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First Timers To Toronto

Hey Everyone,
I have a group of us coming up to Toronto this weekend for the first time and we are looking for some restaurants with the following criteria:

Moderately Priced Food
Vegetarian Options
Good Atmosphere
Vast Menu
Near Bad Dog Theater (on Danforth), Second City Theater, Blue Jays Park, and the University.

Any advice would be appreciated, we are coming from Chicago tonight and will be there tomorrow, saturday and sunday.

This group loves brunch, sit down dinners and happy hours. Thank you

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  1. I believe Second City is on Queen Street or King Street. One option that has met with mixed reviews on this board but I believe is a very 'Toronto-esque' experience is Lee. It's the budgte way to sample the cuisine of one of our city's top chefs - Susur Lee. The atmosphere is great and there are plenty of vegetarian options. One place that is worth a bit of a trek is JK Wine Bar. Both of these places operate on a small plates system.

    Check out the Annex and Kensington Market, if you have time. Both of these these neighbourhoods have something uniquely Torontonian about them and offer plenty of options to choose from. They're within walking distance of the University of Toronto.

    I hope you have a great time in our city!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      It is always crowded at Lee. Got to be careful on choosing the dishes at Lee though. The tofu and pork chop are really bad. I am not sure if they made their own tofu, it is not smooth at all, or maybe it is a different kind?!...not really sure.

      But just a note that Susur (the one next to Lee) is great IMO.

      1. re: Yum2MyTum

        Sounds like fun. I highly suggest Allens when going to Bad Dog; its across the street. Great beers, burgers, fries and mix of diner and pub fare. They have a fantastic grilled veggie platter!

        Somewhat near Second City - I agree with Queen Mother and the Rivoli is very cool too where you can also shoot pool upstairs. As mentioned they have varying entertainment both in the back and upstairs.

        Annex wise (UofT area) I would agree that Insomnia is always good and usually interesting, people wise. It is also a great Brunch place.

        Have fun!

      2. You can find some good brunch suggestions on this thread -

        The Globe Bistro, right by Bad Dog Theatre, gets consisently good reviews on this board.


        Have fun!

        124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

        1. You won't find much near the Bad Dog Theatre that has a vast menu... the multi-page something-for-everything menus are usually a chain-restaurant thing, while the Danforth tends to be mostly mom-and-pop operations and larger independents.

          Your best bet would be to walk the Danforth between Broadview and Pape to pick which restaurant best suits everyone's tastes - they're plentiful, and cover everything from Greek to Thai to Cuban to Japanese to haute cuisine to greasy spoon and back again (mostly Greek, tho).

          A few recent posts about the Danforth or specific restaurants on Danforth:

          1. Are you comedy tourists or comics? Speaks to budget...

            1. Hey thank you all for your help on this. We have two vegetarians in the group and most of us love the pub grub and local fare that our city has to offer. We will mostly be in the University Area, going to the Blue Jays game, the Track, and both theaters for the Improv Festival. We are looking to have a nice sit down dinner on Saturday before our show at the Bad Dog and then looking for places to hang out and enjoy the city. I am the only one who has been here and I think the city is just amazing, it will be nice to get out of Chicago and see Toronto, enjoy the comedy and the food. Thank you all

              5 Replies
              1. re: lincolnparkgator

                funny, i feel the opposite! my best fine dining experience thus far was in chicago.

                anyhow, by loving the pub grub does this also mean that you're big into beer?

                stay away from the firkin! it's just a gigantic chain that by no means is a good representation of pubs in toronto.

                1. re: lincolnparkgator

                  Definitely agree about hanging out in Kensington Market and Annex areas. I would stay away from the touristy/chain spots near Second City and the Blue Jays venue (Rogers Centre). If you need to eat around that area, it might be better to go up to Queen Street (east of Spadina) and hit something like the Queen Mother Cafe or Rivoli for the atmosphere (which hosts a couple of sketch comedy nights BTW) - they are Toronto landmarks! Can't help you with the Danforth area, but in the Annex (University area), my fave brunch is at Insomnia and I've had good veggie dinner food at By the Way Cafe - lots of veggie and other selections and they have brunch too, I think, tho I've never tried it.

                  1. re: n10sity

                    Yes! By the Way Cafe is an excellent suggestion. Good food and atmosphere, nice service, reasonable pricing.


                    By The Way
                    400 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1X5, CA

                    1. re: JamieK

                      i always get my parents to take me here when they're in town!

                  2. re: lincolnparkgator

                    About 50 feet to the west of Bad Dog is Globe Bistro. It's pretty good.

                    I was in Chicago 6 weeks back and loved the restaurants. We had a great time there, and the waterfront is so much better than Toronto's.

                  3. Another suggestion for a pub, close to the university, is the Duke of York at Bedford and Prince Arthur, steps from St. George subway station. Decent pub fare, good atmosphere and wide selection of beers.


                    Duke Of York
                    39 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1B2, CA

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JamieK

                      Or across the street from the Duke is the Bedford Academy. Always a fun place.

                    2. ok, combining the brunch and happy hour concept, please try the Hair of The Dog pub. Church, just north of College. Great brunch cocktails by the pitcher. And vegetarian options. It's got a nice patio for just chillin' and the patrons are laid back and neighborly.

                      1. Susar Lee is hardly moderately priced. I would definitely suggest the Queen Mother on Queen St. West. It's only a 10 minute walk to the Skydome (or Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays play) or 5 minutes to the Second City Theatre. It is something uniquely Torontonian and has a lot of vegetarian options. Harbord Street has some good choices, too. The Boulevard Cafe comes to mind. And Markham Street, a block west of Bathurst St., south of Bloor in the university Annex area has The Butler's Pantry and Southern Comfort, both with veg options. If you have time, check out the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday morning and try to get to Kensington Market. Have fun! We were in Chicago last summer. What a fabulous city! Our politicians should take notes on how it's done.

                        1. Not certain where Bad Dog on the Danforth is, but 1270-ish on Danforth is a great family-style Italian place called Quattro Ragazze, which is a fun, unpretentious place, and very affordable. If BDT is near Globe, take a cab to 4 Ragazze - Globe is good, but not inexpensive. In Kensington Market, I'd say Toro (a tapas place), Teranga (Senegalese - good, but not so good for vegetarians), or if you're willing to spend a bit more, a good bistro is La Palette. Mercurio at Bloor and St George (the University) is a very nice pizza and bistretto sort of place. Generally, places with a "vast menu" aren't very good. Small menu usually = more attention to the product.

                          1. One other suggestion for you. If it's a nice night after Second City, head up to the roof top patio at Gretzky's for a few drinks.
                            Unfortunately, unless the weather changes, it may be a tad cool.