Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Oct 3, 2013 12:17 AM

The 38 Essential Toronto Restaurants, October '13

So, in light of Eater's "list" (, I thought I'd create one of my (our?) own. Now, these might not be my favourite, per se, but I can't deny a given restaurants relevance for personal dislike. But as a general consensus, I think this list is pretty good, with perhaps a few omissions or additions needed. I did it relatively quickly, but - I'm not sure how the writers of Eater could be so off. This took me all of 15 minutes. I listed them in alphabetical order just for good measure.


Auberge Du Pommier
Bar Isabel
Best Ellen
Black Hoof
Burgers Priest
Cafe Buloud
Enoteca Sociale
Farmhouse Tavern
Harbord Room
Jacobs & Co
Khao San Road
Momofuku Shoto
Porchetta & Co
Richmond Station
Sushi Kaji
The Grove
Tutti Matti
Yours Truly
Zen Sushi

Patria, Carmen, THR&Co, 7L and Origin North I think are a bit too new to be included (if they would be). I included Bero because the reviews are overwhelmingly positive among CHers.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would have to add seven lives just for the sheer amount of times I've eaten there, I think they do something original ( for Toronto) and delicious

    1. I think an essential list is going to be highly personal, and depend on what you like to eat. My essential 38 would include a lot more Mediterranean food (Dr. Laffa, Tabule, possibly Mezes or Pantheon), some seafood (Starfish and Joso's), some West Indian food (jerk , roti or doubles) and a lot less continental food. I'm always game to try the new contemporary/continental places that get raves (places I have tried once, but haven't revisited: Beast, Woodlot, Grove, Chantecler), but I rarely return after the first visit, so I wouldn't consider them to be essential (to me or Toronto).

      When I have out-of-town visitors, my essential TO includes a Greek lunch (usually a whole bunch of mezes at Mezes or Pantheon) followed by loukamades at Athens Pastries, a combo plate at Cafe Polonez or Chopin, dim sum at Yang's, Dynasty or Crown Princess, pasteis de nata from Doce Minho, maybe Pizzeria Libretto.
      My cocktail and bar food at Origin North was meh. I'm being nice by calling it meh. I would take Joey or Earl's over Origin North, if I was given a choice!

      1 Reply
      1. The only ones that immediately comes to mind that CHers like that are not on the list are Buca and Ici.

        1. I'm curious. Of the restaurants mentioned in JustPete's list,how many have you visited 3 or more times? The only ones I've visited 3+ times are Stockyards, Scaramouche, Burgers Priest (I've visited 3 times, but still wouldn't consider it essential- it just happens to be a convenient location for me), George (visited 3 times, but underwhelmed on last visit, so not essential to me), Cava (visited 3 times), and Starfish. Starfish is the only one listed on JustPete's 38 that I've visited more than 5 times.

          I think I'd also include a churrasco chicken place, and Italian sandwich place in my list of 38 essential restos, and add The Saint for its lovely brunch (which I prefer to Beast's brunch).

          4 Replies
          1. re: prima

            prima, to answer your question, the only restaurants on the list that I have visited 3+ times are Starfish and Stockyards.
            Most of the places I have only been to once, with the exception of Porchetta & Co.

            1. re: prima

              I've been to bar Isabel, black hoof, chantecler, burger priest, stockyards, porchetta and harbord room at least 3x each and to many of the others, but definitely not all, once or twice

              1. re: disgusti

                I'm a bit surprised. I'm at around 22 for at least 3x, and that will probably expand within 3-6 months (Bero, Bar Isabel, Farmhouse, Grove).

              2. re: prima

                I've visited 12 of them 3 or more times. And another 7 twice - so I guess I'm in general agreement (and do occasionally bump into justxpete as well).
                But it does seem to be middle-high end biased, so it depends whether you are recommending for a local (with resources) or a visitor. I find it a good 'visitor' list.
                But clearly better than the 'published' list that inspired this.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. I love the idea of adding a churrasco chicken place in a Toronto list...however none of them really cook chicken that well IMO. Even the ones that are the least dry and overcooked...are pretty dry and overcooked compared to someone who knows what they are doing and cooking chicken to the right temp with the right method.

                  1. re: szw

                    I hear what you're saying, but I guess I'm hoping I'll find that perfect churrasco.

                    Churrasco lovers, which churrasco place would you include if you were making a list of 38 essential restaurants?

                    1. re: prima

                      Costa Verde on Oakwood is the most consistent. Although I havent been back there in years I just chatted with someone who absolutely loves it.

                      1. re: themiguel

                        Costa Verde is also my choice FOR TAKEOUT.
                        I tried dining there a couple of times and it wasn't pleasurable.

                        1. re: themiguel

                          I was just going to mention Costa Verde. Really great chicken!!