Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jul 26, 2012 07:36 AM

Under-rated + Trendy + Unique GTA Restaurants

Hi everyone!

I was wondering if the Toronto veterans here could help me out a bit here. I'm looking for some cool/trendy restuarants anywhere in the GTA that are somewhat under-rated or haven't been getting tons of attention. It's for a date but I don't want to go to one of the places that pop up on Google when I type in "cool restaurants." I want to seem like I know some interesting places around here. Places like Panorama are pretty neat but I want to go somewhere lesser known..."indie" if you will...

any ideas?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not sure that cool and trendy and underrated go hand in hand. And fwiw, I wouldn't put Panorama in either of those categories. :)

    If you want to feel in the know, head to any of the following (in no particular order):

    Black Hoof
    Enoteca Sociale
    La Carnita

    There are a wide range of experiences in that list, so if you could be more specific, I and others could narrow it down or provide other suggestions.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      ALL of the above are excellent - but I'd call them 'well-known' - and there's a reason for that - they are, indeed, good.

      I'd add a few that are more casual (MUCH in some cases) but have impressed me as being 'indie'.

      The Depanneur (very casual)
      Atlantic (probably the easiest to accept if it's a getting-to-know-you date
      Feasting Room (for the foodie - even more so if counter-culture).

      At all three I'd probably need to know more about the 'date' - but if any of my dates liked these, I'd be looking for more dates with this person!

      1. re: estufarian

        Was wondering about The Depanneur since didn't see much written about it but see they have a lot of interesting stuff going on there and been meaning to try it.

        1. re: estufarian

          I hope it's ok that I highjack this post. Why are all the good, trendy, cool, interesting restaurants in the west end! There is nothing along these lines in the east there???

          1. re: katbri

            I think there are but just not as many. For instance Swirl is a great little hidden gem in Leslieville. Not a "proper" resto but get for a glass of wine and nibbles.

            1. re: katbri

              As in the Beaches?


              i also believe there are more families in the east, thus more home cooked dinners, yum.

              Where as in the west, more singles. The most used kitchen devices are probably the telephone, the toaster oven, and you know it, the microwave oven.

              It is a good thing to get together with friends, and what not and go out for a meal and a drink.

              Maybe many drinks and a meal. LOL

              BTW: In the east, you have Goody's Diner, amazing all around food. Not your usual diner.
              I am not sure if they even have liver and onions, a must to be classified as a Diner, IMHO.

        2. Enoteca Maialino on Queen West on the same block as Local Kitchen and beside Keriwa-both of which get all the accolades...but Maialino is great-ask to sit at the food bar/chef''s table-it is great to watch and you get super service.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ingloriouseater

            Will keep this in mind as I was just at Keriwa the other day and saw Enoteca Maialino and was wondering about it since I hadn't heard anything about it.

            Re: date place, I could recommend Keriwa Cafe too... I dont' feel like it is generally known by people and depending on which side of the city you are at it could make sense. Especially good if you know that your date is an adventurous eater and likes to try new/different things. I got to try a bunch of things that I had never had before and that was part of the appeal. It is a touch loud but it was lively even on a Tuesday night.

            1. re: ylsf

              Was at Keriwa last week. On Sat nite it was extremely loud. Had to shout to be heard.
              The wine list was extremely pricy and there was only 1 table with a bottle on it. Started with trout which ws very good, and then had the bison steak which was a tiny portion of meat with 2 very small potatoes and some greens. Not very exciting and very pricy for what was little more than a starter portion.

              1. re: neville nosher

                i'm not a fan of keriwa, i just pointed out they seem to have cast a spell over part of toronto...

          2. The moment you "want to seem like....." you may be at risk of a fail. The cool spot is the one that means something to you and holds your current interest for any given reason. If you really don't go out much for dinners, look to friends or family (who know you well) for advice as they may match you to your best vibe. Failing that, how much do you wish to spend? How formal/casual? Type of food? Age group?

            If I were stabbing in the dark, knowing nothing about you, I would add L'ouvrier and The Saint to the list. Harbord Room, Guu, Universal Grill.

            1 Reply
            1. re: justsayn

              Love all these suggestions ... Universal Grill is off the beaten track, great for conversation and sticky ribs, and definitely fits the indie/neighbourhood request . Guu is loud and lovely with fun food, you'll need to get close to talk (could work well). Harbord room is great to sit at the bar, lively but not too loud, excellent food. L'Ouvrier has interesting food choices and I love the room but I found the atmosphere and service to be a little slow. I haven't tried the Saint yet so I can't comment on how date worthy it is.

            2. I think it's key to feel comfortable when you are trying to impress a date! There are some good places around TO which don't qualify as trendy, but might be more"you" than these latest/greatest type places. It might help to to have more reference points than Panorama as to atmosphere, price and food type.

              1. I can tell you some places I've been taken on dates that I was impressed by: Frank's Kitchen, URSA, Cowbell, Trevor.....

                1 Reply
                1. re: canadianbeaver

                  Great list: Frank's Kitchen if you're over 40, URSA if you're under 30, Cowbell for any age group, and I've never been to Trevor.