hal et al ?
Am in town from 21 to 23 sept ( incl) and staying downtown. Have previously seen good posts here about hal burgers and beer bistro.
Are they still up to scratch ? Any where else not to be missed in downtown - am from UK so any unique Toronto stuff ( tho not touristy ) would be cool
Also , where is good for veggie /seafood in downtown, and where are the best bar areas for fri & sat nights in particular ?
I would definitely check out St. Lawrence Market (www.stlawrencemarket.ca) for great takeout from Carousel Bakery (peameal sandwiches), Mustachio's (italian sandwiches) and some great food shopping. Definitely very Toronto. I'd also stroll through Kensington Market.
I find that most places have great vegetarian options, as compared to many restaurants in the UK. Asian dishes, and particularly Thai ones, are well-suited to cooking with vegetarian ingredients.
As for bar areas, I'd wander into Little Italy (College, west of Bathurst) for evening partying. There are many places in this stretch, including some good restaurants (Utopia, etc.)
I'm a fan of Real Thailand, which is north of Chinatown.
As for Chinatown itself, some great 'hole-in-the-wall' places are Chinese Traditional Buns (536 Dundas St. W, @ Spadina), and Mother's Dumplings (79 Huron St. @ Dundas). Mother's is actually a new favourite of mine, after a fantastic meal there. Read about it on this thread:
I hope this helps.
xtal has given great advice. I just want to beg you to stay away from hal burgers. You are certain to be disappointed. There is nothing special and good about the place!
Reservoir Lounge has great live music (jazzy) and it is laid back. Montreal is a great Jazz bar too. There is a place located downstairs near the flat iron that is maybe a pub or something, they have live music...maybe someone else can chime in with the name of it.
New Sky on Spadina is a perfect choice for chinese. Order the spicy sliced chicken with eggplant, the crispy beef, and some fried rice. The lobster is always on special and very tasty too.
For great seafood in the city, hit Rodneys on King St. It isnt cheap, but the chowders are chunky with fresh catch and the oysters are the specialty.
The Senator on Victoria has top quality diner food. Everything is at its freshest and home-made. Great for weekend brunch or lunches.
For Italian, College St is great, and so is any Terroni location.
I ate at Beer Bistro a few weeks ago and have to say it was a huge disappointment. The mussels were so nasty that we had to send them back. (fishy/pissy smell & taste) It cast a pall over the whole dinner. But if you do decide to go there, I noticed they have four stools along the open kitchen in the hallway that leads to the bathroom. Might be a fun place to sit.
For dinner, I would advise that you try La Palette in Kensington Market. If you like beer, they have an amazing selection. And (secret that everyone knows) not on the menu is the Steak du Cheval. If you've never had it, give it a try. Delicious. They make a very good duck confit also. (You can get the two together in a dinner special called Quack & Track.) It is not touristy. http://www.dine.to/lapalette
As for bars, if you are looking for night clubs (loud music, flashy lights, players, etc...), walk along Richmond St. between Simcoe St. and Peter St after 9pm. You can't miss it. (Personally, I find that scene repulsive, but to each his own.)
Well, if you don't mind me planning an evening for you. Go to La Palette (256 Augusta) for dinner, then walk just a hundred feet or so north on Augusta to College St (the next stop light). Turn left and walk west along College St between Augusta and Crawford. It is not a long walk and just about any type of bar/lounge/resto is along that strip. They call it Little Italy, but there's lots there that is not Italian. It is most concentrated between Palmerston and Crawford.
Here's a map:
And look here:
I've been to all the following places.
Sneeky Dees (punk/grunge bar
)Ciao Eddie (bar)
College St Bar (resto-lounge)
Kalendar (coffee house)
Bar Italia (resto-lounge)
Cloak and Dagger (very cool pub)
Utopia (resto - good food)
Li'ly (swank resto-lounge)
Mod Club (live music)
Southside Louie's (so-so pub)
Il Gato Nero (relaxed European resto/bar)
Cafe Diplomatico (diner with big patio!)
Uban Thai (okay thai)
If you want to make an afternoon of it, give yourself some time before dinner to walk around Kensington Market before hitting La Palette.
Rosedale isn't really downtown but just outside of it. Try The Rebel House. Great food, great bar. We absolutely loved the game sausage of the day. A friend of my wife's says he couldn't really tell you what the food is like because he's never ordered anything other than the mussels. They're that good.
The Buffalo burger is also excellent.
It's just about right across the street from the Rosedale subway station.
Let's just say Hal Burger is controversial. It seems we have consensus on Beer Bistro.
If you want great seafood, try Starfish. Great place to meet people if you sit at the bar and watch the shucking. Comfortable 2 part room if you prefer a table.
If Asian includes Japanese try Hiro Sushi, 171 King just east of Jarvis or Omi, 451 Church St north of Carlton. They're both top-notch and fairly casual. I prefer Omi, but both are well liked. Neither have a website, which makes no sense in the 00's. Sorry.
Uniquely Toronto is defined by Toronto chef, Susur Lee, and his 2 restos. Go to Susur if you have the dough. Go to Lee for less expensive, but equally pleasing dishes.
Personal favourite route for club hopping is Little Italy that Ognir more than covers above. You'll find a dizzying array of nightclubs and restaurants. Hard to go wrong anywhere you walk into. It's a busy, vibrant neighbourhood.