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Critique my "must try" list for Toronto!

Okay, so I've done some research and am looking for your opinions on my picks. I am trying to decide what is likely a years worth of lunches and dinners out. What do you think?

Sandwiches - Porchetta & Co, Cora's Kitchen

Indian - Copper Chimney or Jaipur Grille

Chinese - Spadina Garden, Szechuan Szechuan, and Brilliant Chinese in Markham (have been to Lee Garden already)

Dim Sum - Crown Princess or Pearl

Thai - Khao San Road (have been to Mengrai and Linda already)

Italian - Splendido, Paese (King location), Tutti Mati, Mistura and Enoteca Sociale (have been to Buca and Campagnolo)

Pizza - Pizzeria Libretto, Pizza e Pazzi

American/Canadian - Burger's Priest, Harbord Room, Acadia, Black Hoof, Marben, Woodlot, Grand Electric

BBQ - Barque, Big Bone BBQ in Newmarket, and Buster Rhino's in Whitby (have been to Stockyards)

French - Pastis, Simple Bistro, Le Select, Auberge (have been to Didier, Celestin, Coquine and Le Papillon)

Portuguese - Bloor Village Grill, Churrasqueira Estrela (have been to Chiado)

Japanese - Zen, Guu Izakaya (have been to Qi)

Vietnamese - Yuen Tung

Mexican - Have been to Milagro. I can't find anywhere else the CH board likes enough to try.

Morrocan - couldn't find anything on the boards

Polish - didn't find anything on the boards except a thread about schnitzel

Lebanese - Seems we don't have a good one in Toronto?

Greek - Pantheon

I have also compiled this bakery list and am wondering if any of them would be a good lunch choice: Rahier, Patisserie La Cicogne, Jules, Thodor’s, La Bamboche, La Boheme, Epi (weekend only donuts).

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  1. Indian - Not impressed with Jaipur's food ( at least the Richmond Hill location ). Prefer Copper Chimney.

    Chinese - Spadiina Garden is not in the same league as Brilliant, foodwise. The latter, hands down better. Szechuan Szechuan specializes in spicy/hot Szechuan style cuisine. Cannot compare with Brilliant's Cantonese cuisine. Like comparing apple with orange. Besides, SS food is not worth the time trying!

    Italian - Splendido is NOT an Italian restaurant!!! However, its a must try due to being one of the top fine dining restaurant in town.

    French - Simple Bistro has changed chef but food is still good. No more prix fixe menu. Pastis has always been my favourite. Love their foie gras, fish soup and calves liver!, Auberge has gone down hill!

    BBQ - Big Bone in Newmarket is good!!!

    Japanese - Zen has the best sushi in town, Guu,IMO is noisy and food is over-rated

    Vietnamese - I think Yuen Tung is own and run by Chinese, not Vietnamese??!!

    Dim Sum - Crown Princess over Pearl but I won't go to either when there are better places around!

    American/Canadian - You won't go wrong with anyone on your list.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Charles, The Jaipur of Richmond Hill has no apparent connection with Jaipur Grille of midtown. They have different names.

      1. re: garfield

        Thanks for the clarification! Will give the mid-town one a try!

      2. re: Charles Yu

        Are you sure simple has no prix fixe anymore? I was there just maybe 2-3 weeks ago, and they still had it going.


        1. re: hungryabbey

          Prix Fixe was eliminated ever since Chef Cowan took the helm. Have to order a la carte!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            They brought it back. Apparently the regulars kicked up a fuss.

        2. re: Charles Yu

          What places would you recommend for dim sum that are better than those I mentioned?

          1. re: TeacherFoodie

            Dragon Dynasty - Sheppard & Brimley
            Yang's - 9665 Bayview Ave.,
            Casa Imperial - Steeles & Warden
            Casa Victoria - Warden & Hwy 7
            Empire Court - Hilton Suite, Hwy 7, Markham
            ....to name a few 'up town' ones
            Only downtown one worth trying is Lai Wah Heen. However, have not been there for a long while!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              I like Dynasty on Yorkville Ave when I want dim sum and I'm close to Yonge & Bloor and/or Yorkville. While the dim sum at Dynasty might not be as good as the dim sum at Yang's, Empire Court or other good places north of the city, I still like Dynasty's dim sum, and think it's one of the better places to eat in Yorkville.

              I've found the Bayview Village Pearl to be decent. Not the very best dim sum, and kind of expensive, but better than most places in Chinatown, and a good addition to the mall. One of the better places to eat on a Saturday morning, if you're looking for a decent meal in North York.

          2. re: Charles Yu

            Kaji trumps all other Japanese restaurants, and maybe most in any category.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Indian: A lot of people say Banjara at the south-west corner of Christie Pits on Bloor is the best Indian in town. My fave is actually Pakistani: Lahore Tikka way out on Gerrard East. It's a wild and sweaty ride! A Must Try for sure just for the experience.
              Japanese: I like Japango on Elizabeth behind City Hall for sushi. Best I've had in Toronto, but only because I can't afford Sushi Kaji on the Queensway--by all accounts a Must Try.. I would say Guu on Church is a Must Try for non-sushi (the one on Bloor is too loud for me).
              Italian: I still say Terroni--Queen West-- is Toronto's best Italian restaurant, though I am told Buca on King West, east of Bathurst, is THE best. I've been told Buca is a Must Try. Sadly, I haven't been yet.
              Mexican: Best Mexican is Agave y Aguacate in Kensington on Augusta. Not great for impressing a date though. Must Try for the Kensington experience.
              Black Hoof and Grand Electric are Must Try's for sure!!
              BBQ: Barque Smokehouse on Roncesvalles is pretty not that bad for BBQ.

            2. Not that I've gone, but some here would say you need to add Kaji and Hashimoto to your "must try" list for Japanese.

              1. I'm not familiar with a Vietnamese restaurant named Yuen Tung. Where is it?

                There is a Chinese restaurant called Yueh Tung on Elizabeth downtown which has "good" lunch time specials....mainly Cantonese/Hakka dishes on rice.

                Happy eating!

                1. For Mexican, Frida on Eglinton W and Agave and Aguacate in Kensington

                  Greek, Volos on Richmond, skip the Danforth

                  I hear good things about Paramount for Lebanese

                  You might consider adding Bamiyan Kebab for Afghan

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bytepusher

                    Greek, skip Volos on Richmond, and go to a real Greek restaurant,. not some trendy new fusion craphouse. The Pantheon is a good choice.

                    1. re: evansl

                      For Greek, Kalyvia is also a pretty good choice.

                      1. re: BIGeater100

                        Second the Kalyvia. Really like the Beefteckia (spelling maybe different). Don't like dinner with 3 starches though.

                  2. Big Bone BBQ now has a place in Maple at 10040 Keele Street which is probably half the distance from Toronto than the Newmarket location.

                    1. I would add Sher-E-Punjab and Saravanna Bhavann for Indian.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bonefreakchef

                        have to second the Saravanna Bhavann a regular lunch spot when im at the office ...

                      2. Italian - as mentioned above, Splendido is most definitely not Italian.

                        Japanese - Guu is fun. But Koyoi is a decent, albeit much quieter and smaller, alternative for izakaya food

                        Portuguese - add Banaboia for home-style cooking

                        Mexican - Rebozos

                        Polish - Cafe Polonez

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          Rebozo has decent food, but it's a tiny hole in the wall - no atmosphere at all.

                          1. re: prairie_dog

                            rebozo's has so far hands down the best mexican i've had in toronto. i realize that's not saying a whole lot, but my one meal there was genuinely very good. i actually rather like the atmosphere, but yeah it's certainly not fancy.

                        2. For "regular" Chinese I'd try Congee Queen near Lawrence and Don MIlls

                          For Dim Sum --Bamboo at Logan and Danforth.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Herne

                            Yueh Tung, at Dundas and Elizabeth Sts., as T Long above has suggested, is Chinese, not Vietnamese, and where I go when I'm downtown craving Chinese around lunchtime. Consistently good for years. I also second Herne's proposal for Congee Queen for solid mid-level Chinese further uptown, at either lunch or dinner.

                            Since they got rid of their prix fixe, Simple Bistro is no longer a mad French-bistro buy. Which puts it close to Pastis price levels. And, at that price level, Pastis wins with me every time out. At a slightly lower French-bistro level, there's the newish Left Bank Bistro, on Avenue Rd., where the former chef at Simple Bistro mans the stoves (except Sun. and Mon.), and does it quite nicely, too. It's $5 corkage Sun. to Tues.

                            Churrasqueira Estrela is, ahem, an experience. Chaotic, erratic, precious little English spoken. Mostly takeout, with a few tables, where - if you're eating in - it's an adventure even trying to get your table cleared. The BBQ chicken (with all the starches and salad you can handle) is usually good, but not always. (It was quite average last Wed.) And the price is certainly right: about $25 for two for a chicken dinner, soda pop included. Takeout can be cheaper. I wouldn't bother with any other entree but the chicken - just looking at the steam table should convince you of that. Go with an open, relaxed mind and you just might enjoy yourself. A Portuguese bakery next door, called Seara, does good coffee and Portuguese custard tarts afterwards, and is eminently more restful.

                            1. re: juno

                              You can swap out Grand Electric from your American/Canadian list and add it to Mexican. For Polish check out Cafe Polonez on Ronces.

                              1. re: juno

                                Great reds for all of them but forget Left Bank. Just there......horrible wine list, hence the minimal corkage fee and a very boring uninspired menu. Nce room, but in the middle of nowhere! Waste of money quite frankly. Young immature staff who are really just kids and know nothing about the food.

                                1. re: franpelyk

                                  Left Bank Bistro, on Avenue Rd. just south of the 401, isn't in the middle of nowhere if you happen to live just a 10-minute drive away - as I do. Agreed, though, it's not something you'd cross the city for. It's just a pleasant neighbourhood bistro - an uptown Le Paradis, if you will - with an old pro at the stoves. Standard-issue French-bistro comfort-food menu, with a few unusual twists, but it's all in the execution by that old pro, which, in my view, is first-rate. You don't ordinarily go to a French bistro to be wowed, but to be eminently satisfied, and reassured that the world is as it should be. The long, long wine list has something at all price levels, with not too fierce a markup. The eight house wines seem especially well-chosen. About the "young, immature staff" noted by franpelyk: aside from the manager, the front-of-the-house staff does seem to be different every time I've been there - which suggests something, though I'm not too sure what. Promising, though. We'll see what transpires. The joint has only been around for a few months. But when you can get out of a good mid-level bistro nowadays for $75-$85 a couple with wine (either bought or brought), all in, that's a victory.

                              2. re: Herne

                                Wow!! Most interesting!!! A Chinese Restaurant in Greek town that serves Curried Vegetables ( definitely NOT Chinese ) but also has 'Dim Sum'??!! And according to one reviewer on Yelp, 'at par with Hong Kong'??! Did some of us self proclaimed Chinese food expert chowhounders miss out on something??!
                                To my knowledge and experience, right now, there are a few 'frozen dim sum' outlets in Scarborough that are making some decent products. Will Bamboo be using them and pass them on as their own? (with may be some modification/addition? Like adding a piece of scallops to the Pork Sui Mai for instance??!!)
                                Can any fellow chowhounder provide a second opinion. I Aam always looking for good dim sum place in Toronto! However, too long a drive from Richmond Hill to try it out without more back-ups!

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  I've been telling anyone who would read that Bamboo is not serving frozen dim sum. I certainly know nothing about Hong Kong food and see no reason why I should. But I can recommend Bamboo and suggest anyone interested should eat there before they start lowering their standards to meet the misinformation promulgated by unknowing critics or maybe just go out of business.

                                  1. re: Herne

                                    Hey, folks, we removed a number of posts from this sub-thread. Everyone is welcome to post on Chowhound, no matter their experience. Individual posters may have other posters they particularly trust, but we ask that you treat all posters with respect.

                              3. TF, thanks so much for posting your list. I so appreciate the research it took to pull it together and, the fact that folks are weighing in to enhance it. I live here and will benefit from your posting so BIG THANKS to you!

                                1. i'm not sure why Mexican has to fit into this, it's just one of those things we don't do well... we don't have the community to support it. But if we're talking Latin food... you'll find a bevvy of interesting options. the most varied one right now is the latin market space in kensington, which has rebozos and agave y aguacate now and a few other spots... fresh churros!

                                  american/canadian - holy chuck burger over burger's priest

                                  vietnamese - i am completely baffled by this yuen tung place... it doesn't sound viet. my preferred place is still pho phuong, but their best stuff is outside typical ordering practices ie not pho or bun.

                                  morrocan - no you won't find anything, but perhaps if you went persian or turkish or otherwise you'll find some fun new things to try.

                                  la cigogne - tarte flambee only on saturdays, i believe, for a specific period of time

                                  other things you should consider - portuguese bakeries, dr laffa, northern chinese/dumpling houses...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                    Noticed a Moroccan place called Walima on north side of the Danforth near the "Little Ethiopia" stretch last night. Has anyone tried it recently? Reviews were negative in the past, but maybe it has improved since then.

                                    Which reminds me, Ethiopian is also worth trying in TO. Maybe some posters can mention their current favourite Ethiopian restos.

                                    Re: Moroccan/Tunisian/North African foods
                                    Enjoyed a Tunisian egg tuna sandwich recently, made at one of the kosher bakeries. Not sure which one, since my friend surprised me with it but it was a tasty sandwich! I also like Sunflower Kitchen's refrigerated vegetarian Harira soup. Can be found at Whole Foods and some No Frills locations.

                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                      What psp says. If you're looking for Mexican flavours, consider other places to provide. La Bella Managua and Tacos El Asador spring to mind..

                                    2. Vietnamese

                                      As stated, take off Yuen Tung. My personal fave is Tien Thanh on ossington. Their broth is very clear and has a stronger "spice" taste than most which is why I like it. 2nd fave is Pho Con Bo at jane/Wilson. I also really like the chicken pho on St Clair West at a place called Banh Cuon on St clair west.

                                      For chinese there are so many different regional cuisines and I don't think any listed should be on any of those lists. Maybe narrow down what cuisine you want.

                                      Japanese, you can also check out Jtown. They have a ramen shop, an izakaya, and a japanese-italian fusion type place (my favourite of the three). There is also Fin Izakaya in midtown, Yuzu / Japango is worth checking out as well.

                                      1. Pizza: I've tried Libretto, and STILL hold that Queen Margarita Pizza is better

                                        Japanese: Sub category of sushi...(needs to be mentioned I think) : Asuka in Yorkville is bar none the most consistently good and generous sushi meals I've had in Toronto.

                                        Greek: Avli on the Danforth rocks (however never been to Pantheon, so can't challenge that one too much) However I live close to greektown where all native greeks in my area swear by Avli..

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jrex

                                          I've tried Queen Margherita twice, I've tried Pizzeria Libretto Ossington twice, and Pizzeria Libretto Danforth 3 times. I like the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto Danforth the best, but I can see how some people might prefer Queen Margherita.

                                          Each Greek family I know has one or 2 go-to restaurants on the Danforth. My northern Greek friends usually lean towards Kalyvia and Megas, the islanders I know lean towards Pan and Avli, the Spartans and Kalamatans lean towards Palace, Asteria and Folia. I like Avli for some dishes (their loukaniko and pies), but would lean towards Pantheon for fried or grilled calamari or other seafood on the Danforth. Pan is my current favourite on the Danforth. I make a meal out of the mezes, rather than ordering mains. Mezes is a good option for most Greek dishes, if you're not sure what dishes you'd like to order. For Greek-style grilled seafood downtown, I'd suggest Volos.

                                        2. Interesting how this thread brought out recommendation of obscure and never-before-mentioned places that 'trumped' all the regulars!! Two such examples are 'Bamboo' in Greektown for 'Dim Sum' and 'Asuka' in Yorkville for sushi? Looks like all the veteran chowhounders on this board are missing something???!!!

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Regular readers of Ch have heard of Bamboo for months. Newcomers maybe not. As my Chinese friends have said--The Dim Sum is as good or better than Rol San and about a 1/3 larger. Perhaps the critics should try what they maintain they have not.

                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              I think you will find some previous discussion about Bamboo here:
                                              I've never been to Bamboo as I'm rarely in that neighborhood, so I have no valid first-hand opinions, but in the referenced thread there is mention of a good comparison to Rol San. Rol San has pretty decent dim sum imo. I'm happy to see relative newbees to dim sum like Herne enjoying and expanding the dim sum lovers world! (Herne: My favorite dim sum items are chicken feet and tripe). That there can be at least decent dim sum found on the Danforth is a good thing.

                                              1. re: T Long

                                                Well said. And for those who live on the Danforth, a trip to Richmond Hill/Markham is about as attractive as a trip downtown for the "self proclaimed expert" Charles Yu. Thank god there are decent options within walking distance for us in Bamboo and Ha Gow.

                                                1. re: T Long

                                                  LOL That's my point. People who have never been to Bamboo raise all kinds of concerns. Mainly that's its frozen. Well I like the things they sell, I think the offerings are better than DimSum at Spadina and Dundas and hope my views have little effect on the number of customers. I like to get quick service for take out and table service

                                                  1. re: Herne

                                                    I've been to Bamboo for dim sum maybe 6-8 times since it opened, but I haven't eaten there in a couple years. The dim sum adds up quickly, and usually the meal ends up costing around $20-$25/ person whenever I've eaten there. Interestingly, my meals at Dynasty in Yorkville are usually around the same price, even though Dynasty is more deluxe. The atmosphere at Bamboo is warmer/cozier than the atmosphere at Dynasty, and Bamboo feels like a mom + pop restaurant.

                                                    Rent is high on that part of the Danforth, and I doubt Bamboo could break even if they charged less, especially since there isn't much demand for dim sum in Greektown. The people running Bamboo are friendly and courteous, the restaurant is clean, the serving dishes are nicer than most, and the servings are pretty generous. I've found most of the dim sum at Bamboo to be roughly equivalent to Rol San.

                                                    Bamboo costs more, which is understandable, considering the location, service and space. Bamboo probably appeals to people who like dim sum, who don't really like the white plastic tablecloth atmosphere at Rol San, and are willing to pay a few dollars more to stay on the subway line and drink tea from nicer ceramic tea cups. For people who are content with the Rol San experience or dim sum in Chinatown East, Bamboo is going to seem like yuppified and pricey.

                                                    1. re: prima

                                                      Well said. Still I think the location does give Bamboo an advantage for many people who don't want to g into the enter of the city to have Dim Sum.

                                                  2. re: T Long

                                                    I forgot to mention that my finance is first generation Chinese and we are now about 10 years into influencing each other so I'm not sure I qualify as a relative newbee but I'll take anything positive. Chicken feet are a bit like eating rope, in my view. Not a popular view with all --one of whom thinks eating a piece of raw potato is disgusting. In order to increase my knowledge of Danforth's Asian offerings I'll be trying restaurant Har Gow in the next week or so.

                                                    1. re: Herne

                                                      @ Herne: I guess I'm showing my age a bit by referring to a complete stranger as a "relative newbee". I can relate to a time when dim summing was strictly a week-end only pleasure and you seemed much too young for that. With 10 years of exposure, you would not qualify as a newbee. Still, until you develop an enjoyment for the delightful textures of chicken feet and tripe, I will not consider you yet a hardened veteran....this from someone who winces at the thought of pig's blood (so I'm not that hardened either).

                                                      1. re: T Long

                                                        Funny you bring up the pig's blood. I've been eating dim sum most of my life, and I couldn't bring myself to try the pig's blood last weekend. I'll eat chicken feet, tripe, durian puff and tendon, but I haven't been tempted to try pig's blood or frog fat as of yet!

                                                        1. re: T Long

                                                          LOL I'm not likely to develop an enjoyment of chicken feet since I have decided I'm done with it. I can say I've eaten it and in front of witnesses. As for pigs blood and tripe I'll look into them next time I have an opportunity. I do think that Bamboo is a great spot and largely dismissed by people who would love the place and its location if they tried it once. But I don't think its worth repeating the idea over and over again.

                                                          1. re: Herne

                                                            My preferred Ethiopian restaurant is Dukem on the Danforth, though I've had a single meal that I enjoyed at Rendez-vous. I wasn't wowed by Lalibela.

                                                            Regarding Sunflower Kitchen's soups, as mentioned earlier by Prima, I saw 4 different varieties yesterday at Bruno's in Delisle Court.

                                                            I'd throw in Cava as a worthwhile visit. The menu never seems to change much, but what they do, they do well. I enjoy the more adventurous items on the menu, such as tripe, sweetbreads, foie gras, king fish ceviche, beef heart anticuchos, etc.

                                                  3. Thanks so much for your recs. Here is the updated list. I'd like to know if you think anything is missing (cuisine or restaurant), and also looking for Polish bakery recs.

                                                    Sandwiches - Porchetta & Co, Cora's Kitchen

                                                    Indian - Copper Chimney or Jaipur Grille, Sher-E-Punjab and Saravanna Bhavann

                                                    Chinese - Yuen Tung, Spadina Garden, Congee Queen (Don Mills and Lawrence) and Brilliant Chinese in Markham (have been to Lee Garden already)

                                                    Dim Sum - Crown Princess, Rol San or Pearl

                                                    Uptown Dim Sum - Dragon Dynasty - Sheppard & Brimley, Yang's - 9665 Bayview Ave.,,Casa Imperial - Steeles & Warden, Casa Victoria - Warden & Hwy 7, Empire Court - Hilton Suite, Hwy 7, Markham

                                                    Thai - Khao San Road (have been to Mengrai and Linda already)

                                                    Italian - Paese (King location), Tutti Mati, Mistura and Enoteca Sociale (have been to Buca and Campagnolo)

                                                    Pizza - Pizzeria Libretto, Pizza e Pazzi, Queen Margherita

                                                    American/Canadian - Burger's Priest, Harbord Room, Acadia, Black Hoof, Marben, Woodlot, Grand Electric, Holy Chuck Burger

                                                    BBQ - Barque, Big Bone BBQ in Newmarket, and Buster Rhino's in Whitby (have been to Stockyards)

                                                    French - Pastis, Le Select, La Cigogne (tarte flambee on Saturdays) (have been to Didier, Celestin, Coquine and Le Papillon)

                                                    Portuguese - Bloor Village Grill, Churrasqueira Estrela, Banaboia (have been to Chiado)

                                                    Japanese - Zen, Guu Izakaya, Koyoi (have been to Qi)

                                                    Vietnamese – Pho Phuong, Tien Thanh

                                                    “Mexican” – Frida, Grand Electric, Agave y Aguacate, Rebozos, La Bella Managua and Tacos El Asador (have been to Milagro).

                                                    Polish - Cafe Polonez

                                                    Polish Bakeries - ?

                                                    Lebanese – Paramount

                                                    Greek – Pantheon, Avli, Pan

                                                    Afghan – Bamiyan Kebab

                                                    Ethiopian – Dukem

                                                    Other – Splendido

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                      Was mentioned but didn't seem to make the list, Volos on Richmond for Greek

                                                      If you are into the tarte flambee thing, Elle ma dit on Baldwin

                                                      I think Buster's Sea Cove has upped their game and ought to be on the sandwich list

                                                      1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                        You forgot Bamboo for Dim Sum, as recommended by Herne and supposedly better than Rol San which you included.

                                                        1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                          I have to mention Big Smoke Burger (previously Craft). Had the spicy last night and it was off the charts! King W location.

                                                          BBQ ribs and chicken - Hadley's

                                                          Fried chicken - Hadley's

                                                          Chinese - New Sky has been excellent of late - and packed again

                                                          Sandwich - Hey meatball is back on his game

                                                          Fish and Chips - The One That Got Away

                                                          1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                            I wouldn't pass up Goody's Diner.

                                                            The neighbourhood looks like a scene from an "after the bomb goes off" film but the burger's are well worth the trip.

                                                            1. re: Herne

                                                              I'd add Banh Mi Boys to the sandwich list.

                                                            2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                              For Indian I would add Savera at St. Clair and Christie - it's small, family-owned and the food is superb.

                                                              1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                Actually one thing that's missing from your list is seafood (sushi aside of course). For this I would add Starfish, Rodney's and a new place at St. Clair and Christie called Catch that I finally tried on the weekend - it was excellent.

                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                  I'm going to disagree with Mistura. For YEARS it was my favourite restaurant in Toronto. However, the last time I was there - in December - both the food and service were disappointing, bordering on atrocious.

                                                                  Shortly before we went I saw a review here by one of the other die hard Mistura fans (can't remember who) that basically said that Massimo was spending too much time glad-handing the patrons in the restaurant and not enough time cooking. It was apparent when we were there.

                                                                  1. re: Davedigger

                                                                    My thinking is that with all his promotional branding crap he's gotten in to it's no wonder the food was going suffer.

                                                                    Between writing crappy cookbooks, attending promos and book signings, Niagara Falls,
                                                                    television appearances - how ever could he possibly find the time to attend to the kitchen.

                                                                    Too bad because it used to be wonderful. I haven't been in about 2 years now which reminds me - I must update my profile re: Top 5 Restos.

                                                                    1. re: Davedigger

                                                                      i know a restaurant is only as good as it's last meal, but if after YEARS of it being your favourite restaurant in Toronto, i find it a bit odd that after only 1 bad experience that you would write it off in the manner that you did....

                                                                      1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                        I gave it a go even after reading a few reports saying it wasn't so good anymore by others that loved it previously. Sadly, I agreed. It's too pricey for me to risk another meal until I hear that it has improved. <shrug>

                                                                        Now if someone else is buying, bring it on. ;-)

                                                                    2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                      its a great list. i'd take Tacos el Asador off that list. with Grand Electric around, its really not much of a destination. its cheap and easy and decent.

                                                                      another option: Indalecio Marroquin 126 Rogers Rd

                                                                      1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                        I would recommend Korean to your list. There are some great Korean restaurants in the Toronto area. I love Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu. It's ridiculously affordable but they serve the freshest silkiest tofu soup. It's only $7 and you get a big bowl of perfect soup.

                                                                        I would highly recommend Patisserie Royale for Middle Eastern bakery. I LOVE their phyllo pastries. They never skimp out on the good stuff like pistachios or rose water. It's always fresh because they constantly sell their items. I always make it a point to head there when I'm in the east end.

                                                                        Would high tea be an interest for you? It's not a cuisine but it's a nice treat :)

                                                                      2. Tried Burger's Priest over the weekend. Had The Vatican City from the secret menu - it was very good but I was a little disappointed that they used processed cheese slices (like Kraft singles). For an 18.00 burger and fry combo I would have hoped for better cheese. The fries were good but I could hardly eat any of them because the burger was so filling. Was at the Yonge/Lawrence location so I tried a chocolate shake as well - it was good but I probably wouldn't order one again.

                                                                        Looking forward to trying more places on my list. Headed to a musical later this week at Yonge/Dundas - any places on or not on my list make sense for an early dinner there?

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                          Queen and Beaver is a gastropub with a decent burger.

                                                                          1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                            I recommend thesenator.com or barberians.com

                                                                            PS: I agree on the cheese comment. Overly salty cheese on an already salty burger...nah.

                                                                            1. re: justsayn

                                                                              What do you like at The Senator? I've been to Barberians before. Thanks for the recs!

                                                                              1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                np. Crab Cakes, mac n cheese, burger, fish n chips, provimi liver, meatloaf.

                                                                                Have to believe the steak would be excellent as it was when they had the resto next door.

                                                                                There are better and more exciting places in the city, but given your location I believe this is a good choice. Guu isnt far but it gets lined up!

                                                                                1. re: justsayn

                                                                                  Unfortunately we did not have time for a sit-down dinner because traffic was terrible (yes, we are North of the 401), so I am hoping to try The Senator another time. Ended up at the Eaton Centre food court - at least there are some half decent choices there - I had a crepe.

                                                                            2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                              Processed cheese is the correct cheese for this type of burger. Some don't like it and that's fine. But it is what it is.


                                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                                Yes, I noticed that HC also uses this type of cheese and so next time I will try a burger minus the cheese. Hopefully I will enjoy it more this way. bought two of the HC coupons $10 for $20 and am excited to have it again, if only for the delicious milkshakes!

                                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                  Processed cheese is the default type of cheese for this type of burger. Plain and simple. Changing the type of cheese changes the burger and it's not the same. You may like the burger more but it's no longer the Classic American Cheeseburger which is what these places are going for.


                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                    Yes, we've already heard this from you in multiple threads, perhaps over a dozen times. Teacher Foodie wants an HC burger without American cheese, and it's not likely to trigger the Apocalypse.

                                                                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                                      I can't keep track. I'll run it by you next time.



                                                                                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                                        Hi SWS,

                                                                                        Just wanted to let you know I was at Holy Chuck on the weekend and had their Holy Chuck burger minus the cheese. So far, no Apocalypse!

                                                                                        I tried the poutine as well. I thought it was good but the cheese curds were not soft enough. I like it when they melt in with the gravy.

                                                                                        I also had a Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake. YUM! Last time I had the nutella/salted caramel and also loved it.

                                                                                        Can't wait to go back and try another milkshake!

                                                                              2. Here's another worth trying
                                                                                Stack BBQ
                                                                                Burgers , Smoked meat , pulled pork , Mac and Cheese , beans , fries
                                                                                S'Mores Doughnuts
                                                                                all thumbs up
                                                                                I have yet to try the ribs


                                                                                1. Tried Big Bone BBQ last weekend in Newmarket. We had the Elvis combo. It was plenty of food for two people. I really enjoyed the pulled pork (this was my favourite) and the ribs, but found the chicken wings to just be okay. My husband makes wings (smoker and bbq) the same way and I enjoy his a lot more. We had their "house bbq sauce". Was quite tastey. The cole slaw and fries were very good, although the fries are from frozen. I think I'd like to try their burger next time, or perhaps a pulled pork sandwich since I enjoyed the pork so much. It's nice to have this option as a stop on the way to the cottage! If anyone else knows of any other Newmarket restaurants worth checking out, let me know.

                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                    Solo-sushi-Ya! One of the better Japanese restaurant in the GTA.

                                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                      Japanese - Japango, Zen, Solo-Sushi Ya (Newmarket), Kaji, Hashimoto, Toshi, Kumai (Mississauga), Mye (oakville), Hiro, Maybe Edo and Ematei. But if you order california rolls, teriyaki and tempura you might as well just go to Mandarin. Omakase is the only way to know how good a chef is.

                                                                                      1. re: samuek

                                                                                        Any other Newmarket recs (non-sushi)?

                                                                                        1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                          Have you tried Made in Mexico in Newmarket? It's a really affordable restaurant with owners that really care about their food. I had it a few months ago and found the food to be tasty, fresh, and great value. It's not a high end place but great all around easy and fast local restaurant.

                                                                                          Another Newmarket rec I would say is Roast of Sharon. I was there for their breakfast/brunch. I've heard their lunch and dinner is just as good. I had the eggs florentine and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. The poached eggs were done nicely and not over cooked or rubbery. Hollandaise sauce was nice as well. My friend had the waffles and they were HUGE and fluffy. She loved them. If I were ever up there again, I would be tempted to try their lunch or dinner menu.

                                                                                          1. re: Nevy

                                                                                            Thanks for the recs. I haven't been to Made in Mexico, but have been several times to La Mexicanada in Bradford. I wonder how it compares.

                                                                                            1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                              Teacherfoodie, I have a friend who recently moved to Bradford.. how is La Mexicanada? It would be nice to find something beside the Milestone's in Newmarket to visit with her...

                                                                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                La mexicanada is very good and therefore usually quite busy. You need to make a reservation. I have also recently tried and would reccommend solo sushi ya and big bone BBQ in Newmarket.

                                                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                  Thanks TeacherFoodie! I don't get up there that often, but will be glad to suggest some other options to my friend when I do go up there to visit her...

                                                                                    2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                      I'm quite familiar with Big Bone. Was even offered a job there.

                                                                                      I'd skip the burger. It's a frozen patty. I've tried to convince them to make them in house but they claim they're too focused on BBQ to be bothered.

                                                                                      All in all, the food is really good and they do try to improve all the time. I recently offered up a suggestion that they now use. So good on them.

                                                                                      I'd add Paul and Sandy's at Islington and Dundas to your BBQ list. Some of the best I've had.


                                                                                    3. I tried Sushi-Ya in Newmarket a few weeks ago and would definitely go back. Best I've had in the GTA.

                                                                                      1. Indian: Indian Rice Factory (Annex) and, particularly, Debus Nouvelle Indian Cuisine (Mt Pleasant/Davisville) cannon-ball the competition out of the water.

                                                                                        Afghan: Pamier Kabab (Spadina/King) offers some of the most flavorful skewers I've tasted. But they do over flavor.

                                                                                        Canadian: Actinolite, Ursa, and Acadia are new Canadian foodgasm spots.

                                                                                        Portuguese: Bairrada Churrassqueira (Dufferin/College): great flaming sausage, pork cutlet, pork and mussel. BBQ chicken is usually good (can be a miss at times), piri piri sauce consistently good. Patio in the summer:amazing!

                                                                                        Thai: Suko Thai is run by the parents of the guys running Khao San Road (fun fact!), so I thought you might wanna check it out too. Personally I prefer Mengrai to Khao/Suko.

                                                                                        Mexican: Playa Cabana (Dupont and Bedford (?) and Agave y Aguacate (Kensington; in a food court and no place to sit). Very different ambiance, but amazing food quality at both.


                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: whittle

                                                                                          I second Playa Cabana. Especially on the back patio.

                                                                                        2. Sandwiches - California Sandwiches, Nino D'Aversa Italian Salumi

                                                                                          Indian - Copper Chimney, Agra,

                                                                                          Chinese - Brilliant Chinese, Emperor, Hakka at Federicks (chicken pakora, chili chicken, kan-shue beans, etc.)

                                                                                          Malay / Singapore: Gourmet Malaysia

                                                                                          Dim Sum - Dragon Dynasty

                                                                                          Thai - Khao San Road

                                                                                          Pizza - Danforth Pizza House

                                                                                          American/Canadian - Burger's Priest, Harbord Room, Massey's

                                                                                          BBQ - Buster Rhino's in Whitby on Friday for Ribs

                                                                                          Portuguese - Churrasqueira Estrela, Churrasco Villa - Eglinton & Mt. Pleasant

                                                                                          Japanese - Zen, Kaji, Le Cafe Michi, for greatness and Yoshiko for AYCE

                                                                                          Vietnamese - Yummy but low-brow Pho & Spring Rolls at Pho Vietnam

                                                                                          Greek - Folia Grill for Greek Gyros, Astoria for Pork Souvlaki, Avli for non-streetmeat greek :-)

                                                                                          Jamaican - Twice-As-Nice in Scarberia for Jerk Chicken or Fry Chicken w/ homestyle pepper sauce and Rice & Peas, Mr. Jerk for best beef patties, The Real Jerk for Oxtail, Nun-Such for Jerk pork sandwich with plantains.

                                                                                          Sri-lankan: Babu for take-out Lampre, samosas, etc.

                                                                                          Just to name a few :-)

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: TorontoTips

                                                                                            I used to like Avli for non fast food Greek, but my most recent food and service experiences have been mediocre. I like the food and service better at Pan. I'm also planning to visit The Greek Grill at Pape and O'Connor, which I haven't tried. There's a review of The Greek Grill, with photos, on the Kalofagas blog. Apparently, they're serving some old school dishes at their hot table, in addition to the standard stuff on their menu. Zorba's also serves good souvlaki, soup, and has some decent food at their hot table.

                                                                                            1. re: TorontoTips

                                                                                              Mr. Jerk for a patty? As far as I know none of the Mr. Jerk's I have been to (all of which are terrible outside of the Peanut Plaza location) bake their patties in house. I would recommend Randy's, Allan's or Michidean.

                                                                                              Other recommendations for Jamaican I will respectfully disagree with as well. The Real Jerk holds a special place in my heart because when we first emigrated to TO they were closest to the "real thing" in the city.....it has unfortunately gone down hill year after year.

                                                                                              Twice as Nice does a respectable job though. For Oxtail and Stew Chicken though I still like Sunrise better down the road. Otherwise Twice as Nice is more well rounded.

                                                                                            2. Add Folia for Greek. Messini as well. I've yet to have anything I don't like at Folia and if you go once tomatoes, etc are in season, the Village Salad at Messini is awesome.

                                                                                              Estrela for Portuguese is fabulous.


                                                                                              1. Went back to the Stockyards a couple weeks ago because my friend from France wanted a burger and I had been craving the fried chicken from there since I went last year. Chicken was delish - and serving big enough for two.

                                                                                                Going to Holy Chuck later this week. Planning on getting the Holy Chuck and a Nutella and Salted Caramel Shake, as well as the poutine or Holy Chuck fries to share.

                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                  You have to take your friend to Goody's Diner for a burger
                                                                                                  The best in the city IMO


                                                                                                  1. re: Luvtooeat

                                                                                                    It is a totally other kind of burger. Holy Chuck and Stockyards are like Burger Priest and smashed style thin burgers. For me there is no point of comparisons as it is like comparing flowers to dogs, instead of burgers to burgers.

                                                                                                  2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                    Nutella and Salted Caramel shake? I'd skip the fries and just have that (and no doubt regret it later)...

                                                                                                    1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                      I briefly considered maybe having two shakes in lieu of dinner and just having a bite of my husband's burger! Exctied for my HC meal tonight!

                                                                                                      1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                        Those shakes are large and massively rich, so one shake in lieu of dinner would actually work. :)

                                                                                                        But I prefer to share the shake so I can stuff my face with burgers (yes, plural).

                                                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                          Luckily, no matter how full I am, there is always room for ice cream (and/or milkshakes). It's like my stomach has a special compartment for it.

                                                                                                          1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                            I totally understand -- I have a dessert stomach.

                                                                                                  3. Ended up at Simple Bistro the other night. We were supposed to go to Gusto 101 but there was a long wait so we walked around the corner to Simple and there was a table available so we took it. They bring out fresh buns that are delicious. I had the frisee lardon salad and it was delicious! For a main I tried the duck which was very good. It was served with green beans, that were perfectly cooked with the right amount of crunch and a nice flavour, and sliced potatoes that I really didn't care for. I had a creme brulee for dessert, which was good, but not as good as the one I had at Ruth Chris steakhouse on Sunday night. My husband went with the prix fixe steak and salad and enjoyed it. Service was very good and it is a really nice atmosphere.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                      Do you mean Le Select Bistro instead of Simple?

                                                                                                    2. San Remo on Royal York is an excellent lunch choice. Their sandwiches are simply fantastic.

                                                                                                      Artisano is not bad either.

                                                                                                      Both are fairly simple, but both pleasant and tasty.


                                                                                                      1. Add Restoran Malaysian in Richmond Hill to your list. It's worth the journey: www.restoranmalaysia.com

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. Need help - will be able to have a weekday lunch in Toronto in a couple weeks. Are any of the places on my list open only for lunch on weekdays?

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                            Yes, not sure about all but I have been to the following for lunch:

                                                                                                            Porchetta & Co
                                                                                                            Crown Princess
                                                                                                            Khao San Road
                                                                                                            Pizzeria Libretto
                                                                                                            Polish - (Cafe Polonez)

                                                                                                              1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                                                                Porchetta & Co closed Sundays and Mondays

                                                                                                              2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                                It will be a Thursday lunch. Leaning toward porchetta or bahn mi. Maybe libretto.

                                                                                                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                                  Hugely different with regard to seating and price, otherwise you can't go wrong.

                                                                                                              3. Always liked Rahier, Burger's Priest, Black Hoof, Hashimoto, Kaji, Libretto, Barberians, Jacobs, Rodneys', The Ceilie Cottage, Mikado, Breakfast Brioche, Jacques Levesque, and Didier.

                                                                                                                Liked Celestin, Guu, Thodor's in the past.

                                                                                                                Current must try but haven't been yet on my list (or on radar) is:

                                                                                                                Dumpling King (Yonge/Finch),

                                                                                                                Cafe Boulud,



                                                                                                                Grand Electric,



                                                                                                                The Queen And Beaver,

                                                                                                                The Oxley,

                                                                                                                The Grove,





                                                                                                                Banh Mi Boys

                                                                                                                and Glory Hole Doughnuts

                                                                                                                1. Went for dinner last night at Bloor Village Grill. We had cod cakes, calamari (fried) and Polish sausage for apps. They were all delicious. I often find that calamari comes overcooked at restaurants and has a rubbery consistency but the calamari at BVG was prefectly done and served with a tasty dipping sauce.

                                                                                                                  For mains we had Grouper, Assortment of meats and shrimp on a skewer, chicken and seafood paella. I had the grouper and it was delicious. It came with boiled potatoes and broccolini. The potatoes were good but the broccolini needed something to liven it up as it was very bland. Most of the others seemed to enjoy their meals as well.

                                                                                                                  Service was good although the server didn't have much personality. The boys tried some polish beers and enjoyed. I tried the house white wine wine and it was very good, and the price was right too. In fact, all of the prices seemed extremely reasonable. I look forward to returning.

                                                                                                                  After dinner we took a short drive to Bakerbots Bakery for an incredibly satisfying ice-cream sandwich. AMAZING! You get to choose the cookie or cookies (as they will do a half sandwich using only one cookie) and then you pick the ice cream. We had the peanut butter cookie, the cocoa cookie and the burnt toffee ice cream. The cookies were some of the best I have ever eaten. The ice-cream was just okay; perhaps because the cookies just outshone it. I would probably get the pumpkin ice cream instead as I tasted my friend's and it was great. If you have not been to Bakerbots you are missing out. Get yourself over there for some of the best cookies in Toronto. Other threads will attest to this, as well as their other baked goods such as cupcakes and pies. The boy behind the counter was also great - he had a quirky personality which I found to be quite entertaining.

                                                                                                                  1. I tried Lil' Baci at Yonge/Davisville on Sunday night and the food was delicious. I shared the Bufala Mozzarella and Vine Ripe Tomatoes, and for a main I had a special - duck and risotto. Both were nicely plated and the duck was succulent. The risotto was perfectly done. The prices here are very reasonable and the service is fantastic. The kitchen needs to do a bit more to make sure all the meals are ready at the same time. We were a party of six and my duck and risotto came out 5 -10 minutes after the other mains (probably all that stirring they had to do)! They did apologize though.

                                                                                                                    The others enjoyed a duck sausage appetizer (a special), pureed zucchini soup, pizza and a sausage pasta (also a special).

                                                                                                                    I would recommend a visit here. I hope to come back soon!

                                                                                                                    1. Headed to Stack and Scarpetta this weekend. Looking forward to both! Will report on Sunday!

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                                                                                                        Okay, well, two Sundays have come and gone and no report from TF - sorry to keep you waiting! I know you have all been glancing at your computers and smartphones desperately anticipating my reviews!

                                                                                                                        First, Stack - a solid neighborhood joint serving up acceptable food at slightly inflated prices (think BP and HC). Fish tacos were good, but not fantastic. There was nothing unique about these to make them stand out. I tried them after hearing that people loved them. I liked them but will not be running back here for them. I also tried the donuts (with cinnamon-sugar, and a S'mores milkshake). The donuts were served warm and seemed fresh but were not as good as other fresh donuts I have tried.

                                                                                                                        My husband and a couple friends shared a platter. I consider my husband to be a very good judge of meats because he has made his own many, many times - barbecued, smoked and non-smoked. He thought the food was "okay". He is also not in a rush to go back. I tried the mac n' cheese that was served with the platter and it was good, but again, nothing special or unique.

                                                                                                                        All in all, this is a good family spot if you happen to live nearby, but it is not a destination restaurant. Stockyards far outshines this restaurant. I had read that the owner used to have a Shoeless Joes and wanted more freedom to play with the ingredients. I hope that he tweaks the menu a little more to please those looking for more smoke flavour and to offer something a little more unique.

                                                                                                                        Okay, on to Scarpetta. First, if you are looking to impress a date, bring him/her here and get the five course tasting menu. Maybe they will offer another travelzoo coupon for it -that'd be great! Everything here was amazing!

                                                                                                                        Highlights were the polenta and mushrooms, beet salad, spahetti, and the desserts (caramel budino and a chocolate cake). The polenta was creamy and the mushrooms were flavourful. The beets in the beet salad were perfectly done, not too crunchy but not mushy. The spaghetti - best I've ever had! All spaghetti will now pale in comparison. Caramel budino was delicious - sweet and creamy, and every bite of the chocolate cake was a little taste of heaven!

                                                                                                                        I really hope to return to Scarpetta in the near future (hope to find a groupon or travelzoo deal)! My best meal in Toronto of 2012.

                                                                                                                      2. My 2013 must try list - never been to any of these.

                                                                                                                        Grand electric

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: Yimahaji

                                                                                                                          Is it sad how excited I got to see someone wrote on my thread?! Thank you! Interesting list, and I'll be looking into some of the ones I haven't tried. I have only been to the first two on your list and enjoyed both. Get a few friends together for Campagnolo and do a tasting menu. Let them know of any allergies/food dislikes/special diets and they will create a great tasting menu for you. Enjoy - and report back!

                                                                                                                        2. I had a lovely lunch yesterday at JaBistro before seeing War Horse at the Princes of Wales theatre. JaBistro, you may notice, was not even on my list, however, when I made this list I don't think they were even around yet!

                                                                                                                          They soft-lauched in November and had their grand opening on New Year's Day. Yesterday was only their second day serving lunch. Their lunch menu seems to be all over the place, in items and prices - one of the offerings was a sandwich. My friend and I tried the Calamari ($10.00) and the JaBistro Roll ($22.00!). The calamari was friend and the batter was out of this world good! Some pieces of the calamari were much too chewy though. The "rings" were fine but I did not enjoy the other pieces (the tentacles and a large piece that I assume was the body). The roll was unique as it had their house mayonnaise on top and was torched. It was very good.

                                                                                                                          I also had a cocktail - the JaBistro slipper. It was very good, but slightly overpriced at $12.00.

                                                                                                                          The service at JaBistro was excellent. Each member of their staff works hard to make your meal an enjoyable one. They are not overbearing or overly outgoing, as seems to have become very popular for servers at some of the trendy Toronto restaurants, but they quietly ensure that everything goes smoothly. Upon leaving we were even helped into our coats.

                                                                                                                          The one thing that I would complain about is the price. For one cocktail, a tea, one order of Calamari and two rolls the bill came to about $67.00. I think they need to lower their prices a bit, especially considering this is their lunch menu.

                                                                                                                          I would return here, perhaps for another lunch or dinner, but truly hope that the prices become a bit more reasonable.