Toronto’s Top 15 Eats: On and Off the Radar
By Andrew John Virtue Dobson
Once finished my four-year degree at The University of Guelph’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management just outside of Toronto, I found myself on a jet plane. I would spend the next three years on an unforgettable adventure marching through 50 countries on all corners of the globe. During my travels I became obsessed with showcasing the best local eats and connecting culture to the kitchen. I was a travel blogger with a penchant for food photos.
While I’m still a vagabond at heart and travel on press trips often, I no longer live out of my backpack. I have found roots in my beloved Toronto and am thrilled that TBEX is coming to this fine city as my multicultural metropolis has so much to offer to the culinary tourist. While we flip through Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and Fodor’s, we all know the very best restaurant advice comes from the local with their heart on the pulse of a destination’s culinary scene.
Since moving back to Toronto three years ago, I have profiled over 450 restaurants on dobbernationLOVES. I have created a list of my favourite restaurants throughout the city’s many colourful neighbourhoods that showcase our newest culinary fascinations as well as tried, tested and true kitchen champions. Some of these are media darlings while others have been off centre stage for years. They are all worthy of your cravings and coverage.
- Farmhouse Tavern in The Junction Triangle offers a much-lauded weekend brunch and a farm-to-fork inspired menu.
- Rock Lobster Food located on the Ossington Strip recently opened to eager audiences willing to wait in line outside in the middle of winter. A product of Toronto’s Pop Up fandom, the restaurant features funky rock music, seafood- centric menu and creative cocktails.
- Bestellen located on College Street is the perfect spot to pay homage to the beast. Carnivores delight in pork, beef and everything in between.
- Real Sports Bar and Grill has been ranked as North America’s best sports bar located right downtown beside the Air Canada Centre. The massive complex features hundreds of screens, a resident DJ and the world’s best wings.
- Frank is located inside the Art Gallery of Ontario and offers a fantastic menu for those looking to find culinary inspiration after familiarizing themselves with The Group of Seven.
- The Queen and Beaver is Toronto’s favourite gastropub which pays homage to authentic haute cuisine from the British Isles. The hamburger is epic featuring hand cut steak and bone marrow.
- Torito Tapas is located in the heart of Kensington Market and showcases a fantastic Spanish Tapas menu perfect for sharing at the table.
- Banh Mi Boys on Queen Street at Spadina is a cheap and cheerful spot to grab a swath of Asian inspirations. Favourites include the Banh Mi of course but be sure to share their kimchi poutine; it’s a perfect example of Korea meets Canada.
- La Carnita at College and Bathurst is another success story from Toronto’s Pop Up scene featuring a funky space, fantastic cocktails and Mexicana inspirations. They recently launched a Sunday brunch which is phenomenal.
- Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel in the heart of swanky Yorkville offers one of the cities most phenomenal tea and scone experiences (with all those dainty sandwiches you are craving).
- Wvrst is a fantastic Bavarian style Beer Hall located in the trendy King West neighbourhood. Offering a wild selection of sausages and frites, they also have one of the cities most diverse local micro brew offerings on tap.
- Kings Noodle Restaurant is located in the heart of Chinatown and my go-to spot for Hong Kong style noodle and BBQ. Cheap and cheerful with a fantastic vibe.
- Country Style Hungarian has been around for ages in the heart of the Annex. Voted as the best schnitzel in the city locals come here to satisfy their Eastern European cravings.
- Fresh offers up the cities most innovative vegetarian and vegan offerings. Their location at Spadina and Richmond in the heart of the Entertainment and Fashion District is always bustling.
- Khao San Road located just behind the Toronto International Film Festival building (TIFF Bell Lightbox), is Toronto’s top authentic Thai restaurant. During the Festival (and every day for that matter) the restaurant has a line snaking out the front door.
Andrew is fascinated by how food and drink enriches the sensory travel experience. He has travelled to more than 50 countries and regularly creates Culinary Tourism Destination Guides on dobbernationLOVES. He was recently a judge for the Ontario Culinary Tourism Awards and stands out as a global expert on everything food, drink and travel with a penchant for adventure. When he’s not eating himself silly on a press trip, you can find him in his hometown of Toronto, reviewing the city’s top theatre, restaurant, bar and art experiences