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Oct 13, 2008 12:48 PM

Weekend in Toronto

Hi I am looking for recommendations for good restaurants in Toronto. I will be there on business, I eat anything, it doesn't have to be fancy, just top 5 picks from Toronto locals. I will have a car so I am not limited to a specific area, I am coming from Texas so no Mexican recommendations needed :) Thanks much, it will be my first time in Canada!

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  1. For something quick I would suggest the following places

    Greek Gyros - Messini at 445 Danforth Ave.
    Italian Sandwiches Veal/ Eggpant Sandwich - Mustachio at St Lawrence Market
    Soup - Ravi Soup on 322 Adelaide St. West
    Chinese- Swatow 309 Spadina Ave.
    Breakfast Sanwich -Carousel Bakery at St.Lawrence Market

    Restaurants with decent food for but great atmosphere

    West Area
    The Drake Hotel- Queen West
    Terroni -Queen West
    Czehoskis -678 Queen Wast
    Crush Wine Bar -King West
    Brassil - King West
    Rodneys Oyster - King West
    Beer Bistro 18 King St. E

    Fancy restaurants
    Nota Bene - Downtown
    Ki Japenese -Downtown
    5th Element-Downtown
    Rosebud- Queen West

    3 area of the city you should check out is
    The Danforth for Greek
    Spadina for Asian
    St.Lawrence Market -Everything

    Have fun

    1 Reply
    1. re: visualhornet

      There are some good recommendations here, and some that I can't comment on because I haven't been there. But please don't waste your time at 5th Element. I wasn't impressed by the food, the cocktails, nor the atmosphere the first and last time I went there. I'm not one to pan places, but I just don't get why people seem to like it.
      Definitely hit the St. Lawrence Market (although personally, I prefer the straight peameal bacon sandwich to the breakfast on a bun at Carousel), and even though people tend to be down on it on this board in terms of its authenticity, I think the Danforth is a lot of fun, for the atmosphere if nothing else - if you do some searches they will steer you towards some of the better places (Mezes, Lambros, Avli, etc.).

      And please do check out some of our Asian food - Chinatown may not be the best Chinese/Vietnamese food in the greater Toronto area, but it's more than adequate for a dim sum, pho, or banh mi fix in a bustling atmosphere. Pick up some cheap sunglasses or souvenirs while you're there. :) Kim Moon (Dundas, just east of Spadina, north side of street) has great Chinese pastries, or if you sit down, an a la carte dim sum menu that's quite the bargain. My favorite pho place is Pho Pasteur, and my favorite Vietnamese subs are at Nguyen Huong. Just please don't be tempted by the cheap sushi in Chinatown.

      Check out the Kensington Market neighborhood if you're into a bohemian sort of vibe - it's grubby, but very friendly. Think empanadas, coffee shops, butcher shops, cheese shops, vintage clothing stores, etc. Worth a stroll/graze through.
      Beerbistro and Terroni (Adelaide location) can both be quite fun in a loud, high-energy way.

      If you're into beer, some additional places you might want to check out are Volo and Smokeless Joe's. Long and (in my opinion) interesting beer lists and knowledgeable staff at both.

      And the rooftop lounge at the Park Hyatt has a breathtaking view of the city, and well-poured cocktails. Excellent picture-taking/soaking in the city opportunity. :)

    2. There is so much wonderful food I'm going to toss out 5 haunts that are totally different from one another. In no particular order, please consider these for your dining enjoyment:

      Biff's -on Front Street, in the heart of the financial district - wonderful steaks and relaxing vibe.

      Irish Embassy Pub & Grill - If you're in the mood for good old school comfort food - the Sheppards pie is to die for, and they've got an awesome selection of brews too, not to mention the pub itself which is an old back buidling from the 1800's.

      Being that I'm partial to Yorkville I'm going to give you two from the Park Hyatt Toronto. Annona being the first. Its higher end on the price scale, but worth every wonderful penny. The food is worthy of sending a tingle down the back of your neck, and the service is top notch, plus you get the added fun of people watching in the heart of Yorkville. And the second is the the Rooftop Lounge. A wonderful place to relax, have some great cocktails and enjoy a gorgeous view of Toronto.

      And lastly, Cluck, Grunt & Low at Bloor & Spadina. If you're at all into some good barbeque this place is wonderful, how can sweet & sticky ribs be anything but??

      Someone tossed out the Beer Bistro before.....I'm going to have to disagree on that one. If you like to relax during your meal, and have a cool quiet atmosphere, this is totally the wrong place. Been there a couple of times, and while the food is good, Its so loud its obnoxious!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karina in T.O

        Given that the OP is from Texas, the last place I would send them is Cluck, Grunt and Low (or any BBQ place for that matter). Toronto simply doesn't do very good BBQ.

        The rec to wander Kensington Market is great. It's a colorful neighbourhood with lots of cheap and cheerful spots to eat. The St. Lawrence Market is a fantastic Toronto gem that is also worth a visit. Unlike Kensington Market, which is a neighbourhood, the St. Lawrence Market really is a large market housed in two huge buildings. The south building is open Tues - Sat and has every kind of vendor you could imagine. The north building is only open on Saturday and houses the weekly farmer's market.

        I agree with the Drake for a hip place to grab a bite and lounge. They have several dining options, though, so if you're feeling casual, the cafe is a great spot for people watching.

        I love Rosebud and recommend it highly, but it does not fall into the "fancy" category by any stretch. It has a very warm, cozy, casual vibe and the food is mostly locally sourced and fantastic.

        If you could give us some more parameters about where you'll be staying and what kind of food you like or would like to try, we'll be able to steer you better. Toronto has many, many fabulous ethnic neighbourhoods with little restaurants that are worth a try.

      2. I would also recommend the Distillery District, depending on how much time you have to wander. There's a couple nice spots to pick up a pastry/coffee (Brick Street Bakery, Balzac's) or maybe some chocolate truffles from Soma if you have a sweet tooth.

        For dinner, I've been to the Boiler House and Tappo in this area, and enjoyed myself at both. You certainly won't find more lovely lanes to stroll in Toronto.

        1. Welcome to Canada reillygrrl. Here are my recs:

          Cafe Polonez (polish) on Roncesvalles near Queen for their hungarian pancake
          (no website unfortunately)

          Lalibela on Bloor near Ossington or Ethiopian House on Irwin near Yonge for the veggie combo platters

          Albert's Real Jamaican Food on St Clair W near Vaughan for their oxtail with rice & peas

          Torito (spanish) on Augusta near College for the shrimps al ajillo tapa

          Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu (korean) on Bloor near Christie for the spicy tofu stew
          (no website either


          Let us know where you end up going.

          1. Thank you so much everyone!! I have marked my map, I will probably gain like 20 pounds this weekend but it should be fun! I am going to be attending meetings in Oakville all day Saturday but in my free time I will head into the city!
            Thanks again!

            1 Reply
            1. re: reillygrrl

              I second Rosebud and Cafe Polonez..
              Drake is interesting, and could be a fun evening, as well as the Gladstone down the Street.
              A good place for drinks and a nibble or a meal.
              Zucca excellent high end Italian, but not terribly expensive.
              Great whole fish, as well as excellent pasta
              High end,my best meal lately was Bymark.
              You might want to try the giant lobsters 4 pounds and up at either O-Mei or Elegantview.