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Boston Hound in Toronto

Hi, there --

I'm visiting your fair city for the first time next week (will be there 3 nights), and I was hoping for some guidance. I've done some searching on the boards but am having a hard time parsing out the options.

I'm traveling for work and budget is limited, so I'm looking for casual fare. From perusing the board, it seems like I'd have good experiences with Dim Sum, Caribbean, and Vietnamese -- any specific suggestions would be very welcome.

I'm travelling alone and am staying near Union Station.

Thanks for your help! Can't wait to explore ...

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  1. Welcome!
    Here are a couple of pure tourist suggestions: Kensington Market is a couple of subway stops from you, and offers much in the way of interesting casual food. El Trompo for really good mexican street food (indoor with liquor license); Torito for good tapas, or you could pick up an empanada from one of the vendors.

    You're also fairly near the Distillery District, which is visually fun, and has many interesting shops and galleries. From a food perspective, there is a creperie in one of the buildings that does many interesting flavours (from desserts to pulled pork). There is also a brew pub called Mill Street which has a fairly standard menu. A must is Soma Chocolates, for gelato, or for fantastic spicy mayan hot chocolate. Enjoy!

    1. well, youre in city central .. so chinatown for vietnamese. if you know the intersection of dundas and spadina, along both streets is the chinatown core. you'll find tonnes of vietnamese there. i personally like Xe Lua (the one with the train in its logo), and the green place beside Xe Lua (south of it, i forget the name) is good too - its run by vietnamese. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: jennjen18

        Xe Lua! Get a pint of beer for sub $3. A miracle in this city.

      2. Hi -- try The Real Jerk on Queen St. E for Caribbean food. Here's their site: http://toronto.ibegin.com/restaurants...
        Hop the Queen St. streetcar going east. For dim sum and Vietnamese, stroll west along Queen till you hit Spadina, then turn right or north and you will see lots of both kinds between Queen and College. Here's another fun, inexpensive, idea: walk west on Queen's north side past St. Patrick St. to a little street called St. Patrick Square. Past it is St. Patrick's Market, which is now given over to take-out food stalls, including a good falafel joint and a good Indian place that sells a wonderful version of that mango-yogurt drink the name of which I can never recall. Take your food out the back door and eat on a bench in St. Patrick's Market Square, which is quiet, grassy and surrounded by small homes. Actually, Queen West is lined with fabulous restaurants, many affordable. If you walk along Queen west of University, you'll pass tons of places to eat, especially on the north side of the street. Have fun and don't stuff yourself too much!! Boston is a great place for Torontonians to visit -- the seafood...sigh...

        1. I agree that visiting Kensington Market is a must, and I disagree that it's a touristy thing to do. Most afternoons and evenings the place is filled with locals doing some grocery shopping or enjoying a tasty meal.


          2 Replies
          1. re: xtal

            Kensington is not nearly as touristy as the Distillery District. DD is a waste of time IMHO — cute, yes, but its in the middle of nowhere and full of busloads of German tourists with food and prices to match. Just walk up University from your hotel to Queen West (4 blocks), go west across Queen West to Spadina (about 10 blocks), then north on Spadina (4 blocks) to Dundas, and west on Dundas to Kensington (one block) to KM. Chinatown is located around Spadina and Dundas and KM in the neighbourhood just northwest of S&D.

            My picks: On Queen: Queen Mother (pan-Asian), Peter Pan (art deco diner with great $7 pasta/salad lunch special, considerably more expensive at dinner), The Stem (50s greasy spoon with character). In Chinatown: Rol San for Dim Sum, Mother's Dumplings for Northern Chinese dumplings in a basement. In Kensington: Jumbo Empanadas (south American meat pies), Amadeu's for cheap Portuguese on a patio (grilled sardines!), Hibiscus for good vegetarian with an Asian influence, Torito for tapas (dinner-only tho it ain't cheap and doesn't take reservations), and La Palette (funky French bistro with horse on the menu, diner & brunch only)

            And closer to your Hotel: Spices on Temperance Street for Indian and Sandwich Box on Richmond fory great salad & sandwich combos made with quality ingredients for $6 (both lunch only IIRC) and Terroni on Victoria for what many say is Toronto's best pizza.

            For Caribbean, I'd try Fish Shak just west of Bathurst on Dundas (very random hours) and for terrific Vietnamese vegetarian in the new Cafe 668 now at 885 Dundas W.


            1. re: xtal

              Suppose they mean well but half the restaurants listed on that Kensington Market site are long closed.

            2. Since you're close by, check out Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar - lots of positive reviews and experiences provided on this board.
              (ps - btw, my handle is just a coincidence!)

              Jamie Kennedy
              9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA

              1. I agree with others that you should definitely take a walk up Spadina to check out Chinatown and possibly Kensington Market.
                - For Vietnamese, I like Pho Hung, which is in that 'hood. It's a little chaotic and cafeteria-like, but the food is good.
                - For Caribbean, perhaps Irie - (www.iriefoodjoint.com). It's on Queen West, so an interesting walk from your home base, and peppered with all sorts of other great little restos (Terroni for Italian, San for Korean, Fresh for healthy veggie fare... ) - and Irie has a nice atmosphere, so you could hang out and relax.
                - I second the Jamie Kennedy rec if you want to spoil yourself one night. "Canadian" menu pays attention to local and seasonal ingredients... interesting wine offerings... fun place to sit at the bar... and I always find JK surprisingly inexpensive considering the quality of the experience.
                - I second the caution to stay away from the Distillery District. Cute, but in a sanitized, Disney-fied kind of way... nothing geniunely interesting happening here (unless you want to totally blow it out at Perigee.. big $$$).
                - There are about three Indian restaurants at Queen west of University (15ish minute walk from Union), all of which are decent and relatively inexpensive (www.trimurti.ca) - and they are across from the Rex (www.therex.ca), a slightly grime-y jazz bar which is a great place to hang out, have a drink and listen to live music, if that's your thing.

                Hope you enjoy... should have great weather during your stay so I hope you do get some time to explore.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rabbit

                  To expand on Rabbit's post, the three Indian restaurants are Trimurti, Babur, and Little India. The latter is my personal choice, but everyone has their favourites. If you can make it out to Little India for their lunch buffet, it's well worth it.

                2. Thanks for all of the wonderful suggestions!! I'll defintely report back on my experiences. Too bad I'm having a hankering for dim sum, banh mi and empanadas now!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ClippyZ

                    Head to Jumbo Empandas for a Beef Empanada, Corn Pie, or Chilean Salad. (Kensington Market). El Trumpo is also very good.

                    I like Pho Hung the best for a Rare Beef Pho, for a BBQ Pork Bun (Rice Vermacelli) I like Siagon Palace, and for anything else Vietnamese, Xe Lua is pretty good. (All on Spadina).

                    For Chinese, my favorite on Spadina is New Sky (Try the excellent hotpot, which is made with Chinese wine).

                    For Dim Sum, I love Lai Wah Heen, if you don't order shark fin or birds nest, it isn't outrageously expensive. And it is some of the best in North America. Definitely go.

                    Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar is an interesting Canadian spot. Give it a try.

                    For Indian I like Dhaba. The Chicken Kazmeer is unreal.

                    Lai Wah Heen
                    108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                    Jamie Kennedy
                    9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA

                    Jumbo Empanadas
                    245 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L8, CA

                    Pho Hung
                    350 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON , CA

                    Xe Lua
                    254 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2C2, CA

                    Saigon Palace
                    454 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G8, CA

                    Irie Food Joint
                    745 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1G1, CA

                    Fish Shak
                    780 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V1, CA

                    El Trompo
                    277 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2M1, CA