Los Angeles Hounds Seeking Tips
Hello Toronto board! One of your compatriots, Grandgourmand, just did some stellar hounding in my fair city and left reportage that does your board most proud. I turn to you for advice, as we leave in a few days for a 6 day visit to Toronto. We will be staying in The Annex area. We would love to try the best of Toronto-stuff we can’t get in California. We will be doing restaurant eating but also will have a kitchen so recommendations for special local cookstuffs are welcome too. We are looking forward to exploring, so suggestions need not be confined to our immediate neighborhood and am sure no one will be surprised if we are less than dying for Mexican or Thai. Because we wouldn’t be Angelenos if we didn’t have some food idiosyncrasies, we eat neither shellfish (but adore other fish) nor anything that ever trod upon four legs. We eagerly await your erudite advice!
Your mention of fish and staying in the Annex made me think of Joso's. I haven't been for a while, maybe a year, but I have never been disappointed and have probably eaten there once a year for about 25 years.
The owner has 2 obsessions, cooking fish simply and well and as you will see he also adores boobs.
Check out this post re St. Lawrence Market: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/541253. That should aid you re cookstuffs. You should also check out Kensington Market.
Some good vegetarian (or vegetarian friendly) places are (and in no particular order): Fresh (theres one near the Annex at Spadina and Bloor, but I prefer the location on Queen West at Trinity Bellwoods, for the patio); 93 Harbord in the Annex; Matahari on Baldwin for Malaysian; Le Cafe Vert on Queen East in Leslieville; Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen on the Danforth near Coxwell.
I like Tabla on Yonge south of Lawrence for upscale Indian.
Kensington Market, Koreatown (Bloor around Christie); Little India (Gerrard East); Leslieville (Queen East between approximately Broadview and Leslie), and the Beaches are all fun areas to walk around in and sample local food.
Do you have transportation (or will you be relying on taxi/public transportation).
For example, we have a significant Portuguese population, but access may be tricky (depending on where you are in Annex - some parts are not well served - can you give closest major intersection). Certainly Chiado is the finest Portuguese (but stick with the less-traditional dishes, which are much lighter). Portuguese Churrasco chicken is also highly recommended - but these are again, smaller places with sometimes difficult access.
Fiesta Farms is a great shopping place - but again access may be an issue depending on where you are actually staying. I also expect many recommendations to be posted along Harbord - but same access issue.
The Joso recommendation is good food - but certainly the decor is way out there. Also may be challenging for access and prices are on the 'special occasion' budget.
Daunting as it may be for native L.A.ers, we are dependent on public transportation but not averse to taxis. We are staying near Bernard and Spadina if that makes any difference. Don’t think we’ve any Portuguese in L.A. at all, so that’s a must try. Roti sounds fab too. The boob guy at Joso's just admires from afar right? Not up for any hands on appreciation this trip. Can’t believe the swift and helpful response I’ve had. Thanks so much..
re: Layne Murphy
You're going to be staying a comfortable walking distance from Harbord St., which, between Spadina and Bathurst, has several very good restaurants:
- Harbord Room: bistro-style menu, may be a bit meat heavy for your needs
- Messis: reasonably priced fine dining with a pretty side patio
- 93 Harbord: upscale, Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine
- Boulevard Cafe: casual Peruvian with a great side patio
- Dessert Trends Bistro: casual, airy bistro with some Asian-influences. I particularly recommended it for lunch and brunch
- Splendido: this is a break the bank dinner spot, but if you love fine dining, it doesn't get any better than this. They will happily put together a vegatarian or pescatarian tasting menu for you on request.
I agree - all of these can be walked to in about 20 mins. In particular consider Splendido (think Providence in LA), which is the best fine dining we have to offer (15 mins walk). Chiado is a little tougher (you'd have to change streetcars) - take a cab. And a pile of money - it can get expensive.
Dessert Trends is now DT Bistro Patisserie (same location 20-25 mins - it's the furthest of those listed). And LIVE (which I mentioned earlier is only 5 mins- if you like raw food). Joso's is only 10 mins. Also less than 10 mins is Le Paradis - a French Bistro that's heavier on meat choices but still recommended. Also for breakfast/diner, People's Food on Dupont just west of Davenport is non-greasy. Almost right opposite that (again Dupont just west of Davenport) is Food Depot Supermarket which will be your closest place to shop for provisions (not as good as Fiesta Farms but still good). They feature a fair amount of organic and health foods and are open late.
re: Layne Murphy
Thanks for the props. I had a great time in L.A.
The recommendations so far are good, because they're not as represented in L.A. (i.e. Portuguese and Carribbean). Chiado, I have yet to experience, but from what I've read on this board the best high end Portuguese in North America.
On the Carribbean (i.e. Roti), you should really check that out. I'll refer you to one of the posts on this board:
Many names pop up, but Island Foods is reliable (1182 King Street West). If you want chicken, it's nice, as are the veggie options such as channa (chick peas) or potato. Another is Gandhi Roti, where you can order more interesting veggie fillings, although it's not a true Caribbean place.
Aside from the above, foodie stops should include St. Lawrence Market. There's a farmer's market open only on Saturdays that is nice, but coming from CA, nothing special. However, the main market should be interesting and if you're into cheese, some good choices available.
And Toronto's primary streets have ethnic associations. College St. (not far from the Annex) is Little Italy, which makes for a nice stroll, between Bathurst and Ossignton (get a fish sandwich at the Fish Shop). Also good at night for lounging and drinks. Danforth is Greek Town. another good walking tour. Get off at Broadview subway and walk until it stops amusing you. Sip an Ouzo and eat some mezes. Spadina is Chinatown. Not sure what Chinatown is like in LA, but I've been to SF's and ours is less touristy and more food-focused. Gerrard St. East, that's Little India. It's very interesting, but smaller and less conveniently located (i.e. by public transit).
I could go on, but you'll get plenty of other recommendations. Enjoy your visit.
for fish and and more uniquely toronto, definitely head to chiado on college. high end portugese. known for their excellent fish as well as great wines & service.
if you scan the toronto board you will quickly discover that st. lawrence market is the place to buy ingredients if you'll be cooking at home (it's closed on sundays) and of course kensington market is a must see....lots of great, cheap nibbles in kensington.
I heartily second (third?) the recommendation for Chiado. Spectacularly fresh Atlantic fish flown in from the Azores and Portugal every day and the most amazing Portuguese wine list.
If you like Indian, you can have a wonderful meal at Tabla. I highly recommend the fish xacutti, eggplant bharta, palak paneer and chana masala. Even the rather unorthodox hummous and garlic naan is a pretty tasty way to start the meal.
For Middle Eastern, Tabule has a wonderful fish and vegetarian choices. Whole, fried fish, saucy garlic tomatoes, fried eggplant and the most addictive flash fried cauliflower make a great pescatarian meal. The fattoush salad is great, too.
Both Tabule and Tabla are in midtown/uptown (depending on who you ask!). You can either drive or take the Yonge subway line. Tabule is about 4 blocks south of Eglinton station. Tabla is a bit a longer walk from Lawrence station. If you drive, you should save room for dessert and go to Il Gelatiere or Hollywood Gelato for the best gelatos in the city.
I would be remiss in not recommending that you try roti while you're here. Roti is a curry wrapped in a thin flatbread, sort of an Indian burrito. There are two styles available here: West Indian (primarily Trinidadian) and East Indian. For the latter, Gandhi is the way to go. For the former, Ali's seems to be one of the more popular choices. The good news is that they are both on Queen St. only a kilometer or two apart, so you could get one of each and compare! Both have multiple vegetarian and chicken options. At Gandhi, I recommend getting a chicken and cauliflower roti, spiced medium to medium-hot (unless you have a very high tolerance for spice, in which case you could ask for hot).
ETA: Gandhi is closed on weekends this summer, so plan accordingly. :)