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What's not to miss in toronto?

We're visiting Toronto for the first time, from Boston. We'll be coming through NOTL, and plan to chow down there. But don't know much about the food scene in Toronto. We're staying at the Metropolitan and were psyched to see that there's a great dim sum place right in the hotel. But then we looked at the prices--Sheeesh! I think we'll try Rol San, which looks more our speed, price wise.
But what should a foodie from Boston be sure to try? We're omnivores, and love hearty, peasant food, but given that it's summer time, we'll probably want to stay away from anything really heavy. Anything in Toronto that we don't see much in New England? We're not looking for "fancy shmancy"--we can do that at home. But what's special in your town? And what's the best place to try it?
Did I read that there's a great market in town? What to look for in those parts? Thanks in advance!

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

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  1. You've phrased your request in a very eloquent way to give some guidance, cool. Here are a few suggestions:

    If you want to stay within walking distance, you're near Spadina, and slightly further, Kensington Market. I'm not an expert in Asian, and there are many others here who are, so you might try a search of that word.

    Kensington Market is a group of streets that run north from Dundas to College, west of Spadina. Culturally, there are a lot of south American, central American and other provisioners there, with many small shops that are not sit-down, but sell food that you can walk aroud with. There are decent Portuguese (Amadeu's), Tapas (Torito), Mexican (El Trompo), Vietnamese (Pho Hung) in the area. If you want to try someplace very cool, there is a place called El Gordo with a bunch of counters selling mixed south American fresh foods, with a patio out the back to eat at but no liquir licence. Most of these places for take out are not open for dinner.

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    El Gordo
    214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

    1. While you're at Rol San, order the Crispy Beef with Spicy Honey Ginger Sauce. If I had to pick one dish that to eat before I left town, that would be it.

      There are better, fancier, more elegant dishes to be had in Toronto, but none that I feel as compelled to return to over and over.

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

      1. Does Boston have a large Ethiopian population?
        There are lots of Ethiopian restaurants on the Danforth west of Donlands. If anything is "hearty peasant food" it's Ethiopian. Dukem is recommended.

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        Dukem
        950 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1L9, CA

          1. xam yu - seafood! razor clams, bc spotted prawns, yes they're a more expensive ingredients but you should experience them. It's still relatively cheap compared to western fine dining prices.

            swatow - wok hay dishes, water spinach with shrimp paste or fermented bean curd, salted fish and chicken fried rice, beef brisket with radish. Also their wonton mein is my fav for downtown.

            tien thanh - great pho, really really great pho, my fav in the city. I eat this weekly, I sound like a broken record.

            pam's carribean kitchen - their curry goat rot. I suddenly got a serious case of munchies thinking about it.

            nazareth - I think it's ok, but, this restaurant fits your description to a t.

            2 Replies
            1. re: aser

              +1 on Swatow.

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              Swatow
              309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

              1. re: aser

                I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that is "curry goat roti." Didn't want anyone scared off, but it's a GREAT typo.