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Gastropub-y or Funky Places in Toronto

Looking for great, fresh food, inexpensive to mid-priced, great people-watching, funky places in T.dot. I am coming for a business trip next week and need some inspiration. I also need to take some work folk out and they've never been to Toronto.

I used to live in Toronto but now live in Van and feel woefully out of the loop. Any style, but with a twist or different vibe on the usual. I'm a real foodie so I'd prefer good food, done well, rather than picky little amuse-bouche/fusion wannabes. Recos HUGELY appreciated!

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  1. Beerbistro has good food, great beers and a nice vibe.

    Beer Bistro
    18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: JamieK

      Mmhmm. Don't forget to order the frites!

      1. re: Rabbit

        What do you recommend at Crush, Rabbit?

        1. re: Rabbit

          the portions at the bar are rather miniscule and a bit pricey though generally well executed. i recall ordering the fish and chips ($9-10?) and received two fingers of fish... definitely not filling.

          they do pour a mean beer over there though. it has been reported to me as the best pour in the city though the offerings are rather ordinary.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            I'd say that the beer offerings reflect its status as a wine bar first and foremost. And I would say that everything I've ever eaten there has been well executed, particularly the scallops.


        2. Should clarify: doesn't have to be pub-/beer-related - just smallish, cosy, buzzy, not cavernous or too posh. Kinda like what I've been hearing about the Harbord Room , that sort of place. But I haven't been so I'm just going on guesses.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikalaT

            Ah, then Crush probably isn't a good rec... it's not exactly cavernous, but the space has a "big" feeling. Torito is great (second that rec), but it's tapas, so it's picky by nature. And I like Rosebud too (where you would get a real meal). You might like Blackhoof where they're doing the charcuterie thing (I haven't been, so this suggestion is a bit heretical, but most reviews have been rave). Possibly Globe Bistro? Your own instinct re: Harbord Room is probably on target.

          2. How about Oddfellows? It's gotten pretty good reviews on the board and is about as trendy/funky as Toronto gets. It only has one loooong communal table that seats about 24 and is decorated with interesting local art. I haven't been there, so can't comment myself, but it seems like the type of thing you might be looking for. It seems to be frequented by young, artist/intellectual types (based on published reviews).

            Other cool, not-too-pricey spots would include Torito in Kensington Market -- a great tapas-style restaurant. The main floor "cafe" at the Drake is great, too, and definitely good for people watching. A littler pricier, but one of my favourite local spots is Rosebud. It's small, cozy and pretty buzzy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: TorontoJo

              Hey! Thanks so much for this recommendation. I checked out Oddfellows last night and posted a review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5821...
              Enjoyed it muchly. wanted to get to Torito tonight but too frakkin' cold here to go out LOL. Many thanks again TorontoJo and everyone.

              1. re: MikalaT

                Thanks for the review -- glad it worked out for you!

            2. How about The Only Cafe on Danforth. Definitely funky, limited menu but good, nice beer selection, friendly staff.

              I go more more snacks, drinks, and meeting people.

              Only Cafe
              972 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L9, CA

              1. Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar is good fun and the food is pretty yummy overall. La Palette in Kensington Market -- good vibe and food. Actually Kensington has a bunch of new little places that are good (except for Supermarket which I think has gone waaay downhill).

                3 Replies
                1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                  Thanks all. Anybody been to the Harbord Room? I heard it was good last time when I was out, but haven't yet visited...

                  1. re: MikalaT

                    Several reviewers from differnt sources have put Harbord Room on their end of year list, all the creative staff have good histories behind them and you seem to want to go -- so just try it. At the very least its open late for drinks and the kitchen stays open to!

                    Torito is in that area, just one block south, really. I would put that on my list, it was where we ate for my 30th birthday and it was divine.

                    For fun people watching head north to Insomnia at Bathurst and Bloor... a popular Annex resto-bar with a big martini list and wallet friendly prices. Food is above average but not-alway "foodie fantastic".... the Chicken, Avocado and Brie sandwich is always good as are the crabcakes, there is also a nice cheese plate. The place can get packed, it serves students, hipsters, and lots of grown-ups toos. It actually seems to fit your description pretty well. Its been around for ten years and its locally owned so that may be worth a try.

                    Sidecar with its Pice Fix Sunday to Wednesday may also be worth a shot. It too has been getting rave reviews.

                    1. re: abailey77

                      "so just try it" - yeah, good point abailiey77 - but you know how it is, limited time, want to enjoy every mountful, LOL. :-D Thanks for the tips on the others. Much appreciated.

                2. When I think of funky places in Toronto, I immediately think of Ossington. Delux would definitely fit the bill as would any number of the bars and other restaurants around it. You could make a whole evening out of a couple of blocks on that street.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Cat123

                    awful awful service at delux.... not rude but far from helpful. i don't want to have to flag someone down for drinks, food ordering, getting the order right etc. the food is quite nice though, i'm torn if it's worth returning to.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      May have been an exception. We went a couple months ago and had very good service. If you loved the food like we did, I'd say give it another shot.