I adore Toronto, but when I first arrived that definitely wasn’t the case. It took me a while to find my place and, more importantly, my favourite places to eat, drink and visit, but once I did I fell head over heels.
To save you the time, here is my ever growing list of places to wine and dine in Toronto. Your this as your culinary road map when you visit Ontario’s capital city and you’ll soon be crushing on Canada.
Bar Buca (brunch at weekends only, walk in only)
This is my all time favourite place, it’s done as a tapas style brunch and everything here is phenomanal. It’s Italian and every bite is done to perfection. If your a dining duo recommend ordering four to five dishes, and one of those things HAS to be the semolina pancakes! I dream about these guys. I also recommend their mimosa rosa for a refreshing brunch cocktail.
Mahas (everyday, walk in only )
This cute little place is in a gorgeous part of Toronto called Lesslieville. It specialises in Egyptian street food and is unlike any brunch I’ve had before. Think falafel, hummus, flat breads and backlava – the flavours are so good. Arrive early and come prepared to queue, but I promise its well worth the wait.
Mildreds Temple Kitchen (everyday)
If you are looking for epic brunch pancakes, Mildred’s is the spot. Big Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes, topped with maple syrup and all the good stuff. If you do go during the weekend prepare to wait, but just remember those fluffy pancakes waiting at the end of the line for you, and it will get you through.
Forno Cultura (everyday but Monday)
This small little Italian bakery is mainly takeaway, but on a sunny day it’s the perfect spot to grab a mouthwatering delicious sandwich to take over to Toronto Island, or to Trinity Bellwoods park and sit in the sun. You can see the bakery in full swing as you’re picking up your lunch or treat, watch the bakers roll out the dough right before your eyes, for this aspect alone its one of my favourite spots.
Gusto 101 (everyday, walk in)
This is the perfect day date lunch spot. They do a great kale salad and a delicious mushroom pasta with truffle that’s to die for! On a sunny day you can sit out in the sun and have a glass or even better jug of sangria.
La Palma (every day, walk in or book $$)
La Palma is the place to go for small tapas style dishes, great cocktails, gorgeous decor and a fun vibe. They have a large open window that gives the feel of dining al fresco, where you can watch the world go by. My favourites here included the brocollini, it may sound boring but its smoked and served with chilli and lemon, the perfect accompaniment for any of their delicious mains. Alongside lots of healthier options there’s their famous 100 layer lasagne too! My favourite drink of theirs is the cardamom spritz, refreshing and delicious.
Planta (everyday also great for dinner, need to book)
This is an all vegan restaurant, but honestly it’s so delicious you wouldn’t miss the meat. Every time I go I am amazed by what they have created with just vegetables, like palm heart ‘crab’ cakes, and a carrot dog, that actually tastes like a hot dog – its incredible!
Canoe (must book)
This is a special occasion kind of place, on the 56th floor with an amazing view of the city, and great food and wine. If you were considering visiting the CN Tower, I would give it a miss and go here instead. It’s open for dinner but I find the lunch is better value and just as good.
Bar Buca (Monday-Friday, walk in)
This place gets another mention for me for lunch, again its sharing tapas style and just so good! Visit for the stuffed burrata cheese with pesto alone, and any of their salads are divine. Wash it down with their delicious Aperol Spritz and you are in for the perfect mid-week lunch.
Fat Lamb (Tuesday-Saturday)
Delicious, authentic Greek food served in a small little unassuming cafe owned by a lovely Greek couple who make everything in house. I can’t pick my favourite here, so anytime I go in I ask the owner her favourite and get whatever she suggests, it’s a strategy that has never failed to satisfy me.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (walk in only)
There is something so nice about ramen on a cold day, it’s like a hug from the inside. Though finding the best ramen can be a challenge, especially in Toronto where there are a handful of amazing ramen places, but I think I have finally nailed down my top pick, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. From the atmosphere, to being able to see the production of food preparation, and of course the delicious complex ramen, I could live here in the colder months in Toronto.
Grey Gardens (Wednesday- Sunday, must book, however they do have a small walk in section too)
Located in the Kensington Market, which is a very cool place to explore around, everything on the menu at Grey Gardens here is so good, with amazing drinks and a buzzy atmosphere to add to it. It’s recommend to share, with each thing coming out one at a time. Their menu changes seasonally but one thing they do keep is there Chips ‘n’ Dip, which you should order while sipping your spritz and mulling over the menu.
Buca (Everyday, must book)
This is the mother restaurant of Bar Buca, we save it for special occasions, but that doesn’t stop us dreaming about it every time we walk by. This is Italian food at it’s finest – think fresh pasta, truffles, unbelievable pizza, burrata. With outstanding food, a gorgeous atmosphere and delicious cocktails, its always a win here for me.
Omaw (Tuesday-Sunday, booking recommended)
With a hip vibe and a creative take on southern classics done in a tapas style, this place is all about sharing. Everything is full of flavour and so delicious, one of my favourites being their waygu beef, a must try.
Noce (Tuesday- Sunday, booking recommended)
This is super close to where I live and has become myself and Bryan’s go-to when we are hungry and want great food fast. It’s Italian with some delicious meats and fish and great cocktails too, on sunny evenings you can sit out on the patio and enjoy the sun.
Grand Electric (Everyday, walk in)
This is a mexican taco joint- great tacos, great margaritas, need I say more?
Kiin (Monday – Sunday, need to book)
This place is amazing, some of, if not the best Thai food I’ve ever had, it’s so delicious from start to finish. Their tag line is ‘discover a different side of Thailand‘ and that is exactly it – it’s not like any Thai restaurant I’ve have been to before. Everything is a party in your mouth, I recommend asking the server for their suggestions on food and cocktails, and just sit back and enjoy
Nana (Wednesday – Sunday)
Perfect spot for quick, traditional, delicious Thai street food. My favourite being the Phad See Ew, its perfect for a bite to eat with friends, or before you head out.
My favourite cafe in Toronto. I love to grab a coffee and drink it in Trinity Bellwoods Park across the road.
A gorgeous little cafe in Kensington Market, I love their Iced Cardamon Coffee, perfect for those sunny days.
Bang Bang Icecream (Tuesday-Sunday)
This is a must! You’ll queue for a good 20 mins to get it but it will be worth it and you’ll thank me afterwards. The smell alone wafting from this tiny little place will keep you in line. Bang Bang’s ice cream cookie sandwiches are legendary. My favourite is the ‘Stay Classy‘ with vanilla ice cream, it’s so good. They are open till 10pm so its nice to go there after dinner and stroll back to where you are staying.
Go here for a coffee, grab a gooey chocolate chip cookie and watch it disappear before your eyes.
A small little coffee shop that does melt in your mouth mini hot doughnuts to order. Once you order your mini doughnuts you can watch them being made and tossed in cinnamon sugar – just try not to drool all over the place before you get them.
An amazing cocktail bar, specialising in tequila but with all kinds of delicious cocktail. Ask the staff to make you something special, they always get it right!
A cute little wine bar, a nice place to go before or after dinner for some wine with a chilled out vibe.
This place is hard to find on any social media platforms but it is a gorgous cocktail bar on Dundas St that is simply called, Cocktail Bar, it is owned by the same lady who owns Grey Gardens and it is quickly becoming my favourite bar. Its also right opposite her other restaurant, The Black Hoof, which I’ve heard amazing things about, and is on my list.
When coming to toronto there are lots of things to do and see, some of my favourites being strolling in and out of the boutiques on Queen St West wandering around Kensington market.
– Toronto Island: Get a tiki taxi boat over and rent a bike
– Farmers markets: my favourite is Trinity Bellwoods market on a Tuesday.
Some of my all time favourites places to visit are just a short drive away like…
– Niagra on the Lake: A beautiful picturesque town, with some great restaurants and surrounded by vineyards – need I say more.
– Blue Mountain: It’s just a short drive to Blue Mountain, where in the winter you can do all things snow related. My favourite being snow tubing, where you literally sit in a rubber tube and go speeding down a snowy mountain.
The best place to stay is in the King/Queen West area, right by all the boutique shops, cute cafes and delicious restaurants. It’s also right on the tram line if you need to get anywhere.
There are lots of cool hotels I’d recommended in this area like:
– Or stay in a more affordable option like an Airbnb, or better yet in my Airbnb!
Chloe Harris is a Dublin born entrepreneur, owner of foodie cafe in the IFSC, and dinners with Chloe- a one night exclusive pop up dinner in Dublin.
Chloe lives between Toronto and Dublin, bringing foodie ideas back to Ireland from her travels. Her love for food and entertaining was born from a love and passion for the kitchen.