New to Toronto...and with a one year old
Welcome to Toronto! We have a 7 month old and people love seeing her at restaurants. In terms of baby friendly definitely +1 to l'ouvrier and libretto. We have also been to Campagnolo, enoteca sociale, and luma recently with no issue (though I'm not sure if Campagnolo has highchairs as she was in her stroller). In addition to the brickworks I love going to wychwood barns for their Saturday farmers market. It's a good size and they have an awesome splashpad that your toddler will probably love. I love getting takeout from stockyards nearby and having a picnic there too.
Agree with many of the recs here. I also find Toronto to be incredibly kid-friendly. I have a couple of young children and we have taken them to many, many places without hesitation (like others, for obvious reasons, we don't take them out for late dinners but with a 7 month old, asleep in a portable car seat, you may even attempt that option).
There are loads of cafes that are especially kid-friendly - Te Aro and Rooster come to mind. There are also a couple of cafes that cater to the child/parent crowd with playspaces in the back (the names escape me at the moment, but I know there's one in Leslieville we wandered into one time and I think a new one has opened on College or somewhere west-ish).
On Saturday mornings, the Brickworks is great - tons of kids, music, noise, great food and wide open spaces. As your child gets older, there is face painting, crafts, ponds and trails to explore for frogs and turtles, etc. And loads of yummy food.
For brunch, we've always liked Easy. I think The Saint, L'Ouvrier, Morning Glory, The Drake, Cafe Belong would also be great. I like Gilead but I can't say I've ever found the staff there to be particularly kid-oriented. I've always heard about, but have yet to try, the bluegrass brunch at The Dakota tavern (music and dancing geared towards kids).
For dinners - if you're going out at 5:30 or so, the list is virtually endless - good places where you will certainly feel comfortable...Terroni on Price Street (upstairs), Playa Cabana, Pizzeria Libretto (either location - Danforth is even more kid-oriented), anywhere in Chinatown, anywhere on the Danforth, United Dairy, Cha Liu - the list goes on.
As your child gets older, just bring along some activities, a little patience, order quickly, be prepared to leave when you sense a meltdown coming - and enjoy...:).
re: peppermint pate
Regarding child-friendly cafés, I think you are referring to Lil Bean n Green in Leslieville and Playful Grounds on College Street. They are very different places. Lil Bean n Green has a large, separate play area (fenced off but still visible from the rest of the café), whereas Playful Grounds has a small play area that is more integrated with the café seating. Lil Bean n Green charges a fee of, I think, $5 for your child to play, regardless of whether you order drinks/food, whereas Playful Grounds do not charge for use of the play area. Kids are hard on toys/equipment, and I have found that Lil Bean n Green has not kept pace with the need to repair, replace, and remove damaged items. My child is quickly bored, so we just don't go there anymore. Playful Grounds is newer, and only time will tell...
re: peppermint pate
I have an almost-7-month old, and I find that most places in Toronto are pretty baby-friendly. We tend to stick to lunch, brunch, or very early dinner to make things easier for all parties involved :)
We go to Lit (Roncesvalles or College locations) and Crema (junction location) for coffee. Never had an issue with baby, frequently see other babies there. There's also a new places on Roncesvalles called Smock. It's a cafe with arts and crafts type activities for kids; I didn't try the food but it was baby-friendly.
We've been several times to Libretto (Danforth and Ossington locations),
and Barque (Roncesvalles) with great success. We went to La Carnita (College) once and it also went well, though it was probably a bit less family-oriented than the other two. Grand Chinese near the airport worked well for dim sum, though there may be other options closer to you. We even went to Buca (King W) for lunch once, and it was totally fine. Of course, a key difference is that your baby is probably a bit more mobile than mine, so ymmv.
I'm sure I've been other places, though I can't think of them right now. I don't think I've ever had an issue with bringing baby.
I've found similar experiences with Toronto places as well. We go out mostly for lunches and do some research on the menu ahead of time. We've yet to experience a single place that has been difficult for our toddler.
I highly recommend Le Select for wonderful French food and it comes with a children's menu as well! This children's menu is not some 'deep fried chicken and fries' but duck confit, tarte nicose, and steak frites for the kids! My toddler loved how her dishes looked like mine but kid sized.
Since you're near Korea town, there are some fantastic authentic Korean restaurants. My favourites are Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, Chodang Soon Tofu, and Sunrise House. The food is plentiful, fresh, and has amazing flavours. I take my friends from Seoul to these places and they think it's amazing how these restaurants are so good in Toronto.
I also recommend Alimento and Mozza Bar to take your little one. It's a restaurant/ fresh Italian market that is great for families. A lot of selection, wonderful food, and service. Though this is not in your neck of the woods, I found stockyards a great place for toddlers. My little one loved everything we ordered and we went first thing when they opened (not a line up!). The bbq was amazing.
For a great place (when you have someone looking after your little one), I recommend Hoof Raw Bar. It's possibly my favourite place right now. Food is phenomenal and I'm still craving all the dishes I had 3 weeks later. I second Buca as well. Though I haven't taken my little one there, I do love that place for Italian food without children. Woodlot is another restaurant that I would recommend to try without children. I love the pasta with shrimp and marscapone and sweet corn agnolotti.
For an Ontario seasonal/local produce LUNCH OR BRUNCH (they don't do dinner anymore) , try Jamie Kennedy's Gilead Cafe on a back lane near the Distillery, which is worth a stroll with a stroller. Finish with astonishing (and pricey) chocolate desserts(gelato, ice cream, in-house bizzare but successful truffles, etc.) from SOMA in the DIstillery, and when your child is a bit older, let him or her run around in the plazas there and climb on the public sculpture. Lots of places to sit and watch both toddlers and people.
+1 on Alimento, Soma and Gilead... have been to all with baby, no issues. Soma on King W was a bit less crowded than the Distillery location, at least when I went.
Had brunch at the Saint on Ossington too, and they gave us a nice big table with lots of space. Also had brunch at the Beast (near King W) and they were extremely accommodating.
Really, you won't have a problem with baby at most places in Toronto. Maybe really scene-y places wouldn't work, especially at night. The only place I'm craving but scared to try with her is Grand Electric... :)
Sounds like you're in the same area as me.
A few places that came to my mind are:
- Universal grill (Dupont & Ossington) - Brunch and dinner are generally quite good
- Bristol Yard - on christie, just past the north end of christie pits
- Ortolan - on Bloor, between Landsdowne and dufferin. This is better as a date night place.
This website should start you off: www.blogto.com
Toronto is loaded with good places to eat from one end to the other. It might help us help you if you could share particular intersections of interest. Say your new neighbourhood or the major intersection near your work. If you have any food preferences or allergies, that's helpful to know as well. And welcome to Toronto. I hope you love it here.