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Jun 25, 2012 11:10 AM

Funky restauarants in Toronto

My boyfriend & I are going to Toronto next week for a few days. Its both our first time there. We usually like to go to fun, hip, under the radar type of places. any suggestions? thanks

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  1. fun and hip is what's on the radar in Toronto...

    1 Reply
    1. re: justxpete

      You're funny true!!!

    2. HAHA!
      Seriously-can someone give me some suggestions

      23 Replies
      1. re: moxiecat

        ok, without offering any sort of help as to what you're looking for, here you go!

        Have fun!

        Enoteca Sociale
        Harbord Room
        Side Car
        Drake Hotel
        Anywhere on Ossington
        Milagro Cantina
        La Carnita
        HopGood's foodliner
        Yours Truly
        Grand Electric
        Local Kitchen
        The County General
        The Gabardine
        Best Ellen
        Bellwoods Brewery
        Pizzarea Libretto
        Black Hoof
        Jacob's & Co
        Feasting room


        Spirit House
        Bar Chef
        Toronto Temperance Society

        1. re: justxpete

          Good List! I think you have it covered!

          1. re: kwass

            Agreed - I may quibble with a few of the choices but appreciating there's a range of views re: hip and funky, it's a great list. If the OP wants to offer up any specifics re: preferred cuising, price point or location, we can narrow the field a bit.

            I think Guu and Khao San Road are also in the spirit of places the OP is looking for so I'd add them as well. And maybe Playa Cabana.

              1. re: peppermint pate

                +1 for Guu! As a 20 something I vouch for it being hip without trying too hard.

                My additions:

                Hoof Raw Bar

            1. re: justxpete

              How, by the way, is Ursa? I haven't been yet?

              1. re: kwass

                No, not yet. It's second on my list behind Edulis.

                1. re: justxpete

                  Edulis is more rustic than I expected. Food approaches 'comfort' rather than 'elegant'. But definitely worth a visit (although beware of 'upsells').
                  Ursa is a bit schizophrenic. Food is good but service is a bit unsettling - also a bit more expensive than would be expected.
                  But, if I've been - neither are 'hip'!

                  1. re: estufarian

                    You give yourself less credit than deserved!

              2. re: justxpete

                Great list.
                I'll add Feasting Room - obviously under your radar (!).

                1. re: estufarian

                  Got me on that one... but now that it's on my radar!


                2. re: justxpete

                  I would remove:
                  Jacob's & Co
                  Pizzarea Libretto
                  Harbord Room
                  .... Not that they are bad but I do not feel that they would be considered: " fun, hip, under the radar"

                  1. re: ParkerQ

                    It's all very subjective, isn't it? J&Co is definitely "hip", as are the other ones... just depends what you're perspective of "hip" is... and how hip *you* are! Ha!

                    1. re: justxpete

                      I definately would NOT call J&Co hip.. pretty much if there is someone on staff that is wearing a tie or a Jacket then the place is not hip... :-)

                      Origin may be hip but definately not an "under the radar" vibe... same with Libretto..

                        1. re: justxpete

                          No, when you are in the Black Hoof or Grand Electric you feel like you are in a secret spot, you feel in the "know"... "usually" the people surounding you are not in suits and ties talking about the stock deal of the day.. it feels hip and under the radar (even if it isn't). They are rough around the edges and celebrate that... you can play "count the staffs' tattoos" .... J&Co does not have that feel, I see nothing about it except the choice in music that distiguishes it from any other steak house in the city to make it hip... Libbretto the same it just feels too subburban these days... I think IMHO they have lost their edge.. Origin too, I would recoment it for great food but I never get the feeling that I am discovering something there.. if origin is on the list you might as well add Note Bene and Splendito and god forbid Canoe!

                          1. re: ParkerQ

                            She didn't specify what kind of "hip" she was looking for. Different strokes for different folks. J&C is hip for the young fashionable crowd. Libretto is hip for 20 and 30 somethings. Harbord room is hip among the industry and those in the know, and Origin is hip for the 30 something crowd who like decent food in a nicely decorated space with good staff. Some people don't consider the places that you enjoy 'hip' either - but it's just a general list. I'm not sure why it's such a big deal.

                        2. re: ParkerQ

                          As mentioned earlier, finding a place in Toronto that is BOTH hip AND under the radar, is next to impossible. So, if you're looking for hip, you will have to accept that the restaurant is going to be popular and well known.

                    2. re: justxpete

                      Another addition:
                      Atlantic (on Dundas)

                      1. re: estufarian

                        Unfortunately I can no longer edit my original post.

                        1. re: justxpete

                          Then lets give a copy of last weeks menu:

                          671: rhubarb and strawberry bonanza
                          Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
                          Menu # 670

                          Lebneh (pressed yogurt), fresh chutney, broa bread toast 4

                          Togarashi spiced crickets 4

                          Black chickpea humus with papadams 4

                          Steamed snap peas with Himalayan ses salt

                          Harpoon caught swordfish: Ceviche & smoked, Mustard greens, pickled oxe eye, chummichurri 12

                          Chilled pea, green garlic- sassafras hot and sour soup 6

                          ‘Cosmic Greens’ with ume-flax dressing 7

                          Orwell cove mussels steamed with cava and strawberries 6

                          Tempura cod tongues
                          Pressed cucumber salad, raita, fennel seedlings 12

                          Cattail heart tortellini, milk weed, kefir 12

                          Gnuddi: Ricotta dumplings, beets, fennel seedlings 13

                          Hay-smoked BC halibut,
                          Grilled wild and domestic arugula, spruce dashi 16

                          Georgian Bay trout
                          Grilled asparagus, garlic scapes, red wine jus 15

                          Grilled quail marinated in xxx mustard
                          Wheat berry, peas & carrots, ketjap, mint salad 12

                          Fried chicken, callalloo,
                          crow garlic mash, grilled scallions 14

                          Cavendish blend tobacco brûlée 6

                          Wild flower panna cotta, wild rose & wild strawberries 6
                          Local & organic veggies, Organic and free range local poultry, Organic dairy
                          Spear caught swordfish, Orwell Cove mussels, free range cats and other ethical buzzwords.
                          We can often do vegetarian substitutions if that’s how you do…
                          You are at 1597 Dundas street west, Toronto Ontario.
                          If you want to talk or text: 416.219.3819 (we take reservations)
                          And our online presence can be felt at, twit: @lanticondundas

                      2. re: justxpete

                        I would add Guu to this list for japanese izakaya and a FUN ambience

                    3. Obviously haven't eaten much in Toronto recently, but I really did enjoy my meal at bestellen and chantecler, despite the mixed reviews. I feel that bestellen has a well executed charcuterie board and the steaks are pretty good. Chantecler is part of this new wave of ambitious small and more eclectic restaurant that goes beyond the whole farmhouse rustic cuisine that was so popular recently

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: justxpete

                          Is there a menu online for Chantecler? I can't seem to find one.

                      1. wow thanks all-this is a good start. We just wanted to know where to eat that's fun & decent. I know it was a vague question but this helps a lot!!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: moxiecat

                          This is great info, especially justxpete's amazing list, but perhaps a bit overwhelming (and not entirely "below" the radar). For an intimate sit-down dinner experience (as opposed to shared-plates) for 1st time Toronto visitors, I'd recommend (in order):
                          1. Enoteca Sociale on Dundas West.
                          2. Delux on Ossington.
                          3. Campagnolo on Dundas West (not very hip but exceptional quality and a nice room).
                          All require reservations.
                          General Electric (Queen West) is the most hip and fun, but loud, crowded, and super-casual.
                          The Black Hoof is still one of my faves for a good Toronto experience--everyone has to go at least once--but it's all shared plates and no reservations. On a warm summer's evening, you can not beat the patio at Terroni's on Queen West. Actually, I'd go there. You might have to wait in line 1/2 hour or so.

                          1. re: meanmartin

                            Just a thought (not directed just at you - you're just the last post).
                            If you have to wait in line - how is this "under the radar"????

                        2. While I'm SURE any recommendation on JustXPete's list would satisfy any tourist looking for something different from their status quo ... Ortolan in Brockon Village might be considered hip and off the radar? And agreed, Moxie you can likely find what you're looking of on Ossington Ave. (if I'm reading into your vibe correctly).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: 26Marushka

                            This is my feeling too. Pick any restaurant in a 100m radius of Ossington and Dundas and it's mission accomplished :)