If you had never eaten in Toronto before...
Where would you go?
My wife and I are coming to the fine city of toronto next month. She has never been, I was there about 10 years ago. We are staying at the Intercontinetal, but have a car and do not fear going out an about for food.
We are not looking for the hippest, newest etc. We would like to try restaurants that exemplify eating in Toronto. They can be cheap, expensive whatever. It does not matter if they are tried and true, as long as they are good for what they are.
If they are in cool neighborhoods that is a nice bonus.
Great food + cool neighbourhood = Perigee in the Distillery District.
Depending on the time of your reservation, it's sometimes a good idea to go early and check out all the galleries/shops beforehand.
The only off-putting thing (for me) is that they're putting up a big condo/loft building right at the distillery... but it's still worthwhile to check out.
Visit the St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday and have a peameal bacon sandwich
JK Wine Bar, walk around the above mentioned neighborhood.
Canoe... great view of the Toronto Islands
Rectory Cafe - on the Toronto Island... can take the Ferry across, always a highlight for tourists (skip the CN tower).
Kensington Market - have a walk through and eat at any of the cafes and small restaurants.
In addition to this list, I would add that you try Koreatown restaurants on Bloor West and Jamaican (Albert's) on St. Clair West. Also, Portuguese on Dundas W.
For a reliably good and reasonably priced lunch, I like Pomegranate and ViVetha in the Beaches on Queen East. Pomegranate is at Queen and Beech and ViVetha is several blocks east on the south side. Then, if it's nice out, you can go for a walk on the boardwalk.
You beat me to the peameal on a bun suggestion. Canoe is excellant also. I had a nice dinner at the CN tower about 9 months ago, but it was way more expensive than it needed to be. Watching a Jays game from the Hard Rock Cafe used to be a lot of fun, if there's a game corresponding with your visit. (just so so food, but it's better than stadium food).
Scaramouche has been around a long time, but was excellant a few months ago.
Contemporary/fusion: Tomi Kro (Queen St. East)
Greek seafood: Pantheon (Danforth/Chester)
Hole-in-the-wall Tunisian (no alcohol): Djerba (Danforth/Coxwell)
Cheap Downtown Thai (instead of eating at the food court in the Eaton Centre): Salad King
Unpretentious Italian: Grappa (College St. in Little Italy) or Balladini’s (Queen St. East, Leslieville)
Toronto is best for its neighbourhoods. I recommend going to a neighbourhood or stretch of city, then choosing any restaurant that looks good to you. You'd be surprised at the number of good restaurants here. Various places:
1) Danforth Avenue between Broadview and Pape -- lots of Greek restaurants here, many of them been here for a long time. You can find higher end or lower end (read: cheap ) Greek food.
2) Baldwin Avenue between McCaul and St. George St -- a large variety of small restaurants -- diverse ethnicity (Continental to Chinese) -- generally reasonably-priced
3) Yonge St between Davisville and Lawrence -- this isn't really a neighbourhood stroll per se (too much distance), but there are lots of good upper-scale restaurants along this area like Herbs, Quince and La Vecchia
4) St. Lawrence Market -- as already recommended -- get a veal and eggplant sandwich at Mustachio's downstairs -- you'll recognize it from the long line-up
You can search Chowhound for specific recommendations. Just plug in the street names. What I found unique about Toronto is that you don't have to be an insider in order to find a decent restaurant. They cluster together, and you can find them just by walking by.
I would also add Little Italy on College between Bathurst and Ossington. I would recommend a coffee stop in Kalendar, maybe look at the great houses on Palmerston with the beautiful street lamps.
Would highly recommend Julie's Cuban if the weather is warm enough to eat on the patio. A beautiful spot. Dovercourt, south of Dundas.
Boulevard Cafe for Peruvian cuisine in a neat neighbourhood. Harbord, west of Spadina.
Okay here would be my top picks
Cafe Doria for lunch. Great pizza's, panini's, salad, soup that kinda fare in a great area.
Yonge and Rosedale area. Definitely Scaramouche for dinner...one of the top 5 in the city. Romantic and elegant. Great view of the city to boot. Mistura is also fabulous - Avenue Road and Davenport, You could then go upstairs to Sopra to hear some live jazz. One other place I would recommend is astis for dinner - again Yonge and Rosedale area. Very nice bistro food. Enjoy!!! Let us know where you ended up.