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Chicago coming to Toronto. Foodie needs directions!!!

w
WhatGuy Oct 25, 2010 04:33 PM

I am not looking for the "Best of the Best" that Toronto has to offer. I have tried plenty of great 5 star restaurants in Chicago plus I'm heading up north on a budget.

I am willing to splurge on one dinner of my weekend getaway if you really think its worth going into debt for. But what I am really looking for are "Must Try" stops/shops/places in Toronto. Something I cannot get anywhere else. Something that is uniquely "Toronto."

FoodNetwork.com and TravelChannel.com doesn't really have anything substantial to say about Toronto's dining scene. All the Toronto websites I've looked up have had mixed reviews as to what the "Best" is .... and with the majority of those "best of Toronto" not actually in Toronto. Plus, I'm not looking for pretentious, hip, trendy food.

I am asking all of you people on Chowhound where I NEED to go when I am there. I've heard good things about your street food, so I'm definitely going to do that when I am walking around.

Chicago has its World Class restaurants, Molecular Gastronomy, Deep Dish Pizza, Hot Dogs, and Italian Beefs. Toronto, tell me what you have.... PLEASE!

  1. v
    Vinnie Vidimangi Nov 7, 2010 06:22 AM

    I would appreciate your posting a report of your food experiences in Toronto when you return to Chicago

    1. g
      growinggourmet Nov 2, 2010 01:10 AM

      hey WhatGuy, i'm going to be vague with recommendations, but specific in based on: a) your original post and b) having recently lived in Chicago for a couple years
      - "splurging" in Toronto is not quite "splurging" in Chicago. all things equal (e.g. quality of food, service, location, and ambiance) you might be surprised at the price-points of our highest of high-end restos
      - most asian food is very awful in Chicago (except maybe LTH). comparatively, most asian food is very good in Toronto. if you're into it, somewhat centrally located: Lai Wah Heen, Chinese Traditional Bun, Shinobu Sushi, Yuzu, Japango, Guu (sure, for the experience...), Anh Dao, BukChang's... the list goes on. I can't speak to Vietnamese sandwich trend that hit Chicago a few years back though since I can't deal with the texture.
      - Toronto can't touch Chicago's Mexican/Latin American fare or numerous Intelligentsia Cafes (i just want one!!). Though we have the odd goodie, I wouldn't spend time seeking. Manic serves Intelli, btw. And Dark Horse @ CSI looks just like the one in Lakeview.
      - A couple of others that may or may not have been mentioned: Ravi Soups (lamb or veggie Wrap and any soup or bisque), Ghandi's (roti),
      - Greek and Ethiopian restaurants are similar (except we don't do cheap corkage BYOB).
      - Oh, our bubble tea is different. Most good places in Toronto steep tea, whereas the fresh fruit juices are used in the better Chicago tea houses.
      - I didn't try or notice many restaurants serving middle eastern cuisine while in Chicago. Perhaps someone else will recommend if you're interested.
      - The "streetfood" thing is a cute tourism gimmick, not unlike the cheese/caramel popcorn
      - Food inside the bottom of "U" of the Toronto subway line tends to be like the stuff you find inside the Chicago loop. Make of that as you will...
      In short: go Asian! When my friends from Chicago visit Toronto, they're are always amazed at the quality and quantity at all price points. Not pretentious, hip, or trendy.

      -----
      Lai Wah Heen
      108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

      Chinese Traditional Buns
      536 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

      Japango
      122 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G1P5, CA

      Anh Dao Restaurant
      383 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G6, CA

      Guu
      398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

      Yuzu
      236 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

      Dark Horse
      2401 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: growinggourmet
        w
        WhatGuy Nov 2, 2010 09:36 AM

        These suggestions help out a lot. I would have to agree that our Asian dining options dont really blow anyone out of the water. I am excited to try the Asian fare up there.

        Interestingly, when I went to Boston and visited Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai was there and had mentioned that he did not like Chicago's Chinatown either.

        1. re: WhatGuy
          c
          caitlink Nov 7, 2010 06:04 AM

          I have travelled lots thru US on business. And would have to agree that Toronto has the best Cantonese outside of the orient.
          So if you are looking for something that is good value and in the downtown area, would hit Crown Princess for dim sum before 11am for their early bird special. Most dishes are $3.10 each. Better taste and atmosphere than Chinatown. This is fine dining dim sum at great prices.
          For the splurge meal, if you want non-Western, I would try sushi Kaji.

          I just came back from San Francisco, and missed eating at Sawa Sushi since it was closed the night I went. I was so disappointed.
          Kensington market is also great fun for tourists. Lots of stores to roam thru plus you can go shopping for vintage clothes.
          I also read uhockey's blog. He has written about a lot of the major NA cities so you can't go wrong with his recommendations either.

          -----
          Crown Princess
          1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

      2. w
        WhatGuy Oct 31, 2010 07:03 PM

        All of these suggestions sound great people! Keep em coming... So far it seems I defintely have to hit up one of the "Hoof" restaurants. I've read on other websites that Kensington Market is a "must" stop for foodies too.

        7 Replies
        1. re: WhatGuy
          b
          bytepusher Nov 1, 2010 07:12 AM

          My advice, don't work on the assumption that the two hoof restaurants are interchangeable. People here love the cafe and it is an above average brunch and lunch spot but the real excitement is still confined to the original charcuterie. Don't be put off by the tales of long waits, just plan to eat early, by arriving a couple minutes early for the 6PM opening time we've never had to wait for a table, not once.

          Good advice about Kensington Market, a note, I wish I had a nickel for every time some tourist walked up to me at the corner of Kensington and Baldwin and asked "where is the Kensington Market?". Kensington Market is a neighborhood with shops and restaurants, not a specific building.

          1. re: bytepusher
            GoodGravy Nov 1, 2010 08:45 AM

            Good point re: Kensington Market. I suggest going there hungry and noshing @ Jumbo Empanada, getting a banh mi from one of the places on Spadina, maybe a sandwich at European Meats, coffee and a treat @ Ideal, Moonbean, Wantda's Pie in the Sky, etc., and then walk the short distance over to Caplanskys.

          2. re: WhatGuy
            a
            anabelgg Nov 1, 2010 07:34 AM

            WhatGuy...I agree with TorontoJo (and he's also from Chicago so he probably knows what you can get here and not there). The only edit I'd make is to take Guu off the list. I'm originally from Vancouver and Guu is 100 times better there, the Toronto version doesn't compare, nor do the izakays in general. I'd replace Guu with a burrito at Burrito Boyz, or if you want to SPLURGE, Splendido is one of Toronto's best restaurants.

            Otherwise TorontoJo's recommendations re: Hoof, Ghandi's, Petit Dejeuner/Bonjour Brioche are great, and they hit a lot of Toronto's vibrant areas. If you want to add another area, you could try Liberty Village - they have a brunch spot called School that serves this ridiculously good four cheese egg souffle omelet :)

            -----
            Splendido
            88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

            Burrito Boyz
            218 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

            Guu
            398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

            1. re: anabelgg
              TorontoJo Nov 1, 2010 07:46 AM

              Ooh, I'd have to say give Burrito Boyz a skip. Chicago's Mexican food scene is light years ahead of ours, both on the cheap and cheerful taqueria front and the high-end fine dining front.

              And while Guu may not be as good here as it is in Vancouver, the experience is still great and very different than anything I've seen in Chicago (not that I've been to every izakaya in Chicago, of course).

              But for sure, there are lots of other great options other than Guu. Looking forward to hearing back about where WhatGuy ends up!

              -----
              Burrito Boyz
              218 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

              Guu
              398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

              1. re: anabelgg
                c
                childofthestorm Nov 1, 2010 08:11 AM

                I've been to better izakayas in Japan, so what? Our pal here is coming to Toronto, not Vancouver. And from Chicago, where they don't have a spot like Guu, so it's absolutely worth a trip, no one has a bad time there. A great night would be to hit the Hoof at 6, then go for drinks, then hit Guu at 10 for second dinner. Who doesn't love second dinner?

                1. re: childofthestorm
                  w
                  WhatGuy Nov 2, 2010 09:30 AM

                  Second Dinner??? Never thought of that.... but LOVE the idea! Nice.

                  1. re: WhatGuy
                    haggisdragon Nov 8, 2010 05:46 AM

                    I also love that idea. Especially Hoof and Guu in the same night. Your head may explode. (Thanks ekim for that turn of phrase)

                    -----
                    Guu
                    398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

            2. miketoronto Oct 27, 2010 05:39 PM

              Leave it to Canadians to self analyze this much :)

              Kensington is a good call, especially for cheaper eats. But stick to the original recommendations.

              2 Replies
              1. re: miketoronto
                k
                KitchenVoodoo Oct 27, 2010 08:25 PM

                I always take visitors to Kensington, and they love the adventure. I usually start them off with a little dim sum at Rol San on Spadina, then march them accross to Salsas or El Trompo for tacos, followed by crepes and coffee at that wonderful hungarian place, and if we're still around when it opens, we'll go to Torito for sherry and tapas. And if any serious food addicts in the party insist on a late night treat we'll go back to Spadina for Pho, or seafood and fried rice. I will add Debu's Indian in Kensington to my list if fellow Hounds recommend it.

                -----
                El Trompo
                277 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2M1, CA

                Rol San
                323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                Torito
                276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                  mariecollins Oct 28, 2010 06:35 AM

                  Go on a Saturday and catch some of the afternoon Jazz matinee at Grossmans too! Oh, its meant to be about food - they have pickled eggs!

              2. jlunar Oct 26, 2010 08:30 AM

                I'm repeating, but here are some expanded notes:

                Black Hoof is my top rec in the city to everyone but vegetarians and there are no reservations. You may have to wait for an hour or more. Located across the street is The Hoof Cafe (great for brunch!), and at night serves snack foods and drinks while you wait for your seats at The Black Hoof. If you go early/late, seats are less of an issue. Plus these guys are open Sunday/Monday. Cash only.

                The Hoof Cafe for lunch. Good stuff. Lines too. Make a res, give them your cell, walk down the street for a coffee. It's a little far, but walking up and down Queen Street West (one street south of the resto) is nice too. Can visit shops like Knife and The Spice Trader, and grab a pastry from Nadege (I really like their salted caramel tart), eat some ice cream from Delight (not in production now, but mint choco sooo good), and there's Tealish, among other, less food-oriented, shops.

                Guu is not my top Izakaya rec, but it would be something unlike anything you've seen in Chicago (note: I've gone eating there recently, but only once) from what I can tell. Also long lines and +1 hr waits. If you eat here. Go early. By early, I mean, hit the doors about 30 minutes before opening.

                Lai Wah Heen for dim sum is nice, but not as exciting as it once was. I'd almost say go to Crown Princess instead (but I have not been to the latter) for a better bang for your buck, especially if you can put your orders in before 10:30a for their special.

                Maybe go to Bloor and Christie and walk korea-town (note: spicy food). Grab a bowl of pork bone soup and some hodo kwaja (walnut cakes). I happen to like Ajuker fried chicken and the spicy chicken there. I can't speak to authenticity, but I enjoy both with a bowl of white rice. Yum.

                ---
                http://www.foodpr0n.com -- more pictures. less adjectives.

                -----
                Lai Wah Heen
                108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                Spice Trader
                805 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                Tealish
                198 Walnut Ave, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                Guu
                398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

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

                Crown Princess
                1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

                5 Replies
                1. re: jlunar
                  Notorious P.I.G. Oct 26, 2010 12:27 PM

                  ...which reminds me. If you hit Hodo Kwaja for some Walnut Cakes, definitely try their brown sugar pancake. They start making them around 5pm or so most days and if you go in around that time i'm sure you could get one fresh off the flat top.

                  -----
                  Hodo Kwaja
                  656 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                    jlunar Oct 26, 2010 12:32 PM

                    OOooooohhh... O_O brown... sugar... pancakes....

                  2. re: jlunar
                    miketoronto Oct 26, 2010 08:10 PM

                    Couldn't agree more with these recs. You neeeed to go to Guu and Hoof or Hoof Cafe. I think Origin is pretty solid and a fun atmosphere. Lai Wah Heen for dim sum. Canoe for a beautiful view, great service with solid (not transcendental) food.

                    -----
                    Lai Wah Heen
                    108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                    Guu
                    398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                    1. re: jlunar
                      Wiley Oct 26, 2010 08:51 PM

                      Yeahh sizzling hot pork bone soup - a must!

                      1. re: Wiley
                        t
                        Toronto Fastfoodie Oct 27, 2010 04:31 AM

                        Didn't the original post say he was on a budget with only one splurge meal? This chow'er needs some more reasonably priced meals, like a great ramen place or something.

                    2. Notorious P.I.G. Oct 25, 2010 11:21 PM

                      I would also add a Roti from Ghandi to that list. I prefer the Saag Paneer or the Malai Kofta but everyone is different. I would also head just down the street to New York Subway (which is not a sub shop at all) for a Lamb Satay Jumbo Burrito.

                      I'll also go right ahead and be the one to recommend (or second, or third) The Black Hoof and The Hoof Cafe. I think they're my personal favorite in the city right now.

                      Get a hotdog for personal reference and comparison but it's really nothing special in terms of having a defining characteristic other than it's size and maybe a couple different varietal of sausage. Condiments are vast and do it yourself. (Been trying to find a guy with Celery Salt to no avail)

                      Would also get a Veal Sandwich from California Sandwiches (244 Claremont St location) and a Burger from the Burger's Priest. My favorite burger is from Shake Shack and theirs (along with their shroom burger) is a pretty good substitute. I don't know how much you get to NY or if you even like Shake Shack, but if you like it and don't get to the big apple often then Burgers Priest may be a worthwhile stop. I will add a caveat: It's a bit east of the downtown core.

                      Would also recommend the Lobster 4 ways at Omei, Lai Wah Heen's Dim Sum, and maybe even the King Char Siu at John's BBQ. The latter is something I feel that I can't live without and is by far one of my favorite dishes in the city. If you have transportation, Richmond Hill has a rich culinary landscape all its own.

                      The best poutine in the city is definitely from the blue fry truck at city hall. That said, just know you're not getting a shining example of Canadian Poutine. Poutine is something best left to Ottawa, it's surrounding area, and Quebec.

                      I would also recommend Guu Izakaya in the Japanese category for good food and a lively atmosphere. Nothing quite like them in Chicago or anywhere else in North America for that matter. Except of course the other Guu outposts in Vancouver.

                      Sushi Kaji is also a great idea and I would agree with Charles in saying that it's among the top Japanese restaurants in North America. Maybe somewhere just outside the top which for me would be Urasawa, Masa, KurumaZushi, Sasabune, Zo, Mori etc...But definitely top ten. I would prefer it over Morimoto's regular Omakase but maybe not over his extended, sky's the limit, pay what you want Omakase. Haven't been to Morimoto in the Napa Valley yet but I hear mixed reviews.

                      I would shy away from any French, Molecular, or Oaxacan ;) cuisine in Toronto as Chicago I feel, does these things better.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                        TorontoJo Oct 26, 2010 03:59 AM

                        Welcome to Toronto, WhatGuy! Ex-pat, dual-citizen, ex-Chicagoan here. Toronto's a great city for eating, don't let anyone tell you differently. I agree with pretty much N. PIG's entire list:

                        Ghandi: roti -- basically non-existent in Chicago and well worth it. When I moved back to Chicago for a year, I missed Ghandi's roti a LOT. It was one of the first things I sought out when I moved back.

                        Guu: crazy, loud, buzzing izakaya with no equivalent experience in Chicago. Yummy Japanese small plates to be washed down with sake or beer. Be prepared to wait.

                        Lai Wah Heen: upscale, refined dim sum with no equal in Chicago. Lunch only, don't bother with dinner (no dim sum).

                        Black Hoof for fun nose-to-tail cuisine (prepare for a wait and a get a cocktail and nosh across the street).

                        And pretty much ditto on the rest. I'll also second Charles' Chiado recommendation, as Chicago doesn't have a Portuguese fine dining equivalent. I actually enjoy the bar menu (small plates) more than the regular menu, but that's a personal preference. Chiado is a good option if you're looking for a more "western" dining experience, rather than ethnic or cheap and cheerful.

                        Personally, I would skip Lady Marmalade -- think of a sad, unworthy shadow of Bongo Room in Chicago (god, I miss their pancakes). For breakfast, I would recommend Le Petit Dejeuner or Bonjour Brioche (cash only) for a good Toronto experience. Both places fill up shortly after opening, so either go early, or be patient. :) Or if you want a more exotic breakfast/brunch, go to Black Hoof Cafe -- nose-to-tail brunch!

                        I'd also skip Copper Chimney, which just opened and has gotten excellent reviews. The problem is that it's not in the downtown core and not terribly convenient by transit or even car for that matter. Plus, Chicago has decent Indian food, so I wouldn't put it high on my must-do list.

                        And as others have mentioned, street food in Toronto is essentially non-existent. So hey, try a hot dog or sausage cart as an afternoon snack some day as you're wandering around, but don't waste one of your meals on it.

                        Enjoy your trip and please, please, report back on what you ate!

                        -----
                        Lai Wah Heen
                        108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                        Bonjour Brioche
                        812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                        Chiado
                        864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                        Le Petit Dejeuner
                        191 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1J5, CA

                        Copper Chimney
                        619 Kingston Rd W, Ajax, ON L1S6L8, CA

                        Yummy Japanese Restaurant
                        505 7 Highwa E, Thornhill, ON L3T7T1, CA

                        Guu
                        398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

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

                        1. re: TorontoJo
                          uhockey Oct 26, 2010 08:55 AM

                          While I've not been to Blackhoof, I wonder if it would be a "different" experience for someone from Chicago where "tail to snout" has been well embraced by multple cooks from Kahan to the folks at Mado where they'll even teach you to butcher a pig.

                          Avec, Publican, The Bristol, Purple Pig, Girl and The Goat, Mado - I just wonder if Blackhoof offers something he couldn't get better/equal in Ohio.

                          As someone who has been to most of Chicago's brunch spots I can definitley say Bonjour Brioche is a "can't miss" in Toronto and if Conviction were still operating I'd strongly push for a brunch there, as well.

                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                          -----
                          Bonjour Brioche
                          812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                          Purple Pig
                          1 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H3W4, CA

                          1. re: uhockey
                            jlunar Oct 26, 2010 09:46 AM

                            I ate at Mado and Purple Pig when I was in Chicago and feel that the Black Hoof, while similar, is a different experience. I usually don't eat the charcuterie board when I go - it's all the other dishes they offer that really appeal to me. I'd still rate BH above Mado and Purple Pig, but by no means are they far apart.

                            -----
                            Purple Pig
                            1 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H3W4, CA

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

                            1. re: uhockey
                              Notorious P.I.G. Oct 26, 2010 12:34 PM

                              Personally, I would take the Black Hoof over Kahan's restaurants etc. Yes they do the whole nose to tail thing but I feel that they're more playful and innovative with it. I actually kind of find them almost similar to Commonwealth in SF in terms of playful innovation.

                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                estufarian Oct 26, 2010 12:43 PM

                                Not clear to me whether you're comparing Commonwealth to the Chicago places (in which case, why bother) or Black Hoof.

                                Commonwealth certainly uses 'unusual' meats etc., but it's more of a conventional kitchen as far as food preparation is concerned. The Hoof basically only has a couple of burners and an oven (with which they do wonders). Commonwealth is a 'full-service kitchen'.

                                And I recommend BOTH! But Black Hoof is NOTHING like Commonwealth!

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

                                1. re: estufarian
                                  Notorious P.I.G. Oct 26, 2010 01:23 PM

                                  I am comparing a sense of playful invention in black hoof's food (and maybe more Hoof Cafe) to the same kind of playful invention I find at Commonwealth.

                                  This has nothing to do with what kind of kitchens they have or what kind of ingredients they use but more to do with how I feel when I see what interesting combinations are set down before me on the plate at both restaurants. I agree with you though, on the surface, both are worlds apart but both make me smile in the same way.

                                  I realize this is hugely subjective and maybe trying to pin down and address two restaurants I find similarities in in terms of a sense of playful innovation is probably not going to come across well in type but I guess I had to try.

                                  Just curious, how is commonwealth more conventional (than black hoof?) when it comes to food preparation? I find Commonwealth blends MG techniques into their food in places.

                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                    estufarian Oct 27, 2010 06:12 AM

                                    This is rapidly veering off-topic (so I won't respond further here - but feel free to have the last word). My comment on visiting Commonwealth was 'the closest to this in Toronto is L.A.B."
                                    So back to Toronto restos:
                                    I do not consider L.A.B. to be remotely similar to Black Hoof. They are each their own style - and both are regular stops for me.

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

                        2. b
                          bytepusher Oct 25, 2010 06:59 PM

                          Whoever recommended Toronto street food was pulling your leg, street food in Toronto is, by law, limited to hot dogs and sausages. Get this, they can't even offer cooked onions or peppers as a condiment, the health department considers them dangerous. What there are plenty of is good hole-in-the-wall ethnic places.

                          The classic "Toronto" snack is the peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel bakery at the St. Lawrence Market. "Peameal" is the local name for brine cured back bacon with a crust of yellow pea or cornmeal on the fat, cut thick and cooked on a flattop, served on a soft roll with another local invention, honey mustard. This is what USAian "Canadian Bacon" is supposed to be a copy of, in more or less the same way as Pat Boone was supposed to be a copy of Elvis.

                          I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Black Hoof because it usually makes it on to these kinds of lists, nose to tail eating but done very creatively and not a break the bank place.

                          -----
                          St. Lawrence Market
                          92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

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

                          1. Charles Yu Oct 25, 2010 05:47 PM

                            These recommendations have been made to out-of-towners umpteen times. However, I'll repeat them once again!

                            IMO, Toronto has the best Cantonese food outside of the Orient. No food in American China towns, be it San Fran., LA, NYC or Chicago even come close!! As such, I will definitely go for a Dim Sum lunch at Lai Wah Heen ( best Dim Sum in town ) or an acceptable secong choice, Crown Prince. If you have transportation, then, for your weekend dinner splurge, I would suggest heading north to Richmond Hill and have the Giant Atlantic Lobster - 4 ways at O'Mei! Even the soon become Michelin 3* chef Grant Archez of Alinea will be impressed! Add to it a whole Geoduck clam sashimi and you might want to stay in Toronto longer!

                            I was not too impressed with Chicago's Japanese food scene. So, another choice will be to try out the Omakase ( Chef's choice tasting menu ) at Sushi Kaji. IMO, best Japanese restaurant east of the Rockies and outside of NYC. ( I haven't eaten at Morimoto's restaurant in Philadelphia, so I can't say ). Amazing food and plate presentation!

                            Readhead's suggestion of oysters at Starfish is another great idea. October is the start of ' flats' season. They should have some great selection including French Belons and Irish Galway flats!! Yummm!

                            Wishing you a great chow-time at our city!

                            -----
                            Lai Wah Heen
                            108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                            Sushi Kaji
                            860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                            Crown Princess
                            1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              uhockey Oct 25, 2010 05:51 PM

                              Achatz. Grant Achatz. He is only the biggest name in North American food. ;-)

                              Lai Wah Heen is excellent and I'd also lobby for a breakfast at Bonjour Brioche.

                              I also loved Canoe - the view is Everest, the food is Blackbird with a Canadian twist, the service is Trotter's.

                              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                              -----
                              Lai Wah Heen
                              108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                              Bonjour Brioche
                              812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                              1. re: uhockey
                                j
                                jmarcroyal Oct 25, 2010 06:00 PM

                                What about Shawarma, that seems to be the latest hot trend in Toronto, if you can get out to Scarborough Id recommend going to Shawarma Empire and getting the 2 Shawarma for 5.99 deal. Im sure there are other decent places downtown but I havent tried them...

                                As a Chicago guy, maybe you would want to try Toronto's Street Meat, I love our Hot Dog and Sausage Street Vendors, always juicy and delicious. I know Hot Dogs are big in Chicago so maybe you want to try and compare. Id recommend the Italian Sausage, usually found for $3-$4 at any of the Carts.

                                If you can get up to the Danforth, Id recommend trying a Gyro from Messini's(Logan and Danforth area), maybe also grab some Tiropita or Spanakopita from Athens Pastries just a bit down the street(Or just Loukomades for dessert!)

                                Oh, and Burger Priest is a good option. Its becoming a local destination spot here in Toronto, everyone on this board loves it. Its located at Queen and Coxwell, right across from a movie theater. You could always have dinner/lunch and a show, also, if you are taking transit, you are on the Queen St Streetcar line, so you can hop on the westbound and take it to the Eaton Center for some shopping or whatever!

                                -----
                                Athens Pastries
                                509 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                Shawarma Empire
                                1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                1. re: uhockey
                                  Charles Yu Oct 25, 2010 06:39 PM

                                  To me, I still think Thomas Keller is the Grand Master!
                                  When did you eat at Canoe last?? IMO, Food has gone down hill!!

                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    uhockey Oct 25, 2010 06:43 PM

                                    Achatz is in his own kitchen daily - Keller is not. Alinea is now higher rated in all ways than Per Se or TFL. The poster was from Chicago. You butched Achatz's name, not Keller's.

                                    I have been to all of Keller's restaurants and I think his concepts are amazing, but in 2010 Achatz is the man.

                                    I went to Canoe in November of 09.

                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                  2. re: uhockey
                                    k
                                    KitchenVoodoo Oct 25, 2010 07:44 PM

                                    Second Canoe for a terrific dinner - perfect description by "unhockey". Normally, a place with such a fabulous view would have diabolical food, but Canoe delivers on every point. Try and gauge the weather before you book - I once took an airline pilot to lunch there on a day when the windows were blanketed in low clouds. He was gracious about having lunch "with the same view as my flight deck" but he adored the food! If you are a cheese fan, they usually have a great board featuring local (Ontario and Quebec) products. Service is lovely.

                                    1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                      Charles Yu Oct 25, 2010 09:09 PM

                                      IMO, Chicago has plenty of 'western cuisine' restaurants that serve better food and provide a better 'total package' than Canoe. Otherwise, Michelin will not be devoting a whole stand-alone guide on the city, coming out this November. For the view, I would head up CN tower! For food, I would try something 'different'! If you are against Chinese or Japanese, why not Portuguese at Chiado?! Very unique wine-list too.

                                      -----
                                      Chiado
                                      864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                                      1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                        uhockey Oct 26, 2010 03:06 AM

                                        It is actually uhockey, not un, though being American I guess I'm not quite "as hockey" as all the Canadians posting here. :-) But thanks.

                                        Canoe was amazing for lunch, I'd expect that dinner would be even better from the menu.

                                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                  3. t
                                    Toronto Fastfoodie Oct 25, 2010 04:43 PM

                                    First of all, don't listen to what other people tell you when they say that Toronto is not a good food city; it is. I would go to a restaurant that specializes in local ingredients and local foods. Try Local KItchen: they really try to use local, in season ingredients as much as possible and is pretty reasonably priced. I would also try some of our ethnic foods as we are the most multicultural city in the world. Currently my favourites are Copper Chimney for Indian (brand new restaurant in North Toronto but still well within the city limits), South China Seafood in Chinatown at Spadina and College, and Poutine; there are a lot of great restaurants that specialize in just poutine but I think that you can get some of the best poutine (fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds) at the blue chip truck outside city hall. All in all, I would not try to eat something that is "american" here; you will probably win. Try to have food that focuses on what we do best: either ethnic or local ingredients.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie
                                      redhead Oct 25, 2010 05:21 PM

                                      I've been on the Chicago board lately researching that city and boy, I sure hope Toronto doesn't dissapoint! My biggest complaint is lack of consistency at the restaurants. I agree with Torontofastfoodie's recs for going ethnic/local while in Toronto. In terms of food + ambience, I would probably suggest either Globe Bistro (on the Danforth) or George (Queen Street). Lots of people here may point you to St. Lawrence Market, which I think is a good choice for a "canadian bacon" sandwich and a little tour. I also like going to Starfish Oyster House (Adelaide and Jarvis) to sit at the bar and make a meal of oysters and appetizers..friendly atmosphere..Lady Marmalade on Queen st. east does a nice, creative brunch, but get there early as it fills quickly!

                                      -----
                                      St. Lawrence Market
                                      92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                                      1. re: redhead
                                        k
                                        KitchenVoodoo Oct 25, 2010 07:32 PM

                                        I wouldn't recommend Lady Marmalade, I've been twice and it was vile. Sloppy food prep, the waitress seemed (in my opinion) to be stoned, savoury items were cold greasy and burned, crepes were an unsophisticated sugar overload. The place seems to be what happens when a bunch of art students smoke up and go "hey dude, let's open a breakfast place..."
                                        Bonjour Brioche further east on Queen is a better experience for brunch, the food and the chef are from France, expect lineups after 9 on Sat or Sun.

                                        -----
                                        Bonjour Brioche
                                        812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                      2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie
                                        y
                                        ylsf Oct 25, 2010 05:32 PM

                                        Is Copper Chimney linking to the wrong spot? Shows a spot in Ajax.. You said "well within the city limits" so I am guessing it might be an error... Where is the spot you are talking about located?

                                        Edit: I am guessing you are referring to this place:

                                        http://www.the-copper-chimney.com/ind...

                                        Is it related to the place in Ajax? Sounds like the place in Ajax is a unique mix of persian/indian cuisines

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                                        Copper Chimney
                                        619 Kingston Rd W, Ajax, ON L1S6L8, CA

                                        1. re: ylsf
                                          t
                                          Toronto Fastfoodie Oct 25, 2010 05:41 PM

                                          The copper chimney I am talking about is in Toronto on Avenue just below the 401. It just opened last month. So good! Here is their website: http://www.the-copper-chimney.com/

                                          One more original thing I would try in Toronto is the brunch at Free Times Cafe. It is a jewish style menu with bagels, lox, cream cheese, and many more etc's... While not gourmet (and from your posting you said that is not a priority for you) it clearly highlights the popularity of ethnic cuisine in Toronto.

                                          -----
                                          Free Times Cafe
                                          320 College St, Toronto, ON M5T1S3, CA

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