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First Timers in Toronto

My wife and I are heading up from Boston. Looking for reasonably priced places, though that is not a major constraint. We are not all-night types, so places that have good atmosphere, fun, good bar with coctail list to make most of evening there. Like local places, bistros, fish and I LOVE meats I don't see enough of in Boston- elk, venison, etc..

Also any places for a few drinks after, lounges...music.

Staying on King St West near Spadina Ave, so prefer something close, but don't mind traveling for quality.

Thanks for any suggestions

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  1. Well, for starters, in your area there are some good spots:

    Le Gourmand (www.legourmand.com) (Coffee, pastries, pressed sandwiches
    )The Prague (www.theprague.ca) (Goulash, schnitzel, pastries
    )Jules Bistro (Spadina, just south of Queen) (French bistro fare)
    Swatow (Spadina, just north of Dundas) (Chinese)
    Dark Horse Espresso Bar (Spadina, just north of Queen)
    Chippy's (Queen West at Walnut) (Fish 'n' chips)
    La Brehandaise (Queen & Shaw) (Creperie Bretonne)

    1. With the weather getting better, there have been a rash of tourist threads, to be expected. Here are a few recent ones....

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620822

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618105

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619392

      You're actually very close to Rodney's Oyster House, since you asked for seafood.

      1. hi and welcome!
        for a fun place with stunning ( i stand by it) food and cocktails, take a stroll up Spadina (through our crazy chinatown) to Harbord, and eat at Harbord Room. you'll need to make a reservation, but it will be worth it. they do charcuterie plates which might meat (ha!) your meat needs, or the burger which many contend is the best in the city. a lovely place for a laid back but enjoyable place to make a evening out of it.

        also in the same vein might be Sidecar on College. i still have yet to make it there but from all reports you can do no wrong with one of their fab mixed drinks and the prix fixe. Grace on College also gets points for local comfort food.

        lounges i am not sure of, but if you are on College, Sous Dal is a dark romantic cocktail spot, and Eat My Martini is fun for...you guessed it, Martinis.

        it's a bit "young", but i also love making a night of it at insomnia n Bloor St, for great apps/light meal/mixed drinks.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LemonLauren

          I wholeheartedly agree with Harbord Room - fabulous cocktails but PLEASE Eat My Martini is _horrid_! Besides not making a very good real martini (as in, gin, dash of vermouth), everything else is made from basically different combinations of the same ingredients and served in plastic glasses. Don't get me started on the food. There are waaaay better places to hang out in with good cocktails and waaay better food in this city - Black Hoof, Canoe, Rooftop Lounge at the Park Hyatt, The Paddock, Bar Chef, etc. etc.

          1. re: pinkprimp

            I really have to agree with pinkprimp on Eat My Martini. I go there for a cheap girls' night out with a student friend on a tight budget who loves sugary drinks in martini-shaped glasses (vodka and cranberry juice in a pointy glass is not a martini in my book). The food is completely perfunctory, and oversalted to make you drink more. I've had fun there, but it has nothing to do with the quality of food or drink. Insomnia is better, but still not somewhere I'd send a visitor.

            I would absolutely send a visitor to the Rooftop, and Sidecar, Black Hoof, and Barchef are all on my personal to-do list now that we have daylight and warm air after quitting time again.

            1. re: Wahooty

              Although not necessarily reasonably priced-Opus on Prince Arthur does a great job with game. I've had venison, deer and cariboo there and all have been outstanding. Service is awesome as is the Wine Spectator award winning wine list. Don't be put off by the very high wine prices as there are some reasonably priced ones as well.

              Also agree with the charcuterie paltter at Harbord Room-STUNNING!!

              www.opusrestaurant.com

        2. Do take note that most of these suggestions will have you walking north or west away from the area of your hotel. Walking east or south into the financial district or down toward the dome/cn tower is pretty much all chain restaurants and sports bars unless you're east of Yonge.

          1 Reply
          1. re: currycue

            I would take Lee Garden over Swatow for chinese. Just me! Honey orange ribs are my favorite at the moment.

          2. Here's my suggestion svergeg, take the Spadina Streetcar up to Harbord St. This is only a few block and a short trip. Here you will find Harbord Room, which has already been recommended, by many and which is one of my favourite restaurants. The vibe is great, the food is stellar, and the cocktail menu extensive and well executed.

            Please do not go to Eat My Martini, although the cocktails may be $1 cheaper than other places the drinks are exactly that...cheap. I second (or is it third?) Sous Dal which is on College St. just south of Harbord. If you go for an apres dinner cocktail, you'll get to walk through Little Italy at night which is always an experience. Thankfully Sous Dal is not as 'sceney' as most places on the College St. Strip and I can attest, having lived in the area for years and spending many an evening and $$$ at Sous Dal that they serve some mighty fine cocktails.

            I'd also suggest Julie's which is charming and serves Cuban inspired tasty dishes, and The Roxton.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mis_Understated

              Don't go to Sous Dal. I had a caipirinhaa there that was sugar and 2 dried wedges of lime muddled for 15 seconds, cachaca, and POWDERED BAR LIME. What a joke!

              1. re: Horace Mayweather

                I disagree completely on Sous Dal. After just coming back from 2 weeks in NY, in my opinion Sous Dal still serves what I find to be a mighty tasty cocktail. This is not based on one drink....more so based on trying the majority of their cocktails over the period of 8+ years. Just my opinion.

            2. IIf you really like meat and are a bit more of an adventurous eater DO NOT MISS Black Hoof. Really it is a treat for those who like to indulge in meat and meat products. They do not have an extensive menu, they do not take reservations and they close on Tues and Wed however, it is by far one of the best and most interesting new places the city has to offer.

              Dinner for two around $100 with drinks.

              The Black Hoof
              928 Dundas St W
              Toronto, ON M6J
              (416) 551-8854‎

              The owner/chef’s blog http://charcuteriesundays.blogspot.com/

              2 Replies
              1. re: JennaBean

                Thanks everyone! I think we'll definitely check out the Harbord Room as well as the Beer Bistro after the baseball game and the rooftop lounges.

                Not really sure about our first night as it is a long drive, so I'd like to find something easy and near the hotel if there are any suggestions on that.

                1. re: svergeg

                  Now, I haven't been, so take this with a grain of salt, but it seems the new restaurant in the Hyatt Regency (formerly Holiday Inn) at King & Spadina is getting some good buzz. The King Street Social - dinner menu PDF: http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/images/hot...
                  Review from MartiniBoys - http://www.martiniboys.com/Toronto/Ki...

              2. For another game meat suggestion, George currently has wild boar on the menu. Lovely patio.
                http://www.georgeonqueen.com/

                -----
                George
                111 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1S2, CA

                1. While it's not especially near your hotel, Jam Cafe has a lovely atmosphere and great food. and they always have elk on the menu.
                  http://www.jamcafe.ca/
                  oh, and no corkage fee on sundays.