Where to Eat This Weekend: Toronto

There are a lot of places to eat in WNY and sometimes deciding where to head for a meal is overwhelming. Where to Eat This Weekend is a weekly feature that I (Alli) have been thinking about for a while. I’m incredibly indecisive and while having 100′s of detailed reviews of restaurants to pick from is wonderful, sometimes having someone narrow down your choices makes your life a bit easier. A new Where to Eat This Weekend will be posted every Friday with the sole purpose of helping you decide where to eat and hopefully introduce you to a few new places that are worth checking out. The posts will have a new ‘theme’ each week. I will pick a town (i.e. East Aurora, Orchard Park), cuisine (Thai, Mexican) or street (Hertel, Kenmore Ave) and give you a list of all of the notable places to eat/drink within that theme along with links to websites and our reviews as well as a few quick descriptions (price, type of food, etc). Past posts focused on East Aurora AllentownVietnamese cuisine , “Unique” Chicken WingsKenmore Ave and Seasonal Hot Dog Stands.

This week we are recommending some of our favorite places to eat in Toronto, a wonderful food city that is only 90 minutes away. It wasn’t until this year that we started to really explore some of the neighborhoods in Toronto and stay far away from Yonge Street. If you are looking for specific cuisines or recommendations for places to eat/drink in certain areas of Toronto, we can’t recommend BlogTO.com enough. The website is basically a database with hundreds of “Best of” lists for almost anything you can think of, it’s helped us out a lot over the years. You can also check out Toronto’s talented food writer Ivy Knight on her blog Swallow, definitely check out her interview with Anthony Bourdain. She wrote about the locations he visited while shooing an episode of the Layover in Toronto and asked some good questions. Finally we also recommend following Alan Bedenko on twitter, who visits Toronto on the regular and posts some great food pictures.

We understand that this weekend is the last two days of Local Restaurant Week and we of course want people to continue to explore all the restaurants Buffalo has to offer, but the next time you have a free day or two, take the short 90 minute drive to Toronto and explore their great food scene.

So..where should you eat this weekend? Toronto

Notable Restaurants

Banhi Mi sandwiches aren’t as rare in Toronto as they are in Buffalo; walk through Chinatown and you’ll find several shops selling them for less then $3. But Banh Mi Boys offer some gourmet level Banh Mi sandwiches (pictured top), along with Taiwanese bao sandwiches and even tacos. Their prices are low and almost all of their food easy to take on the go, so grab one while your doing some shopping/walking around Queen St.

  • Pizzeria Libretto – BE Post/Website

When Alan Bedenko speaks highly of pizzerias, especially Neapolitan style pizzerias, we listen. This fantastic pizzeria actually has two locations in Toronto but we’ve only visited Pizzeria Libretto’s Ossington location. The restaurant gets very busy and the line for a table will sometimes actually lead out the door, so expect waits during peak hours. It’s worth it though; their authentic VPN pizza is some of the best we’ve ever had and their charcuterie platter (below) shouldn’t be over looked.

The St. Lawrence Market is pretty amazing, just take a look at some pictures of the market on the website and you’ll understand why. The Peameal sandwich at Carousel Bakery has been recommended by many respected foodies. Just make sure you visit early, the market isn’t open late and is closed on Sundays.

Just a couple months ago, David Chang expanded his Momofuku empire to Toronto in the Shangri-La hotel. There are four distinct restaurants inside the hotel; Noodle Bar which is a reincarnation of his East Village shop, Nikai is a fancy lounge with snacks, Daisho an 80 seat dining room with entrees that are meant to be shared (but also very pricey) and Shoto which is a smaller 22 seat restaurant that focuses on tasting menus. The last two restaurants accept reservations while Noodle Bar is available for walk ins. We will hopefully be trying Noodle Bar this weekend, keep an eye out for a post to follow.

When you leave Toronto, we highly recommend a stop at the Cheese Boutique. It’s a giant store devoted to delicious imported cheese, meats (above) and other artisanal products. Depending on the day, they will also offer some free snacks like tea, pastas and cheese samples. You can walk into their cheese cave and see wheels being aged for restaurants all over Toronto. If you love food this will be your playground.

  • The Kensington MarketWebsite

Before the weather gets too cold, you should definitely take a stroll in the Kensington Market and stop into a couple restaurants on the strip. On our trips we’ve had some really good authentic Mexican food, pie at Wanda’s Pie In The Sky and a great grilled cheese at Grilled Cheese. You’ll find some grocery stores, clothing shops and even a couple bars in the area. Picture a bigger and hip-er Elmwood with more international food options.

6 thoughts on “Where to Eat This Weekend: Toronto

  1. You guys are too kind.

    I’m going to add a couple of recommendations/suggestions.

    1. The Libretto on Danforth is open for lunch on Sundays, and takes reservations online. Libretto on Ossington does not.

    2. Rakia Bar is a new Serbian/Yugoslavian place in Leslieville (Queen E) that has great rakija and some Balkan specialties. Right upstairs from it is Queen Margherita Pizza, which is also great and also VPN. (If you were to park in the Green P lot behind Libretto on Danforth and exit onto Carlaw, you can take that street all the way down to Queen E, make a left to go East and end up quite close to Rakia Bar).

    3. A really fun thing to do is to visit the Pacific Mall & surrounding area, way up in Markham (corner of Steeles & Kennedy). It’s like a mini-Hong Kong in a sprawling complex of small shops with unique items – everything from herbs to DVDs to kitchen supplies to clothes to mobile phones and gaming accessories. Up on the top floor, however, is a Beard Papa where you can get fantastic cream puffs, and a food court featuring loads of great Asian specialties. There’s one guy who makes quite a racket as he’s stretching out hand-made noodles for a variety of dishes. It’s well worth the trip for a crazy afternoon.

    4. Crepes a Go Go is fun & authentic. There’s one up in Yorkville, not far from the epic Cookbook Store.

    5. At the corner of Church & Carlton is the Maple Leaf Gardens – former home of the eponymous hockey team. The building has since been adapted for re-use for college lecture halls and – more importantly – quite possibly the coolest grocery store you’ve ever seen. The Loblaw’s in this building is massive, and some of it is quite pedestrian. But there’s also gelato, a coffee bar, a patisserie with gorgeous cakes, macarons, cupcakes, and other goodies. The prepared foods section is massive and gorgeous, and Ace Bread has a wide variety of its own products on display. Check it out – 90 minutes of parking is free with validation underneath with $20 purchase.

    6. Speaking of gelato, try Dolce Gelato at 697 College in Little Italy, or at 414 Danforth. Also, Il Gelatiere Artgianale at 647 Mt Pleasant Ave., which is a nice area to explore on foot.

  2. elizabeth

    If you want to try good Italian go to Seven Numbers recommended by a local. All specials/menu items on a chalkboard and cozy and cute. The Queen Mother Cafe is a coffee place that serves Thai food. Interesting combination but great food. Not really a chain person but GOGO Spring Rolls are all over the city and have the largest Asian menu I’ve seen. Many different Asian cusines offered and food is delicious and reasonably priced. Daybreak Cafe for breakfast and fresh squeezed orange juice. The portions are huge and everything tastes so fresh. Also Tortilla Flats for Mexican and many specialty cocktails that you can order by the pitcher. As you can see I go to Toronto all the time and these are just ones we frequent often.

  3. elizabeth

    we also like to drink at the fox and the fiddle which has numerous beers on tap and other imports and the famous horseshoe tavern that many artists in Toronto got their start at and will still frequent while they are in town.

  4. Marc

    I went to Momofuku Noodle last week, it wasn’t great. My expectation were a lot higher. The cram you into small tables, no room for your jackets. Food is good not great. The Momofuku ramen was solid but the pork belly was underwhelming. Chang let me down a tad

  5. The name of the website is actually Swallow. Thanks for the mention though!

    • Don Burtless

      fixed! sorry about that

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