Finding a place to eat in Toronto is a fish-in-a-barrel exercise. There are eateries literally everywhere. Making a decision on where to eat in Toronto is another matter, so here’s our quick list of venues you shouldn’t miss.
Modern, multicultural and down to earth, Toronto’s food scene is in the enviable position of not taking itself too seriously. Its patrons – local and visitor alike – are allowed to expect playful, creative menus and delicious dishes that take influence from many cuisines from around the world.
And thanks to its incredible diversity, Toronto offers one of the widest ranges of food options we’ve ever seen.
The surprising sight of a Thai-Hungarian fusion restaurant on Queen Street West illustrates our point perfectly.
It also highlights Toronto’s sense of humour, which you can also spot from the names of some of the places in town: The Jerk Spot jerk chicken restaurant, The Dirty Bird chicken and waffles, The Burger’s Priest, Fat Bastard Burrito Co…
The Torontans (?) have a lot of fun with it all.
Being spoilt for choice is never something you can truly complain about but trying to decide from the onslaught of eating options in Toronto is frustrating.
Locals are aware of this and are therefore always keen to give their best tips. Here are our top 5 places to dine, which have mostly come from recommendations from Toronts. Torontinos. Torontonians… let’s go with that last one.
Where to eat in Toronto, Canada
If you’re looking for the main wealth of food and entertainment options in Toronto, your best bet is to make your way to Queen Street West. That’s where the majority of eateries, bars etc have lined themselves up.
However, not all the best ones are on this street.
1. Atmospheric with great cocktails
1154 Queen St W
We found this place almost by accident. After a full day of exploring Toronto – mostly on foot – we spotted this cool corner bar just before we ordered an Uber home.
An old-style bar and speakeasy lighting welcomed us in and even more welcoming staff showed us to a (rare) spare table at the back near the kitchen.
Our bearded waiter took us through the menu and my rubber arm twisted right round when he mentioned the cocktail special of the evening was an old fashioned.
Burgers here are the order of the day (I’m talking in my all-time top 10), though everything we watched come out of the tiny kitchen looked amazing. Servings here are generous, so either arrive hungry or early with time to sit.
2. Café style
1150 Queen Street West
A popular spot with locals at all times of day, the Drake Hotel’s café lounge is open from 7am-11pm, and the window seats at the front of the venue are prime for people-watching.
It’s a bright airy space where people like to come and work, have meetings or just relax for a chat. We were very impressed with this spot and I’m sure it’s a lot of fun in the evenings too.
Food wise, the contemporary menus at The Drake are great illustrations of what a modern city Toronto is. Delicious morsels from healthy chia bowls and green juice to the impressive Drake Burger and hearty wild boar rigatoni.
3. Canadorama sports bar
99 Blue Jays Way, Entertainment District
Canada loves its ice hockey. I think that’s an easy statement to make. And Wayne Gretzky – an NHL hockey great – is revered like a god. It stands to reason that Toronto, which is where Gretzky started his professional career, is home to his eponymous sports bar and restaurant.
Perhaps not the most subtle of sights to visit in Toronto, if you’re looking for something truly Canadian, come here, grab a beer, order some poutine and watch one of the many many TVs showing ice hockey and various other sports around the place.
We liked the Gretzky memorabilia throughout the venue and the feeling that for some, this would be hallowed ground. In fact while we were there, we spotted a patron with a Gretzky ice hockey shirt on having lunch.
Gretzky’s is also right across the road from a Wahlburgers restaurant – owned by the Wahlburg family – if you want to continue your celebrity tour.
4. Platter central with craft beers
1087 Queen Street West
With an amazing craft beer list to drink from, very cool lighting and a raucous, fun atmosphere, Otto’s is already a foodie highlight for Toronto. Add to that a German-esque menu that has some excellent shareplate options and you’ve got a night out to remember.
Our friend L took us out here, but it wasn’t just the food and beer that she wanted us to experience.
The bathrooms at Otto’s Bierhalle have a little secret: each one has a big red button on the wall. Press it and turn your everyday nose-powdering experience into a full discotek moment!
5. Brewery style pub
21 Tank House Lane, Historic Distillery District
Earthy, friendly and all about the beer, Mill Street Brewery’s brew pub, which still makes beer on the premises, has some excellent beers to match the hearty pub style food that’ll keep you seated and sated all day long.
In fact the menu has a great range of fare from giant pretzels to Thai curries. And with daily specials that are worth looking out for you’ll need at least one beer to drink while you read!
Mill Street Brewery is in the Historic Distillery District, a beautiful broad old-brick laneway that used to be home to the city’s distilleries. There is in fact a distillery here again, which you can visit.
Spirit of York Distillery, which only opened its doors in 2017, makes all its spirits with 100% rye, which is a real rarity. Grab a flight of 3 spirits to try at the bar and see if you prefer their gin, whiskey, vodka (which is actually excellent) or aquavit.
93A Ossington Avenue, Trinity-Bellwoods
Tucked away round the back of Queen Street West in Trinity-Bellwoods, this ice cream parlour is an absolute must even if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.
The ordering process is a little bewildering – for instance if you order an ice cream sandwich with cookies, you can only have 1 flavour… this only makes sense once you get your ice cream, because the cookies are so thick you could only ever cope with 1 scoop of ice cream.
There are a range of different ways to have your ice cream and each of them is awesome. Christina had hers in a Big Bang Cone, which is a weird bubble waffle shaped into a cone then filled with her choice of ice creams.
The range of flavours is extraordinary too, with clandestine names like ‘London Fog’ and ‘Totaro’ on offer or more prescriptive flavours like Bellwoods stout beer and brown bread, and avocado… be prepared to ask for help ordering at least once!
Our advice is check their opening times (either 1pm or 3pm depending on the day) and get there just as they open. You’ll be facing the back of a queue otherwise. Our other – more important – piece of advice is GO HERE. It’s the kind of ice cream experience you’ll always remember.
We’ve also got a quick rundown of other things we got up to in Toronto. You can read about that here.
Do you have a favourite place to eat in Toronto? Where do you go for your bacon in Hogtown? Tell us in the comments!