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Nov 4, 2013 08:29 AM

Most "Toronto" Lunch destination for friday?

We will be back in town soon and are looking for a lunch recommendation. We'll be without a car but dont mind navigating by public transit (we'll be near the woodbine/danforth subway station though were comfortable taking a bus as well). We are coming from NYC so our frame for exotic or hard-to-find ethnic is pretty narrow (but there are certainly things that we cant get here that are on offer in TO). Definitely prefer downmarket to upscale, but would be curious to hear what TO Chowhounders recommend for a current or new lunch-spot, or an institution that represents the food scene best.

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  1. Banh Mi Boys at Queen and Spadina for a fried chicken bao, squid taco (on a flat bread, not a tortilla) and kim chi fries w/house smoked pulled pork.

    Then walk down to King and Spadina for dessert at Soma Chocolate. Perfect gelatos -- if you like caffe affogato, they make a good one. Or indulge in a Mayan hot chocolate shot, a bicerin or just a bunch of the best chocolates in the city.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Clearly should have included where we've visited (and enjoyed) on previous trips - Banh Mi Boys and Soma are two favorites ;) its extra hilarious because we havent been to a ton of spots but both of those stand out as highlights from past visits (and ones id gladly revisit).

      Which is to say, that if there are additional places like that (same price-point, quality if not style of food) we'd love to hear about them.

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        Maybe compare it to a similar experience albeit with less variety of choice?

        Porchetta and Co. be sure to get the beans or soup as well.
        Odile Chocolat - few options compared to SOMA but great stuff!

        You could then hop across to Caldense Bakery for their Portuguese custard egg tarts.

        All three clustered just West of Bathurst on Dundas W.

        If still hungry (can't imagine that) you can walk just east of Bathurst to find a short strip of interesting shipping containers turned into food stands called Market 707.

        1. re: justsayn

          Porchetta and Co looks good (and now im remembering i had seen it mentioned in another thread i was lurking in).

          can you tell me more about the egg custard tarts?

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            Portuguese custard tarts are a simple thing of beauty. Eggy, not-too-sweet custard in a flaky puff-pastry-like shell. In Portuguse, they are pastel de nata (singular) or pasteis de nata (plural).

            Some deets and photos:



            1. re: TorontoJo

              Could not have described it better. Thanks TJ. Except maybe add, you could call ahead to find out when they are warm from the oven because at that point they are insane.

    2. So many ways you could answer this question.

      If you're up for incorporating a nice walk into your outing, and you have a bit of time, I'd suggest a brisket sandwich from Black Camel (not with bbq sauce, IMO), then a walk through the beautiful ravine to Cafe Belong at the Brickworks for an americano and a cookie. The ravine in the heart of the city is an incredible thing that many visitors to Toronto miss and the Brickworks is also a very cool example of urban/eco development. If you like the combination of Banh Mi Boys and Soma - which I would love - I think you'd enjoy this pairing as well.

      10 Replies
      1. re: peppermint pate

        Great suggestion, ppp. And there is a bus from the Brickworks to the Broadview Subway station that leaves fairly often.

        1. re: peppermint pate

          Thanks - we may be constrained by the weather, but as NYers we are certainly okay with putting on some milage.

          Is the brisket at BC smoked? the website says roasted. Im not opposed to non-bbq, but just curious what about it is rave-worthy. Like you i prefer my brisket without sauce.

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            The brisket isn't smoked - I think they do a dry spice rub, which marinates for a few days, and then a long, slow 12-ish hour roast. It's melt in your mouth tender with lots of juice, a perfect taste and texture combo for these cool autumn days. And I think that combining it with a ravine walk (I can give you more specific directions) and a visit to the Brickworks would give you a fun, scenic and delicious Toronto experience, perhaps more than any particular restaurant would. Forecast looks beautiful for Friday, though obviously that may change. If you didn't want to do the ravine walk, you could also do a couple of subway hops and swap out the Brickworks coffee for a stop at Rooster Espresso on Broadview, a few blocks south of the Danforth. If you get one of the window seats, you have a beautiful view of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto with a large park in the foreground (and good coffee/treats to accompany the vista).

            Like I said, lots of ways to answer your question and this is just one idea. Enjoy!

            1. re: peppermint pate

              more specific walking directions would be great (i also see that the brickworks runs shuttles from broadview station?) is there anything worth checking out inside at the brickworks - seems we'll miss the farmers market due to timing but they have a regular exhibit there?

              noteworthy coffee destinations are also very much appreciated, so i'll check out rooster (though i prefer brewed coffee to espresso)

            2. re: tex.s.toast

              Hands down best brisket sandwich in the city can be found at Electric Mud. Next best, Barque or Stockyard when they are on point. That being said, of course I have not had them all, in fact it was years ago that I ate at the original Black Camel.

              But I could anyone improve on the perfect EM brisket sandwich???? Yes it is smoked. No crock pots here!

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                No matter how it's done black camel brisket with cheese and the charamoula mayo is one of the best sandwiches I've eaten anywhere ever. It's a bit out of the way depending on where you're staying but the brickworks is around there and it really is a nice place too

                Good suggestion

                1. re: disgusti

                  I haven't had it in 5 years. Gonna head back!

                  1. re: justsayn

                    You're definitely due for a repeat visit justsayn. The Camel's brisket isn't smoked so it's apples to oranges to compare it with Electric Mud or Stockyards. And I wasn't suggesting my idea as the best lunch or even necessarily the best brisket in Toronto - I just like the idea of combining a great local sandwich with the gorgeous ravine in the middle of the city and then a great coffee in one of two spots where you can appreciate another aspect of the city - put together, I think it's a pretty sweet Toronto experience.

                    As to which brisket combo to choose - that's a tough one - disgusti's version sounds tasty. I tend to order it with either chipotle mayo, mushrooms and arugula or a combo of basil pesto mayo/horseradish and caramelized/chili-roasted onions. I don't like the bbq sauce on it (others disagree) as I find the flavour overpowering.

                    Directions - if you're taking the subway from where you're staying tex.s.toast, head west to Yonge/Bloor, then north one stop to Rosedale. When you exit Rosedale station, Black Camel (which doesn't have a sign) is right across the street on Crescent. Expect a line-up at lunch on Friday (but it moves quickly). There are a few tables inside, a few more outside and some picnic tables in the park on the other side of Yonge. Now to the ravine...when you walk out of Black Camel, turn left on to Crescent and continue about 10 minutes or so until you walk across a small overpass bridge that runs over Mount Pleasant Road. Immediately after you cross the bridge, you'll see that you can walk down the hill on your left (the road goes down there as well), towards Mount Pleasant. Walk down the hill, on the sidewalk, until just before the first street (Roxborough). On your right, you'll see a path that goes into the woods - that's where you want to go (you'll see signs that say "Discovery Trail"). Continue on that path - near the end, you'll see a spot where there are a few signs - follow the one that points towards "Moore Park Ravine" - that will take you up a small hill and close to Bayview Avenue (many cars), before turning back on itself and into the ravine (heading north - the only way you can go). Continue on that path for another 5 or so minutes and you'll see the Brickworks on your right, down a set of stairs. I'm not sure if there's anything in particular going on there this Friday but it's still a cool space to walk around with lots of ponds and docks, plants, a store and garden centre, cool grafitti, etc. And yes, you can get a shuttle bus from there to take you to Broadview Station (on the Bloor-Danforth subway line). It's probably a 35 minute or so walk from the Camel to the Brickworks, and super easy. And the fall colours are beautiful right now. Here's a pic I took in the ravine the other day.


                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      Totally agree. The only reason I responded with my EM comment is because the OP was inquisitive about the meat itself so I wanted to inform him of other brisket options. Otherwise I would not have mentioned EM and I would have just left it as the BC option because I know BC gets lots of love on here and always has. It would have been a rare time if there was ever anything negative about BC on here - I can't recall even once personally.

                      And yea, I will get back there! Thanks ; )

                2. re: tex.s.toast

                  As others here have mentioned BC's meat is not smoked, but it really doesn't matter - it's delicious all the same.

                  Brisket sandwich is great. My personal go-to is the pulled pork. I get mine with chipotle mayo, their house-made bbq sauce, and the chili roasted red onions. My God. Heaven.

                  BC is on the Yonge subway line too, as mentioned. Literally Across the street from Rosedale subway station. Easy.

              2. I would recommend the Queen & Beaver on Elm St. The essential Anglo Canadian restaurant. It has typical English fare, and divine desserts. Bonus points for beautiful décor and happy staff to serve you.

                1. Something that is beloved in Toronto are veal sandwiches.

                  I’d recommend hitting San Francesco for a veal sandwich.

                  Visit the location in our Little Italy, on 10 Clinton St. I love mine with the sautéed mushrooms and sautéed onions. Delish.


                  1. I'd go to Gallery Grill in Hart House at the University of Toronto. It is among the very best, if not THE best, food in Toronto and you sit in an old Gothic hall right out of Oxford or Cambridge.