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Toronto restaurant suggestions for a couple with a child

My wife and I are visiting toronto for a week with our 1 year old child and we're looking for some restaurant suggestions from the always helpful and knowledgeable chowhounders.

The restaurants have to be child friendly and fairly casual (nothing fancy). We don't mind hole in the walls either and entrees up to $25 are fine. Oh and if there are any great halal restaurants (my wife only eats halal food), that would be excellent.

Looking for breakfast, chinese, thai, pakistani/indian, carribean, mexican, french, neopolitan pizza and contemporary restaurants. And anything else that is a must go to.

We are coming from Chicago, which has a very good restaurant scene, so our standards are fairly high.

Thanks!

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  1. Where will you be staying, and how far are you willing to travel? Do you have a car, or will you be taking public transit?

    3 Replies
    1. re: torontofoodiegirl

      We'll be staying in downtown toronto and will have a car, so we're pretty open to travelling. Also, we're visiting mainly to just get away and eat good food.

      1. re: ilikepizza

        Just a few thoughts off the top of my head (don't have much time to really put my mind to it right now):

        For Neapolitan pizza, the two hottest spots in Toronto are Libretto on Ossington (fairly far west, between Queen and Dundas) and Queen Margherita (on Queen E in Leslieville). Of the two, I'd say that Margherita is the more kid friendly. It's very casual and has very basic offerings (mostly just pizza's on the menu, but there is the option of a 3 course prix fixe too) -- although there's not a ton of selection, the pizzas are excellent.

        For Chinese, you'll probably want to head to Markham (north east of the City). I can't help you with recommendations there, but there are a lot of threads on this board that will help -- in particular, I think Charles Yu's posts will be helpful. If you want to stick closer to downtown, check out Lai Wah Heen on Chestnut St. (Dundas and University-ish) for pretty high-end dim sum. Toronto has great Chinese food, so you shouldn't miss it while you're here.

        On the other hand, you probably should take a pass on Mexican. I think if you check out this board, you'll realize pretty quickly that what Toronto has to offer kind of pales in comparison to a lot of cities in the States.

        I'm afraid I can't really help re: Halal menus.

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

        1. re: torontofoodiegirl

          Much appreciated torontofoodiegirl.

          I was expecting that Mexican wouldn't be one of Toronto's strengths.

    2. Hi ilikepizza - I have young children and we dine out fairly often so let me see if I can help you.

      One question off the bat - and pardon my ignorance - but does "my wife only eats halal food" mean that she won't eat meat anywhere, unless it's halal, or she won't eat anything in a restaurant unless it's a halal restaurant. I'm assuming it's the former as I don't know of any halal pizza or breakfast restaurants per se.

      Okay, so here we go - generally speaking, you will find the vast majority of Chinese, Thai, Indian and pizza restaurants to be across the board kid-friendly. That said, many of the best neopolitan pizza spots don't take reservations and can be quite busy during peak times so you'll want to go off-hours to avoid the line.

      Do you require high chairs? And are you on a timeline with your child i.e. do you need restaurants where you can get in and out in an hour? That's usually the timeframe we work with when eating with our kids, though they're older and at a more fidgety age than your young chowpup. Do you envision 5:30 dinners or that doesn't matter?

      Here are my suggestions:

      Pizza - Terroni, Queen Margherita Pizza and Pizzeria Libretto. Terroni and Libretto don't take reservations but are both kid-friendly, especially the Balmoral location (not downtown) of Terroni.

      Indian - current personal favourite spot, though not downtown, is Copper Chimney. Lovely service, great food, very homey.

      Breakfast - Le Pain Quotidien, while not stellar, is extremely kid-friendly, so is Easy out in the west end. For more diner food, and extremely kid-friendly, I'd suggest Cora's (crayons!!). Oh wait, your child is pre-crayons, never mind. Other spots that may work - The Drake, Gladstone Hotel, Mitzi's or Mitzi's Sister, Morning Glory. Le Petit Dejeuner gets a lot of love on this board - is it kid friendly?

      For Mexican, I really like El Jacalito at Bloor and Dufferin. It's casual, family run, cheap and very good food.

      Carribean and Halal - sorry, I don't know.

      Chinese - dim sum at the new Crown Princess, Rol San, Pink Pearl or Lai Wah Heen for the more upscale version would all be good downtown options. Others on this board will steer you to fantastic choices outside of downtown for dim sum and other great Chinese options.

      I'll think about some contemporary recommendations. Generally speaking, I find Toronto to be incredibly kid-friendly and there are few places I wouldn't consider going with our kids.

      Enjoy!

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

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

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

      Gladstone Hotel
      1214 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

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

      Le Pain Quotidien
      508 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M5N1A5, CA

      El Jacalito
      1056 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H1M3, CA

      Pizzeria Libretto
      221 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

      Mitzi's Sister
      1554 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6R1A6, CA

      Morning Glory Cafe
      457 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1L6, CA

      Queen Margherita Pizza
      1402 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: peppermint pate

        The only one I would add is Le Select for French Bistro downtown - very kid friendly.

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

        1. re: peppermint pate

          Actually, Queen Margherita does take reservations (another reason it might be a better option than Libretto!)

          1. re: torontofoodiegirl

            Yup, it's Terroni and Libretto that don't take rezzies so in that way, I agree that Margherita is the better option (though I still haven't tried it yet). Otherwise, we came up with pretty similar recs torontofoodiegirl!

          2. re: peppermint pate

            Peppermint, thanks for the excellent recommendations!

            Very good to know that toronto is in general child friendly. Btw, we would don't need a high chair, but it would be nice. I went through other posts and saw lots of recommendations, but wasn't sure how child-friendly they were. In Chicago, that is definitely a concern.

            We are fine eating lunch or dinner early/late to beat the crowds.

            On my wife, she doesn't eat meat that isn't halal, but can eat pretty much anything else (so fish, cheese, etc.). Also, she doesn't particularly mind not eating meat, but I want to at least have a few halal restaurants that she can eat at during the week. But I am a meat lover (of lamb in particular), so any place that does meat particularly well, those recommendations would be great.

          3. For a good Halal restaurant, try Bamiyan Kabob. It's an Afghani restaurant with very good kebobs and they have lamb kebob as well. It's child friendly as we have taken our 3 year old son many times and we always see families there with kids and babies.

            The kebobs are really good and juicy! I usually get the Kafta Kabob (beef) and my husband gets the Choppan which is lamb chops. All dishes come with salad and naan or you can get the dinner plate which also comes with rice.

            http://www.bamiyankabob.com/

            -----
            Bamiyan Kabob
            62 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H1C4, CA

            1. I agreed with recs for Queen Margarita, Libretto and Terroni. We've taken our 3 and 5 year old to both on several occasions and we've never had any issues. Lil Baci is also an excellent pizza/pasta with kids option.

              We also took the girls to le select (french bistro) recently, and found them to be quite kid friendly as well. I believe they have a children's menu available during certain times as well. I find that most restaurants are pretty accomodating -and it's easiest to go slightly off hours (i.e. late lunch or early dinner). We've also been to the Wine Bar on Church and the Hoof Cafe (both "contemporary" - although the latter is meat/charcuterie focussed, so probably not the best bet for your wife :-) )with our kids (granted, the 3 year old didn't eat much at either place, but we loaded her up with snacks before hand and kept the bread coming :-) ) and both restaurants were very solicitous of the kids.
              As for breakfast/brunch, kids are pretty much welcome anywhere. I'd second Mitzi's sister (get there early on a weekend to avoid line ups!). Le Petit Dejeuner is very kid friendly, but also very crowed on weekends. Globe Bistro has a high end brunch on Sundays and while I've never taken my kids, I have definitely seem them there. Alas, a couple of my fave "brunch with kids" places have closed over the past year or two (Toba, Verveine, Barrio), so I would also like to get some new recommendations in that area