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Aug 11, 2006 03:30 PM

Best chow 'hoods in TO?

Hi, I was wondering what your favourite neighbourhoods are for great food in Toronto. Think deliciousness, variety, and density of great spots to eat, get groceries, and such. I'd love to hear about areas with some cheap eats, as I'm on a student's budget, but I'm definitely not limiting my question to that.

I'll be moving to Toronto in a few weeks, and will be living around the east end of Little Italy, near Kensington, but am certainly willing to travel for good grub.

So, where do you go when you're feeling chow-ish and want to walk around?

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  1. Kensington and Chinatown are my're lucky to be living so close. Check out the latin grocery stores on Augusta- many serve fresh pupusas and tamales in the back.Most places in Little Italy are more about the scene than food quality...but the prices go down, and quality and quantity go up once you head further west on College. I like Gatto Nero for coffee. I like Nova Era bakery just east of Dufferin...and go out of my way to pick up their custard tarts(pasteis de nata).
    Parkdale also has some interesting ethnic food choices right now.
    On Danforth, you can get some interesting food at Zorba's- just east of Pape... the food prices seem to fall on the Danforth once you're east of Carlaw.
    If you like West Indian and/or Colombian food, you might want to head up to St.Clair and Bathurst....

    1 Reply
    1. re: phoenikia

      forgot to mention...neat Korean bakeries and restos near Bloor & Christie. Try the walnut cakes...still warm, something like 4 for a dollar. There are also some awesome Polish bakeries on Roncesvalles. Chopin on Roncesvalles has the best perogies I've ever eaten!

    2. Baldwin & McCaul area. Heck just walk along Baldwin and you'll find some interesting stuff.

      King Street West is also starting to become a great food place too. I'd take a walk from the Entertainment district west ward.

      1. Thanks, I'll definitely check these suggestions out. Last time I was in Toronto I checked out some of those Latin groceries in Kensington, but didn't have time to order anything. Glad to hear that there are good Portuguese bakeries, most of those here in Montreal are somewhat lacking despite the fairly sizable Portuguese population. It's also good to know that there is solid Caribbean food. From what I've gleaned from this board, that seems to be a strong suit of TO.

        Oishi, where is the Entertainment District exactly?

        Does anyone else want to plug their favourite chow areas of town?

        What about places for picking up great produce and/or 'ethnic' ingredients (esp. North African, Middle Eastern, Chinese, SE Asian, and S Asian), and more 'luxe' things (for my budget, anyway!) like great cheese, baked goods, and the like?

        3 Replies
        1. re: mtl to tor

          "Entertainment district" King Street is near the Roy Thomson Hall area - where all those theaters are. There are many restaurants between Simcoe Street and Spadina, but I find the ones West of Spadina on King to be a little more interested (off the beaten path).

          1. re: mtl to tor

            Great choice of neighbourhood, mtl to tor, you'll be in heaven.

            Just so you know - near you are two very good bistro-type restaurants. I am constantly waving the flag of Pony (College west of Spadina) and the Nassau Street Bistro (Nassau, near Kensington), both lovely warm spots with great food.

            WRT shopping: Kensington is great, especially for ethnic. The St. Lawrence Market is good too but frankly a little overpriced and there's not too much there you can't get at Kensington. Good bagels though - St. Urbain, I think. And a great mustard shop, and the fabulous Alex Farms cheese store.

            A different neighbourhood: Bloor West Village has Max's Deli, great produce, and The Cheese Boutique. CB is a little out of the way (Ripley; you'd want to have a car) - they have small quantities of rare produce, fab roast beef, good cheese, and lots of nice little specialties like fresh guacamole, pies, olive oils, fresh truffles, etc.

            Also Pusateri's has a small shop at Bay just north of Bloor. (The main one is at Lawrence and Avenue Road: again, you'd need a car. If you go up there, don't miss Gryfe Bagels, also on Avenue, north of Lawrence.) Pusateri's has lovely cupcakes, seafood, meat, bread - not so good for cheese. Near it is Whole Foods which is huge and has a good array of stuff - particularly, good pulled pork, and good fruit. It's a little over-priced, and a little hit and miss. I've had bad luck with meat and seafood there, yikes.

            You can buy fabulous croissants at Thuet - a restaurant with a small bakery attached. King and Portland (near Spadina).

            When looking for bread, Ace is good and widely-available, but Fred's is better. You can get Fred's at Pusateri's and a dozen other places.

            Hope this helps!

            1. re: spigot

              Small correction: Gryfe's is on Bathurst - not Avenue! But they also sell them close to you at Grace Meats (College and Grace).

          2. The area around Warden and Lawrence is very Middle Eastern. There's a great supermarket called Nasr's and a wonderful M.E./French bakery that has very nice cured meats and cheeses called Arz. Their baklawa is amazing. It's a fun chow area, but only really car-accessible.

            1. I think the area on Gerrard east of the Don Valley is quite interesting. There is a great 'Chinatown East', as well as Little India not far up the road. Grab a bike or a TTC day pass and explore the area.

              1 Reply
              1. re: xtal

                - King Street West has expensive restaurants. Fantastic but expensive.
                - Kensington is fantastic for Latin and many restaurants are reasonably priced.
                - College Street, west of Bathurst - Little Italy (do check out the small side streets where you can get great panzerotti's), great bars! You can definitely walk from Kensington...or take the streetcar west.
                - Danforth (Greektown) - YUM. Decently priced souvlaki at most restaurants.
                - Gerrard Street (East of Greenwood) - India Bazaar - delicious and cheap Indian Food (You can take the College Street car all the way east).
                - Queen Street East, Over the Don River (Leslieville) - for some great small cafe's and restaurants. Great brunch spots too.
                - Yorkville, although posh has some great bars. Many not too pricey. Great patio's...
                - Bloor West - Great Ukranian bakeries. YUM!

                Hope this helps!