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"Don't you dare leave Toronto without tasting....." a.k.a. Please help your neighbor to the south plan the perfect food-focused looong weekend.

So...this little food-loving family will be in your lovely city over the Columbus Day weekend (October 10th through the 14th with one day in the Niagara Falls area) and is looking forward to crafting the perfect 4 day food itinerary that will give them a holistic feel for the city's food. Everything from peameal bacon sandwiches in the St. Lawrence Market to checking out our very own David Chang's work at Shoto.

We eat it all- from Bolivian to Uzbeki, and embrace ALL deliciousness, however are more interetsed in things that would be uniquely "Toronto" if that even makes sense. We realize, that like NYC, Toronto is a city comprised of many immigrants, so I guess what we are really trying to say is that we are seeking food that is unique to/prepared better in Toronto no matter what its origin. And if that doesn't work, what restaurants would you consider *must visits* or iconic in their own right? We are fine with all price ranges and all venues...from 4 star to no star. And we appreciate great snack suggestions as we like to graze throughout the day.

We will be staying at the Fairmont Royal York and are also wondering if we should bother paying slightly more money for the breakfast package. Are there any notable breakfast spots around the hotel?

Many Thanks in advance and All Things Delish~
lisa

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  1. I'd say Soma Chocolate is a distinctly Toronto experience.

    There aren't too many notable breakfast places near the Royal York. If you like greasy spoon breakfasts with old school Toronto diner atmosphere, Patrician Grill on King is within a 10 minute walk of the Royal York, and Senator Diner on Victoria is within a 15 minute walk. Another option is to have the SLM peameal bacon sandwich for breakfast.
    First visit to TO
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904904
    Visiting TO
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903480
    Toronto's signature dish (old thread, but as relevant as ever) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/522673

    1. Please stop by the absurdly named "New York Subway" (located beside a Subway restaurant on Queen St. West) for a unique Toronto experience. I take all visitors here.

      This is a small, cheap, fast(ish) food place, where a sad man humbly grills you odd, delicious fusion burritos.

      They call their wraps "burritos", but other than the shape, there is no connection to TexMex cuisine. These things have their own distinct flavour.

      I recommend getting one beef, one chicken, one cauliflower and one mixed veg, and passing them all around to share. To me, this is what Toronto tastes like.

      4 Replies
      1. re: plasticanimal

        Thank you both so much for the links and for the suggestions. Seems like there is no real Toronto signature experience based on the threads I've read through in the last 90 minutes. Just lots of good food. A lot like our home city of NYC and Queens county where we live. Montreal was a lot easier to plan food-wise! Alas...

        1. re: ZenFoodist

          You will definitely enjoy St Lawrence market. Go Saturday morning and have the peameal sandwich. It's about a 10 minute walk east from your hotel. After visiting the market you could head to the Distillery district which is about another 10 minute walk further east. Or take the King streetcar.

          Also within walking distance is Kensington Market which covers several streets - little shops, restaurants, bakeries, cheese stores, etc. Definitely worth a wander especially if it's a nice afternoon. Unlike SLM, Kensington is open Sunday.

        2. re: plasticanimal

          The cauliflower one sounds interesting. Thanks! The reference to a Subway "restaurant" had me smile ;)

          1. re: ZenFoodist

            Make sure you get a ginger beer to drink with whatever you get there. Awesome food.

        3. That's also our Thanksgiving Weekend - so be warned that opening availability of restaurants may be affected, especially on the Sunday/Monday.
          You mention David Chang – the top place, Momofuku Shoto, has done an excellent job of translating the American Ko to a Canadian version. It’s an adaptation rather than a copy so well worth visiting – but only if you are comfortable with the counter concept, which makes conversation more difficult.

          Also at the high end (and better for lunch) is Lai Wah Heen (at Metropolitan Hotel). I haven’t been since recent management changes (anyone else please chime in) but have heard that the key chefs are still there preparing Dim Sum which is (or was) unbelievably high quality – expensive but worth it. Most other Asian food is better in the far suburbs, so not sure there’s anything else a NY visitor needs to try downtown. Thai is good though (e.g. Khao San Road – no reservations).

          Something else I haven’t found in New York is Upscale Portuguese – Chiado – again a splurge rather than an ‘eating’ destination. Quasi-French service.

          Soma is excellent – but the Distillery district is a bit out-of-the-way – certainly worth it if you have interests in the area, but I actually go to Roni-Sue in New York’s Essex Market more frequently – but then I don’t see the point of chocolate gelato (available at Soma but not Roni-Sue).

          Given the road disruptions around Royal York, you will need to walk or subway most places, so plan carefully (especially that weekend). Sadly, many of the walk-by standouts have no-reservation policies – but, if in the area, Bahn-Mi Boys is worth it (A Toronto version, but excellent nonetheless).
          Also endorse St Lawrence market for breakfast (CLOSED Sun/Mon).

          19 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            Skip LWH - Unless you have a dire urge for dim sum and cannot make it up north (at which point I would suggest either Yangs for a slightly more modern/upscale twist on dim sum, or Casa Victoria). My last few meals at LWH were OK, but for the price point, both the aforementioned places are superior.

            If you are in the area, check out 7 Lives in Kensington market for lunch and enjoy some of their seafood tacos. Not necessarily 'Canadian' or 'Torontonian' but extremely good.

            1. re: estufarian

              I am VERY interested in Bahn-Mi boys as a bahn mi would most definitely be represented in my Monster's Ball. I'm used to getting mine in the back of a jewelry shop in NYC. What makes these a " Toronto version"? St. Lawrence is definitely on our list as well. I never miss a market. Portugese interests me. Here in NYC, most of us go to Newark in New Jersey or Mineola on Long Island for our Portugese fix.

              1. re: ZenFoodist

                bmb: they do a modern fusion sandwich. but with tons of knowledge and history of the classic. the family runs one of the best traditional outlets in toronto (nguyen houng). they put tons of effort into researching and developing their recipes. the quality is top notch and at a very affordable price.

                - khao san road

                1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                  Hey KSR, have you ever been out to Calgary and had some of the Banh Mi there?

                  1. re: justxpete

                    not in a very long time. so definitely havent had any new gen stuff out there. but yes, excellent stuff iirc.

                    - khao san road

                2. re: ZenFoodist

                  Agree with the KSR response. It's a modified version, but based in authenticity. For example their Kimchi Fries are worth trying (I prefer them to Poutine).
                  I see many more people have jumped in (yeah for us), but at the point so far, the Niagara part is a bit threadbare. It appears you're driving so Niagara-On-The-Lake should be where you eat (or possibly stay - the downtown Falls area is dominated by the Casino complex). You can drive to the Falls.Toronto Jo is our expert there, with the finest (and most worthwhile) dining being at Treadwell's (reservations essential), and the place you hint at is probably the Stone Road Grille, which has never knocked my socks off but has a lot of fans on this board.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    For the Niagara region:

                    Stone Road Grille has fallen a lot in quality over the course of this year, which makes me infinitely sad. They still have moments of beauty (and maple cotton candy!), and I love the service and the wine list. But the consistency of the food quality has not been great since Andrew Crawford left.

                    Treadwell is excellent and pricey, but a great option if you want to dine in Old Town NOTL. If you want to dine in a winery setting, my standard recs are Ravine Vineyard (my favourite for a more casual vineyard meal) and Trius or Peller Estates. All of the above are farm-to-table.

                    For wineries, Stratus is still my hands-down favourite for the quality of their wines and the beauty of the winery. Southbrook is another modern winery that is worth a visit (and a light meal on their patio if the weather is nice). For a small family-owned winery, I like Lailey. For some interesting reds, I like Colaneri (the single most ostentatious building in NOTL -- ugh), who are doing ripasso and apassimento styles.

                    For the best pies and tarts in the area, stop in at The Pie Plate for a snack in between wineries.

                    In Niagara Falls, my only rec is The Regal Diner for breakfast. Otherwise, you're better off eating in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

                    If you have kids, the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls is really very cool, and only about 10 minutes away from Ravine Vineyard and their lovely little bistro (where the kids can run around on the lawn and kick soccer balls, by the way...).

                    Oh and for Toronto, I have to add my love for Banh Mi Boys. Must get the kimchi fries with pulled pork. Fried chicken bao and squid taco are both awesome, too.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      Thanks so much for all of these reccs. The Peller Estates menu looked gorgeous as does Treadwell and Ravine. Are you n ot a fan of the Kennedy place?

                      I've heard nice things about the Regal Diner, but I am not much of a diner girl. I'd much prefer a farm to table type meal.

                      You are the second person to mention the Butterfly Conservatory; I'm certain my son would love it and will check it out.

                      Have to be honest...I google imaged the Bahn Mi Boys and I am VERY excited. Totally my kind of place. My Little Man is very excited about the porchetta poutines next door at Come and Get it as well.

                      Been sitting here perusing all the menus and flicker photos.

                      What did we ever do without computers? ;)

                      1. re: ZenFoodist

                        FYI that Come And Get It will be closing soon - or is already closed.

                        Love BMB! Kimchi poutine is awesome. I also happen to like the jicama and papaya slaw there. Nothing crazy, but it helps balance out the salt/carb load.

                        1. re: jlunar

                          Say it ain't so! That dark brown gorgeous gravy on those fries looked to die for! Any back up poutines places?

                          1. re: ZenFoodist

                            I was at Come and Get It last week and the dude told me they'd be closing Oct. 25 so some ugly condos can be built. You got time.

                            1. re: GoodGravy

                              Oooh! More time - my bad. I'd thought they said they were leaving at the end of summer!

                              1. re: GoodGravy

                                there is a good chance they have a new home by the time they have to vacate their current one.

                                i think they may get another tenant before demolition.

                                - khao san road

                                1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                  Nice! Hope they can stay in the area.

                                  1. re: jlunar

                                    theres a 50% chance it will be closer to you!

                                    - khao san road

                          2. re: ZenFoodist

                            I haven't been to Windows, though I generally like Jamie Kennedy spots. However, Niagara Falls seems to have a knack for messing up potential, probably due to the sheer volume of tourists and the ability to overcharge. If I had to have dinner in NF, I would probably pick Windows or AG. But my bias would always be to eat in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

                            I don't know what your 10-year old is like, but if it were me, I'd be happier at Ravine than at any of the other wineries. Here's a photo of my view at Ravine from dinner just tonight. While I was there, two little girls were running around the lawn playing with the soccer ball. They were very happy. :o)

                             
                            1. re: ZenFoodist

                              Regarding The Regal Diner -- they are as close to a farm-to-table diner as you'll ever find. They source all their meats and produce locally, they smoke their own bacon and make their own sausage, bake all their breads and make all their jams, jellies and hot sauces. The menu is still classic diner food, but it's as good as it gets. :)

                              But if you're not into diner food, you're better off having breakfast at someplace like The Pie Plate. Because pie is always acceptable for breakfast! (they have lots of other baked goods, too)

                      2. re: estufarian

                        Soma has a location at King and Spadina. That might be a little bit closer.

                      3. On the first meal of the day, I would do Persian brunch at Tavoos one day and Crown Princess for dim sum another day. Not many cities have comparable experiences downtown.

                        1. Would you be willing to travel up to 45 minutes or so to the ourskirts of Toronto? If so, you can enjoy some of the best Cantonese cuisine outside of China. North east of downtown Toronto is Richmond Hill and Markham... home of some of the best Cantonese cuisine. There are lots of recommendations on this board in regards to the restaurants in this area but look up Charles Yu for his thoughts.

                          As mentioned by others, Saint Lawrence Market is a great experience for a family vacation. I recommend trying the peameal bacon sandwich at Carosel Bakery ... it might be one of the few unique Toronto eats. Buskers Sea Cove is a great lunch stop in SLM as well.

                          Walking around Kensington area is an experience as well. Lots of great little shops are popping up there that grab your taste buds at affordable prices.

                          If you love all things cheese (especially goat and sheep cheese), we have a local artisan creamery called Monforte located west of Toronto BUT they have a shop in Liberty Village on King St W area (I think it's on Jefferson st). It's really good... and if you buy directly from the store, it's at a fraction at the price. The soft water buffalo fresh cheese is called waltzing mathilda and it usually goes for $10 a sliver in a restaurant but you can buy the whole cheese block for the same amount at the direct store.

                          Soma as mentioned is recognized globally as a premier artisan chocolatier that does single estate bean bars. I love the ones from latin america. They also have some lovely gelato that you can try ... though October is a bit on the cold side.

                          There are other great cuisines in Toronto (Indian, Ethiopian, Nepalese, Greek, Portuguese, Afghani...) but I strongly suspect they are equally great in NYC. If your family include little ones, Le Select and Le Papillon on the Park are great options for brunch. They also have internet booking so you don't have to wait in line forever. There are a number of great brunch options nearby Le Papillon on the Park but I do not believe they have reservations so it is highly likely you will be waiting for 30+ mins on weekends.

                          Whatever you do... do not go to Keriwa (sadly). I wish I could promote this place but the quality and value is not the best. It's one of our few restaurants that have an influence from our Native Canadian Aboriginal communities.

                          I hope you will be going to the Niagara Wine Region and not just the falls area. The Falls area is a bit of a wasteland in regards to food. It's a lovely sight (the falls that is) but everything else is almost carnival like and nothing is worthwhile for a food loving family. I prefer lunch and dinners in the Niagara Wine Region. I personally like Peller Estate but Treadwell recently got a few good visits from seasoned CH'ers.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Nevy

                            Thank you for such extensive insight. We are from Flushing, Queens and are spoiled by the wealth of regional Chinese foods...everything from Dongbei and Harbin to the Uyghur region is represented here; my 9 year old can tell the difference between different brands of black vinegar. And he is not Asian! We generally do not bother with Asian food much when we are out of NYC, but this sounds really, really interesting. I will look into Charles Yu and read through his posts. You are not the first person to tell me how outstanding the Chinese food is in Canada. For whatever the reason, I always associated it with the Vancouver environs.

                            The Waltzing Mathilda just made my Must list. Never met a cheese I didn't like, as Doroth Parker said. Do you think a full day would be enough to explore the wine region and the Falls themselves? I am not big on waterfalls...just want to be delighted by what I hope willbe gorgeous Fall foliage and get out of the city for a day. I was interested in going to the Kennedy place on the Falls for dinner and a well regarded, iconic diner whose name I can not recall for bfast. Any better thoughts or should that be a separate thread?

                            Many Thanks again~
                            lisa

                            1. re: ZenFoodist

                              One day is fine for Niagara Falls and a drive through Niagara-on-the-lake. Have a look at Ravine Vineyard which is just minutes outside the town of Niagara Falls. Very nice spot for lunch.

                              1. re: ZenFoodist

                                Well welcome to Toronto soon! Seeing you are from Flushing and Queens, you do have a wealth of great Chinese food. I would say Toronto does excel in Cantonese Dim Sum which may provide you an unique experience to what you have in NYC. Yangs or Dragon Dynasty are higher end experiences of dim sum but they're much raved on the Ontario boards here. There are many threads that speaks highly of particular dishes if you want to research ahead of time.

                                There's also a northern Chinese restaurant called Omei in the same area (Richmond Hill and Markham area). A few CH'ers had several meet and greet dinners there with Giant Lobster 4 ways. I'm not sure how large is your family is but if you want another unique experience... that might fit the bill.

                                As for Montforte Creamery, I love waltzing mathilda but I also love their Fresco Percorino, black sheep (ash covered soft rind sheep milk), smoked goat cheese, and another one that has herbs in it. To be honest, I don't think I've ever had a bad one from here. They're all willing to let you taste them before buying as well. Super great service.

                                I agree with midtowngirl on 1 day for the falls and surrounding area unless you're a vinophile and want to explore ALL the wineries in the area. There are many (tons actually) and you could spend an entire weekend going from one to the next. The fall foliage will be spectacular and though Jamie Kennedy Windows is probably your safest bet in Niagara Falls for dinner. It might fall short on service ... a colleague of mine had a 'mini staycation' there in the Sheraton and mentioned that Jamie Kennedy Windows wasn't bad but not great.

                                I think if you want local or 'farm to table' type of menu similar to Windows by Jamie Kennedy, take a look at Pellar Estates and Treadwell. Another option would be Vineland Estates Winery. It's been a few years since I've been there but the dinner was very memorable and the service was well orchestrated.

                                Also, you will be in the heart of the 'fruit land' area of Ontario. I think most of the harvest will be done by then but often there are direct side of the road fruit stands during the summer and fall time frame. If you're lucky, sometimes the farmer would also be selling freshly made pies with the fruits of their labour. One of my best childhood memory is stopping by one of those stalls and taking a spoon directly to a freshly made apple and pear spiced pie. The heat of the pie just warming me up from the lightly cool air.

                                Enjoy your trip!

                            2. It was mentioned, but bears repeating: the street your hotel is on is undergoing major construction and is torn up pretty good while the city does a major renovation to Union Station across the street.

                              Since you're from Queens, the nearest thing to a peameal breakfast sandwich is a hameggncheezonnaroll. You can also get danishes and croissants at St. Lawrence Market as well as porchetta sandwiches, ribs, and meaty burritos from the various butchers on the main floor. There's also a decent Portuguese place to get a huge serving of roast chicken, rice and potatoes, and Buster's Sea Cove for seafood in the back. My suggestion is the four of you split up, get something different and share.

                              Kensington Market is also a great place to sample lots of food w/ a group. Split a beef cheek or duck confit banh mi from Banh Mi Boys on Queen St., a pork belly poutine from Come and Get It around the corner on Spadina, then wander up to Kensington Market proper for fish and chips, jumbo empanadas, churros, tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, pie, and lots of other stuff. If you're still hungry, walk over to Caplanskys on College St. for smoked meat sandwiches, lox, eggs and onions, and chopped liver.

                              Since you'll probably be sightseeing, if you're at the CN tower, walk down to the Harbourfront Centre where there's a few new food stands offering burgers, hotdogs and lobster rolls, plus a Lavazza cafe offering a super thick melted chocolate drink which is the best thing there. There's also the new Amsterdam Brewhouse for beer and food. Service is spotty and food is expensive and nothing to write home about, but the beer's good, and it's 10x better than the restaurant it replaced. Beware, more construction on that main road too.

                              If you're at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Ai Weiwei and David Bowie exhibits will be on), head to Kinton Ramen on nearby Baldwin St. You may pass the Krispy Kreme cafe on the way so feel free to indulge in some awesome sugar bombs and coffee.

                              As for dim sum in the downtown Chinatown, you can get equally good dim sum in Queens. The better dim sum places in Toronto are north of downtown in the suburbs and surrounding cities. If you're gonna drive all the way up there, skip the dim sum and go for dinner.

                              Lastly, NYC doesn't have as many Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants as Toronto so those are worth a look. There's a bunch of them on Danforth east of the Greek section, near the mosque. IIRC, Dukem was positively viewed, but do a search for more recent reviews.

                              All these areas are subway accessible. Rides on buses, streetcars and the subway cost $3, but you can buy tokens in bulk at a discount at the subway stations. You can also get family daypasses: http://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Pa...

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: GoodGravy

                                GoodGravy~what can I say? I don't know you but I love you ;)

                                I am already craving the bahn mi and the poutine. Yum.

                                I have been to Dukem in Washington DC, which in the States, is the epicenter of Ethiopian food. We always have an Ethiopian meal or two when in our nation's capital. How does Toronto Ethiopian compare?

                                Because I am from Flushing, Queens and regional Chinese food is our family's passion, I am thinking I will drive out to the suburbs. We are very spoiled by the Flushing Underbelly and I am genuinely curious to see if there is such a massive difference. Our faves are Hunan and Dongbei-style Chinese. What regions are done the best in the suburbs?

                                1. re: ZenFoodist

                                  I was underwhelmed by DC's Ethiopian district and the food at Toronto's Dukem is as good as the two restaurants I tried in DC. Sorry, can't remember the names. There are a dozen Ethiopian places on the east Danforth, along the subway line. Dukem usually get's the best reviews. I also like Hirut.

                                  Check these articles by Chris Nuttall Smith about the hidden gems in the suburbs. Mostly Asian and Indian with some Middle-eastern.

                                  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/s...

                                  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

                                  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

                                  1. re: ZenFoodist

                                    Of course you love me, I'm from Brooklyn!

                                    I haven't been to our nation's capitol in years so I can only compare to the Ethiopian in NYC and Toronto's compares favorably. Dukem's not the only place to go, just the one that sprang to mind. Digging in CH will reveal other faves.

                                    Toronto and Markham are best known for Cantonese. You're doing yourself a favor by checking out Charles Yu's posts on lobster 5 ways and other dishes.

                                    1. re: GoodGravy

                                      Brooklyn. The borough I WISH I had been born in ;) That explains it!

                                      1. re: GoodGravy

                                        We usually hit Rendezvous because they're open for lunch (Dukem is only open for dinner). Also Rendezvous' vegetarian platter seems to offer more variety than other Ethiopian places we've tried. Highly recommended.

                                    2. re: GoodGravy

                                      GoodGravy~ I am nervous about all this construction. I am not locked into my hotel rezzo. Do you think I should change it? It seemed very centrally located but if truth be told, I prefer smaller boutiquey places in cute neighborhoods. If this were NYC, for example, I would want to stay in the West Village or Union Square. NOT midtown.

                                      1. re: ZenFoodist

                                        You might want to consider the Drake on Queen W, which is located in more of an artsy neighbourhood, closer to many restaurants recommended frequently on this Board. It's not a luxurious hotel (and its neighbour, the Gladstone is even less fancy than the Drake), but it is located in an area with character. The Thompson would have nicer rooms than the Drake, but the vibe in the neighbourhood surrounding the Thompson can be a little cheesy/affected/pretentious, a bit like TO's answer to the Meatpacking District. The Ritz Carlton and Shangri La are nice hotels, but they're located in the Financial District which will likely be a ghost town on Thanksgiving weekend.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          The Thompson annoyed me because there is no option for kids when you make an online rezzo, so I assumned they weren't welcome. My kid is 10. When I called, they said kids were welcome but it "wasn't partiularly kid-friendly". WTH? I can get the Fairmont Royal York for 70 dollars less a night than the Drake including free valet parking (48 a night a la carte) and daily full breakfast. And the Ritz is about 200 more a night. Not worth it for a city trip in which I will be up and about most of the time. Looks like the Drake might be in a more charming nabe with more fun restaurants though....hmmm....

                                          1. re: ZenFoodist

                                            I'd take the Fairmount and its President Club points, and use the money saved on other stuff.The construction is an eyesore on Front, but they're not going to be working on it on Thanksgiving weekend, so it'll probably be quiet. The construction probably has a lot to do with the good rate. Rooms can be small, but if the hotel is empty, you might get upgraded! The Drake's neighbourhood is within a 12 minute taxi/drive, so it isn't too far from the Royal York.
                                            The Thompson does have a nightclubby vibe, as does the Drake. I wouldn't stay at either one w a 10 yo (sorry, somehow forgot you were travelling w a 10 yo, when I mentioned the Drake!).

                                            1. re: ZenFoodist

                                              Why WTH?

                                              "When I called, they said kids were welcome but it "wasn't particularly kid-friendly". WTH? "

                                              They are being honest with you...sounds refreshing to me!

                                              The hotel has more of a club scene than just about any other finer hotel in the city. The only children you really see there are adults who haven't grown up, and there are a lot of them! If you are asking that question of me, I would answer the exact same way. I don't think they are saying they dislike children...not at all.

                                              1. re: justsayn

                                                I feel that if the hotel is "not child friendly", the website is designed so that one can not even add children to the reservation ( 1 adults or 2 adults are the only options) and the reception was icy at best when asked if the hotel policy even permits children, well then they should just go all out and be an adults only establishment. Or an adults only restaurant. Same deal. Just give me a rule, and I can follow it, no problem, no animosity. But don't equivocate. I resent that. It feels so disingenuous. It was very clear that the woman who answered the phone would much prefer that we go elsewhere that was more " family friendly". And we will. I would have felt much better if it simply were an adults only hotel. I'm a big girl and can deal with that. Way better than saying you are willing to accept a child but would prefer you don't take the hotel up on the offer. Just my humble opinion.

                                          2. re: ZenFoodist

                                            Like others said, it's a holiday weekend so it should be quiet, and the Royal York is centrally located downtown. A nearby option is the King Edward Hotel which has Beer Bistro across the street and Craft Dogs and Big Smoke Burger down the street, and no construction going on. There's also One King West which might be more boutiquey. The one issue w/ all 3 places is they're in the financial area so the place empties out after business hours and on the weekends.

                                            The Drake and the Gladstone are located in the west so while they're cool neighborhoods w/ galleries, bars and good restaurants, they're also a long walk from Chinatown, etc. But if you have a car, you can get around easily and pay around $6-$12 at most parking lots. Those two also have scenes for singles (live music, bars, restaurants, etc.) The Royal York and the King Eddie are centrally located so the walking distance is shorter to Chinatown, Kensington Market, the CN Tower, SLM, the Distillery, the Harbourfront, the ACC and the Skydome.

                                            1. re: GoodGravy

                                              Loved loved loved Come And Get It and the Bahn Mi Boys. Such a fun night walking around that area. Thought the quality of every single thing I put in my mouth from the house baked breads to the pickled carrots ( slightly tender which I liked) and the paratha- like tortillas was outstanding. Unfortunately, when "grazing" like this, one can not really fully appreciate the hyper deliciousness of every moresel because of the need to try almost EVERYTHING lol. Taste inundation. Today we are going to go to the St. Lawrence Market (peameal sandwiches), walk around the Distillery District (Soma Chocolates)go to the top of the CN Tower, and catch a Knicks/Raptors game (pregame? not sure what my husband said) tonight. Hockey tickets at 150 a pop seems NUTS for tomorrow night as my 10 year old is not even into the whole shebang so that will just give us longer in the NOTL region. We were thinking Bannock or Nota Bene for tonight. Our concierge seems to be a foodie and loved all the selections. He told me he thought I would love Nota Bene and when we passed it walking to Come and Get It, the menu looked cool. Any thoughts? Thanks!

                                              1. re: ZenFoodist

                                                nota bene is excellent. but very different than the 2 places you hit. what are you looking for in tonights experience?

                                                - khao san road

                                                1. re: ZenFoodist

                                                  Nota Bene is probably best classified as business-y fine dining -- it's very good, but it's not a particularly intimate experience, so it depends on what you're looking for. I haven't been to Bannock, but that's also a larger space.

                                                  If you want something more personal, I would reiterate the rec for The Gabardine from the other thread.

                                                  But you'll have good meals at either of your choices.

                                              2. re: ZenFoodist

                                                You might also want to try the Beverley Hotel. It's a really small "boutique hotel" that just opened on Queen West

                                                http://thebeverleyhotel.ca/

                                            2. Based on where you're staying, absolutely, a trip to the St. Lawrence Market is worthwhile. I think it's closed Sun & Mon.

                                              Also another option is the Saturday morning farmer's market at the brickworks http://ebw.evergreen.ca/about/ . While a bit outside the downtown, you could take the subway to Broadview then the free shuttle. In my opinion, there are some unique to toronto things there to eat at the farmer's market and to see on the site. Check out the website first since it might not be your scene. A stroll along Danforth between Broadview and Pape will take you through the Greek area for restaurants. And the Carrot Common is about mid-way along that walk http://www.carrotcommon.com/about.html .

                                              I'd say one of the better restaurants in Toronto now is Bucca http://www.buca.ca/ While somewhat of a see and be seen place, and it gets rather loud late at night, the food is quite good. I love the patio, much quieter, alas it may not be open October. It can also be difficult to get a reservation on a weekend night so make sure to call if you are interested in going. After dinner you can work off the calories at SPIN - a bar and ping pong club
                                              https://toronto.spingalactic.com/abou... . Or for a more refined after dinner drink, Crush Wine Bar http://crushwinebar.com/default.htm .

                                              Tapas / sharing plates seem to be popular and a good way to sample what the restaurant has available. I like Torio for spanish tapas kensignton market http://www.toritotapasbar.com/ or Claudio Aprile's Orign downtown http://origintoronto.com/reviews/

                                              Some other Toronto restaurants that are usually on the top of the list, albeit the high end one are: Canoe, Splendido, Scaramouche, Auberge du Pomier, George

                                              Have a great time! There are so many neighbourhoods and cuisines in Toronto it's hard to narrow it down. I've been here 20+ years, eat out at restaurants quite a bit, and can't really identify a unique to Toronto food experience.

                                              1. I visited Farmhouse Tavern for the first time this weekend, and I think it will really be an interesting experience if you can get in - local ingredient focus, local wine, craft beer, open kitchen - for dinner or weekend brunch. It's in a neat/different/hipster/in transition part of town, but I just thought it was the best meal I've had in the city in a really long time.
                                                http://farmhousetavern.tumblr.com/

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: LemonLauren

                                                  In my experience, major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's) don't affect most restaurants owned and run by those that don't observe those holidays. My husband and I always go for Vietnamese food on New Year's Day. I grew up Jewish and Chinese food is a must over Christmas. Dim-sum is big on all statutory holidays. I've had sushi on Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

                                                2. BTW, if you are a fan of Ruth Reichl, here's her blog post of her recent day in Toronto:

                                                  http://www.ruthreichl.com/2013/09/sat...

                                                  I have to share her love for Edulis, particularly if you can do a tasting, rather than ordering off the menu.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                    Thank you so much! I happen to be a RR fan and enjoyed this piece. Edulis sounds great. That char sounds gorgeous. I am excited about all of these options. So much waiting to be tasted! And a day trip to Niagara on the lake, some Halloween revelry at Wonderland and a hockey game to boot! Very excited about the trip. Many thanks for all the guidance.

                                                    1. re: ZenFoodist

                                                      Make sure you hop on a res for Edulis. I forget how far it's booked out, but it's mentioned in one of the other threads.

                                                      1. re: jlunar

                                                        I was at Edulis a month ago for a fabulous meal. I asked the owner about reservations and she said that you should always call 'the day of' in case there are cancelations. I loved the place and the food!

                                                  2. When you're in the Niagara area, I'd highly recommend Treadwells, in Port Dalhousie. It focuses on locally sourced ingredients and then does wonders.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: RoKeIr

                                                      FYI, 'Treadwell' has moved to Queen street in NOTL a couple of months ago! Here's my review of it.
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9161...

                                                      You should try out the spanking new place!!

                                                    2. Oh, I see that the conversation turned to wineries too. I'd highly recommend Lailey's for their Syrrah -- I'd call it the best affordable red in the Niagara. Tawse winery has deservedly been winning awards lately, but their prices are starting to show it. Great for tasting. Hidden Bench may be the hidden gem, particularly their Riesling.

                                                      1. One more time: Treadwell has recently moved into Niagara on the Lake. Makes it easier to access.

                                                        1. Thanks all for so many great reccos and cool links. Coming out again in December from Vancouver, this time with some notice -- just nabbed Edulis resos thanks to this thread!

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                            We had a truly spectacular time for the four nights we were in your vibrant city and some excellent meals. We spent so much time wandering around and nibbling on things that apart from Treadwell in Niagara on the Lake, Momufuku Noodle Bar ( we are NYers and HAD to see David's work in your city) and Bannock, we really didn't spend much time in "proper restaurants". Went to Banh Mi Boys twice (both locations...awesome! although the one near Spadina and Queen was better IMHO) and just grazed the rest of the time at everything from Caplansky's to Modern Jelly Doughnut to peameal bacon sandwiches at Carousel, to fish sandwiches at Busker's Cove to sliced pork belly at Carnicero's
                                                            to pecorino at the Monteforte Creamey... out of the Waltzing Mathilda alas...to chocolates at SOMA and coffees at Balzac to....etc We simply walked around the city and grazed! Loved Toronto. Hoping to find the time to write something more formal up in the not too distant future. Thank you all so much for sharing your enthusiasm for your city! We look forward to an encore visit.
                                                            lisa

                                                              1. re: ZenFoodist

                                                                Wait. You didn't seriously eat at Smoke's, did you? It's a poutine place that you seem to have visited in the facebook link that you had posted.

                                                                Does this look familiar?

                                                                http://smokespoutinerie.com/

                                                                Great job on the tour, though!

                                                                1. re: ZenFoodist

                                                                  That's awesome -- thanks for the quick report. Would love to hear more about your experiences when you have time to write 'em up!