9 days in Toronto -- what are the must-eats?
My husband, an avid Chowhounder from L.A., will be spending 9 days in Toronto on business. What are the spots not to be missed? He'll be staying in the downtown east area and has an eclectic palate, with a special love for cheaper ethnic food (although the occasional fancy meal is great, too!) This trip has come up unexpectedly and we have no knowledge of Toronto food culture -- tell us what it's all about, hounds! What would he be a fool to miss?
You really need to get up to Richmond Hill at least once to try some of the best Chinese food outside of Vancouver. O-Mei, Ambassador, Yang's, Emperor - they have all been discussed in many threads. It's not as long a drive as you might think; if you avoid rush hour, it's only 20-30 minutes, and well worth it.
And, if you're lucky enough in this summer of rain, a stroll along the Danforth in the evening will let you find a wide variety of foods (Greek is predominant, but not exclusive). Ouzeri and Mezes are probably the best (and most expensive), but if you wanted to graze, there are lots of cheap and cheerful spots where you could stop in for a glass of wine and saganaki, or a souvlaki in a pita, or sushi, or whatever. Great choices, great atmosphere, and it offers one of Toronto's best features - you can park the car (or take the TTC), and just walk. Similar great walks on Spadina from Dundas to College, on Ossington from College to Queen and then west on Queen, and on Queen from University to Spadina.
I have a lot of friends visit from the US, and one of the things people who don't live in either NY City or SF mention is the novelty of walking in the downtown core. They are so used to driving from A to B, parking, and never exploring the surrounding area. Here in T.O., there are always new places opening, and always something new to see. Enjoy your stay, get some exercise to walk off all the great food we have to offer, and really experience our city!
(PS Non-food related, but if you decide to wander along Ossington, check out "Frantic City" for books and records that you might have thought ceased to exist.)
I, too, have a special love for cheap ethnic food, and when in the downtown core my first thought is of Yueh Tung and its spicy chicken lunch specials. Manchurian Chicken On Rice, Szechuan Chicken On Rice, Chili Chicken On Rice. It's at the corner of Dundas and Elizabeth. Find a table in the middle of the room and sit facing north. Trust me on this.
9 days will give him a lot of time to try different places. Avoid Mexican because it's great in LA and not so much here. We do have other great ethnic cuisines- Indian, Italian, Greek, Chinese (many types), Filipino, Jamiacan, various Middle Eastern and African countries...
Start by reading this thread:
For dim sum, Lai Wah Heen is a must try (not cheap though). http://www.metropolitan.com/lwh/
Kensington Market is a great place for various inexpensive eats and an interesting neighborhood to explore. http://www.kensington-market.ca/
St. Lawrence Market for a peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel's or Mustachio's eggplant sandwich and other yummy eats. http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/
There is some good roti here too -Gandhi's is great (for East Indian) Bacchus (for Bacchus (for Guyanese/fusion) and other spots.
And, you might want to try poutine as it is a Canadian classic. There is a new place called Poutini that specializes in this dish. I haven't been, but you can read all about here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621093 http://www.poutini.com/ Utopia has good poutine and other very reasonably priced and tasty eats (burgers, sandwiches). http://utopiacafe.ca/
For cheap eats:
Hope this helps you get started. Happy eating!
Lai Wah Heen
108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA
554 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V2B5, CA