As one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet, Toronto manages to evade categorization. While other cosmopolitan cities like Paris or Tokyo have iconic, immediately identifiable cuisines and food scenes, Canada’s largest city manages to remain a moving target. Some would say its strong suit is the diversity of cuisines available; others would point out the Canadian influence across all categories, which emphasizes foraged ingredients and provincially sourced meats and produce. The bottom line is, that you’ve got a lot of choices. Whether you’re in for a high-brow dining experience, or just a quick bite at the neighbourhood haunt, you will find that Toronto’s food scene—truly—has something for everyone.
Places where to eat first.
Standouts at Grey Gardens, part wine bar and part restaurant, include a sweet shrimp with compressed watermelon radishes and a dry-aged Peking-style duck breast, which is served on homemade sauerkraut and duck fried rice. Pop in for a glass of rare Sauternes and a snack after work (no reservations required), or come with a friend to linger over dinner in the back dining room (reservations only). The restaurant lives up to its bohemian-luxe address in Kensington Market; it’s just vintage enough without feeling dowdy. More information >>
Chef and co-owner Jason Carter refers to Dandylion’s seasonal cuisine as “simple”—there are few extraneous flavors and ingredients—but his food is far from boring. The monkfish comes blanketed in a generous portion of warm carrot soup; seared scallops complement a bed of shaved fennel and bitter greens. The “Egg, Mushroom, Savoury Granola” is a surprisingly tantalizing concoction of wild rice, foraged mushrooms, kelp powder, and a house blend of seeds. Seafood, such as trout fillets served under velvety beurre blanc with snap peas, shine especially bright here. More information >>
The corner of Queen and Spadina was never the most posh or even interesting address in Toronto, so when chef Patrick Kriss announced he would open a restaurant on the third floor of a historic Victorian building right there, local foodies were skeptical. Once Alo opened in 2015 with high-concept, French-inflected cuisine, it soon topped critics’ choice lists around the world and Kriss’ naysayers became believers. The menu changes with the seasons; you’re as likely to encounter 30-day dry-aged rack of lamb as you are Hokkaido sea urchin with fennel, wasabi, and yuzu. More information >>
Located on the ground floor of the Four Seasons condo building, Buca adequately conveys the glitz of the posh Yorkville neighborhood, with polished concrete walls, a sparkling open kitchen, and an impressive marble bar. And yet the food and wine still manage to take center stage. This is refined Italian at its best, and the use of Canadian ingredients—Fogo Island cod, Gaspé scallops, Acadian sturgeon caviar—makes it one of Toronto’s most unique dining experiences. More information >>
You wouldn’t expect to find a French-Cantonese restaurant on College Street in Little Italy, but that’s part of DaiLo’s fun. The menu features crowdpleasers like truffled pumpkin dumplings and jellyfish slaw, but the real treats here include the whole fried trout, a dramatic and flavorful dish that’s served pre-chopped with several dipping sauces, the braised lamb neck with banana blossom salad, and the General Tso sweetbreads. A $65 chef’s choice menu, which consists of six or seven dishes, showcases the menu’s full range. More information >>