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Jul 8, 2009 05:35 PM

Best up and coming foodie neighbourhoods?

Hey guys,

What are the new and up and coming neighbourhoods (for foodies) in the GTA?? While we're added what's your favourite neighbourhood in the GTA to hang out and grab a bite to eat?

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  1. I don't know about "new" but I would expect a lot of posters to recommend the Harbord strip (Harbord Room, Splendido, Loire, 93 Harbord, Tati, etc.)and Ossington (Pizzeria Libretto, Foxley, others.).

    21 Replies
    1. re: morefoodplz

      yes, those are good "strips" but I'm talking about something new and fresh. Doesn't it seem like TO food scene is all the same? I mean, I would consider Queen St.W some what new. but it doesn't look like much is happening there anymore.

      There has to be places that are starting to build a vibe, isn't there?

      1. re: excel

        how quickly jaded we become....harbor, niagara and ossington have only started coming into their own and we are ready for the next great thing...the economy has turned and as a result we can see closings and new openings in all the recently hot nabes, remember liberty village, roncesvalles, kensington, queen west, queen east, leslieville, beaches, look for new openings, but more importantly lets support those we enjoy in all their current incarnations....if we like them, we must support them or they will go away

        1. re: robgm

          Oh, I'm not saying I'm not going to support the current places. But, isn't the food scene suppose to be one of the most competitive? TO seems to be "stagnant", It's like you have the heavy weights (big name chefs), the well established Toronto fixtures, and then there's nothing really interesting. I mean what's the next thing? maybe the question is, how come the current neighbourhoods have stop "growing"? I mean it wasn't too long ago that there was a buzz about Mt. Pleasant - went up there recently and meh....not saying the old standby's like Jules, isn't good but there has to be something more, doesn't there?

          1. re: excel

            my neighbourhood doesn't feel stagnant, despite the silly ossington ban. union just opened, the saint and salt wine bar are to open in august, the hoof is busy working on its much anticipated cocktail/apps bar across from the resto, oddfellows is now doing brunch, a couple of new places are opening on queen nearby a new patisserie is opening at trinity bellwoods park...none of these are high end places, is that what you're looking for? if so, then it's true, i think the really high end places are not going to be popping up very much in the next little while. but they are hardly what makes neighbourhoods vibrant.

            a lack of constant changeover also can mean that existing businesses are surviving. perhaps a more positive spin than to call these areas 'stagnant' :)

            1. re: Kasia

              Not restaurant wise but retail food wise Roncesvalles has come quite a way in the last couple years. It might not still be a destination but for those of us in the area it's pretty good. Thin Blue Line carries quality cheeses, olives, olive oil and some other items. Rowe Farms just opened and despite the varying opinions of their practices it's a good option in the neighbourhood, Mabel's has baked goods, baguettes and a specialty store just opened closer to Howard Park. I can't recall the name but it used to be on College. They carry gourmet condiments, canned goods and other specialty items. Plus Ko's is still one of the best produce shops in town.

              1. re: jamesm

                yes, i totally agree. i shop on ronces fairly regularly and love mabel's and think blue line. i think the store you're referring to is mercantile?

                1. re: Kasia

                  Perhaps it is. Nice spot and fair size for a specialty store. Thay have lots of cool stuff. There's another smaller one as well. Closer to the pet store? I'm bad with names. If we could just get decent fish somewhere nearby I'd be pretty happy with my day to day shopping options.

              2. re: Kasia

                Well, I'm not saying that existing business are bad nor am I talking about replacing them. But I'm just talking about new and inspired. I think the hoof is a great example of what I'm talking about. When it first opened (and still now) it was fresh, the idea was fresh and insipiring... I just think we need more places like that. Are there neighbourhoods in TO that are currently attracting young talented chefs to open up shop or at least fostering a up and coming foodie hotbed....

                1. re: excel

                  I think it's already been said. During a recession, most restos are hanging by a thread and are not likely to risk something innovative beyond adjusting their menus and price points (let alone open a new resto). Support your favourite gems NOW! Perhaps something might rise out of the ashes in the near future once the economy improves. Your persistence in asking the question makes me think you're asking for an answer to a homework assignment;-)

                  1. re: tuttebene

                    I wish I was back in school or it was some sort of assignment. I'm just bored/disappointed with what TO has to offer and was wondering if I'm miss out on something. I've always thought TO was behind on the food scene, I guess this confirms it....That's not to say that I don't enjoy what's here.

                    1. re: excel

                      yes, you're missing out on a lot if all you want are new hot young chefs.

                      one of the best things that toronto has to offer is its diversity of ethnic foods and casual restos. if you want a new experience then i suggest you check out the less talked about neighbourhoods and go into the real heart of great food. it might not be flashy or trendy but there is a lot of fantastic dining to be had.

                      there just isn't the money nor the taste to drive the evolution you want in toronto. we have new great stuff, but it takes a while to develop. in the mean time we're mired with terrible cheap sushi and poorly done thai. these things somehow get enough of the masses to be what survives! maybe you should be visiting the great places you already enjoy to make sure they keep a foothold in their neighbourhoods.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        What are these less talked about neighborhoods? that's exactly what I'm looking for. Where is the heart of great food you talk about?

                        If you weed out all the crap sushi and poorly done thai, italian, etc. Toronto isn't left with a whole lot of substance. Don't take my criticism as a hate on for Toronto or that I take the city for granted. We do have great places but, lets be real Toronto, is behind. If you don't think we're behind the likes of NYC, Vancouver, London, Seattle, etc. you're kidding yourself. It's not about the grass being greener on the other side.

                        I eat out a lot and always support our local scene, but that doesn't mean that we should just enjoy what we have - that's probably why this city's food scene lacks substance. There needs to be a balance of new and old, if you don't have new pushing the old you get stale - that's a fact.

                        1. re: excel

                          i feel like you didn't read my post so i can't say i'm very tempted to answer because it will likely be severely misconstrued again.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            My reply wasn't only to you.

                            I get what you're saying and I'm honestly asking you for recs on where these casual restos and ethic foods are. I also believe that these types of places really are where a lot of the good eating take place.

                            1. re: excel

                              if you're open to that then there is a lot to cull from these boards. i would suggest you look into st clair west and not necessarily all the italian places corso italia would be known for but places like columbian restos and if you go even further there is some great viet to be had. lawrence east is such a haven for middle eastern that the opportunities are endless depending on your preferences. then there is the area of finch/sheppard and yonge where quite a few korean places have come together to create its own name... again really endless selection. the korean in mississauga is also infinitely better than what we're getting along bloor by christie. and then there is of course, all the chinese options up in RH/Markham...

                              i think if you focus on these areas then you'll see that toronto really has strengths that can surpass the cities you're comparing it too. not all cities have the strength in these honest to goodness diverse restos.

                              things can get stale when menus hardly ever change, but sometimes all you have to do is ask the chef and they might do something really wonderful because they're excited you've taken such an interest.

                          2. re: excel

                            What do you mean by "behind"? What type of stores/restaurants are you looking for? Maybe, if you're specific, people can come up with a few suggestions.

                            There is no doubt in my mind that someone familiar with one of the cities you mentioned could wish there was ... in Toronto; and, it's always fun to make those discoveries when travelling. But I don't doubt people visiting Toronto feel the same way about some of what we have...

                            Also, much has changed in the last few years; let's start with Leslieville. The little strip on Kingston Road around Main & VP is also changing with some great little food shops. My area, "Danforth Mosaic", around Woodbine is changing. Lots of great little restos to appreciate. Look around. Things are changing... But an excellent croissant still tastes as good to me as it did 20 years ago, so change isn't everything.

                            1. re: Full tummy

                              the hotel visitors i've encountered from london, new york, vancouver, etc very much enjoy the diversity and quality of the food options in toronto. often they are looking for what our city has to offer-and it has much to offer. i repeat the word jaded-many of us are...or bored...but many await 'the next great thing" that someone ELSE has told them was hot instead of discovering it for themselves and enjoying what is already here. we don't need MORE people who think they are in the know telling us where we should be going...don't be a lemming, the sea is already full of them with more waiting on the cliff, take the initiative and decide for yourself

                        2. re: excel

                          It astounds me to no end how often this city is taken for granted.

                          1. re: jamesm

                            Hear hear (here here?)...the grass is always greener syndrome.

                            Maybe if I ate out all the time, I'd get tired of what the city has to offer, but since I don't, there's plenty of choice.

                            For what it's worth, Leslieville has a burgeoning food scene, still some shortcomings, but it's coming along nicely. If you're up for a bit more driving, you can check out Richmond Hill, which has a bounty of Chinese places. I don't know...

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              For what its worth, I do eat out all the time-everyday as a matter of fact. I like the greatest hits of restos we have, but I prefer to explore, crawl, try places that look interesting and then decide if I will return often, sometimes great gems come from coal, sometimes its just coal, but the exploring leads to a great time and great diversity in my interests and tastes. Toronto is a great food city and too often we run it down.

                              1. re: robgm

                                The 'burbs for Chinese. Almost a neighbourhood!

            1. The Danforth east of Greektown. Period.

              Lots now between Greenwood and Coxwell.
              Jean's Veg Thai
              Marrachech and Walima /Moroccan
              Mescarem, Rendezvous, Wazema (and more) /Ethiopian
              Dejerba /Tunisian
              El Sol /Mexican
              Sarahs /Drinks only
              Gerrard Pizza, Casa DiGeorgio /Italian
              Ten Feet Tall /neighborhood

              East of Coxwell:
              The Terminal
              Quarto Regazze

              3 Replies
              1. re: neighborguy

                Great list. Although outside your geographic boundaries, have you tried Bistro Camino and if so any comments?

                1. re: tuttebene

                  This part of the Danforth does not initially come off as a destination but after making the list, I'd certainly give it consideration as a food-person if I were not in the 'hood already.
                  I've been to Camino a few times and recommend it as Chow-worthy. There are lots of accurate posts here on it's great food, value, location and quirkiness of the decor.

                  1. re: neighborguy

                    Have to agree with you neighbourguy, and I would add Leslieville to that aswell.

              2. Bloor and Royal York ????????

                1 Reply
                1. re: itzi

                  I would have to disagree. Based upon my experience, that is and always has been (grew up there) a culinary wasteland.

                2. Bloorcourt/dale are growing their own little culinary personality. Obviously, there's all the Ethiopian places, but also a new crop of small restaurants and cafés: the new Mitzi's outpost, Starving artist, Three Speed, Calico, Holy Oak, etc. Saving Gigi's is still fairly new, and they recently added brunch foods to the menu.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: piccola

                    I second that!

                    There's also a burgeoning Latin American cluster of restaurants and stores - La Bella Managua, Mexi-Taco, Concord Cafe, El Jacal, La Tortillera, and El Ray.

                    Vince Gasparro's has the best striploin in the city, and at a great price. They also have a great selection of cheeses, charcuterie and Italian sundries. Macelleria Venezia is also a pretty good option for more flavourful, yet tougher cuts. Both carry great prosciutto.

                    Bloorcourt Market carries a nice selection of fruits and vegetables, with some organic options. Bloorcourt receives a fresh shipment of Bagel House bagels every day. They also carry an assortment of Latin American products.

                    The Mediterranean Food Store has a great selection of Italian canned goods and pastas. The owner cans her own artichokes, pickled hot peppers, jardiniere, and tomato passata. Rowe Farms meats and Organic Meadow dairy products are sold.

                    The Bulk Emporium is handy for sundries, organics, and specialty health foods. They also carry Japanese and Indian pantry basics.

                    Lastly, Newport Fish Importers carries fresh, honestly-priced whole fish. Try the Portuguese cheese!

                    1. re: eatravel

                      I've never had the food at Concord Café, how is it?

                      1. re: piccola

                        wow, great recs guys. This is what I was originally trying to get at. Thanks!