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Aug 22, 2012 06:59 PM

Best restaurants in Toronto (NY quality) / Toronto dining guide

I want to go to Toronto for a few days with my GF, we're big foodies who dine out in Manhattan all the time and have often been disappointed by a few major cities that couldn't even come close to the same quality, especially given similar price points (Philly, Miami). I'm planning on doing research, before committing to the number of days. I know next to nothing about the dining scene there.

Any recommendations for places that are on par with NYC? I'd rather have mid level comfort food than be disappointed by top dollar places.

Is there a Toronto dining guide that would be helpful besides Zagat, something similar to NY mag or the NY Times dining section? I know there isn't a Michelin guide, so I was thinking open table or yelp would be options.

Any assistance would be much appreciated.

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  1. For western cuisine, a few 'might' touch NYC's standard. They are Splendido ( Continental/French ) Chiado ( Portuguese) and Scaramouche ( Continental/French ). Our famed Japanese eatery, Sushi Kaji, IMO, would garner a Michelin star if located in NYC.

    Frankly, only thing Toronto excels in is 'Cantonese Cuisine'. Together with Vancouver, best in North America. As such better than NYC, hands down!

    As for another source of reference, give Toronto Life a try.

    1. The shawarma at Al tanoor , Lawrence East, would be good in NYC; also Boulevard Cafe. That's it , in my experience, but I am allergic to MSG.
      I can't wait for your report!

      "Something helpful besides Zagat" contains an internal contradiction.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

        I'm confused, what is the Boulevard Cafe good at other than having a patio?

        1. re: dubchild

          Interesting!! I was just about to make the same comment!!

      2. I am very much a foodie, and have also been classically (french) trained as a chef in Toronto, my recommendation for you and yours is "George" - the best restaurant in Toronto imo! Please let me know what you think if you dine there! Also, depending on what you are looking for, Colborne Lane, the Black Hoof, La Palette.......those are my top four!

        If you indulge at any of the above four restaurants, please let me know your thoughts! When i come to NYC I will expect you to guide me to the same indulgences!

        Enjoy! Bon appetit!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Insatiablegirl

          I will also say that i love meat so my suggestions are very meat heavy! Its an opinion, a good one, but an opinion at best!

        2. ny has so many styles of pizza that are done well there, but the one type that i think toronto has over ny is vpn. . .depending on who you ask, you should try pizza e pazzi, libretto, or queen margherita. imho. this is low-middle level food, not fine dining at all. . .

          i agree with others on the issue of cantonese chinese food. . .toronto is better than nyc.

          on most other things, "ny quality" (whatever that actually means, other than a good quality food/dining experience) is both harder to find here, and really subjective--and don't get me wrong, i love the food scene in nyc.

          also really contentious was the recent declaration that our st. lawrence market was the top open air market in the world. any foodie should make at least one trip there. think of chelsea market but with a lot less pretense.

          just some of my .02 cents

          1. You might want to take a gander at the "best of Toronto" thread from earlier this year:


            This was the voting thread:


            You'll find very few fine dining options there, so most of them will fit your "mid level comfort food" criteria. Just note that the chef at Marben has left, and there seems to be a degradation in the food since then.

            4 Replies
            1. re: TorontoJo

              As the inimitable Charles Yu has suggested above, your best bet for nosh in Toronto that you won't ordinarily find in New York is Cantonese food. Be aware, however, that the best ones are far, far northeast of downtown, in the heart of the uptown Chinese community. So you'd better have a car at your disposal. I'll leave it to Charles to offer his own specific favourites. My own mid-priced favourite is Maple Yip. More expensive - but good value nonetheless - is Yang's, on north Bayview Ave., especially good for dim sum at lunch. It helps to know what to order from the voluminous menus at these places, but it seems to me there are a few threads on this board that pinpoint specifics dishes.

              Closer to downtown is the already-mentioned Chiado, a first-rate Portuguese spot - I don't think you'll find much like it in New York. Bring money, though. I've never thought the Boulevard Cafe, on Harbord St., was up to much. But it has lasted a long, long time, so it must have something going for it. (Perhaps it's the patio.) Don't know most of the other spots mentioned, many of which are around downtown, and, therefore, easy to get to without a car.

              1. re: juno

                Maple Yip is still one of the better choices. But that place is packed, even on week days, so arrive very early or make reservation in advance. Yang is good for Dim Sum but for dinner, I prefer 'The Emperor'. Much more consistent and better value. If a 'splurge' is in OP's book, then go to O'Mei for their great tasting but over-priced Giant Lobster 4 ways!

                Just a minor feed back on the Guu Izakaya recommendation by akhorasanee. If atmosphere is what you are looking for, by all means give it a try. However, foodwise, its a notch or two below NYC's Yakitori Totto or Tori Shin's standard!!

                I just ate at Eleven Madison Park a couple of months ago. Colborne Lanes 'pseudo molecular fun food' is no where near EMP's standard or inventiveness. Furthermore, the $75 luncheon tasting menu of EMP is way better value than Colborne Lane's Chef's tasting menu!! I would suggest using the money, grab a taxi and head out to Sushi Kaji instead!!

                My 2 cents worth!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I completely agree re: Eleven Madison Park. That is one of the finest restaurants in North America, and nothing I've had in Toronto comes close. I've eaten at Colborne Lane, albeit during restaurant week, and while it was well done, it's not playing in the same league. And it's more expensive, to boot.

                  Frankly, this "I'm from the center of the universe, i.e., NYC, and am coming to your woeful province, can you please tell me where to eat" thread pops up so frequently, on so many chowhound boards, there should really be a separate board for it.

                  Anyway, I would second the recommendation to get a car and go to the burbs for Cantonese. I disagree with both the neapolitan pizza (must be dozens of places for this in NYC) and Khao San Road -- Zabb Elee in the east village is light years ahead. Dunno about Portugese in NYC, that might be worth checking out, and maybe some place like Keriwa (though I've never been)?

                  1. re: autopi

                    my post wasn't suggesting that nyc is devoid of vpn pizza--i have eaten quite a bit of what they have to offer in that regard--i'm suggesting that i find that vpn joints here do it better than what i have found in nyc.

                    i also agree that this type of post pops up (too) frequently, and maybe should have it's own category (i'm from place x and i'm visiting place y, but i really still want to eat like i was in place x).