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The 38 Essential Toronto Restaurants

Where to find pho poutine, matcha-jasmine-soba-flavored ice cream, baseball-sized meatballs, and caviar-topped onion rings in Canada’s largest city

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If you land in Toronto and absolutely cannot wait to eat, get a hot dog. Carts are everywhere and the standard Toronto wiener is shockingly good, particularly compared to its anemic New York counterpart. After the dog, food lovers should start their eating itinerary with a stroll through Kensington Market, once a Jewish community dotted with pushcart merchants that has evolved throughout waves of immigration — Portuguese, Caribbean, Vietnamese — into an open-air mall and the heart of the city’s food culture (while still being very much a neighborhood with real people who live in it).

By day, tourists clog the sidewalks while locals flit between specialty shops: bakeries, butcheries, fishmongers, dried-goods shops, grocers (Chinese, Portuguese, organic), fresh tortilla vendors selling by the kilo, and a store that only makes tofu. Beyond retailers the city is home to a collection of cafes, bars, and restaurants of such variety they make it nearly impossible to choose lunch. There are jerk chicken, tacos, fried chicken and waffles, churros, Mexican sandwiches, Texas barbecue, Japanese crepes, German doner sandwiches, Greek frozen yogurt, brew pubs, kombucha cafes, every week another coffee shop, and all without a single corporate-owned store in sight.

One of North America’s largest cities, Toronto can be more of a trend-chaser than setter, quick to fawn over the latest shiny thing. But the town has been digging away long enough for gems to emerge.

December 2021, Update:

Like countless other places in the world, the restaurant industry in Toronto has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This past summer restaurant workers saw a glimmer of hope, as the city experienced a slight return to normalcy with more outdoor dining options and a proliferation of streetside patios. Now restaurants are looking ahead. By extending the CaféTO program, the city has acknowledged that outdoor dining will be a permanent part of the urban landscape, and indoor dining has returned as well, with capacity limits and mask requirements. Many restaurateurs survived the drought of in-person dining by pivoting to takeout experiences, or opening makeshift bodegas, butcher shops, bakeries, and bottle shops; while some have transitioned back to operating solely as restaurants, others are deciding to keep these elements. Overall, through sheer grit, determination, and unwavering appetite for mutual support, Toronto remains ravenous for good eats.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than 20 CAD (less than $15 USD)
$$ = 20 - 49 CAD ($15 - $37 USD)
$$$ = 50 - 100 CAD ($38 - $76 USD)
$$$$ = More than 100 CAD ($76 USD)

Tiffany Leigh is a freelance journalist who has written about food, drink, travel, luxury, fitness, health and wellness, design, sex, and culture in Vogue, Playboy, Forbes, Business Insider, Departures, Fashion Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Shape Magazine, Trip Savvy, Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit, and Dwell. In addition to having a business and communications degree, she also has a culinary background and James Beard Foundation Scholarship. When traveling the world in search of her next story, she is frequently seen toting around her travel and emotional support plushie companion: Pinchie the Lobster.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Wonton Hut

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3760 York Regional Rd 7, Unionville
ON L3R 0N2, Canada
(905) 604-9060
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Sandwiched between a McDonald’s and commercial brunch spot in a strip mall, this comforting street food spot resembles the dai pai dongs you’d find back in Hong Kong. Chef and owner Eddie Yeung doles out mighty bowls brimming with silky egg noodle strands swimming in fortified broth, topped with the unctuous fatty and collagen-laced morsels of slow-cooked beef brisket. Not a fan of beef? Swap it out with his tiger shrimp and pork wontons, which just need a drizzle of his house chile oil before they dive down the gullet. [$] — T.L.

From above, a bowl of wontons in soup with chopped herbs
Wonton soup
Wonton Hut

2. Yu Seafood

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270 West Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill
ON L4B 3Y9, Canada
(905) 881-1688
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While Toronto’s storied Chinatowns remain part of the city’s cultural tapestry, there are even better options for Chinese food in the suburbs. Successive waves of immigrants in the 1950s and ’60s created a robust melange of Asian fare in enclaves like Markham, Richmond Hill, and Unionville. Yu Seafood in Richmond Hill is a prime example of the stellar dim sum available. The place isn’t cheap, but does offer gilded service, top notch ingredients, and elegant presentations in a mix of contemporary and classic bites: Think sea urchin siu mai and charcoal puffs with Malaysian durian. [$$] — T.L.

Hands pulling apart a black bao to reveal a golden filling
Charcoal and salted egg bao
Yu Seafood/Facebook

3. Ho Ho BBQ

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3833 Midland Ave, Scarborough
ON M1V 5L6, Canada
(416) 321-9818

In Chinatown, every block has a few windows adorned with glistening pigs and ducks hanging from hooks. But nowhere is the cured and roasted pork better than in this strip mall in Scarborough. Nowhere else is the skin as crispy as a creme brulee top, the meat as soft as fresh doughnuts. The owner cleaves off chunks and hands them over in take-out containers without fanfare, as if perfection were a common commodity. [$] — C.M.

4. Centre Street Deli

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1136 Centre St, Thornhill
ON L4J 3M8, Canada
(905) 731-8037
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In the 1970s, there was an exodus of Jews from Montreal to Toronto. By the 1980s, many had migrated north to Thornhill. This deli was built to cater to that population. And the interior looks like it did in 1988, with cutesy cartoons on the walls and fluorescent lights that do no favors for the food. The smoked meat, however, is still the best in Toronto, although the deli technically sits just outside the city limits. Beyond menu staples like sandwiches and french fries, recommended delicacies include kishke, a sausage of chicken fat and matzo meal; and chopped liver, which is pureed with loads of caramelized onions into a smooth spread. [$] — C.M.

Pastrami at Centre Street Deli
Photo: Centre Street Deli Official

5. East Court & Mike’s BBQ

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4400 Sheppard Ave E, Scarborough
ON M1S 5H9, Canada
(416) 609-2388
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Inside this tiny takeaway shop, you’ll find meats hung with the utmost care and shimmering under an ambient heat lamp. For nearly three decades, chef and owner Jack Tsoi has been fine-tuning his siu mei (Chinese barbecue) with diligence and care. He offers his holy trinity of whole roasted suckling pig (with hallmark wafer-bubbly skin), mahogany lacquered roast duck, and sticky-sweet char siu (barbecue pork), which are cleaved off the racks, weighed, then deftly chopped up and mounted onto noodles or rice. The meals shine from their run-of-the-mill squeaky styrofoam boxes. [$] — T.L.

From above, a plate of chopped barbecued meats
Variety of meats
East Court & Mike’s BBQ

6. The Roti Hut

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351 Pitfield Rd, Scarborough
ON M1S 3E5, Canada
(416) 298-4153
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For nearly 40 years, chef and owner Satee Beharry has been an integral part of Scarborough’s culinary community, building a following long before the days of celebrity chefs, bloggers, and social media. She remains a beloved fixture for her plentiful portions of West Indian favorites, including goat and oxtail curries swaddled in flaky paratha rotis, pillowy curry channa doubles, and feisty jerk chicken. [$] — T.L.

7. Taro's Fish

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800 Sheppard Ave E, North York
ON M2K 1C3, Canada
(416) 730-8555
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Chef Taro Akiyama’s shop is closer to the reserved fish markets of Osaka than the boisterous ones of Tokyo. With quiet confidence, the shop serves Japanese groceries to make your own sashimi, maki, uramaki, and nigiri. Or if you prefer, you can order any of their fresh takeaway platters to enjoy instead. The vast selection of fresh fish and seafood arrives daily, including specials such as shirako (sperm sacs of male cod fish), uni (sea urchin), and o-toro (tuna belly). [$ - $$$$] — T.L.

A takeout platter with slices of sashimi arranged around a box of uni
Sashimi and uni
Taro’s Fish

8. Crown Pastries

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2086 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough
ON M1R 2Z4, Canada
(647) 351-2015
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With each mouthful of this bakery’s sublime sweets, the hand shoots to the face, expecting drips of honey or debris of pastry. But the tiny bundles — including basbousa (semolina and rosewater syrup), borma (crisp strands of dough around pistachios), and warbat (flaky dough around creamy hazelnut) — are too tightly packed, too expertly composed to allow for crumbs. [$] — C.M.

9. Mustafa Turkish Pizza

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866 Wilson Ave, North York
ON M3K 1E5, Canada
(416) 631-0300

Pide, aka Turkish “pizza,” is a thin, crispy flatbread layered with toppings like ground beef and tomatoes, feta and spinach, sausage and eggs, pastrami and mozzarella, and a dozen other flavorful combinations. In this spot decorated like a cave, you can split one with an order of iskender, buttery lamb cooked on a rotisserie, served with thick yogurt. [$] — C.M.

10. Beach Hill Smokehouse

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172 Main St, Toronto
ON M4E 2W1, Canada
(416) 792-8275
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Pitmaster and owner Darien List has staked a claim for central Texas barbecue north of the border at his three restaurants (the OG on Main street, one on the Danforth, and the newest one in High Park). Here you can taste the signature marbled brisket, hugged with just the perfect amount of heady smoke. For a handheld meal, look to the Austin: a brisket sandwich slathered with List’s signature tangy Texas BBQ sauce and topped with a bone (pork rib). Watch the weekly specials for the Flintstones-sized beef ribs with ample char, yielding flesh, and earthy oak finish. [$$] — T.L.

11. The Stockyards

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699 St. Clair Ave. W, Toronto
ON M6C 1B2, Canada
(416) 658-9666
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Despite demand from customers, the owners of this little smokehouse/diner haven’t extended their hours, enlarged the space, expanded the brand, or even gotten a liquor license. Instead, they’ve stayed the course, satisfying the neighborhood with juicy fried chicken, griddle-smashed burgers, and, on Sundays, brunch with famed favorites like fried chicken and waffles. [$] — C.M. & T.L.

12. Scaramouche

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1 Benvenuto Pl., Toronto
ON M4V 1H3, Canada
(416) 961-8011
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People still need to go out for fancy meals sometimes. And you can’t do it better than at Scaramouche, where white tablecloths and classical European cooking, in which entrees are composed plates with starch and green components surrounding large portions of protein, have never gone out of style. From the crest of a hill, the restaurant looks down over a Toronto that twinkles at dusk. Everyone needs to dine here once, if only for the view and a slice of the iconic white chocolate and coconut cream pie. [$$$-$$$$] — C.M.

13. Itacate

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998 St Clair Ave W, Toronto
ON M6E 1A2, Canada
(647) 701-0420
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At this butcher shop and restaurant, customers dine on some of the city’s best Mexican street food just a few feet away from a display case of kidneys and pig’s feet. Try a pambazo, a sandwich filled with chorizo, potato, lettuce, cheese, and crema, the bun dunked in a mild guajillo sauce and fried on the flat top. It’s easy to over order, as the tamales — filled with sweet dark mole or chicken in green sauce — most likely weigh about a pound each. Don’t miss the quesadillas, fried until the crispy shells entomb the chicken tinga and cheese. [$] — C.M.

Quesadillas at Itacate
Photo: Itacate/Facebook

14. Frank’s Pizza House

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1352 St Clair Ave W, Toronto
ON M6E 1C4, Canada
(416) 654-6554
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Beloved owner and chef Giorgio Taverniti recently revealed to Torontonians that he is legally blind, with no vision in his right eye and very limited peripheral vision in his left. While he had contended with glaucoma since he was a teen, his eyesight rapidly deteriorated in the past few years. His announcement received an outpouring of support and love from the dining community, and with the support of his staff and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Taverniti relearned to navigate his kitchen safely. Despite the hurdles, the quality of his menu hasn’t diminished. His stretched and hand-tossed New York-style pizza offers a hallmark toothsome chew, a classic cheese shimmer, and ruddy pepperoni with burnished edges. For something ultra indulgent, there’s Taverniti’s deep fried panzerotti. Golden brown with bubble-like puffs around the edges, they’re like soft doughnuts stuffed with gooey mozzarella; they absolutely warrant a mile-long cheese pull. [$] — T.L.

Hands pull apart a panzerotti with gooey cheese stretching through the air
Panzerotti
Hector Vasquez

15. Mimi Chinese

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265 Davenport Rd, Toronto
ON M5R 1J9, Canada
(416) 505-0799
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Chinese for “beautiful, beautiful,” Mimi is a stunner. The seductive space appeals to the senses with its triad of bold tones: ruby-red banquettes, white lotus flowers, and black lacquered tables. Wait staff in starchy white shirts with black ties (harkening back to uniforms at old-school Chinatown restaurants) zip back and forth, presenting diners with theatrical creations. The spectacle never detracts from the food, all of which pays homage to specific regions of China. Palate pleasers include silky four-foot belt noodles tossed in a house-made slow-burn chile oil from Shaanxi Province. Laborious char siu takes three days to prepare and arrives to the table glistening with a film of wildflower honey; it yields on the fork like a soft lozenge, and combines flavors of fat, sugar, and char in one harmonious bite — a worthy homage to Guangdong Province. [$$$] — T.L.

Four shiny dumplings on a large modern plate in a small red pool of chile sauce
Dumplings
Tiffany Leigh

16. Schmaltz Appetizing

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414 Dupont St, Toronto
ON M5R 1V9, Canada
(647) 350-4261
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On the border of Annex and Forest Hills, Anthony Rose and Rob Wilder have remade a strip of Dupont Street with a collection of restaurants: Rose and Sons (an upscale, down-home greasy spoon), Big Crow (barbecue with lots of smoke and fire), Fat Pasha (Jewish cuisine with a side of bubby-meets-Mediterranean), and Fet Zun (casual fun flavors of the Middle East). But it’s Schmaltz that blends best with the local history of the nearby Jewish enclave. During the week the delicatessen is sleepy, but on Sunday mornings, customers queue out the door to get their bagels (from Kiva’s), cream cheese, and something from the ample selection of smoked and cured fish. It’s the Russ & Daughters of Toronto. [$] — C.M.

Two bagels, one poppy seed and the other pumpernickel, stufed with fish, cream cheese, and pickled vegetables
Bagels well stuffed
Kayla Rocca

17. Udupi Palace

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1460 Gerrard St E, Toronto
ON M4L 2A3‎, Canada
(416) 405-8189
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Paper thin dosas, the size of little league baseball bats, are the showstoppers at this vegetarian Indian restaurant. But don’t miss the menu of chaats, particularly the dahi poori, bite-sized spheres of crispy dough holding spiced potato and cooling yogurt, with mint and tamarind chutneys dueling for attention. [$] — C.M.

18. Maha's

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226 Greenwood Ave, Toronto
ON M4L 2R2, Canada
(416) 462-2703
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The spirit and flavors of Cairo permeate this east end brunch spot. The restaurant is always teeming with people, sitting among memorabilia from chef/owner Maha Barsoom’s family homeland. It’s worth the wait for the tactile pleasures of their Cairo Classic, a breakfast platter of charred, plush balady bread, foole (stewed and seasoned fava beans mixed with tomatoes and onions) to smear on top, and refreshing tomato feta and a sliced boiled egg on the side. Egyptian flair also infuses the sandwiches, like the Maha’s Mind Blowing Chicken Sandwich: tender marinated chicken morsels tossed with parsley, onions, and tomatoes, then drizzled with tomeya (garlic sauce), house mayonnaise, and tahini all piled high between two squishy sweet buns. [$] — T.L.

A huge plate of chicken topped with chopped vegetables and garlic sauce, with a bun near the far end, arranged beside a plush toy lobster
Mind blowing chicken sandwich
Tiffany Leigh

19. Honest Weight

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2766 Dundas St. W, Toronto
ON, Canada
(416) 604-9992
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If you’re going to visit the Junction, that strange Toronto neighborhood where a prohibition on alcohol was only lifted in 1998, lunch at Honest Weight is a must. An unusual blend of retail fishmonger and restaurant, here you can eat a sandwich filled with Atlantic cod and dill mayonnaise while picking out Prince Edward Island littleneck clams for dinner. [$$] — C.M.

20. White Lily Diner

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678 Queen St E, Toronto
ON M4M 1G8, Canada
(416) 901-7800
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Residents of the Riverside community have gotten deservedly smug about this 30-seat restaurant that serves ideal versions of all-day diner food. Massive sandwiches and billowy pancakes are done exquisitely. Bread, pickles, pastrami, and doughnuts are all made entirely in-house. Biscuits arrive warm and flaky and topped with a rich sausage gravy that’s unapologetically gray. Because despite all of the restaurant’s attention to detail, there’s no gussying dishes up for Instagram. White Lily’s classic Americana is designed to stand on its own merits. [$$] — C.M.

Smoked pork belly at White Lily Diner
Photo White Lily Diner/Facebook

21. Sugo

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1281 Bloor St W, Toronto
ON M6H 1N7, Canada
(416) 535-1717
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This American-Italian eatery is owned and operated by friends and boxing enthusiasts Conor Joerin, Alex Wallen, and Scott Pennock. The trio applies the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle to all dishes, serving classics with gusto and generosity. Portions are enormous, evident in the mountainous spaghetti Bolognese, baseball-sized meatballs in a moat of rustic sugo (tomato sauce), and chicken parmigiana smothered in glossy mozzarella. In keeping with the red sauce establishments of yore, the restaurant welcomes guests with chequered tables, boisterous hospitality, and recipes that nonna would approve. [$] — T.L.

Lasagna oozing with cheese and overflowing with red sauce
An epic stack of lasagna
Sugo

22. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

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91 Dundas St E, Toronto
ON M5B 1E1, Canada
(647) 748-1717
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Toronto’s ramen mania hit its fever pitch in 2012, a decade after New York. While the cacophony has mostly died down by now, this Japanese import remains a go-to for signature tokusen toroniku ramen with its rich and fatty broth, thin golden noodles, and side plate of accompaniments, including fork-tender pork cheek. [$] — C.M. & T.L.

23. DaiLo

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503 College St., Toronto
ON, Canada
(647) 341-8882
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DaiLo’s menu offers a wealth of creative and intricate flavor combinations — like chunks of watermelon fried in a wafer-thin batter and topped with pork floss, or Hakka wontons in brown butter. If dining in a group, absolutely save room for a whole trout that’s been filleted, fried, and reassembled on a platter with sweet, salty, and spicy dipping sauces. [$$$] — C.M. & T.L.

24. Bar Raval

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505 College St, Toronto
ON M6J 2J3, Canada
(647) 344-8001
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The inside of this pintxos bar — with its ovoid floor-to-ceiling woodwork and Steve Ditko abstract background carved out of mahogany — is mostly standing-room only. The good news is that it’s open from 8 a.m., giving the advantage to diners who want to stop in during off hours to sample tiny plates of Cantabrian anchovies or sweetbreads. [$$] — C.M.

Kayla Rocca. courtesy Bar Raval

25. P.G Clucks

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610 College St, Toronto
ON M6G 1B4, Canada
(416) 539-8224
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Thanks in part to the rising cost of beef, fried chicken sandwiches have overtaken burgers as the ubiquitous meaty mainstay of any large city. Not only is P.G Cluck’s Toronto’s best, but it sits heads and shoulders above any second-place contenders. Each sandwich consists of an entire bone-free chicken leg that’s brined, buttermilked, floured, floured again, and fried. It’s then stacked on a barely large-enough potato bun with pickles, fermented chile sauce, and buttermilk sauce. Despite the demand, the tiny shop won’t pre-fry any chicken, so expect to wait patiently for exactly six and a half minutes while your sandwich is prepared. [$] — C.M.

Chicken sandwich at P.G. Clucks
Jalapeno and honey fried chicken sandwich from P.G. Clucks
Photo: PG Clucks/Facebook

26. Dzô Viet Eatery

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308 Dundas St W, Toronto
ON M5T 1G4, Canada
(647) 346-8843
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Naturally, the pho here is phenomenal but this eatery is on a mission to show that there is more to Vietnamese cuisine than the country’s national dish. With a jovial “nhau” spirit (the culture of coming together through communal dining and imbibing), they’re offering revamped dishes that both honor Vietnam’s rich heritage and fuse it with multicultural, vivacious Toronto. This is best exemplified in their pho poutine, where a mass of melty cheese shares the spotlight with grilled spiced beef, thick-cut fries, basil, and crispy shallots. Purists can feel as though they’re eating at a streetside hawker with the khay banh hoi lui nuong platter, a mix-and-match medley of pork and chicken skewers, lettuce wraps, and betel leaf beef, all tied together with umami-laced nuoc cham sauce. [$$] — T.L.

A hand holds up a decorative ceramic bowl filled with poutine, beneath a thick layer of cheese and a large sprig of basil
Pho poutine
Dzô Viet Eatery

27. The Heartbreak Chef

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823 Dundas St W, Toronto
ON M6J 1V4, Canada
(437) 214-0717
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Hip-hop beats, free-to-play NBA Jam arcade machines, and local graffiti greet you at the Heartbreak Chef — then chef and owner Jerome Robinson goes for the jugular with epic sandwiches big enough to rest your head on. His creations are plenty Insta-worthy, but more importantly, they’re phenomenally tasty. The Big Ass Chicken Sandwich sees three juicy deep-fried thighs stacked on high, topped with slaw and pickles; while the creamy Charlie Sandwich is a frankenwich smothering mac and cheese between (and spilling out of) a grilled cheese. Pro tip: You’ll need plenty of napkins for these gloriously sloppy sandwiches, then a long slumber afterwards. [$] — T.L.

A man stands by an outdoor table in front of a restaurant with various dishes
Jerome Robinson
The Heartbreak Chef

28. Richmond Station

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1 Richmond Street West, Toronto
ON, Canada
(647) 748-1444
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This elevated, friendly neighborhood restaurant builds on a foundation of Canadian foods with worldly flavors. With exacting standards and precise plating, the dedicated team does practically everything in house (fermentation, butchery, aging, curing, and baking) to reimagine favorite dishes. Cookstown soup is a loaded baked potato in liquid form; classic mac and cheese is given a refined makeover with pumpkin in beaufort cheese, konginut squash, and nutty chestnut chips. To finish, tubers are made extra tasty when transformed into a dessert pudding composed of sunchokes, zesty lemon granita, and lush vanilla curd. [$-$$$] — T.L.

From above, a stark plate with a small slice of terrine, a clump of greens, and a dollop of sauce
Terrine
Richmond Station

29. Aloette

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163 Spadina Ave. 1st Floor, Toronto
ON M5V 2A5, Canada
(416) 260-3444
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Aloette delivers the cozy vibes of a diner while reimagining the genre as something slightly more upscale and chic. You’ll find the usual suspects on the menu, such as chicken wings, onion rings, burgers, and ice cream sundaes, but everything is presented with care and confidence. Chef and owner Patrick Kriss executes dishes meticulously and sources stellar ingredients that make familiar favorites dance and shine with new energy. Those onion rings? They’re topped with Siberian caviar. The wings? Stuffed with black truffles. And that sundae? Apple pie gate-crashes the classic dessert. A note to those readers outraged this list doesn’t include Aloette’s upscale sister Alo: Reservations are still arduous to snag years in, and Aloette is far more accessible while still delivering that wow factor. [$$] — T.L.

Thick slices of octopus, sausage, peppers, and potatoes on a long plate
Octopus
Aloette

30. Pai

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18 Duncan St, Toronto
ON M5H 3G8, Canada
(416) 901-4724
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Pai recreates the frenetic energy and ambiance of a Thai night market. The northern Thai menu, devised by owner and chef Nuit Regular, invigorates taste buds with feisty lobster pad thai, luscious golden khao soi with short rib draped on top, and pad gra prow riddled with moo grob (crispy pork) and topped with a runny fried egg with lacey crisp edges. Chef Regular has also since opened an uptown spot, but the original location in the Entertainment District will always have a special place in fans’ hearts and stomachs. [$$] — T.L.

An industrial style dining room with large wood support beams, colorful flags hung from the ceiling, lots of simple wood tables, and various flyers for restaurant items
The dining room at Pai
Pai

31. Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery

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93a Ossington Ave, Toronto
ON M6J 2Z4, Canada
(647) 348-1900
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Bang Bang has challenged the city’s established ice cream hierarchy with a selection of flavors bordering on fantastical — matcha-jasmine soba, Bellwoods stout beer and brown bread, fig and chevre — packed between gooey, house-baked cookies. The contrast of textures is ideal, between ice cream just firm enough to exist as a solid, and cookies soft enough that they don’t crumble or snap when bitten. But if cookie sammies aren’t your thing, you can ask to house their cold creamery goodness in other specialty baked goods, such as their airy chiffon, choux puffs, Big Bang Cone (Hong Kong style waffle), or sticky-soft “cinnibun.” [$] — C.M. & T.L.

32. Three Monks and a Duck

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811 Queen St W, Toronto
ON M6J 1G1, Canada
(416) 901-9588
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This cool, eclectic snacky microbar offers Asian fusion eats. Dishes are homages to regions of East Asia playfully reinterpreted, from Singaporean chicken rice that rivals any Michelin-level hawker stall, to HK-style crackle-laced pineapple bun sandwiched with sous-vide pork belly, to loaded fries with bulgogi and kimchi that are like the love child of Taco Bell and K-pop. [$$] — T.L.

33. Patria

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478 King St W, Toronto
ON M5V 1L7, Canada
(416) 367-0505
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Saffron sings in this Spanish restaurant’s paella de vieira, permeating the bomba rice and crusty crispy socarrat with floral notes. From tapas to carne and everything in between, the Patria team nails dishes with exacting restraint and elegance. The pan con jamón serrano is rich and refreshing, tickling the tongue with just the right balance of wafer-thin ham and sweet tomato base. The tender pulpo yields easily, layered with fingerling potato coins and finished with paprika and fruity rincon olive oil. For desserts, salt-tooths will love the lush chocolate con aceite (chocolate pudding) that’s drizzled with olive oil and topped with sea salt. [$$$] — T.L.

From above, a large metal pan of paella, with large pieces of shrimp and open clams, green peas, and rice
Paella
Patria

34. Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse

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12 Brant St, Toronto
ON M5V 2M1, Canada
(416) 366-0200
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It’s par for the course these days for steak menus to list the provenance and pedigree of meats like a wine list, but the practice was jarring in the early aughts when this steakhouse splashed onto the culinary scene. Patrons were once overwhelmed to see five to eight different types of rib-eye, but Jacobs and Co. has helped cultivate awareness and appreciation for the origins and producers of our food. The prized steak cuts certainly aren’t cheap, but it’s worth splurging on the buttery, marbleized A5 Kobe Black Tajima from Hyogo Prefecture, or 600-day aged bone-in striploin from Guelph with its ultra funky parmesan notes and firm texture. [$$$$] — T.L.

Huge hunks of raw meat on metal racks with handwritten labels attached
Marbled meats at Jacobs & Co.
Lauren Miller

35. Marben

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488 Wellington St W, Toronto
ON M5V 1E3, Canada
(416) 979-1990
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Executive chef Chris Locke and his culinary brigade champion a zero-food-waste philosophy. They promote a fermentation-forward approach, embrace nose-to-tail and root-to-flower eating, and have reimagined neglected “ugly bits” that would otherwise go wasted. Humble rutabaga chop is revelatory when amped up with shio koji (a fermented moldy rice marinade), while laksa gets fortified with peanut miso, upcycled golden noodles, and funkified crab garum (fermented fish sauce) seasoned egg. [$$] — T.L.

Goose served two ways, roasted and pulled in a pool of puree, with Brussels sprouts and dots of sauce on a speckled plate
Roman tufted goose
Marben

36. Mildred's Temple Kitchen

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85 Hanna Ave #104, Toronto
ON M6K 3S3, Canada
(416) 588-5695
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While Mildred’s does serve lunch and dinner, the crowds come for brunch — despite the notoriously long lines and no reservation policy (during brunch hours only). Patrons come back again and again to tuck into towering stacks of cakey pancakes studded with wild blueberries, silky smoked salmon eggs benedict, and lofty biscuits slathered with house apple butter jam. [$$] — T.L.

37. Cheese Boutique

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45 Ripley Ave, Toronto
ON M6S 3P2, Canada
(416) 762-6292
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Maitre fromager (cheese master) and owner Afrim Pristine is a fan of the funk (and Batman). His family has been in the cheese business since the 1970s and they’ve run this grocery-fromagerie-bodega location on Ripley Avenue in the west end of the city since 2000, when they moved from their original Bloor Street outpost. You’ll find Batman paraphernalia all over the 12,000-square-foot epicurean emporium, which offers artisan charcuterie, olive oils, truffles, bakery goods, prepared foods, and approximately 500 varieties of cheese in wheels, wedges, and hunks. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a walk into their famous cheese vault, where they stockpile about $1 million dollars’ worth of nose-tickling, age-ripened products. Check out the crowd favorite, easygoing three-year Boer’n trots cheese from Holland; it’s complex, nutty, highly snackable, and versatile enough to be grated on pasta. For the brave and bold, there’s Bleu d’Élizabeth from Quebec, which strikes the perfect balance between pungency and salinity. [$ - $$$$] — T.L.

A darkened cheese storage room, with shelves of cheese wheels and spices, large burlap-wrapped products hanging from the ceiling, and a large wooden barrel in the corner
The cheese vault
Cheese Boutique

38. Hexagon

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210 Lakeshore Rd E, Oakville
ON L6M 3R7, Canada
(905) 844-1286
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Anything outside of the city center is considered Narnia to some locals, but Hexagon can lure even the most stubborn diner out to Oakville, about a 45-minute drive west of Toronto. This fine dining outpost is modernist in its approach, tone, and taste (meaning there isn’t too much pretension about eating well). Chef Rafa Covarrubias offers thoughtful and contemporary fare that’s seasonal and creative. The menu is ever-evolving, but memorable mouthfuls include pleasure-pocket taleggio cheese, grape, and onion agnolotti; and delicate hamachi topped with xo sauce, tomato consomme, and creme fraiche. [$$ - $$$] — T.L.

An artful plate of bright orbs of fruit topped with flowers, herbs, and a crisp bit of sourdough
Tomatoes, roasted strawberry, whipped cheese, Ontario berries, sourdough, chipotle-strawberry mojo
Hexagon

1. Wonton Hut

3760 York Regional Rd 7, Unionville, ON L3R 0N2, Canada
From above, a bowl of wontons in soup with chopped herbs
Wonton soup
Wonton Hut

Sandwiched between a McDonald’s and commercial brunch spot in a strip mall, this comforting street food spot resembles the dai pai dongs you’d find back in Hong Kong. Chef and owner Eddie Yeung doles out mighty bowls brimming with silky egg noodle strands swimming in fortified broth, topped with the unctuous fatty and collagen-laced morsels of slow-cooked beef brisket. Not a fan of beef? Swap it out with his tiger shrimp and pork wontons, which just need a drizzle of his house chile oil before they dive down the gullet. [$] — T.L.

3760 York Regional Rd 7, Unionville
ON L3R 0N2, Canada

2. Yu Seafood

270 West Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3Y9, Canada
Hands pulling apart a black bao to reveal a golden filling
Charcoal and salted egg bao
Yu Seafood/Facebook

While Toronto’s storied Chinatowns remain part of the city’s cultural tapestry, there are even better options for Chinese food in the suburbs. Successive waves of immigrants in the 1950s and ’60s created a robust melange of Asian fare in enclaves like Markham, Richmond Hill, and Unionville. Yu Seafood in Richmond Hill is a prime example of the stellar dim sum available. The place isn’t cheap, but does offer gilded service, top notch ingredients, and elegant presentations in a mix of contemporary and classic bites: Think sea urchin siu mai and charcoal puffs with Malaysian durian. [$$] — T.L.

270 West Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill
ON L4B 3Y9, Canada

3. Ho Ho BBQ

3833 Midland Ave, Scarborough, ON M1V 5L6, Canada

In Chinatown, every block has a few windows adorned with glistening pigs and ducks hanging from hooks. But nowhere is the cured and roasted pork better than in this strip mall in Scarborough. Nowhere else is the skin as crispy as a creme brulee top, the meat as soft as fresh doughnuts. The owner cleaves off chunks and hands them over in take-out containers without fanfare, as if perfection were a common commodity. [$] — C.M.

3833 Midland Ave, Scarborough
ON M1V 5L6, Canada

4. Centre Street Deli

1136 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J 3M8, Canada
Pastrami at Centre Street Deli
Photo: Centre Street Deli Official

In the 1970s, there was an exodus of Jews from Montreal to Toronto. By the 1980s, many had migrated north to Thornhill. This deli was built to cater to that population. And the interior looks like it did in 1988, with cutesy cartoons on the walls and fluorescent lights that do no favors for the food. The smoked meat, however, is still the best in Toronto, although the deli technically sits just outside the city limits. Beyond menu staples like sandwiches and french fries, recommended delicacies include kishke, a sausage of chicken fat and matzo meal; and chopped liver, which is pureed with loads of caramelized onions into a smooth spread. [$] — C.M.

1136 Centre St, Thornhill
ON L4J 3M8, Canada

5. East Court & Mike’s BBQ

4400 Sheppard Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1S 5H9, Canada
From above, a plate of chopped barbecued meats
Variety of meats
East Court & Mike’s BBQ

Inside this tiny takeaway shop, you’ll find meats hung with the utmost care and shimmering under an ambient heat lamp. For nearly three decades, chef and owner Jack Tsoi has been fine-tuning his siu mei (Chinese barbecue) with diligence and care. He offers his holy trinity of whole roasted suckling pig (with hallmark wafer-bubbly skin), mahogany lacquered roast duck, and sticky-sweet char siu (barbecue pork), which are cleaved off the racks, weighed, then deftly chopped up and mounted onto noodles or rice. The meals shine from their run-of-the-mill squeaky styrofoam boxes. [$] — T.L.

4400 Sheppard Ave E, Scarborough
ON M1S 5H9, Canada

6. The Roti Hut

351 Pitfield Rd, Scarborough, ON M1S 3E5, Canada

For nearly 40 years, chef and owner Satee Beharry has been an integral part of Scarborough’s culinary community, building a following long before the days of celebrity chefs, bloggers, and social media. She remains a beloved fixture for her plentiful portions of West Indian favorites, including goat and oxtail curries swaddled in flaky paratha rotis, pillowy curry channa doubles, and feisty jerk chicken. [$] — T.L.

351 Pitfield Rd, Scarborough
ON M1S 3E5, Canada

7. Taro's Fish

800 Sheppard Ave E, North York, ON M2K 1C3, Canada
A takeout platter with slices of sashimi arranged around a box of uni
Sashimi and uni
Taro’s Fish

Chef Taro Akiyama’s shop is closer to the reserved fish markets of Osaka than the boisterous ones of Tokyo. With quiet confidence, the shop serves Japanese groceries to make your own sashimi, maki, uramaki, and nigiri. Or if you prefer, you can order any of their fresh takeaway platters to enjoy instead. The vast selection of fresh fish and seafood arrives daily, including specials such as shirako (sperm sacs of male cod fish), uni (sea urchin), and o-toro (tuna belly). [$ - $$$$] — T.L.

800 Sheppard Ave E, North York
ON M2K 1C3, Canada

8. Crown Pastries

2086 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1R 2Z4, Canada