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Essential Toronto and GTA Foods...

prima Oct 3, 2013 06:21 AM

I think essential is a silly adjective to be using, but how about a list of your favourite Toronto foods you think Chowhounds should try, in Toronto or the GTA, at least once?

Here are some foods I'd recommend:
1. A veal sandwich (I like the Dufferin St Califronia, and Ciccio)
2. Churrasco chicken (recs for places that are the best?)
3. Dim sum at Crown Princess or Yang's
4. Jamaican patty (recs?)
5. Trinidadian doubles
6. Squash fritters at KSR
7.Souvlaki at Asteria, Zorba's
8. Gyros at Folia
9. Pasteis de Nata at Doce Minho
10. King of BBQ Pork at John's BBQ (Chinese style)
11. Dumplings at Northern Dumpling kitchen
12. Eccles cake at Brick Street Bakery
13. Grilled squid at Joso's
14. Lobster at Starfish
15. Lobster with Maggi sauce at O'Mei
16. Margherita pizza at Libretto
17. Cheeseburger at Stockyards
18. Bi bim bap (recs? I still haven't found the one I'm looking for, but I enjoyed the one at Mot Na Son)
19. Iles flottantes at Le Select
20. Goulash soup and goulash at Europe
21. Perogies at Chopin
22. Fried eggplant at Tabule or Jerusalem
23. Shawarma in a laffa at Dr Laffa
24. Arancini at Enoteca and/or Libretto
25. Ribeye at Barberian's
26. Flatbreads at Buca
27. Fried Pigs' Ears at Buca
28. Gandhi's take on roti
29. Chicken roti (any recs? Always looking for a good one. Caribbean Bistro is pretty good)
30. Thai Islamic Noodles at Linda
31. The peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel
32. Bbq pork bun from Lucullus
33. Duff's wings (other recs?)
34. Samosa (A1? Other recs?)
35. Soma chocolate
36. Dosa at Moti Mahal or Udupi Palace
37. Maid's Cottage butter tart. I buy mine at Rachel's
38. Coconut cream pie at Scaramouche (I'm not a fan of coconut cream pie, but I'm glad I tried the Scaramouche version. And if you like coconut cream pie, this is the one you've got to try!)

That's all I've got right now...
And I left out macarons, cupcakes, donuts, tacos, fried chicken (ok, I admit, I like Ajuker fried chicken best), nachos, ramen, sushi and salad!
Please continue with your recs!

  1. TorontoJo Oct 3, 2013 07:01 AM

    I love, love, love your list. Many overlaps with mine.

    I would recommend Estrela for churrasco if you haven't tried it. Moist and delicious when I've tried it.

    I would add:

    - Hungarian goulash crepe at Cafe Polonez
    - Crispy fish, chicken wings and pork skewers at Sabai Sabai
    - Fish sandwich at The Fish Store
    - A butter tart from The Flaky Tart
    - Samosas from A-One
    - Colombian empanadas from Cafe Las Americas or Columbus Bakery
    - Lomo Saltado from the food court in Plaza Latina
    - Fried chicken bao and kimchi fries (with pulled pork) from Banh Mi Boys
    - Any brunch item at The Stockyards
    - Gelato (many options here)

    I'm sure there are more if I think about it.

    73 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      prima Oct 3, 2013 07:17 AM

      Love that goulash crepe at Cafe Polonez (goulash folded into a potato pancake, for those who haven't tried it! )
      Great additions, TorontoJo. :)

      1. re: TorontoJo
        TorontoJo Oct 3, 2013 07:39 AM


        - sake tasting at Ontario Spring Water Sake
        - beer tasting at Mill St. Brewery (just because you'll already be at Soma and Ontario Sake in the Distillery)

        1. re: TorontoJo
          Davwud Oct 4, 2013 06:00 AM

          I would love to have seen the looks on our faces that first time we walked into Estrela. Just the smell is worth a visit.

          I'll add a shake (Salted Caramel/Nutella is my fav) from Holy Chuck.

          Bifana w/everything from Churasco of St. Lawrence at SLM.

          Shawarma on Samoon at Al Tanoor.

          3 Chorizo Chili from Segovia in Kensington Mkt.

          Caramel Crunch from Creme...A Sweet Buzz. Also the White Chocolate Raspberry Gelato. (All the gelato I've sampled there is really good. So there's a gelato rec.)

          Ultimate (meatloaf) Grilled Cheese from Uncle Betty's. The Dressen's Donuts as well.

          Oreo, Strawberry of S'more's Donuts from Stack.

          That's all for now.


          1. re: Davwud
            Charles Yu Oct 6, 2013 05:36 PM

            Went to try out Al Tanoor tonight, per Davwud's recommendation.
            Place was modern and clean by Sharwarma eatery standard. Had their Beef Sharwarma plate. At $6.99, excellent value for money, especially when compared to the hiked up pricing of Richmond Hill. Beef was tender and nicely seasoned. Loved the inclusion of some gamey tasting fat and tendons in the mix. However, good as it may seem, comparing to the 'Old Fahrat' from across the road years ago. Fahrat's Shawarma was way better. So, flavorful. Pity they have gone down hill!!
            Highlight of tonight's meal was actually not the food but the piece of 'insider trade' information provided by the owner. I was told, though lamb is the most popular of Sharwarmas and Kebabs in the Middle East. Here in Toronto, places offering lamb version are far and few due to cost consideration. In fact most outfits offering 'Lamb Sharwarma' might not be giving you lamb, but ' Beef layered with lamb fat '!! The latter to give the gamey taste and smell of lamb! So!! Buyers beware!!
            A Lamb sharwarma using 'real all lamb' needs to be priced around $10 per pita sandwich in order to break even!!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              disgusti Oct 7, 2013 03:02 AM

              You messed up not getting it on the special house bread man that's the reason why that spot is worth hitting

              1. re: disgusti
                magic Oct 7, 2013 06:13 AM

                I'd agree with this, Charles, the samoon bread is much of the reason I go there. Everything else is quite good, but it's the fresh baked samoon that makes it worth going there. Try on a samoon next time. :-)

                1. re: disgusti
                  Davwud Oct 7, 2013 06:16 AM

                  Ya Charles. Next time get your shawarma in samoon. The specialty of the house. It's awesome. I consider it what the offspring of an Italian roll and pita would be if they had a "Bun in the oven."


                  1. re: Davwud
                    Charles Yu Oct 7, 2013 08:26 AM

                    Thank you all!! Did not its availability posted on the menu board!

                    1. re: Charles Yu
                      szw Nov 17, 2013 01:28 PM

                      I happened to be in the area and tried this out. It's quite good, better than other shawarmas I've had. I wouldn't make a trip just for this though, but it was tasty and the place was very clean and all the toppings looked extremely fresh. I was impressed. I just asked for shawarma in a pita and I was asked if I wanted it on the special house made bread.

                      Also was happy to find its right next to Makkalchon, best korean you'll find in the GTA!

                      Brings me to another point....gamjatang, or pork bone soup, definitely has to be included in an essential Toronto thread! For some reason, Toronto has adopted this dish more than Korea ever did.

                      1. re: szw
                        Davwud Nov 18, 2013 04:55 AM

                        "For some reason, Toronto has adopted this dish more than Korea ever did."

                        We're known as "Hogtown." Perhaps there's your answer right there.


                        1. re: Davwud
                          szw Nov 18, 2013 08:52 AM

                          Funny, but korea is a lot more porky than Toronto! It's just this one dish Torontoians really took to!

            2. re: TorontoJo
              prima Oct 5, 2013 04:13 PM

              Tried that fried chicken bao at Banh Mi Boys. Possibly the best $3.70 (taxes in) snack in TO.

              1. re: prima
                Herne Oct 8, 2013 12:20 PM

                How about some Canadian food recos

                1. re: Herne
                  justxpete Oct 8, 2013 12:43 PM


                  1. re: Herne
                    TorontoJo Oct 8, 2013 12:47 PM

                    We're all listing our personal favourites. So how about sharing your list of essential foods that fit your "Canadian food" criterion? :0)

                    1. re: Herne
                      prima Oct 8, 2013 12:52 PM

                      I'd consider everything mentioned in this thread to be Canadian food, since these are the foods Chowhounds in Canada are choosing to eat.

                      Here are the two typically old school Canadian foods in my original post: Maid's Cottage's buttertarts, which I consider to be classic, small town Ontario food, and the boiled lobster dinner at Starfish, which is as good as it gets for Maritime-style lobster in TO.

                      The Arcadian Court's chicken pot pie, available at Bannock, is an iconic old school, old Toronto dish. Bannock also serves an upscale buttertart, which is quite tasty.

                      I didn't grow up eating meatloaf or Shephard's Pie, but maybe another Chowhound can recommend other places for old school Ontario favourites. I'd think Summerhill Market is the best bet for WASPish classics. :)

                      Which foods that you consider Canadian, would you recommend, Herne?

                      1. re: prima
                        Herne Oct 8, 2013 12:55 PM

                        I have never considered pre 1980 as old school but perhaps this topic might best be left to rest.

                        1. re: prima
                          justxpete Oct 8, 2013 12:59 PM

                          I interpreted it as more "non-ethnic" from Herne's viewpoint, although I agree, food of every ethnicity, I would consider, Canadian.

                          1. re: justxpete
                            prima Oct 8, 2013 01:16 PM

                            Ya, I know.

                            1. re: justxpete
                              Herne Oct 9, 2013 10:33 AM

                              LOL. My wife usually announces once a month that it is time to eat her food. Then it is chickens feet, tofu, noodles and rice. She never says its time to have some Canadian food.

                              Anyway I think meat loaf and baked potatoes are the sort of fare I was looking for.

                              1. re: Herne
                                justxpete Oct 9, 2013 11:27 AM

                                I can't speak to what your wife perceives as "Canadian food", but clearly "Canadian Food" has an evolving definition.

                                Meatloafs' etymology is largely European. Burgers are German. Hot dogs are German - so really, what do you mean when you say "Canadian food"? Are we being selective of what we consider "Canadian"? Or do you mean European food?

                                1. re: justxpete
                                  Davwud Oct 9, 2013 11:41 AM

                                  When you say "etymology" do you mean from where the name came (which is what etymology means) or where the dish orginated. Hamburgers are born in Russia as Steak Tartare.


                                  1. re: Davwud
                                    justxpete Oct 9, 2013 02:06 PM

                                    that conflicts with what I learned in culinary school and also, wikipedia and other sources... I was using etymology figuratively, but both are true. The name and dish both originated in Germany.

                                    1. re: justxpete
                                      prima Oct 9, 2013 02:14 PM

                                      I realize Hamburgers are named after Hamburg, and that ground meat patties are served all over Germany, beyond Hamburg (also called Frikadellen and Boulette), but I'd think other countries were also frying up ground meat patties before Hamburgers were known as Hamburgers. Ground meat patties are called bifteki in Greece, not sure what they're called elsewhere. Salisbury Steak also looks a lot like a hamburger to me!

                                      1. re: prima
                                        justxpete Oct 9, 2013 02:17 PM

                                        Maybe? Who knows? - but Germany is largely credited by most with the "Hamburger", in both the name and the 'dish'. What part of "Hamburger" says beef?


                                        It's likely true just on that basis alone - if not, I think it'd be named after a different city in a different country. ;)

                                        re: Salisbury Steak - "Due to widely prevalent anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during World War I, an alternative name for hamburgers was salisbury steak"

                                        1. re: justxpete
                                          prima Oct 9, 2013 02:21 PM

                                          I'm not arguing about the name. Clearly, the name comes from Hamburg.

                                          What I'm saying, is that, I would think other people, in other parts of Germany, other parts of Europe, and other parts of the world, were eating ground meat patties (beef, or otherwise) before Hamburg became known for them.

                                          Let me put this another way. Quite possibly, Berliners were eating Frikadellen at the same time that Hamburgers were eating Hamburgers.

                                          Feel free to disagree. :-)

                                          1. re: prima
                                            justxpete Oct 9, 2013 02:24 PM

                                            I don't think either of us know that to be true or false.. but I'm saying, if the dish is named after a specific city, the chances are, is that where it's originated from, much like the many, many dishes that are named after the chefs that invented them. :)

                                            1. re: justxpete
                                              prima Oct 9, 2013 02:28 PM

                                              Ok, fair enough.

                                              1. re: justxpete
                                                ToxicJungle Jan 12, 2014 10:59 PM

                                                here is the story about hamburger that i heard from my chef who trained me... long time ago there was a constructor who just came to America from Hamburg, Germany. One day he made himself some Frikadellen for dinner and planned to bring some for lunch. for convenient he put it in between two pieces of bread like a sandwich. his coworkers saw it and wanted to try, so he bought more for everyone the next day, and everybody loves it. so he started a little cart selling these Frikadellen sandwich. in Germany, they call people where they live, like Hamburger from Hamburg, Frankfurter from Frankfurt, Hollander from Holland... that's why he named it hamburger.

                                                1. re: ToxicJungle
                                                  prima Jan 13, 2014 05:12 AM

                                                  There's also a Danish immigrant to the USA named Mr. Lassen credited for putting the ground meat patty between slices of bread in 1900. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger
                                                  Amazing that we don't call ground-meat- patty-on-a-bun sandwiches Danishes, isn't it? (I'm kidding, there are several other non-Danish individuals with a claim to the fame.

                                                  1. re: prima
                                                    ToxicJungle Jan 13, 2014 12:43 PM

                                                    No idea how legit is the story, but it's an old tale in between chefs

                                            2. re: justxpete
                                              prima Oct 9, 2013 02:28 PM

                                              I didn't know that. I'm guessing that's around the same time Hot Dog became more popular than Frankfurter.

                                              Kind of like Freedom Fries. Glad that term never caught on.

                                              1. re: prima
                                                justxpete Oct 9, 2013 02:41 PM

                                                haha. Maybe. "Wiener" also comes from the German word for Vienna.

                                                Also glad "Freedom Fries" didn't catch on.

                                          2. re: justxpete
                                            Davwud Oct 9, 2013 04:21 PM

                                            Tartare Steak was popular in Germany and that's how it got to the US. However the Germans got it from Russia.

                                            If the mods don't delete this, read: http://bit.ly/17XYH9q


                                            1. re: Davwud
                                              justxpete Oct 9, 2013 05:20 PM

                                              It's largely heresy and conjecture that what's mentioned in the link even occurred. There's no actual factual basis for it.

                                              The origin of Tartare is also up for debate, and I'm skeptical that it originated in Russia.

                                              And even if we accepted that Steak tartare originated in Russia and eventually became the "Hamburger", that's a bit like saying Ireland invented Potatoes au gratin because they exported potatoes.

                                              1. re: justxpete
                                                Davwud Oct 9, 2013 06:38 PM

                                                Ya, you're right. You probably know more than the Library of Congress.


                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                  justxpete Oct 9, 2013 06:42 PM

                                                  Nah - I just know better than to take what I read from a blog on the internet with no references or documentation whatsoever, and accept it as being factual.

                                                  1. re: justxpete
                                                    Davwud Oct 9, 2013 06:47 PM

                                                    Well you oughta!!


                                                    1. re: Davwud
                                                      justxpete Oct 9, 2013 06:48 PM

                                                      mmmhmm... that's what makes people sssssssssssmarttttttttt! :)

                                        2. re: justxpete
                                          Herne Oct 9, 2013 01:32 PM

                                          Well she knows that chicken feet isn't usually defined as Canadian food. I mean pre Trudeau immigration food--roughly common food in Canada prior to 1980. It is ethnic food as the Canadians of the day were Irish, Scotch, English, Welch or French. Very little of that food today in the GTA. Hence my question.

                                          1. re: Herne
                                            prima Oct 9, 2013 01:55 PM

                                            Herne, I think much of that food can be found in family restaurants. Most family restaurants serving plainer, more traditional food get ignored on this Board.

                                            If you attend a Chowmeet some time, you might notice many Chowhounds who attend Chowmeets have continental European, Jewish, Chinese or other non-British/non-Irish/non-French backgrounds, and probably aren't seeking out plainer, non-ethnic 'Canadian' foods that were common staples before Trudeau's time. Of the Chowhounds who attend Chowmeets, who have British/Irish/French backgrounds, most seem more interested in 'ethnic' or 'contemporary continental' foods, rather than pre-Trudeau era 'Canadian' foods.

                                            The old 'Canadian foods' still exist in Toronto, but some of those foods just aren't popular and/or interesting enough for some Chowhounds to include them in a list of favourite "essential Toronto foods". (Although it's nice to see buttertarts, pot pie, hamburgers, steak, and Pusateri's meatloaf get mentioned!)

                                            1. re: prima
                                              Herne Oct 9, 2013 01:59 PM

                                              Thanks Prima.

                                              1. re: prima
                                                justxpete Oct 9, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                Yeah, that sounds about right.

                                                Herne - are there specific dishes you're looking for, other than meatloaf? Maybe if you name a specific dish, someone might know where to get a good version?

                                                1. re: justxpete
                                                  Herne Oct 9, 2013 03:23 PM

                                                  I'm looking for restaurants that have a pre Trudeau menu--not particular dishes. I think I'm on a fool's errand.

                                                  1. re: Herne
                                                    TorontoJo Oct 9, 2013 04:01 PM

                                                    Have you been to David Duncan House?


                                                    1. re: TorontoJo
                                                      Jar Oct 9, 2013 05:58 PM

                                                      Wow, oh my, a look at the menu and pricing has me laughing non stop --- even the simple pasta ------ Wow, well when I got to the end of the menu, there was the category of Accompaniments, loved it, just wish it was including the number of ordered items, example the priced French Onion Rings could have provided more info such as 4 or 5 or 6 per order. This is a menu indeed!!!! Obviously real Canadian Food is...................

                                                      1. re: Jar
                                                        TorontoJo Oct 9, 2013 06:33 PM

                                                        Can't argue with you there. I have never set foot in the place and never intend to. However, they are appealing to somebody, because they have been in business for 25 years.

                                                      2. re: TorontoJo
                                                        Herne Oct 9, 2013 06:58 PM

                                                        No--but I have driven by it (*.*)

                                                        1. re: Herne
                                                          jlunar Oct 9, 2013 07:38 PM

                                                          I'd stick with driving by only.

                                                          I've been once and well...


                                                          1. re: jlunar
                                                            justxpete Oct 9, 2013 07:55 PM

                                                            I had to go once too. I had never heard of it, and wasn't sure what to expect. I haven't been the same since.

                                                      3. re: Herne
                                                        foodyDudey Oct 28, 2013 10:00 PM

                                                        Go to Gale's Snack Bar and chow down on some pre-Trudeau era food!

                                                        it's been mentioned here many times but here is an article that mentions how long it has been around. http://www.thestar.com/life/2009/02/2...

                                                2. re: justxpete
                                                  evansl Oct 20, 2013 05:18 AM

                                                  This attitude is nonsense. There is no shifting definition. It doesn't matter how many Chinese or Indian restaurants might open in Italy, it wouldn't change what constitutes Italian food. It's no different here. Same old story. People in North America constantly devaluing their own culture to appear cosmopolitan and politically correct.

                                                  1. re: evansl
                                                    pourboi Oct 20, 2013 07:02 AM

                                                    So you are saying that "Bánh mì" is not Vietnamese food? Because the only reason that dish exists is that the French colonised Vietnam and opened a whole bunch for baguette bakeries which changed what constitutes Vietnamese food. Just like the introduction of Pasta changed what constitutes Italian food.

                                                    If you asked someone in Toronto in 1970 what Japanese food was do you think they would mention Ramen & Izakaya's? Or what Chinese food was that they would say Chicken Balls and Chow Mein. Try to find a French restaurant in Toronto today that every dish is cover in thick cream sauces..

                                                    Food evolves and cultures evolve... what was traditional food 50 years ago influences food today but more then likely it has also been influenced by many other factors including immigration. I bet if you look at the countries with the largest immigrant population you will see that they also have the most changes to their food culture where as more closed societies have less change...

                                                    1. re: evansl
                                                      justxpete Oct 20, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                      Which "attitude" is non-sense? Saying that Canadian food is ever-evolving? It's fact. Not an "attitude". But I think Pourboi has already proven that quite succinctly below... so I won't bother. In any case -

                                                      Can you tell me what you think Canadian food is? What are some standard dishes?

                                                      1. re: justxpete
                                                        Herne Oct 20, 2013 02:21 PM

                                                        We could start with Thanksgiving dinner with its dishes.

                                                        1. re: Herne
                                                          justxpete Oct 20, 2013 02:25 PM

                                                          Which dishes do you think are specifically Canadian that aren't American, who's thanksgiving tradition was started 100 years prior to Canada's?

                                                          1. re: justxpete
                                                            Nevy Oct 20, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                            As an aside, I was taught in high school that Canada celebrated thanksgiving about 50 years earlier than the first recorded US Thanksgiving. I hope I haven't been teasing my American coworkers incorrectly all these years! From what I remember, it was held in Newfoundland by an English explorer that landed almost 50 years before the first pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. *goes off to research on the web*

                                                            1. re: Nevy
                                                              justxpete Oct 20, 2013 02:59 PM

                                                              Let us know what you find out!

                                                              1. re: Nevy
                                                                bytepusher Oct 20, 2013 04:37 PM

                                                                That's hindsight bias BS history, the explorers name you are looking for is Martin Frobisher. Yes it happened, one dinner held once and never repeated with nothing to link it to modern Thanksgiving.

                                                                Similar claims are also made for Champlain's "Order of Good Cheer" tradition, but that also died out and has no actual connection to Thanksgiving. You'll also find a bunch of other religiously or politically inspired Thanksgiving feasts in Canadian history as one time events.

                                                                Reality is that Thanksgiving in it's current form was brought to Canada by the Loyalists and is totally based on the US holiday.

                                                                Also while were at it, the 1621 Plymouth Colony "First Thanksgiving" feast was not the first such feast held in the Americas and there's basically no historical evidence linking it to the tradition of annual harvest feasts that came about much later, total hindsight construction there too.

                                                              2. re: justxpete
                                                                Herne Oct 20, 2013 04:38 PM

                                                                I think you have your history wrong. Thanksgiving was celebrated in Quebec city at least 20 years before the Puritans saw Plymouth Rock and by Martin Frobisher in the Arctic before that.

                                                                1. re: Herne
                                                                  justxpete Oct 20, 2013 04:51 PM

                                                                  See Bytepusher's post above. Regardless of the truth, the tradition of celebrating on a regular basis didn't start in Canada, and the dishes we serve are largely inherited from the US.

                                                                  1. re: justxpete
                                                                    Herne Oct 20, 2013 05:05 PM

                                                                    Well the question was "Can you tell me what you think Canadian food is? What are some standard dishes?

                                                                    I think Thanksgiving dinner is Canadian although it may have come from the US or more likely England and roast turkey is a standard as Canadian dish as there could be.

                                                                    1. re: Herne
                                                                      justxpete Oct 20, 2013 05:28 PM

                                                                      It's considered standard but didn't originate here - much like many, many other dishes. Hence why I stated that the definition of Canadian food is ever-evolving - of which Evansl thinks is "non-sense", which causes me to laugh out loud. As Canadians of reason and sensibility, we celebrate our multi-cultural society and it's integration in to our national kitchen.

                                                                      1. re: justxpete
                                                                        Herne Oct 20, 2013 06:28 PM

                                                                        I don't know of many dishes that originated here but that doesn't take away from being a "standard". Pasta and tomato sauce originated in China and Peru but they are still considered Italian standards I believe.

                                                                    2. re: justxpete
                                                                      trombasteve Oct 20, 2013 08:55 PM

                                                                      RE: justxpete "and the dishes we serve are largely inherited from the US."

                                                                      This must be some time machine you've got that shows how Canada inherited roast turkey, cranberry, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie from the US. Last time I checked, all those things A: also come from here, and B: are pretty clearly local adaptations, or outright copies of similar English foods.

                                                                      1. re: trombasteve
                                                                        justxpete Oct 20, 2013 09:52 PM

                                                                        See above.

                                                          2. re: justxpete
                                                            szw Nov 16, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                            If someone asks you to take them for German food and you bring them to a Burgers Priest, you may be socially awkward haha

                                                            1. re: szw
                                                              justxpete Nov 16, 2013 07:47 AM

                                                              hahaha... nice!

                                                              BP's motto is "WE ARE A CLASSIC AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER JOINT". (They seem very angry about it!)

                                                            2. re: justxpete
                                                              ToxicJungle Jan 12, 2014 11:18 PM

                                                              I think Permeal Bacon sandwich, Mac n Cheese, Liver n Onion, Nanaimo bar, Poutine, Hot Chicken sandwich, Lobster roll... are very Canadian

                                                              1. re: ToxicJungle
                                                                justxpete Jan 12, 2014 11:25 PM

                                                                I'm with you on the PBS and the Poutine - even the Nanaimo bar. Not sure about the others, though. Lobster roll - isn't that from MA?

                                                                1. re: justxpete
                                                                  ToxicJungle Jan 13, 2014 12:50 PM

                                                                  Some of them are not originated in Canada but they are staple in old school diner.

                                                                  1. re: ToxicJungle
                                                                    justxpete Jan 13, 2014 12:52 PM

                                                                    I think the discussion was around dishes that originated in Canada.

                                                            3. re: Herne
                                                              prima Oct 9, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                              Herne, Charles Yu has recommended Pusateri's meatloaf several times, and included it in his list http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919013#8360896 .

                                                              Also, check this meatloaf thread out: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/722775

                                                              and this "Canadian food" thread, focused on egg salad, meatloaf, etc

                                                  2. s
                                                    szw Oct 3, 2013 07:36 AM

                                                    I really like the pide at pizza pide on gerrard east. Tourists won't usually be in that area, but if someone was going to the Beaches, I'd rather stop there to eat rather than anywhere in the Beaches.

                                                    I'm a broken record, but jerk chicken at Raps on Eglinton West.

                                                    Singapore turnip cake at Congee queen

                                                    Sichuan at Ba Shu Jia Ren. Dont' know the name, but one of the appetizers, a cold sliced beef dish with spicy oil/sauce....is a must get every time.

                                                    Soondobu at Sunrise Tofu (bloor/christie)

                                                    Jiangjamyen and Champong at Song Cook's korean at Yonge/Steeles.

                                                    Ssam/wraps at Makkalchon (korean) in Scarborough, lawrence East. Best korean food in GTA by far imo.

                                                    Lotsa stuff at Gourmet Garden/Restoran Malaysia

                                                    If in Brampton, veg thali at Kwality Sweets

                                                    1. Charles Yu Oct 3, 2013 08:13 AM

                                                      - Spicy Pork TanTan Ramen at Kingyo
                                                      - Chicken wings at Kingyo
                                                      - Lamb hand cut noodle soup from Silk Road
                                                      - Peking Duck at Dayali and Skyview Fusion Cuisine
                                                      - Dungeness Crab in Rum Cream Sauce with Baguette at
                                                      Fung Lam Court
                                                      - Omakase at Sushi Kaji
                                                      - BBQ Meatloaf at Pusateri's
                                                      - Chicken liver pate at Yummy Market
                                                      - Basque Cake from Bar Isabel
                                                      - Roasted Pigeon and Roasted suckling piglet at Casa

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                                        szw Oct 3, 2013 01:26 PM

                                                        How much better is the duck at dayali compared to emperor?

                                                        1. re: szw
                                                          Charles Yu Oct 3, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                          Before, slightly better. Now, quite a bit better since Emperor has gone down hill recently. Need to find out why?!

                                                          1. re: Charles Yu
                                                            szw Oct 5, 2013 06:53 AM

                                                            Thats a shame. Can you tell me roughly how much it costs at Dayali?

                                                            1. re: szw
                                                              Charles Yu Oct 5, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                              - Skin and meat for the crepe wrappers
                                                              - Carcass for soup.

                                                      2. jlunar Oct 3, 2013 08:14 AM

                                                        Good lists from all!


                                                        - Swar at Patisserie Royale
                                                        - Kuih desserts, laksa, at One2 Snacks

                                                        1. icookgood Oct 3, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                          Jamaican patties - Tinnels on Eglinton W.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: icookgood
                                                            KhaoSanRoad Oct 3, 2013 10:19 AM

                                                            i prefer caribbean queen of patties

                                                            - khao san road

                                                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                              icookgood Oct 3, 2013 02:33 PM


                                                              1. re: icookgood
                                                                disgusti Oct 3, 2013 06:32 PM

                                                                Caribbean queen is definitely the hottest patty spot

                                                              2. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                                Matt H Oct 4, 2013 04:15 AM

                                                                Randy's Patties for me, always.

                                                                For Doubles ACR
                                                                Roti Drupati's

                                                                1. re: Matt H
                                                                  prima Oct 4, 2013 07:13 AM

                                                                  I've got to try Drupati's roti. I like their doubles.

                                                            2. KhaoSanRoad Oct 3, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                              beastwich at beast
                                                              doubles at drupati or 416snackbar
                                                              chicken pate at gilead
                                                              tarte flambee at cigogne
                                                              sardines at carmen
                                                              slaw at lee
                                                              poutine at gilead
                                                              bread at woodlot
                                                              doner at doner kabob house
                                                              beef roll at asian legend
                                                              grilled chicken at bamiyan
                                                              oysters and scallops at starfish

                                                              - khao san road

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                                bytepusher Oct 3, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                                I love the Beastwich idea but since it changes every week and is often made by a guest chef it hardly qualifies as an essential food

                                                                Instead I'd pick Rachelle's maple bacon doughnut as the essential item there

                                                                Beef brisket sandwich from Black Camel

                                                                The breakfast crepe from Clement's Crepes at the Brickworks Market

                                                                1. re: bytepusher
                                                                  KhaoSanRoad Oct 3, 2013 01:53 PM

                                                                  sorry i meant this one:

                                                                  - khao san road

                                                                  1. re: bytepusher
                                                                    justxpete Oct 3, 2013 02:48 PM

                                                                    Their brunch beastwich - fried chicken thigh + mushroom gravy + biscuit is amazing. Good for hangovers, too. ;)

                                                                    1. re: justxpete
                                                                      prima Oct 4, 2013 07:12 AM

                                                                      Which do you like better: County Generals fried chicken thigh sandwich or Beast's brunch Beastwich?

                                                                      1. re: prima
                                                                        justxpete Oct 4, 2013 07:35 AM

                                                                        Too different to pick one over the other.

                                                                    2. re: bytepusher
                                                                      prima Oct 4, 2013 07:11 AM

                                                                      I like the pulled roasted chicken sandwich with pesto mayo at Black Camel, too. http://www.blackcamel.ca/sandwiches.htm

                                                                      Also will add Huevos Divorciados at Easy as one TO brunch dish I like a lot.

                                                                  2. Nevy Oct 3, 2013 07:50 PM

                                                                    Great list :) I love yours more! I would just add a few items that are more old school Toronto area from my childhood growing up. I guess nostalgia' holds more weight on my 'essential' list.

                                                                    Before I get to the nostalgia, I would say that for a landlocked town like Toronto we do get our fair share of 'good to great' oysters. I would put Diana Seafood and Starfish/Ceili Cottage oysters on that list.

                                                                    I also have a soft spot for Zee grill seafood ... it is still our go to for English style seafood that goes a great job year after year. It's not trendy or flashy but it's part of my essential Toronto growing up.

                                                                    Another item I would add is Le Select 'young adult but not childish' menu. I remember going there and getting sole meuniere as a child and other French bistro dishes in smaller portions. It was one of the few Toronto places that had a great family oriented menu that wasn't only chicken fingers.

                                                                    Though it's more commercialized than most items on the list, I would say Dimpflmeier bakery in Etobicoke is a neat Toronto place to visit if you love hearty German/Nordic style bread. They have tons of rye breads of all types and it's all ridiculously affordable and fresh.

                                                                    Also Lucullus egg tarts is another Toronto essential item for me and my family. For years, we'd buy a half dozen each Saturday to enjoy for the rest of the weekend. To me, the egg tart is consistently great with perfect crispy crust and luscious filling without being too sweet or watery.

                                                                    Lastly I would suggest Chiado for whole grouper Portuguese style... I love seafood and when I'm not in the mood for something fried or Asian, Chiado just does an excellent job with fresh fish.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Nevy
                                                                      juno Oct 4, 2013 07:11 AM

                                                                      1. The Taiwanese-style spicy mixed veggie dish at Sun Star, a Chinese joint on Finch between Bayview and Leslie.
                                                                      2. The Cobb salad, as well as the liver and onions, at Steeles Deli, near Yonge and Steeles. (Fancier places may do these dishes slightly better, but not at such remarkably attractive prices.)
                                                                      3. The hummus at Dr. Laffa, along with a fresh-made hot laffa to help sop it up.
                                                                      4. The cheese and onion chala at Bagel Plus, a bakery at Bathurst and Sheppard, available only on weekends. Perfection at $5.25.

                                                                    2. KhaoSanRoad Oct 5, 2013 08:35 AM

                                                                      tongue on brioche
                                                                      egg tarts at venezia
                                                                      larzo at black hoof
                                                                      smoked chicken thighs at astra deli
                                                                      panzarotti at bitondos
                                                                      beef balls at rol san

                                                                      - khao san road

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                                        prima Oct 5, 2013 04:14 PM

                                                                        I like the Buddha's Feast Cheung Fun at Rol San, too.

                                                                        1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                                          prima Jan 13, 2014 10:17 AM

                                                                          I think I've tried around 80 percent of the foods mentioned in this thread, but I still haven't gotten around to eating the essential Toronto food of tongue on brioche. Who serves it? Black Hoof?

                                                                          1. re: prima
                                                                            KhaoSanRoad Jan 13, 2014 10:56 AM

                                                                            both black hoof & bar isabel have had it on their menus in the past. but since both have an evolving menu not sure as of today.

                                                                            would be awesome if it became a thing like mtl smoked meat...its tender, textured and beautiful. the seasonings are light (in comparison), the curing is perfect. add the sweetness of the brioche and its a perfect sandwich.

                                                                            - khao san road

                                                                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                                                              bytepusher Jan 13, 2014 11:34 AM

                                                                              The Tounge on Brioche is listed on the online menu for Bar Isabel and it seems to be pretty current (i.e it lists a Vegan-no-show salad and we know the event that precipitated that was only a week or so ago).

                                                                              1. re: bytepusher
                                                                                estufarian Jan 13, 2014 01:57 PM

                                                                                Also listed on current Black Hoof menu.
                                                                                I've had it both places and it's one (two?) of my favourite dishes in Toronto.

                                                                        2. justxpete Oct 5, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                                          Other than those not previously mentioned...

                                                                          1. Salmon Sashimi at Splendido
                                                                          2. Omakase at Zen.
                                                                          3. Beastwich (brunch) at Beast
                                                                          4. Burrata at Campagnolo
                                                                          5. Cote de beouf at BestEllen
                                                                          6. Cheeseburger at Burgers Priest
                                                                          7. Charcuterie at Cafe Buloud
                                                                          8. Peppe e cacio at Enoteca Sociale
                                                                          9. Burger at Harbord Room
                                                                          10. Bone-in-Ribeye & table-side Caeser at Jacobs & Co.
                                                                          11. Breakfast sandwich (saturdays only) at Porchetta & Co.
                                                                          12. Fried chicken at Stockyards
                                                                          13. Faggotini at Tutti Matti
                                                                          14. Salted Caramel Truffle at Soma
                                                                          15. Chicken & Shrimp roti at Kori's (Oakville. I cheated)
                                                                          16. Pork Gyro at Folia (WITH fries)
                                                                          17. BBQ wings at Buster Rhino's (cheated again)
                                                                          18. Telling Chef Barry to "cook for you" at Splendido
                                                                          19. Edulis tasting menu
                                                                          20. Single-origin truffles at Odile Chocolat

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: justxpete
                                                                            LearningHow Oct 7, 2013 09:16 AM

                                                                            Has anyone been lately to Zen?
                                                                            A friend just linked me to this post:

                                                                            which normally would be of no consquence, except for the fact that in the comment section it indicates that Zen was not included in the list because when they called to fact-check for the article, they were advised the omakase is no longer available.
                                                                            The article is from Sept 2013.

                                                                            Tell me it isn't so..?!

                                                                            1. re: LearningHow
                                                                              justxpete Oct 7, 2013 09:48 AM

                                                                              I've had Omakase twice there in the last three weeks. Both were off-menu. They also have an "on-menu" Omakase.

                                                                              Perhaps it was a misunderstanding.

                                                                              1. re: justxpete
                                                                                KhaoSanRoad Oct 7, 2013 10:11 AM

                                                                                i can confirm this as well. all is still ok.

                                                                                - khao san road

                                                                                1. re: justxpete
                                                                                  grandgourmand Oct 8, 2013 07:08 AM

                                                                                  how much was the off-menu omakase? and what did you get out of it?

                                                                                  1. re: grandgourmand
                                                                                    justxpete Oct 8, 2013 07:31 AM

                                                                                    You arrange it ahead of time. They ask you how much you want to spend, and then they adjust accordingly. I typically settle on $80 pp.

                                                                                    What do I get out of it? An amazing meal! Had 3 types of Toro once, but I don't remember the specific details in terms of courses. I tend not to pay attention to that sort of thing.

                                                                                    They generally give you a couple of courses of sashimi, and then move on to 12-? course of nigiri. Hint: End off your meal with their Tamago.

                                                                                    A few pics:

                                                                                    1. re: justxpete
                                                                                      grandgourmand Oct 8, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                                                      thanks. i called once and asked about it and there must have been miscommunication because the lady said $200/head. so I went for the regular omakase instead.

                                                                                      looks good. will definitely do it next time.

                                                                                      i'm really not into tamago, but might give it a try.

                                                                                      1. re: grandgourmand
                                                                                        justxpete Oct 8, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                        There Tamago is oustanding. I can't imagine anyone not liking it. Perfect end to an Omakase, IMO.

                                                                            2. TorontoTuna Oct 9, 2013 11:51 AM

                                                                              The escargot at Batifole, with the secret sauce passed down by generations, is in my opinion one of the highlights of the Toronto food scene. Jamie's fries and the Foie Gras at Le Select are also right up there.

                                                                              1. prima Oct 9, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                                                Re: the David Duncan House
                                                                                I've only been to the David Duncan House once, for a banquet following a baptism, but I thought the ribeye was pretty good.

                                                                                1. Nevy Oct 28, 2013 09:21 PM

                                                                                  Holy cow Prima... you werent kidding about the Brick Street Bakery Eccles cake is a must try for Toronto. I just grabbed one today because I happened upon BSB and WOW. Crispy, tasty, and the currant flavour is amazing. I think I need another one. I haven't been happy with a pastry like this in a long time!

                                                                                  I also had one of their pumpkin pie muffins and though it wasn't as mind blowing as the Eccles cake, the spiced strusel with the light tender crumb of the pumpkin muffin was the best muffin I've had all year.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Nevy
                                                                                    jlunar Oct 29, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                                                    It's super good, that Eccles cake. There's a cookie that Forno Cultura has that remind me of it in well, cookie form.

                                                                                    1. re: jlunar
                                                                                      Nevy Oct 29, 2013 07:59 AM

                                                                                      Oh you shouldn't have told me that :) Now I have to go and find that cookie!

                                                                                      1. re: Nevy
                                                                                        Herne Nov 29, 2013 12:27 PM

                                                                                        I was at the Brick Street Bakery on Logan this am. The tuna sandwich was great. Must have had a can of tuna in it. Also liked the Turkey Chilli and will try the Eccles cakes later today. I've been looking for a good spot to by Eccles cakes since Monday and maybe I've found it.

                                                                                  2. Charles Yu Nov 15, 2013 07:38 PM

                                                                                    Based on my recent experiences, i would like to suggest replacing candidates for 'Best Dim Sum' from Yang's or Crown Princess to 'Casa Imperial'. Quality of ingredients and taste a notch above its nearest rival!


                                                                                    1. ToxicJungle Jan 13, 2014 12:57 PM

                                                                                      Thanks for the lists prima and everyone, I will have so much fun trying some of the restaurants on the lists.

                                                                                      1. justxpete Jan 13, 2014 04:07 PM

                                                                                        The rice cakes at Momofuku noodle bar are crazy-amazing right now. I'm pretty sure I could eat 10 billion of them.

                                                                                        Also, the KFC at County General is back to being very, very good after a bit of a hiatus.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: justxpete
                                                                                          TorontoJo Jan 13, 2014 04:18 PM

                                                                                          Oh god, I love those things. The perfect savoury chew. So addictive.

                                                                                          1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                            justxpete Jan 13, 2014 04:20 PM

                                                                                            I know!!! The texture itself is incredible.

                                                                                            I ate an entire bowl yesterday - haha.

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