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Mar 18, 2013 06:50 PM

Help! MUST EATS for my one ever trip to Toronto!

OK, The Black Hoof was amazing tonight, my first ever night in Toronto. The smoked sweetbreads dish is the best I've had in a while. And, the Braunschweiger was the type of dish I feel like I would want to eat every day.

In my few days here, where else do I absolutely need to go? The more affordable, the better. So, I don't see myself splurging for Shoto or Yours Truly, etc.

I'm from the U.S, and would ideally like to focus on specialties in the area I might not have much luck finding elsewhere. But, most importantly, if it tastes great, I am there.

Considering Edulis, Guu, Enoteca Sociale, Banh Mi Boys, something Chinese, and Bar Isabel, if it were to open this week.

Thanks for your MUST EATS!

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  1. Definitely make it to Banh Mi Boys. My favourite casual/ fast service place in town.

    Other suggestions, for a lunch, would be fun to walk around Kensington Market and "graze" as you go. (I don't mean eating from the bulk bins :) ).. Places like Seven Lives there (tacos) or checking out some of the other shops/spots. Also worth a walk around St. Lawrence Market, again, a place with many options (you can do the typical "peameal bacon" sandwich for example.

    Not sure where you are from and what you are missing down there but I have been doing fried chicken and doughnuts in whatever city I have been going to lately.. Stockyards and White Brick Kitchen both have the best fried chicken I have had so far (Even in other cities up till now). Other good items on the menus as well. Is there something in particular that you are looking for food wise? We could recommend good spots to try those.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ylsf

      We have relatives in dc and spend a lot of time there. So i would say try chinese and ramen since u are downtown. Lots of ramen shops opened up downtown for relatively cheap and quick eats. Santouka, momofuku, kenzo. For cantonese, fine dining, try pink pearl, dynasty. Lee garden in chinatown or dumpling places. You can get better uptown. But when relatives are in town, they are satisfied with cantonese and ramen. They really liked st lawrence market as well. Fish place, peameal sandwich and veal sandwich.

    2. it depends on where you are coming from. me personally i'd skip banh mi boys and enoteca sociale. banh mi are readily available at 1/3 the price all over the place, and while i like enoteca sociale, upscale italian is also pretty common. i also would not waste any time in kensington market. it's getting better, but i still find the place completely lame; it's basically a couple blocks that never realized that the 90s ended years ago.

      guu is good ("guud"), but can be very loud. ramen options -- i'm partial to santouka -- are also great. if you have access to a car, i'd say go out to one of the burbs for cantonese (look for charles yu's postings for guidance.) even if you don't want to go to the burbs, there's good dim sum in the city -- i liked crown princess on bay, even if the decor is a bit comical. there's a dumpling house on dundas and huron, yummy yummy dumplings (no, for real) that's quite good. woodlot is mid-level contemporary canadian/american, and is pretty great.

      the problem with toronto is that what really sets it apart as a dining city -- such as its cantonese dining scene -- are not actually in the city, but are in transit inaccessible burbs. the city itself is pretty much like any other big city as far as dining goes, except about 20% more expensive than the US, at least at the high end.

      6 Replies
      1. re: autopi

        I have to agree about BMB - although BMB is good, Vietnamese subs are far better in Calgary (among other places). For cheap and good in TO (for lunches, at least), I'd go to Porchetta & Co., Burger Priest.. and spend a bit extra to pay a visit to SOMA.

        Dinner, there's too many good mid-range places to list. Check the best of TO 2013 for a good range.

        1. re: justxpete

          oh yeah -- soma. definitely worth checking out. get a hot chocolate while you're there. or a bicerin.

          1. re: autopi

            Yeah, I like the intense shot of the mayan...

          2. re: justxpete

            I have only ever had the actual banh mi at BMB once, much prefer the grid chicken steamed bao, the squid taco, and the kimchi fries plus other items.

          3. re: autopi

            Wrong on Kensington. Very. The affected hipsters are moving in in goatee wearing droves, but there are still some good things going on. Patty King has some very good Caribbean flavours (the goat one is very good); El Gordo Fine Foods is a small group of food stands that changes over frequently, though the empanadas are always there; and Hogtown Charcuterie has good product and a few interesting sandwiches.

          4. Where are you coming from? I'd check out Chantecler for their lettuce wrap + meat, or if you don't mind a loud bar type atmosphere, oddseoul.

            1. Excellent feedback from everyone. Thank you so much.

              I had been leaning against Enoteca Sociale for the very reason cited here -- that ingredient-driven Italian, even done very well, is not extremely hard to find elsewhere these days. And, yes, I do have access to banh mi where I am from. And, I don't have a car while here.

              So, with three more nights here (and little or no time to eat during the day), tonight I am considering Guu or Oddseoul. Tomorrow, I am thinking Edulis. And, then Thursday, maybe Chantecler. But, that is all subject to change pending more input and research.

              I'm near Dundas and Bay, and would also consider a food crawl of cheap eats.

              Thanks again! Good to be in Toronto!

              6 Replies
              1. re: John Galt

                I haven't been to Oddseoul so no comment on that spot, but if you are travelling alone, keep in mind that I think the "lettuce wrap" dish at Chantecler is designed for two people and I heard that it was quiet a good sized portion. If you wanted to go somewhere to try a bunch of stuff then you might want to look closely at the menu to see what exactly is on offer now. I haven't been myself either but it is definitely on my must try list.

                I think you would enjoy Guu and even if you are dining alone you could definitely try a few dishes depending on your appetite.

                Do you have good ramen where you are from? Today seems like a "ramen" kind of day to me... If not there are a bunch of newer options for ramen in the city including a few walking distance to the area you are staying in. I like Kinton and Santouka. Close by Santouka is Sabai Sabai (church/Dundas) that does good Thai. A few good thai places in town that I would recommend depending on whether or not that is something that interests you in Toronto.

                1. re: John Galt

                  Personally I wouldn't rule out BMB for a food crawl of cheap eats. This is not a typical banh mi offering and most of it is executed extremely well.

                  You can argue that everything is available everywhere...but you hope for a twist. I think BMB brings that.

                  Like others does depend on where you are visiting from.

                  1. re: John Galt

                    If you are here on Friday definitely do Chantecler's tasting menu- 40 bucks 8 courses...its lovely!

                    1. re: akhorasanee

                      I heard they only do like 4 tables a week for the Tasting Menu and it is already booked up for months out? Have they added additional tables?

                      1. re: ylsf

                        I'm not sure, I went the last weekend of Feb and I reserved two weeks in advance. To teh ebst of my knowledge they do two seating each on Friday and Saturday night

                    2. re: John Galt

                      If you are not from Sanfransisco, maybe try a Burrito, they are quite popular in Toronto, and there's one place right at bay/dundas. I had a Yam and Steak burrito, and It was Delicious!


                    3. where in the u.s. are you from?

                      because if you're from texas, you have better mexican and bbq than we can get here, for example. . .while i enjoyed seven lives, grand electric, and stockyards, i'm pretty sure good fried chicken and ribs can be found in many parts of the u.s. likewise, suggesting sushi to someone from the left coast is probably not the best use of your limited visiting time.

                      similarly, pho and banh mi are also well represented in a lot of american states. . .

                      the suggestion of porchetta and co. would be a decent one, but not if you're from nyc, where they already have solid options for porchetta there.

                      basically, without foreknowledge of what is already available to you, we'd have a trickier time recommending what you "might not have much luck finding elsewhere".

                      in fact, this thread could be about how there is nothing in toronto that can't be found elsewhere, and arguably better. . .and don't get me wrong, i love the food scene in toronto, but we are truly an amalgam of world cuisines.

                      even fusion places like bmb can be found in nyc at places like red farm and mission chinese nyc, for example. . .

                      actually, now that i think of it, check out the 'best butter tarts' thread. . .that's something that you'll have a hard time finding in the u.s., for sure. . .

                      1 Reply