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2 days in Toronto - Restaurants with charm, character?

My gal pal and I have only 2 days in TO.
Seek recommendations for lunch and dinner.

Must be:

Within walking distance of downtown.
Have any of these: character / chicness / funkiness / cosiness / heritage / "authentic hipness"
From cheap eats to splurge-worthy

Must not be:

Trendy / Uber-modern / Uber-hip
Chain
TVs on every wall / sporty
Loud annoying music
__________________

And while I have you here, I have another 2 days with my folks.
We need a good lunch/dinner spot near Harbourfront, and/or Distillery District.
My dad requires a QUIET place with good fish and chips, cosy brew pub type atmosphere.
(I found Mill St. online, but I see some bad comments about it?)

Thanks so much for your time!

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Distillery District
55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

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  1. Kind of a random, off the top of my head list...
    Queen and Beaver Pub on Elm St- downstairs dining room or patios (upstairs has tvs...) : cozy/funky
    Ematei Isayaka on St Patrick : authentic
    Le Select on Wellington : chic/character
    The Black Hoof/Hoof Cafe: just freaking awesome
    The Roof Bar at the Park Hyatt Hotel - for an afternoon/pre dinner cocktail

    Depending on how authentic you want your lunch, a swing through St Lawrence Market (and apologies for not remembering all the market vendors...) could yield a peameal bacon sandwich, fish and chips (at the south end, past the fish area), veal and eggplant sandwich (downstairs at Mustachio's).

    Enjoy your time in Toronto!

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    Ematei
    30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

    Le Select
    432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

    Park Hyatt
    Toronto, ON, Toronto, ON , CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: clairelizabeth

      Really helpful. I was curious about Black Hoof. And Le Select looks perfect! Queen and Beaver looks dad-friendly. :) Thanks Claire.

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      Le Select
      432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

      The Black Hoof
      928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

      1. re: Zuckerbaby

        For the Dad portion of the trip - If you are already planning to spend time in the distillery (a very good choice, IMHO), the Mill Street is actually a pretty good option. I've been there many times for drinks before or after an event in the area and the house brewed beers are excellent, and the pub food is certainly above average. I think it's a better food and drink choice than the best pub at Harbourfront - http://www.watermarkirishpub.ca/ - although their patio overlooking the water is nice.

        For the "you" section of the trip, Black Hoof is excellent, but be prepared to wait for a table. It's certainly worth the wait - just don't arrive starving...

        A seat for two at the bar/chef's prep area at Origin would also be a lot of fun. The room is stunning/heritage/modern http://www.origintoronto.com/

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        The Black Hoof
        928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

        1. re: jgloverwork

          I thought Origin was a lot of fun (and food was good). But the music got progressively louder through the night. By about 9:30/10 PM, it was way too loud for conversion across the table - if that's an important 'must not be' on your list, OP.

        2. re: Zuckerbaby

          Q&B is def. dad-friendly, and the fish and chips are divine!

          Black Hoof doesn't take resos, so get there early, or be chill about waiting (if there is a wait, they'll send you across the street for a drink at the sister location, the Hoof Cafe - which is pretty awesome in its own right).

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          The Black Hoof
          928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

          1. re: clairelizabeth

            Fair warning, the Hoof Cafe fails the "no loud music" test in my experience, to the point where on one visit multiple patrons asked them to turn it down, each request was greeted with 1-2 minutes of compliance before the music was cranked up again.

      2. I suggest Mengrai Thai, for its authenticity.

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        Mengrai Gourmet Thai Restaurant & Cooking Schools
        412 Richmond St E, Toronto, ON M5A1P8, CA

        7 Replies
        1. re: tjunmin

          If you like Middle Eastern food, I think that Jersualem on the south side of Eglinton, 2 blocks east of Bathurst, is the best you'll find in the world (I've checked!). I am not sure it has quite the charm you might want but it sure has character.

          1. re: Flexitarian

            All helpful suggestions - thanks everyone. Good to know about Mill St., and Watermark too. My dad gets a bit crazy when his blood sugar gets low, and a resto is not to his liking (or doesn't have fish and chips). Any experience with Pier 4?

            Hadn't heard of Origin either - looks fun/promising.

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            Pier 4
            245 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J2K9, CA

            1. re: Zuckerbaby

              Pier 4: expensive seafood restaurant aimed exclusively at tourists next to a polluted lake.

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              Pier 4
              245 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J2K9, CA

                1. re: Zuckerbaby

                  Pier 4 is definitely a tourist trap to avoid. But I would rate Mill Street Brewery above that. Even though it doesn't meet many hounds' standards, as far your father goes, it may fit the bill. I have been able to have conversations there at a normal decibel level (as opposed to, say, BeerBistro, where we had to yell at the top of lungs to hear each other in our group and then gave up and only yelled directly at the person next to oneself). They have pretty decent fish and chips. I have also enjoyed the crab cakes there. The service has been good for me.

                  1. re: JamieK

                    I meant to add -- the restaurant itself may not have charm and character (although it's kind of neat to see the brewery equipment) but there's plenty of charm and character to enjoy if you walk around the Distillery District before or after your meal.
                    http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/

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                    Distillery District
                    55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                    1. re: JamieK

                      Thanks Jamie. My folks definitely want to see that area. And my dad likes to see brewery equipment!

        2. www.theprague.ca - authentic mitteleuropean fare

          I also quite like the authentic buckwheat crepes at Creperie La Brehandaise:

          http://www.facebook.com/pages/Toronto...

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Two places I would highly recommend for great food and superb atmosphere. They satisfy your requirements for character and heritage, plus they're in walking distance of downtown (or in downtown)...

              Osgoode Hall restaurant - in Convocation Hall of the Law Society of Upper Canada
              Gallery Grill - in University of Toronto space

              Both only open for lunch (Gallery Grill also open for Sunday brunch), and not all year. Definitely make reservations.

              http://www.torontolife.com/features/o...
              http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

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              Gallery Grill
              7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

              Osgoode Hall
              130 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N6, CA

              4 Replies
              1. re: Full tummy

                Thanks, currycue - my mom loves crepes and we might ditch my dad for a bit (while he looks at nautical things at harbourfront). Prague looks nice too.

                fulltummy, I'm intrigued by your suggestions. Osgoode hall looks interesting. Love the architecture.

                1. re: Zuckerbaby

                  They are both architecturally outstanding locations. Let us know where you end up eating and how it went!

                2. re: Full tummy

                  Second the Gallery Grill... Great food, intelligent wine list with a focus on Ontario wine, beautiful room, efficient service. It fits the bill on most accounts: heritage building with original art, character, and splurge-worthy. You won't regret it.

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                  Gallery Grill
                  7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                  1. re: sloweater

                    I third the Gallery Grill -- fantastic all around and one of the most beautiful settings you could imagine for a tucked away restaurant.

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                    Gallery Grill
                    7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA