I often get asked about restaurants, cafes and things to do in Toronto. I can only respond with enthusiasm–I love this city!
While my views are purely subjective, I like to think they’re great and represent some of the diversity this city has to offer. For every amazing place, you will find 5 good places and some not so good one. I am constantly updating my list as I discover new places in and around Toronto.
This page is a compilation of my staples: those places I frequent or have frequented in the past. Places that I think about, even when I’m not there.
I’ve broken them down into major categories to help with your planning. Please leave me any comments for other recommendations.
Only got a little bit of time but a big appetite? Food tours are perfect.
Your morning (drip) coffee
I love a good Americano as much as the next girl, but when you want a no fuss, damn good cup of coffee to jolt your morning, these are my favourite drips in the city (I’ve tried a lot).
Capital Espresso | 1349 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1M1 : My neighbourhood, my heart. The coffee is REALLY good.
Drake Hotel Cafe | 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3 : Also a very cup of coffee if you find yourself just east of Dufferin.
Allen’s Pub | 143 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1N2
The burger isn’t bad at this Toronto institution, but the real reason we love it is for it’s epic backyard patio in the summertime.
Bakeries & sweets
Sweet Olenka’s | 1050 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M6K 1H7 : The salted caramel ice cream cookie sandwich is a total hit. Also enjoy some of the most unique ice cream flavour combinations you will ever find.
Lunch in the financial district
I’ll be the first to admit it–the best (and perhaps the only good) thing about working in the financial district is going out for lunch.
iQ food company | 2 locations : The lines can be insane, but they are worth it. Seasonal menu, fresh ingredients, reasonably priced. A step above the food court but located in a food court, although a second location has now opened up.
FreshWest Grill | 4 locations + 2 more on the way : Fresh ingredient burritos. Fast service. My favourite is to get an “inside out burrito” — that is a burrito without the wrap because the burritos themselves are too large to eat without wearing them.
Soup Nutsy | 3 locations : The Lobster Bisque is my favourite. It’s not an everyday soup, so check to see when it’s on offer. Usually one of the locations will have it everyday.
Longo’s at Maple Leaf Square : If you go here when you don’t know what you want, you will torture yourself trying to decide. From sushi to pizza to salad bar to sandwiches, this place has it all cooking right before your eyes.
Szechuan Szechuan Express | many PATH locations : Not a healthy choice but a tasty one. Szechuan Szechuan has a sit down restaurant in First Canadian Places (which I’ve never tried) but I have frequented Szechuan Szechuan Express, which is the quick order, food court version of Szechuan Szechuan.
Greasy breakfast joints
New York Cafe | 757 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 2P6 : A Greek take on the American diner, portions are generous and prices are cheap. If you’re looking for a big breakfast, come early on weekends before the hipsters wake up and the line-ups start. Before 9AM you’ll have your choice of table, even on the weekend.
Food festivals / annual events
Burger Week: My personal favourite. Hard to believe that I am a vegetarian most of the time….
Winterlicious and Summerlicious : prix faire menus at the city’s best restaurants, made affordable for the general populace to enjoy. Make reservations, tables regularly sell out at the most in demand locations. Also much like the Chef’s special, quality tends to degrade with demand, so adjust expectations accordingly.
Taste of the Danforth : My old neighbourhood. Waking up to garlic at 4AM still does not put me in a bad mood. Toronto’s Greektown has a lot more to offer than Greek fare these days. The event is touted as Canada’s largest street festival, attracting over 1.5 million visitors annually (I put some doubt into this figure, however, given the annual popularity of PRIDE). It is probably definitely the largest street FOOD festival, however….
Evergreen Brick Works | : Free shuttle from Broadview station. Saturday mornings. A great complex and vibrant atmosphere.