Shannon Wolf | August 27, 2016 11:00 PM ET
A Torontonian’s Top Cuisine Picks
PHOTO: From dessert to cocktails, healthy and comfort foods – you will never run out of somewhere new to eat or drink. (All photos by Shannon Wolf)
Toronto may be known as “the six” thanks to Drake and is the brunt of jokes over our dearly departed crack-Ford and our CN Tower but what’s more important is our obsession with food (and for good reason).
Considered the most multicultural city in the world, of course our food reflects that designation. There are over 8,000 restaurants here, but being a Torontonian means you know the best of the best is far beyond the chain restaurants.
You want to know where locals eat? Below is a breakdown of the best.
The Wren (11 a.m.-3 p.m./brunch Saturday and Sunday)
1382 Danforth Ave.
Hands down my number one favorite local spot to have a proper Canadian Brunch. It may be on the East Side of the city but you can’t beat the quality Eggs Benny or Caesar.
• Eggs Benedict: Poached eggs and hollandaise sauce over a warm tea biscuit with home fries and salad. Served with brisket and pork belly or roasted pepper and tomato ragout.
• Wren Caesar: Smoky citrus-infused vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire and house-made habanero hot sauce.
Auntie and Uncles (9 a.m.-3 p.m.)
74 Lippincott St.
Open since ’98, and you won’t find better homemade pancakes. It’s a proper ma ‘n pop shop bringing you back to the kitschy basics of good food and decor that won't break the bank.
• Banana Oatmeal Pancakes: Fluffy banana chunked, oatmeal pancakes full of love and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Served with caramelized pears and maple syrup.
35 Tank House Lane
Take it from a person who is in love with France and French cuisine, you will feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. The ambiance and artistically presented delicious food make it well worth every cent and a must for any Parisian enthusiast.
• Lobster Poutine: Cheese curd, shishito peppers, lobster sauce.
• Ginger-Chili Fried Frog's Legs: pickled celery, ginger-chili sauce.
• Spicy Salmon Tartar: Avocado, Dijon mustard, burnt chili salsa.
• Provencal Seafood Stew: Prawns, clams, mussels, tomato.
El Catrin Destileria
55 Mill St.
A Hipster haven with dishes demonstrating that they sure know how to pack a punch of flavor in every meal and drink they put out.
• Mezcal Chipotle BBQ Taco: spicy pork belly slow cooked, glazed with mezcal chipotle BBQ sauce, pickled slaw, choice of flour tortilla or lettuce wrap.
• Ceviche Clasico: Daily fish marinated in lime juice, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, chile serrano.
• “Tradicional” Margarita: Milagro blanco, triple sec, agave nectar, citrus.
READ MORE: How Bunz is Transforming Toronto
The Antler Kitchen and Bar
1454 Dundas St. West
• Kraken’s Storm: Ginger-infused Kraken rum, grapefruit and lemon juice, ginger chipotle syrup, ginger ale.
• Smoke barrel: Laphroaig single malt scotch, bitters, maple syrup, smoked glass
• Game Burger: Wild boar, bison, deer, hot mustard, garlic aioli, house smoked cheddar.
Smoke Bourbon Bar-B-Q House
291 Harbord St.
A lot of food for a good price! “The ribs are rubbed with cayenne, paprika, garlic, onion and molasses black pepper before going into the smoker for five hours,” according to the eatery. Enough said.
• St. Louis Styled Ribs: Smoky, rich and succulent with just a bit of chew. Half-rack or full.
The Thompson Diner
550 Wellington St. West
Open 24 hours, a quality diner with the best mac and cheese in town.
• Double Mac and Cheese: Thompson signature dish with asiago and mozzarella cheese, cured pancetta crisp and truffle oil.
• Salted Carmel Chocolate Brownie: Salted caramel, chocolate brownie, chocolate ganache, whipped cream and cookie crumbs.
1132 Dundas St. West
Famous for being showcased in “Cocktail,” “Hairspray” and “Boon Dock Saints,” this retro diner is always open and known for its cheap alcohol, malt milkshakes, deep fried goodies and proper diner bites for all hours of the day.
• Classic Poutine: Fresh-cut fries, cheese curds with beef or mushroom gravy.
• Deep Fried Pickles with Chive Sour Cream.
• Fair Shakes: a proper malt chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or mint chocolate chip ice cream shake.
• Deep Fried Mars Bar.
• Double Shot Caesars.
135 Tecumseth St., Unit 2
Hands down one of my favorite raw vegan spots in all of Toronto. It’s pricey but worth it. The avocado and cashew cheese sandwich is an explosion of flavors and not at all what you’d expect.
1199 Dundas St. West
Lesser known, Veghead is a vegan dream of deliciousness. Skip the well-known spots and head here for a mighty large salad you probably can’t finish, the Muay Thai Salad. The dish is a melange of organic spinach, daikon, radish, plus other organic ingredients on a bed of glass noodles in sesame peanut sauce.
109 McCaul St., Unit 32 (hidden in a food court)
Not only is the food here visually striking, but it’s plentiful, delicious, gluten free with vegetarian and vegan options. The owner calls you “doll,” “honey” and other cute names and you feel like each bite was made with love. Be sure to try Eggs Florentine or the stacked waffles!
PHOTO: Cluny Bistro is like being transported back to a stunning Parisian cafe.
Hidden Gems of Cheap Eats
Big Sushi on Bloor
388 Bloor St. West
Between the maki rolls, bento boxes, appetizers, soups and salads, you may just burst out laughing at how incredibly low the prices are for quality sushi.
431 College St.
This is where all the broke students and tourists go for cheap beer and greasy, filling Mexican food we all know and love. Everyone comes here for two specific items (and one challenge):
• Kings Crown: Crisp corn tortilla chips covered with salsa roja, piled high with frijoles, ground beef, tomatoes, onions, mixed peppers, jalapenos, melted cheese, topped with guacamole and sour cream.
• Burrito Grande: In a huge flour tortilla stuffed with frijoles covered with salsa mole and melted cheese, filled with your choice of beef, chicken, pulled pork, fish or vegetables served with ensalada and Mexican rice.
• The Destroyer: Dreamed up by the imaginative minds of Toronto’s favorite hardcore punk band Cancer Bats, much like the album it is named after, The Destroyer is not for the faint of heart. French fries, melted cheese, gravy, ground beef, tomatoes, onions, peppers, jalapenos, topped with guacamole and sour cream (veggie & vegan versions also available). Take The Destroyer challenge.
Sweet Tooth Treasures
1050 Queen St. West
Ice cream and cakesters so delicious, it might bring a tear to your eye. You need to try the Salted Caramel, Cookie Dough Brownie Cakester and any regular or vegan ice creams such as S’mores ice cream, Ontario cherry chocolate pie ice cream and many others!
93A Ossington Ave.
Unforgettable ice cream flavors like burnt toffee, London fog and cinnamon toast in your choice of puff pastry, unique cookie sandwich or the big bang cone.
OMG Baked Goodness Ltd.
1561 Dundas St. West
A sugar rush to crush any of your sweet, savory, vegan and gluten free desires such as the famous Pumpkin Guinness, Blueberry Buttermilk and the ever-so-popular Vegan chocolate cupcakes, Maple Syrup Butter Tarts and Gluten-Free Chocolate Espresso Torte.
More by Shannon Wolf
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