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Feb 5, 2010 04:08 PM

First Time Visitor to Toronto - Any Suggestions?

I'll be visiting Toronto for the first time next month. Any suggestions as far as "must try" restaurants? I"m open to price...just would like to know what the locals recommend. I won't have a car, but I'll be within walking distance of the convention center. Thanks!

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  1. There's an awful lot to choose from! Why don't you let us know what kinds of food you like and don't like so we can help you?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pavlova

      Honestly, I enjoy just about everything!

      How about this...if you were going to go out for lunch or dinner, where would you go? What are your favorites?

    2. My first piece of advice would be don't eat at any restaurants near the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. If you care to share where you're staying you're likely to get some good advice for places near that instead.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Googs

        Well, I'm actually staying near the convention's are always an option for transportation, so, if you have recommendations outside of that specific vicinity, I'd love to hear them...

        1. re: Reservationsforone

          Oh. Sorry.

          Must tries sorta near the MTCC:

          Big Daddy's Crab Shack for lunch (Technically not a "must-try", but hey it' lunch.)

          Brassaii for brunch (post-reno

          Bymark for one of the most over-the-top burgers you may ever eat.

          Canoe for fine food with an incredible view (closed Sat & Sun

          Colborne Lane for small plate molecular gastronomy

          Nota Bene for the cuisine of one of Toronto's finest chef's in an oh-so-elegant room.

          Please note that I can't currently remove the links to other restaurants named Big Daddy in Richmond Hill and Dundalk. Feel free to ignore those two.

          54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

          461 King St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K7, CA

          66 Wellington St. W, Toronto, ON M5K 1J3, CA

          Colborne Lane
          45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

          Nota Bene
          180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

          Big Daddy's Crabshack & Oyster Bar
          212 King St W, Toronto, ON M5H1K5, CA

          Big Daddy's Restaurant
          460 Elgin Mills Rd E, Richmond Hill, ON L4C5E7, CA

      2. Agreed with the other posters that this is a very general question. Where are you from? What kind of cuisine is missing in your area? Are you looking for just top-notch restaurant or are you also looking to try something Canadian / Torontonian? Will you be dining alone?

        Canoe is a great high-end restaurant that showcase Canadian ingredients. You'll probably see people recommending a peameal sandwich at the St Lawrence market. Right now Guu is a very popular restaurant (Japanese izakaya). These are all a short cab ride away. Or places like Lai Wai Heen for Chinese if your area doesn't have a big Chinese population. Or Nota Bene, Globe, Scaramouche, George, the list goes on. It really depends.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cecilia

          Googs -great list. this is exactly what i'm looking for. thanks!

          Cecilia and Pavlova, I don't mean for this to be a difficult question...I'm just trying to find out where the locals eat in Toronto. That's why I've kept it general. I want to know where you love to go when you go out....anywhere from hole-in-the wall to high end....let me know!

          1. re: Reservationsforone

            And Cecilia - sorry, at first I didn't see the suggestions you gave. These are great. thanks!

        2. Welcome to Toronto.
          Our key asset is multiculturalism. If there’s a type of cuisine you’d like to try we probably have it (except Mexican, and arguably southern-style). In particular we have great Asian and Portuguese food (lots of others too, but you may find a better choice in these categories than in other cities). ‘Most’ of the finer Chinese are outside the city and are probably inaccessible without a car. However at the high end, I strongly recommend LUNCH (dim sum) at Lai Wah Heen (in the Metropolitan Hotel). The lower end can be treacherous – if you prefer a style (spicy/Cantonese/etc….) mention it and you’ll get more recommendations. For Indian, I tend to avoid buffets and would choose Trimurti (which you can walk to). For Portuguese, one place stands out for ‘dining’. That’s Chiado – think upscale French and the prices won’t shock you (take a cab – maybe 15 mins). Some of us prefer their ‘bar menu’ (think tapas) if on a budget (still not cheap).
          For upscale ‘Canadian’ the finest is probably Canoe (closed Sat/Sun). Moving down a notch then Nota Bene is hard to beat at its price (mid-range). Both are also walkable. There are MANY neighbourhood ‘locavore’ places – but the Convention Centre is nobody’s local!
          On a Sunday many places are closed. Niagara Street Café is a longish walk, or 5 minute cab ride.
          The current trend is charcuterie, with emphasis on using the entire animal. If this intrigues, then go for the best – Black Hoof (10 minute cab ride or long walk). No reservations, so go early (or late).
          And I haven’t yet mentioned Thai, Italian (probably avoid), Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Greek (OK avoid that too), Japanese, ‘Small Plates’ (erroneously called tapas, but the last ‘big trend’ here), and Caribbean (and everything else that I’ve not intentionally ignored).
          By not narrowing down the choices you have opened the door so wide that many potential responders would need a book to answer your original request.
          Give a price range (or at least a direction) and you’ll get many responses – people here are very helpful. And yes, have ‘back bacon on a bun’ at St Lawrence market (for breakfast or lunch – closed Sun/Mon). 10 minute walk.

          1. If you really want to try some interesting Chinese beside Lai Wah Heen, which I find really overpriced, don't be put off by a trip by transit to Richmond Hill. Subway from Union Station (steps from the convention centre) north to Finch station, and the new VIVA Blue bus from Finch to the Richmond Hill Centre station will take about an hour if you leave after 6:30 pm to avoid rush hour. Free transfer to the YRT #1 Bus (Highway 7 East), and you can pick from places like O-Mei or Ambassador. Or continue north on the VIVA Blue to Weldrick (about 5 minutes), and you visit the new digs of Regal 16 on Yonge. Grab a cab and you can visit some of the spots on Bayview such as Yang's or Emperor. (You can actually do this by bus as well, but it's convoluted and not tourist friendly.)

            Transit cost will be about $6 each way, which is amazing considering a cab downtown would cost you that much for about ten blocks. (Cabs in Richmond Hill obviously extra)

            The trip north from Finch on the bus is interesting, as you drive past strip plazas filled, first, with Persian shops and restaurants, which then yields to an area chock full of Korean spots before giving way to a brief strip of the "old" suburbs where you'll see Victorian style homes cheek to cheek with strip malls and office buildings. If you do take the Highway 7 bus, you'll pass literally dozens of Chinese places. Search this board for Chinese spots in Richmond Hill for more detailed discussions.

            6 Replies
            1. re: FrankD

              Hi Estufarian and FrankD. Thanks for the suggestions, and, your tips/hints are much appreciated!

              Ok, If it helps to narrow down the selections, I really enjoy Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, Greek, Indian, Spanish, and New American cuisine. I also enjoy Thai, Japanese and Sushi - and really, seafood in general.

              And, I'm not sure what qualifies as purely "Canadian" cuisine, but I'd love to conitnue to hear those suggestions as well.

              Price range? Anywhere from $5 - $75 for a meal.

              Thanks for you help!

              1. re: Reservationsforone

                to be clear, when you say $75 for a meal, you mean 3 courses+drinks+tax+tip, per person, correct? because in that case e.g. Canoe is kinda out.

                1. re: Reservationsforone

                  Toronto cuisine is all about multi-culturalism.


                  I suggest you enjoy our only regional specialty, peameal (Canadian) bacon on a sandwich at St Lawrence Market or on your eggs benny at brunch.

                  Also getting really good reviews lately(I haven't been, but I was a student at the school) is the restaurant at George Brown College's chef school. They are near St. Lawrence mkt and only open for lunch weekdays.

                  I agree that you should avoid most mexican or cajun or southern-style, you can find better south of the border.

                  For Spanish Tapas, try
                  its in a vibrant neighbourhood called Kensington where you can also shop and see a neat pocket this somewhat sterile city.

                  While there, for an inexpensive snack check out
                  Jumbo Empanadas

                  I really like Pizzeria Libretto...I'm a sucker for traditional Naples-style pizza

                  For good Indian try Dhaba for lunch

                  Canadians are proud of our alchoholic beverages. We are known globally for our whisky and beers...also icewine, but i find it to be way too sweet. Try some of the Ontario craft brews like Mill St., Creemore, Amsterdam etc. I know when I visit the states, I often long for our local microbrews. Also order a caesar if you go out for brunch.

                  Here are some of my fave brunch spots:



                  The big news in brunch lately is the hoof cafe, but I still haven't been.

                  Good Luck!

                2. re: FrankD

                  With all due respect, FrankD, going to Richmond Hill up to north of Hwy 7 from the Convention Center is brutal, especially in winter. I would definitely not recommend that unless you have friends or relatives up there to visit, in which case, get them to drive you!

                  And if you want to see the "locals" and the mutlicultural aspect of the city by public transit, you'll do much better taking just the 506 Streetcar where you can see Little Portugal, Little Italy, University of Toronto's historical buildings, Queen's Park, historic Maple Leaf Gardens, Chinatown (Broadview) and Little India, just to name a few, and there are lots of restaurants along this route that locals frequent such as Chiado (Portuguese), Sidecar, Negroni, Hanoi 3 Seasons (Vietnamese) to name a few.

                  To me, this is much more interesting than going way out north to see sparse suburb strip malls and office buildings that are typical of any suburb in North America. Nothing against Richmond Hill though as I used to live up there close by in Markham. :-)

                    1. re: Reservationsforone

                      Agree with syoung, you can find really nice Cantonese food at Lai Wah Heen of downtown. It is expensive but save you lots of time to travel up north which really has not much to see besides Chinese food. The dim sum at Lai Wah Heen is better than all others up north (both food and evironment) with the premium you are paying there. Dinner is not too pricey provided most of these dishes is around $20 bucks or less. An expensive Chinese restaurant up North charges that much anyway. If ordering expensive items such as shark fin and abalone, all chinese restaurant are expensive.