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Feb 10, 2010 06:24 PM

Toronto Restaurant Suggestions [moved from Site Talk]


Heading to Toronto (Ontario) and looking for suggestions for some good food. Kind of along the lines of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations; unpretentious food that doesn't cost a lot with some local favorites.


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    1. Without qualification top of this list would be Black Hoof, meat, meat and more meat, Tony would love this place.

      With severe qualifications Caplansky's, it's a joint with severe problems, so caveat emptor but it is a unique thing and if you get lucky it can be great.

      Mother's Dumplings

      5 Replies
      1. re: bytepusher

        Thanks! Looks like Black Hoof will make it onto my list!

        Any hotdog or taco stand or sandwich shop that Bourdain would visit?

        1. re: HungryAsian

          Hotdogs, no, There's Buhdda Dog, Tony would hate it, and the street cart dogs are inexceptional

          I'm no taco expert but there are some good latino places in Kensington Market where they do papusas and empanadas. I like El Gordo, the owner is from south america and his wife is Korean so they do empanadas with kim chee as well as the usual.

          You should maybe also try one of the Poutine specialty places like Smoke's or Poutinis

          1. re: HungryAsian

            Tacos El Asador at Bloor and Clinton. So good!

            1. re: HungryAsian

              Toronto is most definitely NOT a taco town. We do a lot of other multicultural foods well, but tacos are not up there. Sure, Tacos El Asador is good, but it's not even Mexican.
              Lots of great casual food...Trinidadian roti, Jamaican beef patties and jerk chicken, Vietnamese Banh Mi, Northern Chinese dumplings, Italian sandwiches, Portuguese churrasco chicken etc., etc. Lots more, too.

              1. re: Yongeman

                Exactly, there is an insane amount of really amazing food in this world class city but taco stands.... you have to keep in mind that Canada does not share a border with Mexico. That is the U.S.

                Mexican food is only JUST starting to gain more of a foothold in Toronto's culinary landscape. Taco stands? No way. In fact, I'd be surprised if you find taco stands in most major U.S. cities that are not located in the south or in Texas/California. It is definitely not an embedded part of our culinary culture.

                I would definitely try our street dogs or sausages though. A lot of Toronto foodies aren't crazy about them but I think they are vastly better than New York's and indeed better than most other cities I've visited. But that's just me. It's certainly not anything we are known for but I'd at least try them. I like them.

                Toronto is also great for shawarmas

          2. I wouldn't say Caplansky's has "severe" problems. It is new and had some growing pains but I've always had good service and food there.

            Pho Tien Thanh on Ossington near Queen (57 Ossington Ave). Golden Turtle a bit farther up (125 Ossington Ave). I think Pho Tien Thanh is better than Golden Turtle, but both are decent choices.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pincus

              Without getting too off topic, Caplansky's has been open for more than 5 months, I think we're past the point where they get a pass for being new. I think it belongs on this list based on the poster's criteria but I also think that a little bit of expectation setting is called for, consistency remains an issue (which Zane freely admits, I just don't buy his line that it's unavoidable) as well as product availability.

            2. Would Negroni be a sandwich place Bourdain would visit?

              1. Kensington Market. Walk, look, eat. Repeat.

                Black Hoof, Caplansky's, Tacos el Asador, Oyster Boy, Sneaky Dee's, Big Fat Burrito, Osgoode Hall for lunch, Rikishi for sushi, Sam James for an espresso.

                Smoke's or Poutini's for that late night soak up the alcohol factor.

                A wander along Ossington, perhaps the Dakota for Sunday brunch and a pint at the Crooked Star to follow...pastry from Nadege or a croissant from Clafouti.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ibraineater


                  I did go to Jumbo Empanada and it was amazing! The meat filling was delicious. The cheese empanada was good as well. Also tried a humita but it was so-so. The sopapilla was a little dense and thick.

                  Also ended up at The Fish House. The Lobster Bisque tasted good although there was no lobster to be seen and there were thick globs of corn-starch or some other thickener floating around. The crab stuffed salmon was much like the bisque ... where was the crab??? Also thought it had a deep fried squid/calamari but it came out grilled instead. The worst part was the service. The waitress didn't even know what the oysters were and couldn't even bring my drink until the end.

                  Unfortunately I did not make it to the Black Hoof.