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Upcoming Toronto Visit

We'll be coming back to Toronto for a quick 3 night visit. One dinner will be a return to Chiado, which we really enjoyed last time and would be our higher end dinner. Our other meals are open and we're considering:

Irish Embassy Pub or PJ O'Brien's
King Noodle or Lee Garden for lunch
Rebozo's or Playa Cabana (saw this on Toronto Taco Wars)
Dimmi or Fieramosca
Maybe Pho Hung?

Any thoughts or preferences on these places? Thanks for your help

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  1. I think you’re playing this a little too safe. Many of your choices (don’t have many problems with them) duplicate what you might find elsewhere in North America – perhaps consider exploring some of the things done really well in Toronto (or at least not widely available elsewhere)

    I have no issues with Chiado – one of the finest Portuguese restaurants on the continent (IMO).

    Many of your choices are in the Yorkville/Spadina neighbourhoods, so I’ll assume you’re staying fairly close.
    I’m not a ‘pub’ person, so can’t help there, but I believe the original owner of both has passed on (or is no longer involved) so they may lack some of their original personality.

    King Noodle and Lee Garden are ‘safe’ - consider perhaps lunch at Banh Mi Boys instead.

    Honestly, Mexican isn’t a real specialty here in Toronto – f you narrow down location (and other styles of food you like) than I can make further suggestions.

    For Italian, Yorkville is not really a good price/quality equation. Take a look at Buca.

    Pho Hung is still solid (although the one on Bloor has closed – the one on Spadina remains). We have excellent Thai restaurants here as well, which may interest you.

    I’m sure others will chip in – but your location here will help

    3 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      Second thought - you might want to consider something 'Canadian' - Bannock is in the same price range (at Bay & Queen).

      1. re: estufarian

        is eating at bahn mi boys living dangerously? king's noodle has many more authentic dishes that are unfamiliar to most north americans than bahn mi boys which serves a toned down, americanized version of a classic.

        if you are actually looking for a pub i really like harbord house.

        1. re: frogsteak

          I scanned the OP's other posts to determine their tastes - I deliberately recommended places that were not 'too far' off the mainstream. That seemed to fit what I deduced they would be comfortable with.

          Authenticity is a concept I've railed against in multiple threads. It means very little (to me)as a criterion for choosing places - my view is that the key attribute is whether it tastes good to the consumer.

      2. Pretty certain that Lee Garden is not open for lunch. An alternative to King Noodle would be House of Gourmet on Dundas, just East of Spadina....similar to KN, but many that I know like HofG better.

        1. Thanks for your responses. estufarian, you're right we're staying in Yorkville, so some of our choices were location driven. We're also planning on visiting Kennsington Market which is why we thought maybe Chinese noodles for lunch (we could have dim sum depending on our mood as well).

          T Long, thanks for the House of Gourmet rec, I'll check it out as a possible spot.

          3 Replies
          1. re: curiousgeo

            Rol San for dim sum(Spadina) or Swatow for wok hay/noodle soups for lunch(Spadina)

              1. re: curiousgeo

                If you're in the mood for dim sum, keep in mind that upscale dim sum is found at Dynasty in Yorkville, and at Crown Princess, which is a 5-7 minute walk south of Yorkville on Bay. Dynasty and CP cost around $20-25/person ordering 2 dishes/person + 2 for the table (including tax but not tip). Rol San is the cheaper, louder, more bountiful but less refined type of dim sum, and it tends to cost $12-$15/person (including tax,not including tip), but it's located a 10 minute drive, 15-25 minute TTC ride, 30-40 minute walk from Yorkville.

                I'd recommend Rol San if you're already planning to visit the AGO, Chinatown,Kensington Market or want massive amounts of dim sum, but if you're just planning to order 6-10 dishes, and aren't seeking the Chinatown vibe/experience, the cost of eating more expensive,better quality dim sum near Yorkville will be close to the cost of 6-10 dishes at Rol San and the cost of subway tokens ($3/person each way unless you have a day pass/group pass), taxi fare from Yorkville($10+ each way) or parking costs in Chinatown.

              2. both taco options you're choosing are weak.
                those 2 pubs are pretty crappy. not sure why or what you're choose them for, but for food plus pub, Bellwoods would be the best beer-first option. Bar Isabel would be the other logical option.

                6 Replies
                1. re: atomeyes

                  I don't think of Bar Isabel as a "pub alternative" it is higher end restaurant plus reservations are required. If they are looking for beer maybe this list will help from Blog TO: http://www.blogto.com/toronto/the_bes...

                  It lists the bars with the best beer selection. Beer is not my thing so I cannot comment on the quality..

                  1. re: pourboi

                    if you're looking for an all-around combo of beer and food, no place beats Bar Isabel. no place.
                    their beer menu's done by Keep6. they have 750 mL bottles of Trou di Diable (one of Canada's best microbreweries) that few other bars and restos have.

                    the OP also mentioned places to eat, not drink, hence the Isabel reference.

                    I usually hate BlogTO's lists, but Ben knows his beer. the top 5 bars on that list should not be dinner locations. WVRST is the only place i'd consider eating at.

                    1. re: atomeyes

                      I would see this more as a replacement for Chiado as their "higher end" dinner. Than as an alternative to the Irish Embassy which I assumed they picked for a lower cost option as they said they only wanted "one" high end meal.

                  2. re: atomeyes

                    Bellwoods is good if you like 2% beer, over-powering hops or beer with a milk-shake like consistency. It's also full of yuppies and the seating is uncomfortable.

                    1. re: frogsteak

                      i can't believe i'm taking your dumb, dangly bait, but here i go:

                      on tap at Bellwood:

                      Stay Classy - a session beer. not sure if you know what that is, but it is a 2.3% abv beer that's gaining popularity in the US and Europe. meant to discourage drinking and driving and encourage social consumption.

                      Brettal Head - 5% abv

                      Grizzly Beer - 6.2%

                      Farmhouse classic - 7.2%

                      Lost River Baltic Porter - 7.7%

                      Witchshark - 9% abv

                      Hellwoods - 10%

                      Wizard Wolf - another "session ale", although it clocks in at 4.8% abv

                      so, 8 beer on tap. 2 session beer. one that falls under your "water" category. 5 fall under high alcohol, 4 fall under "don't drive if you're having a pint". 2, maybe 3, are hoppy. 2 are "milkshake-like consistency" because, well, that's how porters tend to be. as opposed to having a thing, watery body. so yeah, please continue and educate us "yuppies" (didn't realize the 90s were back) about Bellwoods' crowd. thought it was hipsters and beardos that were there.

                      1. re: frogsteak

                        Hmm, I'd say it's good if you like tasty, interesting, well-made beer in a variety of styles, many of which you don't easily find elsewhere. Pray tell what would you say is better?

                    2. maybe you can fill us in more on what you are looking for in each experience?

                      - khao san road

                      1. Thanks for all your responses, I really appreciate it. I'm traveling with family, coming in from a visit to NYC. Staying in Yorkville so would prefer places within walking distance, or a short taxi or metro ride away.

                        For the pub, we're looking for someplace serving good food, so a solid kitchen would be what we would like. Looking forward to having a pint or two with my just legal age son (in Canada at least).

                        King Noodle/House of Gourmet or Crown Princess would be one lunch choice depending whether we want noodle/rice dishes or dim sum that day.

                        I mentioned tacos since I just watched a show on Toronto (the shortrib tacos at Playa Cabana looked delicious), so this would be for a quick, cheap bite if we do it.

                        Dimmi and Fieramosca are close to our hotel, but we aren't locked into them, just wondering if they were decent.

                        Pho Hung, since we all love Vietnamese food, and pho would hit the spot on a cold March evening.

                        I'll research some of your recs as well, thanks again.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: curiousgeo

                          I personally think pho hung is an awesome choice. You can stroll through China town a bit, maybe look in on tap phong (a Toronto restaurant ware institutions) and warm up with some pho or bun on a cool winters night. Also , for your just legal son, the (crappy) beer is super cheap! :)

                          1. re: curiousgeo

                            Pho is better at both joints on Ossington and they're right by Bellwoods should you decide to go there

                            see: Pho Tien Thanh and Golden Turtle

                            1. re: frogsteak

                              I agree, but for overall tourist experience, I stand by my post.

                            2. re: curiousgeo

                              L'Unita on Avenue Road would be my first choice for Italian within a 5 minute walk of Yorkville.

                              Fieramosca would probably serve better quality and better tasting food than Dimmi, and the service would be more polished.
                              I'd think dinner at Fieramosca would cost close to twice as much as dinner at Dimmi.
                              Fieramosca is an upscale, traditional, relatively formal fine dining option, as is ll Posto.

                              Dimmi is ok for mediocre, quick, casual Italian in Yorkville, at roughly the same level as a half dozen other casual Italian places in Yorkville (Caffe Nervosa, Ciao, Toni Bulloni, etc). For roughly the same price as a dinner at Dimmi, I think you can have a better Italian meal at the Summerhill location of Terroni on Yonge St, which is less than 10 minutes by subway/ around a 20 minute walk from Yorkville. I'd much rather eat at Terroni than Dimmi.

                                1. re: prima

                                  Agree re Dimmi - (that spongy supermarket bread they roll out says it all!!) and anything they have you can easily make at home - so why bother. I like Zucca on Yonge Street south of Eglinton for authentic Italian food, although it is pricey, but worth it. Especially the fresh fish, grilled, and their anti pasta platter... yum.

                                2. re: curiousgeo

                                  King Noodle is like Big Wong or NY Noodletown in NYC so if you've been to either of those, or any of the "on rice" places in Chinatown (places where you can order beef in oyster sauce, beef and mushrooms, roast pork, bbq pork, etc. on rice for a low price), it'll be familiar. But you said you'd be in Kensington Market which has a ton of places to eat including South American (Jumbo Empanada) and taco joints (El Trompo).

                                  Pho Hung's ok, but it used to be better. How's Korean pork bone soup grab you? Ka Chi and Seor Ak San close to Pho Hung have it.

                                  Nearby alternatives to Irish Embassy are Beer Bistro which probably has the better menu and C'est Wha? which has board games and passable food.

                                  1. re: GoodGravy

                                    Highly recommend Ka Chi in Kensington!! Fantastic Bi Bim Bap!!

                                  2. re: curiousgeo

                                    For a "quick bite" taco place, I'd say Seven Lives in Kensington will definitely hit the spot. $5 for a very filling double shelled taco...

                                    1. re: curiousgeo

                                      Also, for the pub, you could give the izakaya's around town a shot. There's Kingyo, Guu (would recommend the Church location), Zakkushi?

                                      Not exactly the standard pub, but the food will be interesting

                                      1. re: bernardtkchan

                                        Finally made it to kingyo lastnight. Outstanding.

                                    2. For tacos I would suggest El Trompo instead (in Kensington Market). Not a weak one in the bunch, but the Al Pastor with pork and pineapple and the mushroom and cheese ones are standouts.

                                      As mentioned above, Bannock focuses on Canadian ingredients and dishes. The pickerel buns are a dish worth seeking out. The duck poutine pizza is also worth sharing (it is too much for one).

                                      If you in Yorkville, consider Jacques Bistro du Parc which serves some very nice, understated French food. The omelettes are excellent, particularly the one with chicken livers and mushrooms. Moroco is also very nice for desserts and hot chocolate.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Dr. John

                                        no offense meant, but no idea how anyone could choose El Trompo over 7 Lives. not even in the same league.

                                        1. re: atomeyes

                                          Admittedly I haven't tried 7 Lives, but my wife did a while back and wasn't particularly impressed. If we give it another chance, what are the best bets?

                                      2. If you're looking for an upscale pub option with an interesting menu, the Oxley is in Yorkville, very close to your hotel. Not cheap but in my opinion better and more interesting than the Irish Embassy (which is very loud) or P. J. O'Briens (where regulars get friendly service, everyone else, notsomuch.)

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: Gary

                                            Agree - stay away from the Irish Embassy and PJ's, same owners, one diabolically noises, the other infested with awful "live music" - as Gary says, go to the Oxley.