This summer Mike and I *finally* visited Toronto!! We were there to celebrate the marriage of our two great friends, but also there to eat eat eat (obviously) and tourist hard.
If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I tend to cram in “second lunches” and “third dinners” wherever possible on vacations and Toronto was no exception to this. In fact, Toronto really called for multiple meals given how much of a culinary mecca it is-especially in the downtown area where we stayed.
I’m pleased to say there was no place we ate in Toronto that we didn’t enjoy, though there were certainly stand-out restaurants and stand-out dishes.
Below is a recap of Where I Ate in Toronto (in the order that we ate), that hopefully helps you decide Where To Eat in Toronto! Be sure to watch for my upcoming blog post “What To Do (Tourist Attractions) in Toronto” too!
I truly mean it when I say we fell in love with this bustling, vibrant, multicultural city, with its endless dining options, and we cannot wait to return!
Where to eat in Toronto, Ontario
1. Gonoe Sushi
262 Queens Quay W
Our first meal in Toronto was at Gonoe Sushi, an unassuming, affordable Japanese spot right by the Toronto Harbourfront. We tried some of their rolls (their Gonoe Rolls and Volcano Rolls) and their Chirashi Lunch Bowl (which comes with salad and miso soup) and loved it. The quality of the sashimi in my bowl was excellent, and they were generous with quantity. Best part, the bowl was just $11. We also tried their Gyoza, Beef and Enoki, and Ikura (salmon roe fish eggs), which were also really tasty (especially the beef and enoki!) Gonoe is very well-priced for the quality and quantity of food you get, and we appreciated how it wasn’t a super trendy spot but that was A-OK.
2. Lick it Gelato
250 Queens Quay W
After we walked around the Harbourfront we stopped in at Lick It Gelato to share a delicious banana chocolate gelato cup! This was a super quick and convenient stop I’d recommend if you’re in the harbour area!
3. Lee by Susur Lee
601 King Street W
Our first dinner in Toronto was at Lee by Susur Lee. I was keen on visiting one of Susur Lee’s restaurants. This Top Chef was also a Chef in Residence at NAIT in the early years of the program. We sat on the patio and arrived right at 5:30 when they opened (with a reservation, but I think you’d be fine without a reservation as long as you get there right when they open, but it definitely filled up fast!)
The restaurant’s signature dish is their slaw but knowing we had another dinner to go to (second dinner!) after this one, we opted for no appetizer, and instead Mike got the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls (with smoked chili mayo and pickled vegetables) and I got the Peking & Char Sui Duck Breast (Beijing duck garnish, foie gras pâté, duck confit in steamed pancakes). Both dishes – incredible! I would highly recommend both and think they were one of the stand-out dishes we had our entire trip. The spring rolls really taste like cheeseburgers lol.
4. The Good Son
1096 Queen Street W
We also tried former Top Chef Canada contestant Chef Vittorio Colacitti’s The Good Son restaurant. This restaurant has an awesome vibe, with really cool decor (a clocks wall, for example). We tried the burrata (creamy mozzarella cheese with tomatoes and balsamic) with extra meat because I couldn’t decide if we should get the charcuterie and cheese board too but decided burrata with a bit of meat was a good middle ground, lol. And we had the Prosciutto pizza with arugula, roasted tomatoes and mascarpone. Wonderful! I could’ve seen us spending a lot of time at The Good Son trying their cocktails, tasting their dishes, and soaking up their sweet atmosphere, had we not been so exhausted with our red eye flight, full day of activities, and it being our second dinner stop lol.
5. Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake (and Tarts)
598 Bay Street
I opted for Uncle Tetsu’s tarts over cheesecake though their cheesecakes come highly recommended too. These triple baked cheese tarts are super creamy in a crispy shell. Uncle Tetsu promises to use only the most high-quality ingredients for their made-in-house daily treats and you can definitely taste that super creamy quality!
6. Sansotei Ramen
179 Dundas Street W
There were lots of ramen options to choose from (Momofuku? Ramen Isshin? Hokkaido Ramen? Santouka Ramen?) but based off of a glowing Instagram recommendation (and proximity to Yonge-Dundas where we happened to be touristing that day), we chose to try Sansotei to satisfy our ramen cravings and we were thoroughly satisfied. As with most of the popular places we went, if you go right when they open – there won’t be any issues with line-ups. A few minutes after, you’re looking at line-ups (especially for the lunch rush!) The handmade noodles at Sansotei (I got the thick, Mike got the thin) are excellent and their pork bone broth (made fresh daily) is delicious. I got the Tonkatsu and Mike got their Tonkatsu Black.
7. Pho Hung
350 Spadina Avenue
Wherever we travel, I always try to find a Vietnamese restaurant. In Toronto’s case, we landed on Pho Hung as our Vietnamese restaurant for the trip. Pho Hung is conveniently located in Toronto’s Chinatown (near Kensington Market) and has in past years been voted best pho in the city. I got their Bun Bo Hue, and the broth was pretty good (not the very best, but satisfied the craving). This place is busy and no-nonsense, which I liked. It reminded me a lot of my parent’s first restaurant location. (Doesn’t feel the cleanest, but that’s okay). They also don’t take your order here – you get an order form and have to write your own order (another no-nonsense move that I think my grumpy dad would appreciate lol). So, authentic, for sure.
8. Real Sports Bar & Grill
40 Bay Street
After we took in a Blue Jays game (because how could you go to Toronto and NOT go see the Blue Jays play for the very first time?) we ended up at the Real Sports Bar & Grill for after-game snacks. This place is impressively gigantic, and packed for a Wednesday night after 10 p.m. We got their Buffalo Nachos (with fried chicken bites, ranch-alo suace, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and cheese), along with their Roasted Cauliflower Dip (with cauliflower, white cheddar and focaccia). Really good (for sports bar food… she says, in a non-food-snob way lol).
9. Seven Lives
69 Kensington Avenue
Seven Lives was another spot that came highly recommended via my Instagram / real life friends. This teeny taqueria has a very simple menu. Come for the tacos! And the chips and guac… which unfortunately was sold out when we went. But we did try the Gobernador (their special – with smoked tuna, shrimp and cheese) as well as their Carnitas (braised pork shoulder) tacos. Both were delicious. Extra points for their logo being a cat. Also, don’t get this Seven Lives (Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos) confused with the Seven Lives literally across the street from them. Seven Lives Paleteria serves Mexican popsicles and other desserts!
10. Patois Restaurant
794 Dundas Street W
Our dinner at Patois was one of the most memorable because we literally ordered the entire menu! Literally! At this Caribbean-Asian fusion restaurant, you can order The Whole Shebang which is a sampling of their entire menu for $114.95. Size-wise this serves between 3-4 people so with 4, would work out to about $30 per person. Of course, we didn’t stop there. Their Jamaican Patty Double Downs (two cocktail patties, bacon, swiss cheese fondue and sriracha) were SO good, we had to order a second order. (I wish my photo of it turned out…) They also have different feature items that aren’t included in the regular menu, so we added Jerk Chicken Chow Mein (crispy egg noodles, pulled jerk chicken, shiitake, bok choy, and oyster sauce). Their feature Juciy Jerk Pork Belly also sounded extremely delicious. We thought both the Juicy Jerk and Fried Chickens were great, and were also big fans of the Chinese ‘Pineapple’ Bun Burger (double smash burger with oyster sauce mayo and hickory sticks). It’s very dark in here (which I never like) but the vibe is wicked and so is the food!
11. Library Bar (Fairmont Royal York)
100 Front Street W
We stayed at the Fairmont Royal York for part of our trip and got a chance to enjoy cocktails and charcuterie from their Library Bar! It just so happened that our visit to the Library Bar coincided with the first night of the Toronto Fan Expo, so it was packed with Fan Expo-goers and celebrities! I mean, I say celebrities plural because I can only assume there were more, but we only saw one – and that was the wonderful Zachary Levi (who used to star in the TV show Chuck). We actually met Zachary Levi after one of his Broadway shows in New York a few years back, so it was fun to see him again here, though we didn’t go up to say hi or anything as he had put his headphones on and was just trying to have some drinks at the bar. For drinks, I had the Bubbles and Berries, made with Belvedere vodka, chambord, Chandon sparkling wine and my favourite – fresh berries! Mike tried the Library Bar’s The Rooftop Lavender and Honey Bee’s Knees, made using the Fairmont’s rooftop honey and a Mortdecai Spiced Manhattan with Woodford Reserve Bourbon and house-spice infused Vermouth and cherry bitters. The Manhattan is now Mike’s new favourite cocktail. The Library Bar menu is also neat because it gives you lots of information on the history of a lot of classic drinks!
12. Mill Street Brew Pub (Distillery District)
21 Tank House Lane
The best charcuterie we had in Toronto came from the Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District! It was sooooo good. It’s actually called the Brewers Platter, and it comes with coppa, summer sausage, smoked Tankhouse Ale sausage, jalapeno Harvati, goat cheese, whipped bacon blue cheese, gherkins (pickles), fig jam, horseradish mustard and garlic toast. It just made me so happy. Mike had the pubs taster board which included some of their seasonals which I probably should have noted but didn’t (because I was too preoccupied with the delicious charcuterie. Oops!) When you’re in this area, you got to take a photo with the love locks too!
18 Duncan Street
I had a great meal at PAI Northern Thai Kitchen in part because of the great tasting food but also in part because of the awesome company (my good friend Trish!) Located in the Entertainment District, PAI has a great atmosphere (so many Toronto restaurants do!) Trish and I shared Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp and a plate of Pad Gra Prow with Crispy Pork (basil stir fried with crispy pork on steamed jasmine rice with Thai style fried egg), as well as their Deep Fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls. The spices here are terrific.
14. La Carnita
106 John Street
After our meal at PAI, Trish and I walked over to La Carnita, a Mexican street food restaurant that gets glowing reviews from Catherine, the bride we were in Toronto to celebrate! We got a window seat on the second floor (again, a restaurant with a really cool space and vibe) and shared deliciously crispy tortilla chips with guacamole, a Grilled Fish Tostada (with grilled fish, corn salsa, crema, pea shoot sprouts and Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce), and one of their tacos on special which we both for the life of us cannot remember what it was (oops). I didn’t love the tostada (the fish wasn’t crispy enough for me) and Trish thought the taco she had wasn’t as memorable as other ones she’s tried there, but we both thought the chips and guac was fabulous.
15. Sweet Jesus
106 John Street
On a search for Instagrammable ice cream cones (that’s a thing), led me to Sweet Jesus. I got the Red Rapture vanilla, red velvet cake, cream cheese icing, raspberry puree and meringue crumble cone and it was beautiful and pretty good (though maybe had too many things going on so was kind of hard to get to the actual ice cream lol). Trish was a big fan of the Lemon Coconut Cream Pie cone she got, vanilla soft serve with sour lemon curd, toasted coconut crumble and graham crackers. This place generally has line-ups (I hear) but when we went we must have just missed the rush (lots of people outside enjoying their cones but not many people inside ordering). Fun fact – Sweet Jesus is adjacent to La Carnita and La Carnita serves some of their ice cream too!
16. Gusto 101
101 Portland Street
Gusto 101 was the restaurant of choice for the bachelorette party we went to, and Mike and I also returned for brunch. It’s a really cool-looking spot that feels like a house (and is literally adjacent to homes) with a nice front patio and a super automotive-themed upstairs (hub caps and street sign decor – which seemed kind of random). They offer a family style group dining menu (which is what we had for the bachelorette party) with highlights that included an Insalata Cavolo Nero (kale salad) and Rigatoni al Funghi homemade pasta. Mike had their Gusto Burger for brunch that was super eggy and delicious, which we’d recommend as well.
17. Pizzeria Defina
321 Roncesvalles Avenue
The rehearsal dinner for the wedding we attended was held at Pizzeria Defina which felt a bit more far away than some of the other places we dined, but just as with most of our Toronto dining spots, it delivered really solid food. The starting charcuterie was excellent and the different wood-fired pizzas we shared (family style) were all fabulous, including the Vegetarian Margherita and Wild Mushroom pizzas though the “Pumba” wild boar meatball pizza was my favourite. Their Summer Kale salad with pomegranate seeds, apples, pecorino and roasted pine nuts was also stellar (Toronto restaurants really do kale salads excellently lol). And again, a lovely vibe.
18. iHalo Krunch
915 Queen Street W
I was excited to try this trendy new ice cream shop iHalo Krunch because of its black charcoal cones (gimmicky, but it works!) It’s Toronto’s first charcoal ice cream cone shop and because of its highly Instagrammable nature, there are generally line-ups out the door. We arrived right when they opened (1:30 p.m.) and there was already a line-up but it moved pretty quickly so we were maybe in line for less than 10 minutes. I love matcha so I got their Matcha Bean (a combo of green tea and vanilla) and Mike just got their Black on Black (the black is a coconutty flavour). Both of our soft serve ice creams were really tasty, and like I said, the Instagrammable quality gets it extra points!
19. Luma Restaurant
350 King Street W
Luma Restaurant in the TIFF Bell Lightbox building was our friends’ wedding venue and it was beautiful! We received excellent service, from food to drinks – shout out to Christian for making awesome drinks all night and even letting us preview the Toronto Film Festival signature drink! And the food was delicious. It was a three-course plated dinner and the scallops I had were cooked just right. Their balcony also gives you a great view of downtown Toronto with the CN Tower in the back (great photo backdrops!)
720 Queen Street W
And finally, our last meal in Toronto was also our very best. The homemade pasta at Terroni (we went to Queen Street but they also have other locations) is unbelievably delicious. The Queen Street location has a backyard patio that is adorable. The service was fantastic. Their nutella bites made from homemade pizza dough was sooo good. The charcuterie board we shared – excellent. Not a bad thing to say about Terroni. There’s a restaurant in Edmonton (Uccellino) that has unbelievable pasta. Terroni reminded me a lot of Uccellino. A place I want to go back to again and again! It’s a must-visit for any trip to Toronto.
Too long didn’t read it?
I now have some seriously fond memories of my meals in Toronto and am itching so hard to get back there because there are so many options – so many places to try, I feel like we made such a good dent but it just wasn’t enough! While we loved so many of the spots we tried, there were also so many restaurants we just weren’t able to fit in. I also forgot to buy a Toronto magnet (to add to our places travelled magnet collection) but Mike said we just have to come back to get it! ;)
Something I’ll always characterize with the restaurants we visited in Toronto: the absolutely wicked atmosphere of them all. You can’t undersell that ‘vibe’ and Toronto restaurants are all just oozing with it.
I love it!
Another thing: Lots of restaurant bathrooms in Toronto are in the basements of the buildings, lol. Locals tell us this is because a lot of the buildings are so old! That’s how it was built back in the day.
To summarize, my absolute must-eat spots out of where we tried in Toronto are:
But really, I could keep adding to that list and then it would just be the same list I just wrote, listed twice, lol.
All in all, a truly wonderful, memorable, and delicious first-visit to Toronto.
SO what are your must-eat spots in Toronto?!
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