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Toronto Airport Layover Help

I have a five hour layover at the Toronto airport next week - from about 2 to 7 PM. I'll have to deal with customs and then be back well in time for the 7 PM international flight, and I'll have my wife and two kids. Given those restrictions, is there a nice restaurant that serves a mid-day meal anywhere in that vicinity? Ideally, we'd take a cab to the restaurant, eat, and jump in a cab back . . .

How far is the airport from downtown?


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  1. Don't even try to come downtown. The traffic will destroy you if customs doesn't. I have no clue what's around the airport but thats your best bet by far.

    1. You can get as far as Islington and Bloor without stessing yourself: from Islington all the way over to Prince Edward is just one long line of restaurants.What do you want to eat: Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai? or are the kids little enought that you need Swiss Chalet?

      1. I'm not familiar with the area, but if you do a search on "airport" (for example) you will find some previous threads. Your geographic limits will depend on how early you like to arrive for international flights (they do suggest 3 hours, which would leave you with 2 hours to get off the plane, clear customs, travel to restaurant, eat and travel back). I agree downtown is out of the question.

        1. Just along Dixon road are several places that would work well for a family. At Attwell there is an Outback and a Milestones on the south side and on the north side is a Le Bifteque and a Boston Pizza. Just further east in a little plaza near the Toronto Congress Centre is a Kelsey's and Swiss Chalet. There is also a great Japanese place (can't remember the name) in the same plaza, if you are inclined to that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pirade

            Not that I'm condoning eating at Swiss Chalet, but if you want to eat at Swiss Chalet, there's one in Terminal 3, so you could do that without ever leaving the airport--though you might have to take a shuttle to get there.

          2. There is a high end chinese restaurant in doubletree international plaza hotel on dixon road. This is a nice place to relax before a long haul flight plus the food is considered to be very Hong kong authentic.

            1. The possibilities are pretty much endless within a 15 minute cab ride of the airport, but I can't think of anything that's uniquely Canadian and definitely nothing that I would want a visitor to base his opinion of Toronto or Canada on. If you're about to get on an international flight, I would guess that you'd prefer to eat something familiar, so I'm going to answer your question from a logistical, rather than a Chowhound, point of view.

              Based on your original request for a "nice restaurant that serves a mid-day meal", you won't have trouble finding that. There are a number of hotels within walking distance, each with it's own restaurant serving a predictable (if unspectacular) menu. I used to live in the area and have visited most of them (usually for breakfast). If you're short on time, there's a hotel attached to Terminal 3 that has such a restaurant.

              If you want simple and familiar, Golden Griddle is similar to Denny's and right across Airport Road.(I'm sure other Toronto CHs are rolling their eyes at this, but if I was with my kids in an unfamiliar place and under a time constraint, I'd prefer to go with what I know.)

              If you have time and want more of an experience, consider Tucker's Marketplace where you can choose from an ample buffet or have table service. It's on Carling Court near Dixon Road and Highway 27(just minutes away by cab). This will fill you up and run you at least $20/person.

              After eating, if you want to try something uniquely Canadian, go to Tim Horton's. It's as ubiquitous here as Starbucks in the US and they supply the fuel that most Canadians run on. From the donut rack, my favorite is the Blueberry Cheese Danish or (because you're visiting a foreign land) the Canadian Maple which is a custard-filled donut dipped in maple icing.

              If you ever return for a longer visit, I'm sure the local CHs will set you up with a great list of places to try.

              1. julesrules is right. You probably will only have about 2 hours to perform this feat--if all goes well. While airport food prices tend to be steeper, the cost of 2 taxi rides will outweigh the price difference. Even short runs to and from the airport often have higher tariffs (in my experience).

                But if you want to see the outside of the airport for awhile, close by and very reliable and kid-friendly is The Keg--a Canadian chain that specializes in steak/prime rib/burgers etc. It is open mid day, but I am not sure if they serve full menu or just the bar menu at that time. Here is the link.

                Another option is to grab a free shuttle to one of the nearby hotels and eat there, but I can't tell you what is good these days.

                However, if you get delayed and end up staying put, the following links will give you some ideas on spending time in the airport--there are quite a few restaurants. If you are in bus class, the bus lounges are pretty good. Also, Terminal 1 is new and shiny and not at all as depressing as some older airports (like LAX or La Guardia



                (remember that if you pick up any liquid duty free items at your starting location, you will likely be handed it in TO and will have to check it to meet the onboard liquid restrictions. This happened to me on a recent layover in San Fran and we scrambled to find a safe way to pack an expensive liquor purchase--luckily it survived)

                1. If the options were the Keg, Golden Griddle or Milestone's (not saying those are the only options) - all Canadian chains I believe - I would choose Milestones. More non-steak options for the kids (not that kids can't be steak lovers too!). You can search on Milestones or check out their website to get an idea.

                  1. Gievn the criteria, I second Milestone's. I've eaten there a few time and, while far from "chow-worthy", it's a pleasant enough dining experience. Certainly superior to Keg, Golden Griddle or Tucker's Marketplace.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bluedog

                      Completely agree with all of the above.

                    2. I'm going through all of the links, but I greatly appreciate all of the information.

                      So far, I do know that some donuts for the second flight sound like a really good plan.