt Rd, Toronto, ON M6H 2X1
They have the best motto in town "In Crust We Trust". Someone give me a Hallelujah! If you're a fan of Hawaiian pizza, you got to try Village Pizza's version of the dish. Named "Thanks, Obama", you'll bite into a combination of BBQ Spam, pineapple, and tomato goodness. They've also got a second location at 761 Dundas St. W.
Pho Linh [Tested & Approved]
1156 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1B6
The Pho here is so good, I ate it for brunch-lunch-and-dinner multiple times in the past year. The broth is clear, yet rich, while the noodles come in an overly generous portion. The beef is dropped raw in the soup and is cooked just enough by the boiling broth. Try their weekday and weekend specials! If you fancy a close up of the supply, here's a short video by my friend Gunnarolla.
Bandit Brewery [Tested & Approved]
2125 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1X1
Beer battered deep fried CHEESE CURDS. That's it. Also when summer comes around, the front porch of Bandit Brewery turns into a lovely patio with little lights hanging from the trees.
The Stockyard Smokehouse and Larder [Tested & Approved]
699 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C 1B2
The fried chicken from Stockyard is iconic. Each piece is the size of your fist, yet every inch is perfectly crisp and seasoned. Sources on the internet say that the chicken is marinated in a special sweet’n’salty mixture with buttermilk for 24 hours (some even claim 48... should have asked the Chef, but I was too busy stuffing my face, making sure no crumbs were left behind). If you’re ever around St. Clair Ave W and Christie St - drop your plans and just head to fried chicken paradise.
WVRST [Tested & Approved]
609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M5
I once had a date here. The evening was memorable, but not because of the company. The fries, the fries made the night insane! Thickly cut, they were fried in duck fat and came covered in melted swiss raclette. I was in love.
Thompson Diner [Tested & Approved]
550 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2V4
You've probably been here before, after a late night out, munching your life away on their burger or some other greasy bite. But have you had their fried chicken?! Golden buttermilk-tea brined leg and thigh, lightly seasoned, and with a crunch that will make your heartbeat stop. Next time you go to the Thompson Diner, I don't care how drunk you are, please do yourself a favour and order the fried chicken (also good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
I Have a Lot of Family Members to Feed
Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine [Tested & Approved]
160 East Beaver Creek Rd #4-6, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 4A7
The trouble with dining out with picky uncles and lactose-intolerant aunts is figuring out a menu that will suit everyone. Save yourself the trouble and simply drive everyone to the Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine. Despite the name (fusion?), the food is deemed one of the best Chinese dim sum in the greater GTA. Proof? The dozen Asian families who were willing to sit through the hour-long wait outside the restaurant every weekend. Get there early to avoid the lines!
Batch [Tested & Approved]
75 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5C 2B1
If your family is more the brewery type, Batch may just be the right gathering spot. Their menu showcases everyone's favourite comfort food. For instance, the devil eggs are not just deviled eggs, they are garnished with scooped-shaped crispy chicken skin. And what about the chicken wings? Slightly battered and dunked in a sweet roasted garlic & honey sauce. Yes.
My Personal To Do List For 2019
Casa La Palma [To Do]
849 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V5
La Palma has been around a while and now they have a new sibling on their second floor. The space is cozier and is said to feel like one of those members' clubhouses. Foodwise, we're looking at fun sharing plates both derived from Italian and Mediterranean inspiration: from green pea falafel to lobster sliders on brioche buns.
Giuletta [To Do]
972 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A5
I'm a bit of a wannabe snob, but some of my friends are the real deal when it comes to food. Stacy is one of them. She only eats at Michelin star restaurants when she travels abroad. So when she talks about food, I listen. Lately, she's been raving only about Giulietta. Giulietta makes amazing this, Giulietta makes amazing that. Well turns out, she's not the only one to think that. Giulietta was recently named Air Canada EnRoute 5th best new restaurant in Canada. We all need to go try Giulietta.
Seoul Shakers [To Do]
1241 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N6
I feel this is where the cool kids are going to hang out in 2019. Korean food meets South American delicacies, we're looking at some funky dishes like kimchi-pear wedge salad and cheese sandwich stuffed with ground beef patty and roasted kimchi. Not to mention the edgy retro vibe. I'm already liking this place just from the Instagram stalking.
Kojin [To Do]
190 University Avenue
Born from the ashes of the former Momofuku, Kojin, god of fire-the-heart-and-the-kitchen, promises lots of wood-fire grill and meat. My eyes are on the Easton Blend Burger; short-rib and pretzel bun glued together by an oversized slice of fried gruyere cheese.
Le Swan [To Do]
892 Queen St W
It's a diner with "le" in the front of its name, so expect here at a bit of French influence coming through the menu. And when I say a bit, I actually mean a lot. To the point that they'll serve platters of steak frites. Is there anything more exciting than an entire tray of medium-rare steak with crispy salty french fries? Non madame.
Tuk Tuk Canteen [To Do]
397 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2N1
When's the last time you had Cambodian food? Get ready for a good dose of lemongrass and boozy sweet drinks. :)
And that's a wrap! I hope you're hungry now. What's missing from this list? What are you excited most to try? Please let me know. Toronto, I can't wait to taste more of your delicious food. Wishing you all fantastic food in 2019.