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Sep 27, 2011 09:24 AM

Toronto this weekend - Here's my short list, please comment & add suggestions!

I'm traveling for work and staying pretty close to downtown on Charles St. E near the Univ. of Toronto.

We're pretty adventurous eaters and will be going to Inniskillin Winery on Friday and St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. Here's what I've come up with and I know we won't be able to eat through everything.

We'll have a car and I guess I don't have anything set yet for breakfast or Chinatown. I was hoping we could find a pork-centric place like Au Pied De Cochon or Sugar Shack in/around Toronto or close to Niagara. Definitely Korean-heavy, but we want to try a really good K-BBQ place.

Owl of Minerva
Oh Geul Boh Geul
Taste of Quebec
Korean Grill House
The Ceili Cottage
Cho Dang Soon
The Rebel House

Thanks very much in advance!

Rebel House
1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

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

Oh Geul Boh Geul
5320 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N5P9, CA

Ceili Cottage
1301 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

Owl of Minerva
5661 Steeles Ave E, Toronto, ON M1V5P6, CA

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  1. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but really good Korean bbq is not possible in Toronto IMO. Please do not waste your money on Korean Grill House. The other Korean places you've listed for Korean will be fine, cheap and cheerful and tasty but they won't blow your mind.

    Starfish is great for oysters and fish dishes, Ceili is owned but the same person but the menu is very different and I don't think the food is as good.

    Taste of Quebec has great tasty items and you should hit Soma if you're going to be in that area.

    Acadia will be by far the most expensive resto you've selected. I suggest you make a reservation ASAP as they are a bit of a hot ticket at the moment.

    Rebel House is nothing special so unless you have a specific reason to visit, skip it.

    Rebel House
    1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: JennaBean

      Thanks for the quick reply.

      Starfish seemed good, but prices were higher than I expected. $30 for a dozen oysters is well beyond what I'm used to paying for the local ones here in FL.

      Any recommendations for lunch/brunch inside of St Lawrence Market?

      1. re: nerditry

        How much does a dozen oysters cost where you live? They are usually around 2.50 to $3 each in Toronto

        1. re: foodyDudey

          $20 or less for local oysters. Imported stuff between $20-$35 depending on provenance.

        2. re: nerditry

          $30 is pretty typical for a dozen oysters here. You can find slightly cheaper ones at Oyster Boy but I believe the min is around $24 per dozen. Considering we are not next to an source like you are in FL this to be expected.

          For inside SLM there is the peameal sandwich with egg and cheese from a few different places. Some people have a fav but I really don’t I just love all that back-bacon on a bun! At the back there is a fish and chip place that does some good clam strips if that's your thing.

          If you want to venture outside of the market for Sunday brunch Beast is one of the better options IMO. Folks on the board really like Marben but it is not so much my thing.

          For lunch you could try dim sum on Spadina. My go to cheap and cheerful place is Rol San. Spadina east side north of Dundas and south of College.

          You could also visit Kensington and have some tasty items in the back of El Gordo. Agusta west side. North of Dundas and South of College.

          If you want a great pork fix checkout Porchetta and Co for well a great porchetta sandwich! On Sat's they often run specials like soft-shell crab sandwiches as well. Dundas just west of Bathrust on the south side.

          Oyster Boy
          872 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1G3, CA

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

          488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

          El Gordo
          214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

      2. One very specific thing for this weekend. If you didn't know already it is Nuit Blanche on Saturday night which is a huge mainly outdoor art event/exhibit/drunk people in the street (as of recent years). As it is happening in the area you are staying it may effect your ability to drive in or out of that area as it gets very busy for this event. Even TTC will be overloaded that night so I recommend maybe eating that night around where you are staying or to head out to Food Truck Eats even happening at Distillery District that night (there is a thread on that here, or at least on the last event to give you an idea what to expect). If you want something more formal then just keep in mind Nuit Blanche. And, I do recommend checking it out if you can, one of my favourite Toronto events.

        Overall, I recommend Brickwork Market over St. Lawrence market but if you can do both, Brickworks is pretty unique and interesting to watch it develop into a destination itself.

        And, I haven't been myself (just been to their now non-existent cafe) but you might want to consider as an option too....

        if you are looking for a spot to stop at on the way to or from Niagara I would recommend Memphis Fire BBQ in Winona (thread on it here too). Not a lot of options directly in Niagara and I definitely don' t know of a "pork-centric" place there but if you like prosciutto there is a company called Pingue that you can get at SLM or at some other retailers including Niagara -

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

        5 Replies
        1. re: ylsf

          Awesome info! We're planning on going to Nuit Blanche locations for sure and the food trucks are something we like to do down here so that's a great suggestion (also on the driving situation).

          Which truck(s) do you like?

          Regarding Black Hoof. I looked at their website and it looks interesting, but definitely a little pricey. Any idea on whether the items come with any sides? Didn't want to go somewhere that was going to put a big dent in my wallet without knowing it will ahead of time.

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

          1. re: nerditry

            No generally you get what you read on the menu for the Black Hoof. That being said, in my expereince two people can eat well for about $120 including a few pints and tip.

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

            1. re: nerditry

              If you're curious about The Black Hoof, here are my photos:

              it'll give you an idea on menus and sizes, I think...

              It's good food though. I love eating there. The Cocktail Bar (owned by Black Hoof too) is across the street too if you need to wait for a table.

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

              1. re: jlunar

                That menu looks fantastic, but I think it would put a hurt on the food budget for the trip, overall. Thank you very much and you took fantastic photos!

              2. re: nerditry

                The food truck "scene" is very much emerging in Toronto still (that is a whole other post!) so I haven't had a huge experience at the trucks except for at events like this. Really I would base my decision on what looks good that night (i.e. physically seeing the portion/presentation/etc of dish) and where the lines aren't too crazy. My favourite dish at the last one was from La Carnita which was a chorizo taco but based on your other posts it looks like you come from Florida so many you get great latin/mexican food down there already. I also really enjoyed the bacon donut from another vendor. I am hoping that the menus will be totally different this time around too. I should mention that not all the vendors have actual trucks yet so you will see some vendors in tents. La Carnita for example is a pop-up restaurant that shows up around once a month. They also give you a piece of art work (in theory, they are selling you the art work and giving you the taco for free). It is a unique print made for each time they sell food.

                Oh, and, when you go to China town, one of my other "recommends" for people is around the corner. Kensington Market. Very hippie type vibe there but if you are on a budget and want some great food options there are many choices there (again, there is a lot of latin influence but many other options too).

            2. Decent Korean BBQ can be found not in Toronto proper, but in the 'burbs. I would say that Sariwon in Thornhill is your one of your best bets for decent, authentic Korean BBQ (meaning they give you many banchan and lettuce). It is pricier ($30-40/person after tax/tip) than the questionable AYCE "Korean BBQ" places, but worth it if you crave authentic Korean BBQ.

              Since you're staying on Charles St. near UofT, if you need a basic, cheap breakfast (eggs, bacon, etc.), check out Maggie's at Yonge/Charles. It's right beside the Green P garage. It's not remarkable, except that it does a basic breakfast decently and affordably and is likely near where you're staying.

              7388 Yonge St, Vaughan, ON L4J, CA

              3 Replies
              1. re: lsk

                We're definitely good, basic breakfast folks so that suggestion is much appreciated. $40/pp for the Korean BBQ will probably be our pricey meal for the trip so hopefully we can do that.

                Thornville looks to be a decent little ride into the burbs. Anything cool to see out there?

                1. re: nerditry

                  Houses and strip malls. Not much of anything else.

                  1. re: nerditry

                    Just to make sure your GPS doesn't get you lost in your travels, you would be looking for Thornhill, not Thornville (Thornville is a lot further away!).

                2. This has been really enlightening along with looking at the results of the top reviewed restaurants on Yelp and Urbanspoon.

                  I would have genuinely thought that Toronto as a major metro city would have a lot of places that were very forward thinking with their food ideas along with many 'best of' ethnic places. What I'm finding out is that Toronto is getting those things even a little bit behind Orlando where I live and feel like we're 1-3 years behind the curve of places like New York, San Francisco, Chicago.

                  Luckily you've all done a great job in making me informed on where we eat this weekend. I hope to get back up to Canada again later in the year to try out Montreal's food.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: nerditry

                    I've travelled all over and I can assure you, Toronto is, in my opinion at least, the best city anywhere for the kind of range and quality of multicultural restaurants you're looking for.

                    It's too bad you're getting the impression that it's not an outstanding city for interesting food when it absolutely is. Some of the restaurants you initially chose do not reflect that.... you've simply made the the wrong choices in some cases. Toronto has much better spots to offer.

                    And God bless Florida, I love it. But trust me nerditry, Toronto is well ahead of Orlando in that respect.

                    1. re: magic

                      With no sarcasm, help me out.

                      The info I was starting with was based on Chinese/Korean food being a strong point and that the places serving nose to tail style food were the best options. I've got a car and a decent amount of time to drive a bit to find really excellent places.

                      There's really nothing I won't try in regard to international foods or something uniquely Toronto.

                      1. re: nerditry

                        Off the top of my head:

                        Cafe Polonez
                        Ding Tai Fung
                        The Fish Store
                        The Burger's Priest
                        Chinese Traditional Bun
                        Mother's Dumplings
                        Dr. Laffa
                        King Falafel (Bathurst/Eglinton)
                        Folia Grill
                        Porchetta & Co.
                        Southern Accent
                        New York Subway (for fusion satay wraps/subs)
                        Messini (for authentic lamb gyros)
                        Ho Ho BBQ (for crispy pork)
                        John's Chinese BBQ Restaurant (for 'King of Char Sui' pork)
                        Little India on Queen St. or Jaipur Grille on Yonge or The Copper Chimney (for great Indian)
                        Rose Café (for great banh mi meatball sandwiches)
                        Ginger (at Church/Wellesley)
                        Mashu Mashu
                        Harbord Bakery
                        Hansen's Danish Pastry Shop
                        “Bridget the Roti Lady” (Caribbean food cart at King/Bay, weather permitting)
                        Krepesz European Palascinta Café (In Kensington Market)
                        Evergreen Brick Works
                        St. Lawrence Market
                        The Distillery District
                        The Stockyards
                        Goed Eten
                        Jacque's Bistro Du Parc
                        The Rosedale Diner
                        The Monk's Table
                        Fire on the East Side
                        The County General

                        1. re: magic

                          I would add the following:

                          Food stands in the back of El Gordo (South American)

                          Torito (spanish style tapas)

                          Ethiopian House

                          Cow Bell for meat overload

                          Libretto for a great pizza

                          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                          Ethiopian House
                          4 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y1K9, CA

                          El Gordo
                          214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON , CA

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            See, already Toronto doesn't look so bad ;)

                            These are all great starting points.

                            So much more......

                    2. re: nerditry

                      We do have a lot of great places in terms of ethnic food. I just don't think that we do Korean bbq well and to get something good you have to spend more than I'm willing for that experience.

                      I would suggest that you can find some great wok hay dishes, some great Ethiopia, some good south american, good indian and good middle eastern. Those just weren't places you seemed to be looking for given your post.

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        South American would be terrific, as I'm really interested in Argentine food as a start point, though I've done the Brazilian rodizio more than a few times before.

                        What's the most far out ethnic food Toronto has and any place with really authentic Sichuan?

                    3. If you happen to read this, curious how your weekend was, where you ended up, and how you liked it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: ylsf

                        I thoroughly enjoyed Toronto. Really and truly one of the best places I've gotten to travel to.

                        We stayed right along Yonge at Charles St so a majority of our eating was there even though I had my list of places, it wasn't always possible with our entertainment plans inside downtown as we tried to walk as much as possible. On Saturday we bought an all day subway pass to get around for Nuit Blanche. The food trucks at Nuit Blanche were so far away and we got started late enough that we decided not to venture out and stuck to our walking area.

                        Off the top of my head, we ate at a couple of semi-decent sushi places, a very good Korean place for some basic late night food (kimchi jigae for me, bulgogi and rice for her), Korea Grill House for AYCE grilling which was a stellar deal at $15/pp and a very nice assortment of meats, excellent Sunday Brunch at Brownstone Bistro (a huge breakfast for the price), breakfast crepes/coffee at Cafe Mania and we ate our way through the permanent building of eats at St. Lawrence Market on Saturday.

                        We did go out to Niagara on the Lake to visit Inniskillin which was a gorgeous area that I'd really like to try to head back for the Ice Wine Harvest (though the girlfriend said I could go alone if I wanted freezing temps). While we were kinda hungry at the Falls, we looked at the restaurant there which was casual eats, but $18.75 for a grilled chicken sandwich!! I live in Orlando and that area was more touristy than even I could have guessed.

                        But St. Lawrence Market is one of the crown jewels of North America for anyone that loves to eat and cook. What a place. The variety of local produce, terrific cheeses sold by the makers, and even more important to me, the assortment of meats and game. I can tell you that I was so envious of people making their Thanksgiving orders and seeing all kinds of wild game, custom cuts and the variety of suckling pigs ready to take home. The next time that I go, I'm going to try and rent a house or apt instead of a hotel so I can have access to a kitchen.

                        On the other side of the street, we had a peameal bacon sandwich, lots of samples with the Kozlik's mustards, at one of the seafood vendors I had fresh shucked oysters and if I hadn't stuffed myself, would have definitely saved room for the seafood place at the end of the top level for grilled sardines.

                        Thanks again to everyone that helped me out!


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

                        1. re: nerditry

                          There's really not much to see during the ice wine harvest, it takes place in the middle of the night and is not predictable in time as they do it the first opportunity when the temperature criteria are met. There is an Icewine FESTIVAL in January

                          1. re: bytepusher

                            That's what I intended to do. The festival looked fun, I was told I'd be going solo for the harvest part. Didn't know that much about icewine before the trip and we brought home bottles of vidal, vidal oak aged and riesling.

                          2. re: nerditry

                            Im glad you had an enjoyable trip to Toronto and I have been following this post because I have lived in both Orlando and TO. I really think you should make another trip to TO though since you got the touristy stuff out the way and concentrate on the food because you probably would have a very good time.

                            I agree with Magic that TO is far ahead of Orlando as far as both Ethnic variety and chef driven restaurants (Even though I have to respectfully disagree that TO is the best anywhere....) and I feel like you didn't quite do the place justice.

                            The only other thing that caught me off guard is the search for South American cuisine in TO when you live in Central Florida. There is honestly not even one Latin American country better represented in Toronto than Orlando, you are in a Latin American food lovers paradise down there.