Ethnic Eats in Toronto - What NOT to miss
My family and I are traveling to Toronto in a few days for a week, and we love to find good, authentic, delicious ethnic eats when we travel. Can anyone recommend some good places for us?
We love Indian, any Asian cuisine, Belgian, German, Greek, Italian, South American, Latin American - we're easy to please!
Thanks in advance for making a foodie family quite happy!
Look for a previous thread on good places for pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) It's addictive, you can't pass it up!
You have to check out the Danforth between Broadview and Pape. At the eastern (Pape) end, it's mostly Greek, ranging from cheap 'n cheerful souvlaki joints, to more upscale spots, like Mezes or Ouzeri. As you approach the western end (Broadview), there's a variety, from Indian to Japanese to the venerable Joe Allen's (which many claim makes the best burger in the city). The whole stretch is less than a mile, so it's an easy walk, and it's right on the subway, so it's easy to get to, and you don't have to worry about parking.
PS Avoid Pizza-Pizza, no matter how often you see them or hear their ads.
Centered around Chester station is really the best bet - the Danforth is Toronto's Greektown and although many places lack authenticity there are some gems. I like Avli and Pantheon, which are next door to one another. Mezes is "small plates" Greek and is both fun and one of the better spots on the strip.
Of all the Asian cuisines, Toronto probably does Chinese best - both high end (e.g. Lai Wah Heen) and more affordable (both downtown Chinatown and further afield in Scarborough, Markham, etc.).
A couple other ideas for interesting Toronto food spots: Torito (Spanish tapas) in Kensington, Jaipur Grille or Tabla for Indian. Also visited L'Unita (Italian) recently and it is a very good mid-range spot in a beautiful, intimate room.
In Kensington Market, EL Gordo and I forget the other place across from it on Augusta, for empenadas (Jumbo?). Boulevard Cafe (Harbord) is good Peruvian, and has been around for 20+ years. It has been a few years since I was there, and was pleased, but it wasn't a great bargain, IIRC.
Not on your list, but something one does not see everywhere, Ethiopian. My current favourite is Dukem (950 Danforth) for both quality and variety. Addis Ababa (around 900 Queen W) and Ethiopia House (Irwin St west of Yonge) have their partisans.
There's a lot of Italian in the city, but none of it will absolutely blow you away. A lot of it depends on price range, which is not to say that you get proportionally better for more $$$. Here's a recent thread on which there was lively discussion of things Italian (and other) in Toronto:
and from an LA hound:
Because I'm occasionally in the neighbourhood, I love Quattro Regazze (1752 Danforth) for simple, unpretentious Italian family cooking (literally - a family cooks it). The calamari is greaseless. The artichokes are superb. Go hungry. There are better places, but sometimes you want something more comforting. Higher end places to consider are L'Unita, Mistura, Mia Romagna.
I don't think there is any Belgian (real!) restaurant left, anymore. German... maybe something in the west end. In Scarborough, there is a Swabian club which might satisfy your teutonic cravings:
I haven't eaten there in a very long time, so I can't vouch for it now, in good conscience, but back in the day it was very good, indeed.
Please, report back.
Really, you should stand at any intersection, close your eyes, turn around and point. Try that place. Just kidding, but you really ought to go through this board to narrow down what sounds good to you. Have a great trip.
Some places to search for, not mentioned yet, could be Korean (Bloor St. W. or Yonge and Finch,) Polish (Ronscevalles Av.) Chinese (Scarborough, Agincourt, Markham on Hwy 7,) Balkan (Dundas St.W. and Keele St.,) Japanese (Don Mills,) and Portuguese (Dundas St.W., College St. W.)
If staying at High Park, a few places in your proximity would include: Casa Barcelona (3 subway stops west - get off at Royal York), fairly reliable spanish type tapas - try the beef tenderloin in portebello/shitake sauce, veg paella. Crema on Dundas/Quebec or Cherry Bomb on Roncessvalles south for good espresso (does that count as ethnic?). A little gem on Dundas just south of Bloor and Roncessvales is called the Blue Bay Cafe - Mauritian food, quite tasty and inexpensive, only open on Fri and Sat I think - try their samosas, their noodles (min frire) as well as the fish vindai. As well, on Queen around Landsdowne, there are some decent roti places, I like Ali's and also like their jerk chicken.
Ah! High Park! That puts you in proximity of Poland. Roncesvalles has a concentration of recent Polish immigrants, and they do love their food. My favourite Polish restaurant is Cafe Polonez (pronounced 'polonaise'). It's not much to look at, but it is very good. I don't eat sweets usually, but their apple cake is amazing.
Merlot is a pretty good reliable French bistro at Bloor and Royal York. My only caveat is that it gets busy, and the service suffers as a result.
A place that I've heard good things about, but have yet to visit, is Cru, on Royal York.
Although no one restaurant leaps to mind, a trip to Little India is a very good idea. Hop the College St car from Dundas W station, and it will go through part of Little Portugal, Little Italy, and about 45 minutes later you'll hit Little India, in the 1000s Gerrard E. (If that's confusing, it's because the streetcar makes a turn at Parliament St.)
Which reminds me, no one has mentioned Portuguese food. If you're in the mood to splurge, Chiado is the place to go. http://www.chiadorestaurant.ca/ They also have the best selection of Portuguese wines in North America. Less expensive is Amadeu's, on Augusta in Kensington Market. Certainly not as elegant, but certainly the real deal. Bairada I think is the place that has the patio at the back. Food there is OK, not brilliant. Perhaps my favourite Portuguese dish is 'something' alentejana - cubed pork stewed with clams - unbelievably delicious. The Portuguese are wizards of the grill - sardines, chicken, piglet. Or the kale soup! Or chorico (cedilla on the second 'c') - very different from Spanish or Mexican chorizo - it can be mild or hot, but what defines it is the very chunky meat. It often ends up in soups and stews, and sometimes is served just by itself. The style is pretty simple. If you don't get a chance to visit a Portuguese restaurant, at least have a chicken sandwich from the Churrasco of St Lawrence at St Lawrence Market. God, I'm hungry.
If you like tofu, I will suggest an adventure to Chodang Soon Tofu. (Had lunch there today and was reminded of this thread.) Not an adventure so much in being scared off by the cuisine as the adventure in getting there by transit. I just walk there from Kipling or Islington station if the weather is nice, but I know the area fairly well.
If the idea of freshly made tofu going into a stew doesn't thrill you, then it would be easier to stick to Korean cuisine on Bloor St. W.
Previous thread actually has TTC instructions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/476847
5130 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M9A, CA