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Casual Toronto Dinner Recommendation for six?

I'm in Toronto for a one night only at the end of the month -- rental car and staying near Pearson, but willing (more likely, eager) to drive into downtown -- with a moderately generous expense account available with group of six or so looking for great food and a fun, casual, not too noisy atmosphere -- where do you recommend?

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  1. I find that fun, casual AND not too noisy is tough to find. Esp. the latter.
    Where are you visiting from?
    What night are you in town?
    That will make a difference as to the recommendations, as a lot of restos are closed on Monday nights.
    Depending on the night, I might suggest somewhere in the Distillery District.

    2 Replies
    1. re: thenurse

      Tough to find -- agreed -- that's exactly why I post the inquiry on chowhound -- this is where the experts are - -

      I am visiting from Boston and it will be a Tuesday night. I have been to Pearson a number of times over the past two years and found nothing memorable in terms of food -- thus the rental car this time. I have NOT been to downtown Toronto at all, so specific location details will be a big help.

      Great, houndish food (not the usual expense account locales) is definitely the highest priority, but casual is also important as the group (of 30- and 40- somethings age-wise) doesn't include fine dining types (or budgets) -- not too noisy may not happen, but if it's possible, we'd like to have a conversation during dinner.

      Thanks!

      1. re: rlh

        Forget my rec of the D-District then - not houndish food, but depending on the night of the week, a cool, historic place with a great atmosphere to visit with lots of choice for mediocre food (other than Brick St. Bakery, the awesome crepe place and soma chocolate - all 'take-out' style).

        I've been sitting here for 20 mins trying to think of a place that meets your requirements, and is *relatively* easy to get to. Here's one, I'll try and think of more.

        BeerBistro - www.beerbistro.com. It's right downtown so you can walk a few blocks in any direction and see a little bit of downtown Toronto. Check the website for directions and/or mapquest it.

        Wherever you go, consider traffic and parking. Both can be a pain in the a$$ at times. Parking on King might not be that difficult in the early evening, but anything can happen with traffic.

    2. 1. What about the Drake Hotel?
      It's quite uniquely Toronto, close-ish to highway access, good for 30-40-somethings... perhaps ever-so-slightly Beehive-ish (to make a Boston comparison)?? Although I'm not sure how the food is these days... anyone?
      www.thedrakehotel.ca

      PS - I agree with thenurse... while this shouldn't be a tough request, I struggled with finding suitable options (I'll keep thinking... )

      4 Replies
      1. re: Rabbit

        I thought of the Drake a couple of times, but here is why I didn't mention it. (Keep in mind that I used to work across the street and have been many, many times, mostly for lunch):
        1. service is VERY inconsistent and often slow
        2. I think the price is steep for what you get, in most cases
        3. I would describe it as more 'hip' than 'casual', although it is pretty casual
        4. it's noisy, always.
        5. the food is also inconsistent, rarely great (IMO).

        1. re: thenurse

          How about Gio's on Queen. The food is always good, service is great and its definitely fun and casual. Sometimes it can get a little nosy but that's usually at the end of the night. We've always had good meals there and very reasonably priced.

          1. re: millygirl

            "Nosy"? An apt Freudian slip when describing Gio's, that's for sure. :)

            (For the benefit of the out-of-towner, the sign for Gio Rana's at Queen/Leslie is a very large nose)

      2. I think Gianni Maria on St Clair W at Arlington would suit you very well - be sure you enjoy the Ravioi Piedmontese. Maria will fuss over you, there is a very reasonably-priced wine selection and you will enoy homestyle cooking in a low-key atmosphere.

        Further up the scale, Batifole, for French bistro with flair; also French bistro but with a more bohemian atmosphere and casual, less "correct" service (as the French say), La Palette.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bigtigger

          I, like others, have been breaking my brain trying to think of a spot. How about Czehoski?

          1. re: robgm

            Don't break your brain -- you might need it later! ;)

            Fun, casual and not too noisy... Blowfish? (OK, on the noisy side later in the evening.) Japanese fusion - great maki rolls.

            Big Ragu? Checkered-tablecloth Italian. Traditional, hearty and generous.

            -----
            Blowfish
            668 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M7, CA

            Big Ragu
            1338 Lansdowne Ave, Toronto, ON M6H3Z8, CA

        2. There's also 7 Numbers, either on the Danforth or Eglinton:

          http://www.sevennumbers.com/

          It's been mentioned several times on this board: good food in a fun and casual (and somewhat, but not overly loud) atmosphere. It has upscale(ish) food in a non-fussy setting. Service is usually very friendly, too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: thought_for_food

            7 Numbers makes me think of Terroni, either the St. Clair or Queen W location - good food, lots of foodie and non-foodie options, great atmosphere and patio optional, but the snag is they don't usually take reservations...you could call since you're a group, tho.

            -----
            Terroni
            720 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1E8, CA

            Terroni
            1 Balmoral Ave, Toronto, ON M4V3B9, CA

          2. This is really great -- thanks for all of the thoughtful responses.

            For the record, this request would be a challenge in Boston as well (I haven't been to Beehive but need to soon -- given this request here, I'd probably recommend Silvertone early for dinner but after happy hour subsides, or maybe head to the B Side Lounge or Christopher's in Cambridge -- if there were suburban tolerance in the group, I'd choose Za in Arlington, hands down).

            I'll report back on our choice following the late August visit. Thanks again.!