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Toronto - San Francisco = ?

I'll be in Toronto for a few days soon on business and want to plan ahead to eat as well as possible.

Ideally I'd like to find any ethnic / regional food we don't have in San Francisco. I've heard there's a big Caribbean population but I don't find much about that in the archive, maybe I'm using the wrong search terms.

Beyond that, I prefer rustic, ingredient-driven, "slow" food to creative, chef-driven haute or fusion cuisine. My favorites of such places at home are Chez Panisse, Incanto, Oliveto, Pizzaiolo, and Zuni. Just reading the menu at French Laundry makes my stomach queasy.

Reading through the archive, these jump out at me:

Lee Wah Heen for dim sum
Chiado for Portugese (very rare in the SF area)
New Bilan for Somali (none in SF area so far as I know)
St. Lawrence Market or Kensington Market for scene & peameal bacon sandwich
Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar for good selection of wine and "Canadian tapas"
Rashnaa for Sri Lankan (none in SF area)
poutine truck in front of City Hall

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  1. Swatow serves Chiu Chow cuisine, is that right?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I'm not sure, but Chiu Chow Boy in Scarborough ( 3261 Kennedy Rd. on east side) serves pretty good chiu chow style cuisine. Pacifiic Mall is about 30 seconds north of there if you're interested in something different in retail malls and it has many good ethnic oriental restaurants inside and out.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        We're pretty well set for:

        Afghan (roti at an Afghan place? huh?)
        Chinese (except a few more obscure regional cuisines)
        sushi flown in from Japan

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          They serve Chiu Chow fish ball noodles, but not the signature Chiu Chow main dishes like "spiced duck", "crab cakes" etc.

        2. Ah ! A chance for you to go to Boujadi , and you tell me!
          My suggestion, so not to avoid disappointment, is to go to a Portguese bakery (NOTa Nova Era or Golden Wheat) for buns, and to a German, Hungarian, Polish or Russian delicatessen for cold cuts. For dessert, this time of the year the fruit is imported, with the exception of some apples. I suggest an apple for dessert, but you have to know your apples. The grapefruits are good now but get only small one's (56s in the trade, only from Florida, and not reds. Pinks are delicious, reds have lost their balance.)

          Something tell me that my recommendation will be ignored. I sincerely do wish to read a report of the places that you do go to.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

            Hungarian? We currently have none. Tell me more.

            We're pretty well set for German, Polish, and Russian.

            There's reportedly a good Portugese bakery in San Jose but that's 50-60 miles of awful traffic from my house. Might try to hit a good one on my last day and get some stuff to take home.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              If you do get to a Portuguese bakery, be sure to get some good, crusty cornbread ("pao de milho"). My husband and I discovered this flavourful, dense, yet moist bread on our honeymoon in Portugal 21 years ago. It's delicious on the day it's baked, and great toasted afterwards.

              The Portuguese pada buns are not as special as the cornbread.

              By the way, if you can't get to an actual Portuguese bakery, don't despair. Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market sells Portuguese cornbread. That's where you'll be getting your peameal bacon sandwich, no doubt.

              And do try to get to St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning, when the north market building is open in addition to the regular south Market (which is closed Sundays and Mondays). You'll find farmers, butchers, purveyors of organic foods, artisanal cheese makers, and more.

              If you can get there, the smoked meat at Centre St. Deli is as close to Montreal smoked meat as you'll find in the Toronto area. It's located in Thornhill, just north of the City of Toronto proper. Make sure to order the "old-fashioned" version (and medium, as opposed to lean), which has more spices and is more typical of the old-style smoked meat.

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                The corn bread at the churrasco place in St LM (north from Carousel) used to sell great corn bread! Anybody have it recently?

                1. re: deelicious

                  No...I forgot about that place - right at the northwest entrance to the market.

                  Another treat for you to try, Robert: Portuguese churrasco (grilled) chicken with hot sauce. They also have great chicken sandwiches, made in pada buns.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                for a Portugese experience, I'd recommend you try churrasqueria chicken - toronto has several places. my fave place is Dupont BBQ (on Dupont/Symington): great roast chicken with piri piri sauce, they also have some baked goods including some buns, custard tarts, and my personal favourite, the portugese sweet bread (they sell out fast and you can ask for a fresh loaf from the back, they'll bring it out while it's still hot and it will blow you away (I usually finish half in the car).

                I didn't see Turkish on your list; if it's not avail in SF, I'd recommend Anatolia for a Turkish experience.

                If you're in the St. Clair West area, you can hit several great spots just by walking west of Bathurst: Albert's Real Jamaican (542 St Clair W), another Portugese churrasqueria place called Churrasco on St. Clair at Christie, Mezzetta (middle eastern tapas style), El Fogon (Peruvian)....

                I think New Bilan is a unique experience and a definite must

                happy chowing in TO....

                1. re: berbere

                  And if not Anatolia, have lunch at Pizza Pide, kitty corner to Gerrard Square mall. Great Turkish pizza. Ask for #18 (I think) -- the one with all the different kinds of meat.

                  1. re: berbere

                    Ugh: Dupont BBQ. But let me explain... I lived close by some years ago and frequented the place. Delicious chicken, never dry, and consistently very tasty: attributes that can be fleeting in the Churrasqueira world. The downside was the place itself: very, very messy and frankly unclean looking. Now I'm one who has a pretty strong stomach (so to speak) when it comes to such things, but it got to the point that it actually looked dangerous, and I reluctantly vowed that I'd never go back. I haven't.

                    Have they cleaned up their act??

                2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi


                  The Portuguese bakery suggestion is a good one. Except that he NEEDS to try a custard tart. They're just so good.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Not just for custard lovers either! Someone somewhere on CH compared them very roughly to those Burgundian bee-wax pastries (most obscure response ever? does anyone know what I mean?)

                    1. re: julesrules

                      You mean canelles? They look sort of waxy, and when made properly are custardy in the middle.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, cannelles. There was a thread, once upon a time, where people were discussing cannelles and someone said they could be compared in a very limited way with pasteis de nata. Regardless, I am not overly fond of custard and I love these things. It's the blackened surface of the custard, and the textural contrast between the pastry and the custard.


                  1. re: NovoCuisine

                    Ditto. And they have lovely Portuguese corn bread there, too. Ask for the "wine bar" menu for some really lovely appetizer sized plates. I actually prefer to make a meal out of several of these, even though the fish mains at Chiado are wonderful. And make sure you talk with the sommelier to pick out a great Portuguese wine -- they have an amazing list.

                  2. Yes, yes to Chiado and Lah Wah Hen.
                    You might want to try Little Tibet (Queen St W) for some authentic and family made Tibetan food (my favourites include their vegetarian momos (fried not steamed, but that is personal), or their lamb curry and steamed bread if you want some cold weather comfort food.- depends whether you want a light or heavy meal. Skip the butter and salt tea though :)

                    I've had the masala thosai at Rashna only once, but it was very good. You can check out their menu on their Website.
                    Carousel Bakery is the peameal bacon sandwich place of choice at St Lawrence Mkt.
                    You also might try out some of the Quebec cheeses while at the market.

                    There are also some interesting Ethiopian choices. I've only been to Adis Ababa, but you can do a search for more options and opinions.

                    For Carribbean, you may want to do a search on Roti or West Indian.My fav roti place is Bacchus Roti on Queen St W. But this is a hotly debated topic on our local board.

                    I did a quick search on Roti and came up with an Afghani place that looks good. Not sure how much of that you get in SF.

                    Check out the post below for some other foodie tour suggestions.

                    Have fun, I just came back from a day in SF. We had tapas at the Spanish place B33 out of nostalgia, but it seems to have gone downhill since I last went. And I loved Chez Panisse when we went a few years ago.

                    1. From your list, I definitely agree with earlier posters to visit Lai Wah Heen and Chiado for high end experiences.

                      Splendido would fit into your description of chef driven Haute or fusion cuisine.

                      I really can't think of anything that comes close to Chez Panisse. I sometimes wonder if the reason fresh market cuisine hasn't caught on up here is because we are importing so much of our produce for most of the year.

                      Alchemy Bakery in Kensington Market is a slowfood establishment selling artisanal breads and interesting shortbreads with flavours such as mahleb and poppyseed mint.

                      Swatow is ok, but it can be inconsistent, and isn't really a unique experience. As far as I know, it's regular Cantonese, and not Chiu Chow. It's at about the same level as any decent Chinese restaurant in Oakland's Chinatown.

                      Toronto has 2 Uzbek restaurants- Halleluja and Tashkent.

                      I don't really have a favourite place for roti or Carribean food right now.Irie on Queen West has decent jerk, but it's in a hipster location and has a fusion aspect to a lot of the menu. Most of the better roti shops seem to require a drive to Scarborough. But I understand that Ali's in Parkdale is quite good.

                      I agree with Vinnie that you should head to a Portuguese bakery while you're in Toronto. But not just for the buns, I'd suggest you try some pasteis de nata while you're here, if you like custard. Mind you, I like Nova Era's version.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: spaetzle

                        We have some pan-Chinese / Peking-style Muslim Chinese places but no Uzbek. That would be a top priority.

                        Have you tried both Halleluia and Tashkent, if so which is better? Sounds like Uzbek dishes are not the main attraction at either.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I haven't had a chance to try either- but I've been meaning to try both of them. I will probably try Halleluia first.

                          Here is an earlier discussion of Tashkent:

                          and a review from Now:

                          Here's a link for Halleluia:

                          and pictures of some of their dishes:

                          1. re: spaetzle

                            Fahitos with chemi churi sauceI I guess that's Uzbek-Mexican-Argentine fusion.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              From the menu, I guess Halleluia ends up looking creative, chef driven and fusion ;)

                              When I go to Halleluia, I'm planning to order lagman and plov, maybe the manti.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            No, Robert, you're right. The cuisine at Halleluia is for the most part Israeli, with just a few dishes from the chef/owner's birthplace on the menu.

                            I do not think of Halleluia as a "creative, chef driven and fusion" restaurant. It has pretty much the same menu as most of the other Israeli restaurants in the city (with the exception of the Uzbeki dishes), but executed with a bit more care.

                            I you're looking for Middle Eastern, I'd recommend Jerusalem (the Eglinton Ave. location ONLY), which I believe is owned by Palestinians and has more of a Lebanese than an Israeli flavour. Although I love both cuisines, I prefer Jerusalem to any of the Israeli restaurants in the city, and I happen to be Jewish. It has been around for years, and is consistently excellent. My favourites are the falafel, baba ganoush, hummus, fried eggplant, fried tomatoes, fried liver, kibbeh, and the assorted kabobs.

                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              Totally support the recommendation for Jerusalem (for rustic, ingredient driven slow food). The only addition to your favourites I would add is the tahini and the meat baked in tahini.

                              1. re: FlavoursGal

                                FG, I was joking when said Halleluia's menu looked "creative, chef driven and fusion". My comment was made in reference to the "fahitos with chemi churi sauce" listed on their menu, which does sound fairly creative and fusion for a Uzbek/Israeli/Russian restaurant.

                          3. Looks like you are being well served by the hounds so I look forward to hearing how your trip goes. Check in with us while you are here.

                            One thing I have to say is that IMO the back bacon at St Lawrence is WILDLY OVERATED! It is nowhere what it once was....hasn't been for years. The market itself is great and I recommend you wander and nibble on things that look good. Most things taste as good as they look.

                            I don't remember ever having great greek food in San Fran, so if you are interested in that, a must try is Pantheon in greek town. Amazing grilled calamari, great dips too. Wonderful whole fish.


                            19 Replies
                            1. re: deelicious

                              I second Pantheon. My SO lived in SF for 7 years and he never did find an equivalent there for greek food.

                              Love Chiado, Splendido and Rashnaa myself so I'll second those also.

                              For Jamaican check out Albert's (St Clair & Bathurst location only) for the oxtail dinner with rice and peas. It's more of a take out place with a few small tables to the side should you wish to eat there. New Bilan has minimal atmosphere but they do have table service. Unfortunately they are located in a seedy part of town (Dundas & Jarvis). The food is cheap and tasty, but nothing spectacular.

                              Enjoy your stay and let us know where you end up dining. Glad to hear Zuni is still around, my SO and I had our first "official" date there 9 years ago ;-)

                              1. re: deelicious

                                I agree, Pantheon is the best, while not having the best decor. The portions are quite large and the food is very tasty. Don't get me wrong, I have tried pretty much all the others. If I really want an undisturbed Greek Rest. where the food is quite reasonable, and reasonably priced, I go to Patris. Patris is just a bit east of Greektown and closer to Donlands, just past Jones Ave. on the north side. They have all of the mainstays, good staff and hardwood floors that remind me of the old Pennyworth's store that used to be there 40 years ago. :)

                                1. re: Poorboy

                                  Based on some CH posts, I tried Pantheon awhile back and was completely disappointed (although the souvlaki meat was very tender, the dips etc were subpar at best).
                                  Actually I always found that most of the Greek food on the Danforth doesn't make the grade. And after spending 3 weeks eating my way through Greece this spring, I am more certain than ever. At the risk of starting a turf war, I find the Greek restaurants in Vancouver are far superior to Torontos. I recently discussed this with a Greek friend who is also an ex-Vancouverite and we both in agreement. He did tell me that he will only eat at Ouzeri's. That is next on my list to try in the desparate hope of finding decent Greek food in our "Greek" town.

                                    1. re: Poorboy

                                      This is the first I've heard of them. I did a quick CH search and not all the reviews are good. I've done the usual, Omonia, Astoria, Papas, Pan, Christina's etc.--all before I did Pantheon. That night I tossed a coin between Pantheon and Avli (which is next door if I recall correctly) I wished I'd picked Avli, but I still haven't tried them yet--so the jury is out.

                                      On my list is Mezzes where I think they do traditional gyros (with the fries and all). The one's I had on the island of Paros are so memorable, that I'll know when I find something close.
                                      Also as I mentioned, I need to try Ouzzeris on the advise of Greek friend (although he is pretty Canadianized).

                                      As it is, I don't salivate for Greek the way I used to in Vancouver. This is primarily because I haven't found that reliable special place yet. If you ever get to Vancouver, try Athenes on Broadway near Alma. It has been a long while since I was there, but they were good for the first 10 years I knew them. (good in that garlic breath for 3 days kind of way)

                                      Thanks for the suggestion. Maybe when it warms up I'll launch an official search for the best Greek in TO.

                                      1. re: dinin and dishin

                                        Please let us know what you find, dinin. In the 10 years since I moved here from Montreal, I've yet to find Greek food that comes close to what's available there.

                                        1. re: dinin and dishin

                                          I had the same experience eating my way across Greece, but I feel a bit more positive than you do about Toronto's Greektown. Avli is great, and I've had very good meals at Mezes and Megas. Ouzeri? Meh. After my last meal there, I'm not anxious to go back.

                                          Agreed with FlavoursGal about Greek in Montreal, though. Philinos on Park is better than any of these places. And we are looking forward to a break-the-bank meal at Milos, perhaps this summer.

                                          1. re: estragon

                                            Check out the Montreal board before heading to Milos, estragon. There have been a few negative posts recently.

                                      2. re: dinin and dishin

                                        Ouzeri's >> get the dolmades, they come in a lovely lemony sauce. the potato/garlic spread and the pink fish roe spread (start with a T) and the spicy feta spread, also good.

                                      3. re: Poorboy

                                        I have to disagree big time on Patris. I was wonderful 20+ years ago. It is usually quiet, but not always. The patio is very good. Mama and one of the waiters are very nice, but at least one waiter is positively noxious.

                                        But the big disappointment is the food. Their assorted meze platter is generous and delicious - possibly the best and cheapest on the Danforth. Beyond that, they don't try very hard. I think they have become tired of the grind. A couple of years ago, they removed some of their best dishes from the menu. The next time we were in, we unknowingly ordered one of these dishes (an eggplant, cheese, and tomato starter). They cooked it for us, but commented that it was too much trouble to make. The filo wrapped dishes tend to be soggy and most of the menu is carelessly prepared and boring.

                                        We do still eat there occasionally for two reasons. In good weather, their side street patio is a pleasant place to hang out. And the half price coupons they distribute by the thousands make it cheaper than eating at home. But you'll get better Greek food elsewhere.

                                        My current personal favourite is Avli. I've always liked Ouzeri, but their food and service are very inconsistent these days.

                                        1. re: embee

                                          I second Avli. It's the only Greek restaurant I've been to in Toronto (aside from Pan, which has had its ups and downs) that I've returned to again and again. We love their grilled octopus (although the portions keep getting smaller and smaller), dips, gigante beans, imam bayildi (a Greek version of a famed Turkish dish),and savoury pies. It continues to annoy me, however, that they charge extra for pita bread.

                                          What I miss most about Montreal with regard to Greek food are the psarotavernas (fish houses). I have yet to find one in Toronto to rival those in Montreal.

                                          1. re: FlavoursGal

                                            There have been a few psarotavernas over the years, but they were extremely expensive and didn't succeed.

                                            It may be because there is an association in Toronto between "Greek" and "cheap". During the time of the Greek junta, Toronto was rewarded with many Greek restaurants, catering mainly to Greek expats, that were very cheap and delicious. I remember the Strouga, Odyssey, and Delphi as exemplars of three different Greek cooking styles. It was not uncommon to find Papandreou in the resto. The few places that remain from that era (e.g., Astoria, Mr Greek) have morphed into something very different, not very good, but still affordable.

                                            The closest thing we have in menu, though not in style, to the psarotavernas is probably Chiado.

                                            If you like gigantes, you MUST try Zorbas (east of Pape). The beans are amazing.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              One cannot live by gigantes alone. What's the rest of the food like at Zorbas?

                                              1. re: FlavoursGal

                                                It's the style of Greek cooking where you pick your food from the cooking pots - I think they are the sole surviving place of this type. (Though it's already cooked and on a steam table these days.) The stews are great: lamb & artichokes or greens in avgolemono, a meatball soup that is an adequate main for me (though priced as a soup), lamb and beef dishes in tomato sauces. These are worth a journey. The top menu price is about $14. The souvlaki-type dishes aren't worth the bother and the roast potatoes are disappointing.

                                                But those gigantes...acknowledged we live in the area, but we have sometimes dined on gigantes alone, or gotten them as takeout for our dinner.

                                                They also do a rotisserie chicken (not Greek) that's better than Swiss Chalet's, for less money, though it's often dried out by dinner.

                                                It's somewhat depressing and the service, while friendly, is often really bad, but I love the place.

                                              2. re: embee

                                                The glory that was Greece ended when Acropolis moved from above Lindy's (religious goods store)to the site on which was built Coles bookstore after the Acroplois again moved . In what year did Acroplis move from Lindy's (Dundas St.)?

                                                There after there were one or two thing' s that I liked at Strouga and Omonia.

                                                I stopped going to Greek places after Stouga closed, and I went to Ampilis for a Strouga dish that I liked a lot, lamb in a lemon sauce. What I got was greasy lamb, reheated, covered with a bad lemon sauce. The first time that the two met was on the plate.

                                                Honest, this is true. One evening in the winter, I went to Omonia with a new girlfriend. We stopped in front of the window, I wanted to show her the spit going. At that moment the window cracked and crazed into a million pieces. You heard about the face that launched a thousand ships? Well....

                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                  I miss that BBQ lamb and stopped going there as a destination when that spit disappeared from the window. It was also fun to take some people there and see them freak out at the whole animals turning in the window. But it's just another souvlaki joint now and is wildly inconsistent.

                                                  So your visage that caused them to abandon this simple BBQ pleasure??

                                                  1. re: embee

                                                    I was not responsible. The gentleman that I am, I was standing behind my date, bringing up the rear.

                                                    Instead of buying his building (well before the 1989 debacle) Yiannis (the owner) went into other restuarant ventures, which failed. One was the nightclub across the street. Instead of minding his own place, Yiannis went into other restaurant ventures, which failed.

                                                    The lamb went from being cut in sections from the spit to emerging from a heating oven.His chicken on the spit was delicious, then it disappeared, I liked hs kokoretsi (sp?) too. I never could get him to use ripe tomatoes in his salad, just big, hard, tasteless and expensive one's.
                                                    Is Yiannis still the owner,? Its been so long.

                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                      I don't know. I never did know his name. But the nightclub across the street (most recently called something like "Prizm") was shut down last year after the management failed to cooperate with the police following a shooting. There is a sign in the window suspending the liquor license indefinitely.

                                                  2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                    Acropolis? Wasn't it called Acropole, or was that a different spot just west of Yonge (I thought it was on College) circa 1970?

                                        2. RE: Poutine truck at city hall. This article ran in our local paper last week.

                                          1. I never did get around to posting on my dinner with three others at Chiado this summer, but I was disappointed. It is similar in style to La Salette in Sonoma, but significantly more expensive, particularly when the weak dollar and higher wine costs in TO are taken into account (I think it is high taxes that makes wine and alcoholic beverages so expensive?) and not nearly as good as either of my two visits to La Salette. One of my colleagues had octopus, it was chewy and overdone. Another had the cod, hoping to bring back memories of several trips to Portugal, but was similarly underwhelmed. I believe I had a seafood stew, and again, the seafood was overcooked. I do remember that it was a large portion, that would easily have fed two. Definitely not ingredient driven, either, unless you would call it ingredient driven that fish is flown in daily from the Azores...I'd call some of the dishes more influenced by Portuguese ingredients than truly Portuguese.

                                            Service wasn't particularly warm or efficient. Cost ended up being the equivalent of about $100 per person in US dollars.

                                            You might enjoy Beerbistro. Somewhat reminiscent of Luka's, but better, and with an oustanding beer list.


                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                              I ended up at beerbistro. The food was fine, not as good as Luka's but fun--duck confit "corn dogs," miniature falafels, pig's knuckle (which to my surprise was boned). The beer selection was amazing--I took advantage of the three "tasters" for $6 to try all the Ontario stuff on draft plus some other Canadian goodies.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                i've gotta ask... what canadian beers did you end up having? and how did you like them?

                                                i'm not very impressed with canadian microbrew and only became a bit of a convert after having the mill st wit (mill st brew pub is in the distillery district if you were going to check out that area at all) which is incredibly flavourful and very well done. i only wish they bottled it for sale.

                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                  PSP, have you had the Creemore Springs urBock? I'm a fussy beer drinker but am quite liking this one.

                                                  1. re: orangewasabi

                                                    no, but i'll put it on my list! quite like the bock at mill st too except that it's much lighter than usual. thanks!

                                                  2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                    I sampled all the Ontario beers they had on draft, probably a dozen. Most of them are not on the old list on the Web. Really liked the Country Durham Hop Addict. Also had some Iron Duke strong, Granite Best bitter, St. Andre Vienna Lager, some nut brown ale, some barleywine, three IPAs, dunno what else.

                                                    Got a bottle of the Church Key Holy Smoke as rauchbier's so rare. Tasted like a tire.

                                                    Also tried the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, easily the best of the evening. Second-best stout I've ever had, after Guinness in Dublin. Drank two or three glasses of that. Not surprising that was my favorite since at home I generally drink only nitrogen-tap or hand-pumped beer.

                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                        That was about it. I got some nice raw-milk cheese, artisan prosciutto, and great crusty bread at the Healthy Butcher. And a smoked meat sandwich at the airport. That was all I had time for, turned out to be just an overnight trip--just as well given the weather.

                                              2. Oh, dare I say that as much as I love Toronto and its restaurant diversity, San Francisco has us beat hollow. :S Especially the Chinese food, which I always thought was amazing before I went to SF and just went...oh...

                                                Anyway, Swatow at Dundas and Spadina has Fukien style cooking - get the char cheung soup and forget all the rest, just get the soup - is a different sort of thing.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Calam1ty

                                                  SF might have us beat on a lot of things, but Chinese is definitely not one of them. They have nothing of the caliber of Lai Wah Heen in SF, not even close. Also the best Chinese restaurants in Toronto are not in Chinatown, so if that's your sole exposure, then I recommend you venture out to Markham/Richmond Hill.

                                                  If you're interested in Carribiean food, I recommend you do specific dish searches (oxtail, jerk chicken, etc.). Most of these spots are rather rudimentary, takeout only. Some of the popular ones are Alberts (st clair location), Mr. Jerk (peanut plaza), etc....

                                                  For something similar to Incanto/Delfina, I would recommend Zucca or Five Doors North. Although it's perhaps best to focus on things you can't get back home.

                                                2. Rashnaa should be your #1 choice if you haven't had Sri Lankan. Great food at great price.
                                                  And I still think the peameal bacon on a bun at St lawrence is great - especially with honey mustard (when I was there recently, the label had fallen off the honey mustard).
                                                  Both Chiado and Lai Wah Heen are great choices - but expensive. Service at Chiado recently has been excellent and the Pata Negra Prosciutto (Spanish & from their bar menu) has been outstanding (although a poster on another board said that they had substituted an inferior ham from Portugal when he visited). And it has an amazing (expensive) wine list
                                                  Lai Wah Heen has been better for dim sum at lunch recently, compared with their evening menu. And their wine list is almost non-existent.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    I have had Sri Lankan food, but only at the home of a guy who moved back years ago.

                                                  2. Hey Robert

                                                    Some recomendations for you. If you're near Yonge and Eglinton for lunch during the week, Chef of India has a fantastic buffet if you're into Indian. It's been writen up in the local rags as primo for lunch. Not as good for dinner.

                                                    If you're into a pub with some good Canadiana, both in beer and food, The Rebel House on Yonge across from the Rosedale subway station is a great place. It's a pub but has an actual chef work there. Try the sausage of the day. Our last was a Cabernet fennel venison sausage with onion chutney. Served with some crusty bread it was stellar.
                                                    I know you can get oysters in SF however but I'm guessing for the most part they'll be pacific oysters. If you get to an oyster bar here, you'll get to sample some of the best the Atlantic has to offer. I'd especially recomend our malpeques. Not overly big but so good.

                                                    Also, if your into such things. Duff's famous wings on Bayview, south of Eglinton will give you authentic Buffalo style chicken wings. Nothing like the Buffalo Wild Wing's of the world. As good as anything this side of Niagara Falls. Don't settle for places like St. Louis B&G or places like that, they serve chicken wings, not Buffalo wings.

                                                    If at the Eaton Centre, The Superior across Yonge is quite good. Fantastic wine selection with it.

                                                    St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday is an absolute must. I will disagree with the above posting that Carousel has gone down hill. The one thing I will say though is, they crank out the sandwiches and if it slows down, they'll sit and the bacon will get a bit on the dry side. Since I'm sure you don't get peameal bacon, you pretty much have to try one. Ask for it fresh if it looks like it's not busy.
                                                    If you like mustard, there's a place that sells hand made mustards. Plenty of varieties and samples to choose from.
                                                    While walking around, grab yourself some "Pepperettes" or othe small cured sausages to keep you going.
                                                    Moustachio's, downstairs has great lunch sandwiches as well.
                                                    Caviar direct has some nice stuff as well. We splurged on day and bought some whitefish caviar and it was pretty good. Our first real experience. We liked it. If I'm not mistaken, it comes from whitefish from Lake Erie.

                                                    Above all else, I can't tell you enough how much you should try some of our wines produced in Niagara. Coming from a wine region yourself, it would be a nice contrast.

                                                    Enjoy your trip.

                                                    1. I just have to chime in for roti at Gandhi. It's east Indian curry as opposed to west Indian curry that most folks have been talking about in this thread. Roti is just not easy to find in the States, particularly SF. I have a friend there who despairs of ever finding roti in the Bay area.

                                                      Gandhi is on the north side of Queen, about 10 storefronts east of Bathurst.

                                                      1. Robert, which area are you staying in, and are you going to be driving around? For Jamaican, Albert's is a staple. I'd recommend trying both the small goat curry and a small oxtail on peas n' rice. If you're at the St. Clair location, there's an excellent marinated beef heart appetizer at this Peruvian place called El Fogon right across the street. Tashkent...the lamb plov is hearty, greasy and delicious, but as for the rest I wouldn't go too far out of my way to get there.

                                                        Oh! On Eglinton West between Bathurst and Allen Road are both Sado Sushi and Boujadi, also directly across from one another. Perhaps we can have some sort of resolution to this J. Kates madness!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                          Island Foods on Don Mills south of York Mills is my choice for Caribbean food. You can actually sit down at that place.
                                                          Mr. Jerk in the peanut is excellent as well although you need to find somewhere to eat it.


                                                        2. Having move to Toronto from San Francisco, I can offer some guidance. Toronto doesn't compare to SF for restaurants as a rule. Avoid Chinese. There isn't anything in Toronto that matches the better San Francisco places. You can find 5 better places in downtown Mountain View than than in all of Toronto. Lah Wah Heen dim sum gets raves. I've never had it but I did have a regular meal there and it was poor. I'm also not impressed with Jamie Kennedy. He gets highly overrated here because he has name value. I'd go Jamaican, because it's the one thing that is realtively big here that you can't really get at home.

                                                          BTW Peameal bacon at St. Lawrence market is good idea - it's about the most Toronto thing you can do here

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: wordsworth

                                                            Have you had chinese outside of chinatown? I find it annoying when folks bash Chinese in Toronto and they're mainly downtowners that refuse to travel to the burbs.

                                                            Just like in SF, all the best Chinese food is in the burbs.

                                                            1. re: aser

                                                              I agree that the best restaurants are north of the 401. But let me know when you find a decent Hunan or Nanking restaurant in Toronto. Then maybe I'll consider changing my opinion.

                                                          2. Can you get horsemeat in SF? Here's a thread about it:


                                                            1. i've been trying to decide if i should weigh in here.... i haven't been to SF so i can't speak for the differences, but the general impression i get would be that while St. Lawrence market is an experience in upon itself, it does not compare to many of the markets in the US. just going through Reading Terminal Market in Philly proved that to me it's a whole different kettle of fish. however, you may still enjoy it but be rather unimpressed with the farmer's market. i would personally veto carousel and go to the peameal bacon corner for the take-out part of paddingtons. carousel has been incredibly disappointing with old cold meat sitting out and simply slapped onto a bun with any disregard to mustard and other condiments. freshly fried up is MUCH better.

                                                              while you're at st lawrence, rather than alex farms... go to the cheese shop that begins with an s or sp and check out their wares and talk to the people. they have a large ham shaver out front usually. test out a few quebec cheeses (they'll gladly rip open a package for you to sample a sliver) and see if there's anything you might be interested in taking back. they're incredibly helpful and passionate abotu what they do, i had an amazing medium blue in philly (non gorgonzola) and was talkign to them about it and they want me to run back to them once i get a name so they can test it otu themselves. great great guys.

                                                              jamie kennedy, he has name cache, i'll give you that. he's the golden boy of slow and organic food in toronto but to say that he properly lives up to that is debated. i've always enjoyed his food but i've also never approached it as upscale to any degree. it's comfortable, it's homey, it's tasty although sometimes overly salty. it's simple paired down slow food as you may like it and i think you'll enjoy it and might as well take the time out to sit at the chef bar and chat it up with one of the cooks. i personally think the wine list is geared towards a specific type of palette than i am used to. many of the choices the sommelier makes are different than some others would, but i still enjoy them... coming from california you may balk at our pricing as well. check out the wall of preserves, they come straight from his own monitored organic farm digs. and if you're looking to break into bottles of wine, ask for the proper wine list.. it is extensive.

                                                              as a warning, you will unlikely find poutine in toronto that truly rivals montreal.. so if you get a chance to hop on over there you'll ahve your pick of multitudes of options that serve poutine or revolve their entire business around it.

                                                              jamaican/west indian, etc... i think this is what you need to eat. someone else mentioned how roti is just not available on that side of the continent and i highly suggest that you eat some. skip the oft mentioned ghandi, it seems to be east indian cooking in a west indian guise and try something different. i personally haven't found one that i've completely fallen in love with, although i admit i haven't looked too hard, but you can get suggestions from others. if you can make it out to greenwood and gerrard east, get your doubles from d&d trini style and you will never regret it. greasy seemingly, they are delicious with the right amount of chewiness, flavour, channa mush and heat. great great great, it's hard to go back.

                                                              chinese food. i don't think it's worth your time unless you can make it out east to scarborough or north towards markham. i guess i just don't believe that with our demographics it's such an easy thing to write off.

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                Scheffer's <<-- I think that is the place with the ham out front, they are terrific guys in there. Have you tried that Italian butter they carry?

                                                                1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                  no.... but now i will! thanks!

                                                                  i'm currently addicted to the french stuff i brought back from a trader joes.

                                                                  any idea what the quality of their little black truffles are by the cash? looking to infuse my own oil at some point and i'm not quite sure what i should look for in real truffles as my experience has been limited to restaurants and oils i've been testing out.

                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                    no idea on the truffles -- I was oogling them yesterday. honestly, I'm a tad suspicious of those bottled truffles but I guess they can't be worse than the already-infused truffle oil (can they?)

                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                      I tried to make truffle salt with the bottled truffles but they lack the intensity of the fresh truffle. But how I love the truffle cheese at Scheffer's, with visible hunks of truffle. Scheffer's is a great store, their 2 year old proscuitto is amazing and they are always so helpful.

                                                                      1. re: Mila

                                                                        Got some 3 year proscuitto this weekend! Melt in your mouth amazing.

                                                                      2. re: pinstripeprincess


                                                                        I was there at Scheffer's on Friday and had the hot hungarian csabbi. It was fantastic. I love the sausages they have out front. They had a Quebec made sausage that I can't think of the name of that was incredible. It's on my list to get next trip down.


                                                                    2. re: DerekJeter

                                                                      Another thing I'd buy to take back is the Anybody the English version of the Au Pied de Cochon book--anybody seen that around Toronto?

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        It's available at The Cookbook Store (www.cook-book.com) on Yonge St., corner of Yorkville Ave.

                                                                        I'd strongly advise you to call ahead to reserve a copy. It's a very hot commodity.

                                                                        Better still, follow pinstripeprincess's recommendation and head to Montreal for a few days, sampling poutine and other goodies. Go to Au Pied de Cochon and try their foie gras poutine, among other exceptional creations and, while you're there, pick up a copy of the book. That's where I got my copy, back in November (and I paid $60, which is cheaper than it's sold elsewhere).

                                                                      2. re: DerekJeter

                                                                        i was just in the oakwood and eglinton area a couple nights ago and HIGHLY suggest this area for west indies/jamaican/caribbean etc. the population there is dense with the culture, nearly just alternating between barbershops and jerk places. at 9pm into the night several places still had large drum bbqs going in front of their shops to cook up their fresh jerk chicken. you can also taste one of the oft raved about patties here, randy's, and do a taste test between them and caribbean queen. though i personally love the caribbean queen (open until 11pm!) because of it's loads of meat and great spicing... i would consider randy's to be more stew-esque with a lot of onion and saucing.

                                                                        as i can't say which place would be the best to get your fix, a number of them offer interesting dishes (pepper shrimp, goat stews, etc) and you might want to just drop into a stretch of them side by side and figure out which ones have the more unique dishes you're looking for. hope you have a car!

                                                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                          Finally a second person to expose Carousel!!! Can't believe its just the two of us. It is one place that I get to taste time to time even though I hate it - because co-worker likes it - and each time I shake my head at the dried out bland slices on an average kaiser. A number of years ago it was worth driving across town for.

                                                                          Get *real* BB at The Drake. Insomnia serves excellent BB. Even Georges diner serves better BB than carousel. Been a couple years but Tarro used to grill awesome BB. I always get a slice of BB with my burger at Shanghai and although I havent eaten it solo, it adds excellence to the already excellent burger. For a hammier BB, not cornmeal traditional try the slabs at Gladstone.

                                                                        2. Lai Wah Heen is great, especially if you're staying in the downtown area. If you're going to try poutine (which you MUST if you're in Canada) hit the blue truck in front of City Hall. There's also a Tibetan place on Queen you could try out: http://www.toronto.com/restaurants/li.... The Sultan's Tent for French Moroccan is also fun: http://www.toronto.com/restaurants/li.... For West Indian, try Irie on Queen, nice atmosphere, good food: http://www.toronto.com/restaurants/li.... Good luck!

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: laurelmcg

                                                                            Ooh, sorry, have to disagree on the Sultan's Tent. Overpriced and mediocre. Boujadi is much, much better for Moroccan, though it's not convenient to downtown.

                                                                            1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                              Agreed. Sultan's Tent is a tourist trap not a hound destination. Boujadi is better, though not sure if it's worth the trip from downtown on a limited schedule.

                                                                              1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                Totally agree -- not worth a special trip for, but much better than Sultan's Tent! The OP should just skip Moroccan on this trip.

                                                                            2. re: laurelmcg

                                                                              I believe the Tibetan place laurelmcg refers to is Little Tibet. I mentioned it in my earlier post. Very good and unique.

                                                                              1. re: dinin and dishin

                                                                                I haven't been to Little Tibet since it was located on Yorkville Ave. Is it the same menu? It's been years since I was there; I seem to remember some good momo dumplings, but not much else.

                                                                                1. re: FlavoursGal

                                                                                  I was at Little Tibet on Queen West. The momo dumplings, especially the beef, are very good. The vegetarian momos needed more flavour. The lamb curry was also very good.

                                                                                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                                                                                    I never knew them at Yorkville, but I wish I had.
                                                                                    I am a huge fan of the vegetarian momos. I prefer them fried, and they always come with the freshest salad--something most restaurants do poorly for some reason. The owners are great and I often see them at the back table making momos.

                                                                                    I also love the curried lamb with a side of steamed bread, especially on a cold day, and usually start with the steamed soy beans. But enough about me :)
                                                                                    I don't know whether the menu has changed, but the food is still great.

                                                                              2. I'm getting in at 8pm on Monday and staying at the Alexandra Hotel (next to Alexandra Park). A friend from here who has gone to Toronto a lot on business says go to Oyster Boy, which is not far and open till 10 on Mondays. Good advice?

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  depends on what he's suggesting.

                                                                                  the cooked items are typical and overall tasty but not necessarily impressive. i did find the servings good and large.

                                                                                  baked oysters were pretty good with a nice interesting selection of toppings although the oysters themselves are pretty small. i personally enjoyed the one with brie and champagne... very rich. otherwise, fresh oysters you get a great selection since owner (adam) works with the farmers during the summer months and i believe one of the biggest if not the biggest distributor of oysters across canada. however, while it's tasty and all if you go on a night when certain shuckers are behind the bar... they're lazy and careless so sometimes pieces of shell will be spotted around your freshly opened bivalve.

                                                                                  if you're still interested in going to jkwb, they're also open until 11 or 12 and each day of the week.

                                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                    I put JKWB on my list because "Canadian tapas" sounded interesting, but looking at the menu it's a lot like places I go here.

                                                                                    By email I got recommendations of Allan's or Volo for good selections of Ontario wines, but mediocre food, so maybe after dinner.

                                                                                    beerbistro sounds pretty good--not far from where I'm staying and open till 1am.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      that's exactly what i thought... jkwb likely reflects what you have in sf and wont' really be much of an experience in that aspect. what you might enjoy however, is the cheese plate that they offer. it would be unique simply because they tend to source their cheeses only from ontario and sometimes quebec. they're quite nice and likely will be different especially from the raw-milk aspect. quebec cheeses are absolutely lovely.

                                                                                      i'm not sure if you've seen the website for volo ( http://barvolo.com/ ) their primary focus is of course beer but much of it should be available to you in sf, short of possibly some east coasters. you'll notice a massive mark-up however... rogues at about $30/bottle. considering i really enjoy some of the us microbrews and tend to go here for that alone.. i don't know if you'll get anything unique. the long list of ever changing beers can of couse be quickly scanned. stay away from the food.... the pasta is passable at best but otherwise it's really quite terrible.

                                                                                      wine... they do have only ontario wines and have expanded quite a bit since i last checked. there are a few that i might suggest you look at specifically because i dont' believe you could pick them up at one of our LCBOs which are the only places that can handle any alcohol. namely : thirteenth street, tawse, stratus (wildass is their second label), lailey, cilento.... not sure if other hounds have suggestions. apparently you can't go wrong with the malivoire lady bug cabfranc if you like roses... i haven't had the opportunity to try it yet and am dying to. there's a short but varied list of sweet wines you might want to test out as well, the newest cache seems to be the red ones that i find are all strawberries on the palette and quite incredibly nice.

                                                                                      beer bistro has a much louder boistrous atmosphere due to their half resto/bar split and the rather high ceilings with little soundproofing. i find the food good-great for their price range and their recent cheesecake (not baked) sent me swooning. stay away from the items that are too experimental or upscale gone wrong (ie. lobster quesadillas) and you should be more than fine. great huge amount of frites. oh! and if you're on your own, there's a bar ledge by the side of the kitchen that you may want to book for a little extra entertainment. beware that it's in the hallway to the bathroom.

                                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                        Volo's wine list may be a little difficult for the unfamiliar to navigate. Either you've experienced Ontario wines or you rely on a server who may not have the ability to properly food match. While a good suggestion for other places with knowledgeable sommeliers, I don't know if the uninitiated would have the best time. I do love some Ontario wineries, though, especially the still indie Malivoire.

                                                                                        Many independent Ontario wineries are now, and to my great dismay, being bought up by Andres. This is a nightmare to anyone who can remember (eeesh) Baby Duck. Don't forget their other fine lines such as Hochtaler & Domaine D'Or. Baby's first hangover specialists.

                                                                                        Andres' now owns Colona, Hillebrand, Peller, Red Rooster, Sandhill (makes me nearly weep, she's a wonderful winemaker), Thirty Bench, Trius, Vineland Estates (could the end of the ever improving cab sauv nigh?). I've put all of these on my 'approach with caution' list. Last step before 'avoid'.

                                                                                        BTW Wildass is a very definite avoid. Tried twice, failed twice. With a name like Wildass, what was I expecting anyway?

                                                                                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                      I haven't been, but I hear some prefer Starfish on Adelaide - any opinions on Starfish?

                                                                                      1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                        when i'm in the mood for a slightly more upscale place, starfish is my go to for oysters and seafood... the problem there becomes that the only way to get any good service is to sit at the bar and be served directly by patrick, otherwise it can be a bit slow and inattentive.

                                                                                        all items are fresh and wonderful, although i can find some cooked mains a little over sauced, really loved the chowder the last time i was there. he usually tends to carry more than the usual east coaster canadian stuff and so i get my fix of belons and fin de claires from him. never encountered broken shell either and so my preference lies here. admittedly he now recognizes me and i've partaken in some beer, sparkling roses and a couple extra oysters just because i was eyeing them so much.

                                                                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                          Thanks, sounds like I need an oyster education!

                                                                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                            speaking of which, oysterboy does a shucking class which is really informative and fun but you only get to put back malpeques (18 of them) and they're not my favourite... i really enjoy rich creamy melon and metal in mine. the course is $40.

                                                                                            maybe we should do oysters for a meet-up sometime.

                                                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                              that sounds like fun, I've had oysters before but I have no idea what kinds are which, but I'd like to find out!

                                                                                    3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      I'd definitely recommend Oyster Boy. It's not one of those big over trendy kinda places - its a nice cozy style place with character. It's a great place to start off and then you can head down the street to Social or the Drake for drinks afterwards. here's a bit more info on my blog about it.

                                                                                    4. How about Liban? I don't find any reports, just one unanswered query.


                                                                                      1. Liban on Church? It is horrible. Never eat in gay ghettoes (I say this as a gay man, one of the few whose taste is not horrible). They cannot even get hummous right there. Not even close. Stay away.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                          is it still there? that location has more turnover than almost any on Yonge St.

                                                                                          1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                            Has anyone been to le petit liban near keg mansion?


                                                                                          2. re: John Manzo

                                                                                            I think I remember reading a few days ago in Toronto Life (maybe, ???) that this restaurant was taken over by Oprah's (again ???) personal chef and is serving great food now.

                                                                                            All these ??? are surely a sign I'm getting old and the memory is going quick. If anyone else read anything this post surely needs some confirmation.

                                                                                            1. re: Mila

                                                                                              Found the article.... Now Magazine

                                                                                              – Fuzion Resto-Lounge & Garden

                                                                                              (Another sign of age... Answering your own questions)

                                                                                          3. Hi:

                                                                                            I am not sure if you have gone yet, but just a few suggestions. Splendido is lovely and puts things like Pigeon and Rabbit on the menu. However, right across the street is Messis and it is special too. It's a training ground so to speak for young chefs and you get great value. Wine is extensive and whenever they have lamb on the menu it is fantastic. For Carribean, The Real Jerk on Queen East. The area of town is not the greatest but the food is wonderful. If you have time to make it to the Danforth (Between Broadview and Pape) you will not be disappointed. Traditionally known as Greek town however it has evolved to be very eccelctic. I recomment the Silk Road, Shee Ree Punjab and Lolita's Lust. For Greek, Pan is great but really so is any little place. The simple flavours of lemon and garlic make for great taste where ever you go.

                                                                                            Above all enjoy!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: grapeseedoil

                                                                                              Lemon (from the bottle), garlic, and above all, salt.


                                                                                              1. re: grapeseedoil

                                                                                                Pan used to be good and reliable, but beware the new owner. She sort of dresses and looks like Charo (not that there is anything wrong with that), but she douses herself in soooo much perfume that it ruins the food. You can barely taste the food when she is within 20 feet. I think I'll save this one for summer when you can get a table that is upwind of the main restaurant and the owner.

                                                                                              2. I know what you mean about Pan and the owner you mention (I didn't actually know she was the owner). I actually think she just adds to the amusement and she seems genuine so it's hard not to like her!

                                                                                                1. OK, you HAVE HAVE HAVE to go to my all-time favourite restaurant in Toronto, it's called The Rosebud, on the south-west corner of Queen and Bathurst (just next to the Pizza Pizza and the Queenshead pub). It's tiny but amazing and chef Rodney is this big, funny Newfie who walks around and chats to you at the end of the night. Fantastic bistro food in a cozy environment and not too pricey. Definitely get the ribs (he kicks Phil's BBQ's ass), or, if you're not into that, the kobe beef steak. Also, if you're into Indian, you MUST get the butter chicken roti at Ghandi, which is on the north side of Queen, just east of Bathurst. It's only got 5 tables and is super grungy inside so just get takeout, but it's the best best best butter chicken in the T.dot. I think Splendido and Starfish are both too expensive, and St. Clair West and Dupont are ugly.

                                                                                                  1. this place has been getting great ratings for caribbean, but i haven't been
                                                                                                    soul food @ lansdowne