Toronto is the largest city in Canada and one of the most diverse places in the world. This means that, in addition to lots of dual-language street signs and really polite people, it has a ton of great restaurants. But that can also make it tough to decide where to eat when you’re here, which is where we come in.
Whether you’re contemplating a move north of the border or just planning a weekend getaway, we have you covered with everything from tacos and classic seafood to the best spots for brunch, day drinking, and barbecue. These are our 26 favourite places to eat and drink in Toronto.
The Swan, one of Toronto’s most famous diners, occupied the same space on Queen Street West for more than 20 years. Now Le Swan has taken over to serve French bistro food alongside diner classics - think charcuterie followed by a tuna melt and steak frites with a side of grilled cheese. The menu here includes both dishes that you’d find in a Grey Poupon commercial and food that feels sort of like time travel, which makes it a little different than just about anywhere else in the city. Be sure to book a table in advance, though, because it’s small and massively popular.
There are a few things you might do to appear cooler - like (poorly) fake an accent or tell strangers about your pet hedgehog, Carl. But when you’re in Toronto, all you have to do is head to Mother Tongue in the back of The Templar Hotel. This place feels like somewhere cooler-you discovered, despite being in one of Toronto’s busiest neighbourhoods. This sleek two-story restaurant serves food that mixes Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese influences - with everything from trout ceviche and spice-rubbed chicken wings, to pork belly lettuce wraps and pork and foie gras dumplings. Bring a group to split some shared plates and drink cocktails while asking for your friends’ opinions on adding an ascot to your everyday outfit.
There are a lot of food halls in Toronto, but The Annex might just be our favourite. You’ll find the city’s best fried-chicken sandwiches from P.G. Clucks, Bangkok-style street food from EAT BKK, and ridiculously big salads from Urban Herbivore, in addition to plenty of other options. The hall is filled with large tables good for groups and there are usually U of T students working on essays while working off hangovers. It’s a great place for quick take-out or a casual, sit-down meal, and they’re adding a fully licensed bar soon so you’ll be able to enjoy a cocktail or beer flight with your food.
Somehow, in the last few years, Geary Avenue went from being an industrial area where no one would ever go, to a popular street full of some of the top bars, breweries, and restaurants in Toronto. You could easily spend an entire day there, drinking local beer and hanging out at an arcade bar, but when the sun and drinks start to get to you, finish the day at Parallel. The menu at this Middle Eastern spot has a lot of familiar dishes but with a twist, like their famed falafel on top of a beet tahini, truffle hummus with soy mushrooms and schug, and labneh with confit garlic. Parallel also serves beer from one of Toronto’s best craft breweries, and their Geary Avenue neighbour, Blood Brothers, as well as a collection of European wines.
There’s always that one person who takes half of each shared dish before anyone else has the chance to pick up their fork. That’s not the person you need in your life, and it’s not the person you should bring to Terroni. This Italian place is best with a group so you can try as many of the pizzas and pastas as possible. The food here, like the truffle pizza and duck confit ravioli, is good and consistent, no matter which of the three locations you go to - though we prefer Price St. for its beautiful rooftop. Just make sure you take note: Terroni takes ‘no substitutions’ very seriously, so maybe don’t bring that other friend who always asks to ‘hold the’ everything.
When you walk into Grand Electric and one of the first things you see is a possessed ram’s head on the wall, you might wonder whether this is some sort of cult front. Thankfully, as long as you like tacos and tequila, there’s no initiation necessary. It’s a small place and they don’t take reservations, so post up at the bar solo or with one other person, talk to the bartenders, and load up on tacos. Finish with the potted caramel and wonder how you would do in a taco cult.
There are plenty of great places in Toronto to go for the seafood classics: Rodney’s for lobsters, Buster’s Sea Cove for chowder, Oyster Boy for, well, oysters. But when you want something a bit different, there’s Honest Weight, a tiny, family-friendly spot in the Junction. Their daily-changing menu is all over the place but in a good way, with everything from okonomiyaki and latkes with gravlax to bouillabaisse. They also have an in-restaurant wholesale fish counter and serve brunch.
Your vegetarian friend has been a good sport and hasn’t complained about eating the singular non-meat dish at every place you’ve been to so far. To say thank you, bring them to Planta. This Yorkville spot serves creative vegan food, like a hot dog made from a carrot, watermelon poke, and arguably the best thing on the menu: a meat-less and cheese-less cheeseburger that’s so good they opened an offshoot called Planta Burger. They also serve Sunday brunch for vegans missing the classics, like pancakes, “lox,” and benedicts. And between the palm-frond wallpaper and actual plants everywhere, you’ll probably assume they have stock in the color green.
You expect a number of things from malls, like teenagers and free pretzel samples handed out by teenagers. What you wouldn’t normally find at one is a place like Cava, one of the best tapas restaurants in the city. The frequently changing menu at this spot always centers around Iberian and Latin American food, with seafood as a main focus. Get the octopus tiradito and halibut ceviche if they’re on the menu, along with a bunch of different pinchos. Just know that the portions here tend to be small, so if your only meal today was brunch at 11:30am or you spent the afternoon walking the Beltine trail and are starving, opt to share some of the larger dishes or your bill will add up.
If you only have brunch once in Toronto, it should be at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. Their big space has high ceilings and huge windows, so it’s bright, airy, and won’t make your hungover friend very happy. That is until the food comes. Order the ‘make your own mimosa,’ one of the egg dishes, and a plate of their rightfully famous pancakes for the table. The wait is long during peak times, so if you don’t have the strength or patience and you’re in town for longer than a weekend, come back during their ‘b’lunch,’ which is served during the week with a similar but expanded menu - pancakes included.
You’re trying to plan a fun night out with friends but have been actively avoiding club-restaurants since, well, your entire adult life. That’s when you head to Patois, a Jamaican/Chinese/Korean spot in Little Italy. With drinks served in pineapples and pool toys hanging from the ceiling, it’s just as much of a place to party as it is to get a really solid meal. Come hungry, and order “The Whole Shebang,” which serves three or four people and lets you try everything on the menu from the Jamaican slaw to the Chinese “Pineapple” Bun Burger to their excellent jerk chicken.
Rasa has an always-changing menu that doesn’t stick to one cuisine, and you’ll regularly find things like lamb bacon and truffle gnudi with foie gras listed next to brussels sprouts with cauliflower cheese and scotch bonnet vinegar. The interior can be described as sort of ‘industrial-chic,’ but you should sit on the airy patio when you can, especially for Sunday brunch.
special occasion places
If the goal of every trip you go on is to find the most interesting restaurant you can, get a reservation at DaiLo when you’re in Toronto. This Cantonese-French spot in Little Italy has a $65 chef’s choice tasting menu with things like fried watermelon, 90-day aged beef carpaccio, and truffle fried rice with XO sauce. From the food to the hand-painted walls, this place has a lot of little touches that will impress whoever you bring enough to forget that you packed at the last minute and brought four pairs of shoes and only one pair of socks. They also serve everything a la carte and, if you want to make a night of it, there’s a lounge upstairs, LoPan, which serves more dim sum snacks and great cocktails.
Eating at the 10-seat sushi bar at Yasu is one of the most unique dining experiences in the city. The only option is the omakase, which includes 20 pieces of sushi, each carefully put together, painted with soy sauce, and presented one-by-one by the chef. You’ll try everything from the familiar tuna and salmon to less common dishes like monkfish liver. You’ll need $135, a snack before (each course is timed out, and you don’t get much food at once), and two full hours for the meal, but you’ll leave knowing you experienced something truly special.
If you have a special occasion, and you either got a bonus or someone just bought your embroidered shower cap business, go to Buca. It’s not going to be cheap - there’s a pizza on the menu for $55 - but despite the high cost and location in the Four Seasons, it’s both comfortable and inviting with dark wood and an open kitchen. Get the branzino sashimi, which is sliced tableside, and a few pastas, then fill out your table with a bunch of the vegetable dishes and small bites. And if you need something else, the nodini, which are really just fancy garlic knots, are a great call.
Since it’s located on the third floor of an older building right off Queen West on the edge of Chinatown, Alo feels like a secret. And, when you get upstairs, you’ll find one of the most inventive tasting menus in Toronto. Since the food revolves around seasonal ingredients, it changes regularly but you might see things like Hokkaido scallops with truffle and brown butter or a 60-day aged ribeye. Reservations open two months in advance so plan accordingly, though, if you often refer to yourself as spontaneous - and others would veer towards forgetful - the bar is slightly more accessible. There are more moderately-priced but equally interesting dishes, impressive cocktails, and seats available for walk-ins only.
Like an indoor skydiving chamber and a robot who would turn off the lights for us when we’re already in bed, there are a lot of things we’d buy if we won the lottery. Regular meals (and the airfare required) at Miku would also be on the list. Miku’s sushi mixes traditional Japanese preparation with local ingredients, and prominently features a blowtorch - their Aburi-style focuses on lightly torching the fish to bring out the flavor. This Harbourfront spot is worthwhile for a special occasion, especially if you go all out and order one of the kaiseki options - a multiple course meal of the chef’s favorite dishes.
On the mornings when waiting for brunch feels like a truly impossible ask, head to Starving Artist on St. Clair. It’s spacious enough that the wait is never too long, and you can drink a coffee in line. Plus, everything here comes on a waffle. The eggs benedict waffle, lox and cream cheese waffle, and Nutella and banana waffle are some of our favorites. There are also gluten-free and vegan waffle options, so there’s really no one you can’t bring here, except maybe that indecisive friend who always takes way too long to order.
In a city that seems to open up a new BBQ spot every other week, you can’t do much better than Earlscourt. It’s a great spot for large, hungry groups to watch sports and eat a lot of meat after a long day of the subway not working for unknown reasons. Get the brisket-covered nachos and split a Pitmaster Platter with a friend (or maybe three or four friends), then choose something from their great craft beer list with options from the Elora Brewing Company and Great Lakes Brewery.
Whether you’re looking for picnic supplies to take to Queens Park nearby or to fuel up before making the drive to the Toronto Zoo, make sure you stop in at Black Camel. It’s a cafe and sandwich bar in Rosedale that uses the highest quality ingredients and makes everything on-site, including brisket that takes five days to prepare and homemade BBQ sauce. And despite being in Rosedale - one of Toronto’s more expensive residential areas - the prices are actually reasonable, with all the sandwiches running under $10.
You had a busy morning planned so you just ate a granola bar for breakfast - but now it’s five hours later and you’re starving. Head to The Stockyards, especially during the non-peak hours, since the small space usually makes it hard to get a seat. You’ll find a short menu of Southern classics like fried chicken and waffles, pimento cheese burgers, and brisket sandwiches, and if you come on a Tuesday, Friday, or Sunday, you can get their excellent ribs and smoked chicken.
Barchef is one of the most innovative bars in Toronto and even if you have to fly a budget airline to save up to come here, it’s worth a trip. For the most drama, splurge on one of the modernist cocktails - the Vanilla & Hickory Smoked Manhattan and Essence of Fall are two great ones - and your drink might be presented on a bed of dry ice, surrounded by plants, and with an ice cube that makes your cocktail better as it melts. This is a spot for when you’re looking to stay for a while, get to know the bartenders, and get enough alcohol in you to forget clutching your carry-on in your lap the whole flight.
From the old-school arcade games and vintage decor to the big selection of craft beer on tap, Get Well is somewhere you can spend more than a few hours. Especially since once you get hungry, they have an in-house pizzeria with slices and full pies, depending on how hungry you are or how many people you dragged along. So when you get run over in Frogger, at least you can blame it on your greasy hands.
There’s no sign outside Civil Liberties, a bar right outside Koreatown, just a metallic pineapple to let you know you’re in the right place. And since they feel the same about menus as they do signs, you’ll either name your drink or have a conversation with your bartender who will make you something that’s “light but not too sweet - I don’t want a headache tomorrow - and with vodka.” The drinks are some of the best around, and the service is just as good. Eat before or after, because the food is nothing special, and don’t be surprised by the high bar bill – especially after you factor in the huge tip you’ll want to leave.
From Bar Raval’s curved Gaudi-inspired wooden bar to the tables made out of barrels, you’ll be surprised when you step outside and realize you’re still on College St. This Little Italy spot has a long cocktail list, along with plenty of beer and wine. Just make sure you’re prepared for the drinks to be strong, which is also when their tapas menu comes in. The warm octopus should be on your table and the canned seafood will surprise you in a really good way. You’ll probably eat your whole meal standing up shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger though, so if you’d rather have more space, come before 6pm.
Aside from a segway tour through the city, the best way to see all of Toronto at once is on a rooftop, and one of our favorites is atop the Broadview Hotel. The building looks a lot like an old train station, though it actually used to be home to a strip club. And while a full meal here can get expensive, get a few cocktails and plates to share, like a charcuterie board or duck fat popcorn, while you check out the view.