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Back in Toronto -- Help me prioritize the new restos and eateries!

Hello again, Toronto Chowhounds!

I have not been living in Toronto since about May 2010. I have done a quick scan of the boards, as well as a scan of the other usual suspects for restaurant reviews (Toronto Life, Now Magazine, etc.) and I have come to realize that the list of new things happening/that have happened on the Toronto restaurant/eatery scene is quite overwhelming. Therefore, I am asking if you could be so kind as to help me prioritize my rediscovery of Toronto food.

Based on my research, it seems like I need to break things down into a few categories, and in each category please list your top 3 to 5 picks that have sprung up in the last 2 years (I would prefer if the selections were kept to downtown Toronto as I don't have a car). The categories are (and yes, I realize there may be overlap among these categories -- I'll leave it to you how you want to categorize a restaurant):

- High-end & Hotel dining (e.g., Has David Chang's opened up yet? How is Stock?)
- Sandwich shops & fast food (Bahn Mi Boys? Porchetta? Paramount?)
- Asian (Guu? Wabora? Amaya Express? Swish by Han?)
- Mid-range dining (Barque? Buca?)
- Other (open category for places that don't fit into any of the above categories)

As always, your help is much appreciated!

-Juniper

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  1. High-end & Hotel dining
    - the Chang restos open in August
    - Reviews of $tock have been horrible
    - I think TOCA and Scarpetta have opened since you were here, mixed reviews
    - Not much has changed in the non-hotel fine dining space except might consider the just open Edulis in this category

    - Sandwich/Fast
    - Everything you list worth a look
    - not sure if it really fits the category but 416 Snackbar
    - Burger joints galore. I think the Burgers Priest thing had just started, now add Holy Chuck and many other contenders

    - Mid Range
    Huge activity in this space, literally dozens of places worth a visit
    - County General
    - Acadia
    - Woodlot
    - Keirwa
    - Gabardine
    - Buca
    - Gusto 101
    - Campagnolo
    - Enoteca Sociale
    and others will suggest more

    1. High-end & Hotel Dining:
      TOCA is great, if you have them make up a cocktail they want to make sure you enjoy it otherwise they'll make you something different. they're also fun.
      while the hotels are ramping up, the independent fine dining has been on a downturn for a while now.

      Sandwich shops & fast food:
      porchetta for sure, other than that i haven't had too much experience (BMB just reopened) but would like to try the sausage place in SLM. i thought paramount was outside of downtown?
      am a fan of the one that got away for fish & chips, might have already been opened. holy chuck burger.

      Asian:
      guu, church locale over bloor. yummy yummy for dumplings (though not much else).

      Mid-range:
      buca was a disappointment last night, otherwise i would be cheering them on. loving campagnolo, 416 snack bar, gabardine (good spot for sandwiches but not what i would consider fast)

      1. IMO I wouldn't rush to Porchettta Co anymore. The great pork is no longer. I know there are plenty of fans but what can I say! We had sandwiches, beans and potatoes last night. Beans were great! Potatoes average but the sandwiches??? First of all, the re-heated meat is just tasting worse and worse, but this time it suffered even more as both of us could be seen holding on to tough pieces of pork we were trying to chew threw! If they had never been such great sandiwiches in the past, I would never even think twice about them. The worst part of it was there were 2 fresh roasts sitting there on display and frankly next time I am going to ask them to get the knife out of the drawer to slice me something FRESH!!! Those sandwiches were truly awful! Dry and greasy tasting. I wonder if Nick eats the pork anymore to know how terribly the meat is affected with his shortcuts?

        On the delicious side, they have soft shell crabs again! Hopefully they are frying them fresh this afternoon. I hate to think they fried them all up yesterday to serve them quickly today. They were awesome last year - I am hoping the same for today!

        7 Replies
        1. re: justsayn

          I liked their po' boys better, but I'll still be there for softshell!

          1. re: jlunar

            I've known them to have the porchetta sandwich, porchetta grilled cheese and the soft shell crab po' boy. Was there another rendition along the way?

            1. re: justsayn

              There's the soft shell crab sammy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/5...) and a soft shell po' boy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/6...). It's the latter that I like better :) But if we're listing stuff they've done, they've also done the porchetta waffle.

              1. re: jlunar

                On that measure - its the po' boy version of the soft shell that they are doing today/tonight. That is how I have had it in the past and loved it!

                Forgot the waffle....that came out after their pork jumped the shark for me. Then there is their breakfast sandwich too...

          2. re: justsayn

            the only time i've had dry porchetta was the day they were celebrating their one year and they were pumping them out for cheap. otherwise i had a super succulent one a few weeks after. i did notice that the portions are getting smaller and the crackling less present, but it was still tasty and moist. they're always slicing when i've been, never tucked any presliced in between bread for me.

          3. Echo negative comments RE: Porchetta and Co-just not worth it anymore. Overpriced, and I too had a really dry sandwich last time I was there. I've been spoiled with the best porchetta in Sudbury, so my expectations were maybe a little high for this place.

            For a great Greek pork souvlaki, head to Folia Grill.

            For Asian, consider Khao San Road. I'm also eagerly waiting for Nick Liu's new place to open, GwaiLo.

            The taco trend has finally arrived in Toronto, so you may want to check that out as well, although it's personally not my thing.

            This thread may also help:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827413

            1. Was just in Toronto - would put Buca up against hand made pasta spots in New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia without hesitation. They get a little overzealous on the offal "shock-and-awe" at times (Brains on the friti, pig blood in the dessert) but the three pastas, one pizza, and two desserts we had were all standouts. The garlic rosemary knots didn't do much for me.

              Pictures are:
              - Scamorza Pizza with house cured fennel pork salumi, radicchio, chili, local smoked buffalo milk cheese
              - Fusilli Al Ferretto fresh hand rolled fusilli with fennel soffritto, green tomato and golden delicious apple sauce, spot prawns, toasted focaccia
              - Bigoli hand cranked duck egg pasta with duck ragu, mascarpone, basil
              - Spaghetti Alla Carbonara bronze die cut gragnano di napoli pasta with house made guanciale, pecorino, black pepper tossed tableside with farm hen’s egg
              - Tiramisu di Buca espresso soaked house made tapioca biscuits layered with mascarpone and chaocolate mousse
              - Risotto Originario sweet risotto with heirloom Calabrian rice finished with buffalo milk, chianti poached plum, Quebec Flora Honey, Amaretti, Candied Clover

              http://endoedibles.com