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Eat & Drink

The 10 biggest tourist trap restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / July 31, 2013

Tourist Traps TorontoTourist trap restaurants in Toronto are, for Torontonians and visitors alike, generally like hell on earth. Unless you have one of those cheesy yet masochistic senses of humour, and/or really enjoy mediocre food and overpriced booze or whatever. Long and short of it is that the fourth largest city in North America attracts its fair share of tourism, and in these ten places, you will find people who fall for the worst gaffes or just go to places they saw an ad for in the inflight magazine on the way in.

Here, 10 places you probably avoid if you live in Toronto.


The 10 most famous restaurants in Toronto
The 10 most famous bars in Toronto

CN Tower 360
Looking at Toronto without the CN Tower in the picture is a pretty strange experience. The food is a tad overpriced for what it is, but it's nowhere near as bad as you might expect. Meals are basic, with your classic meat or fish and rice or potatoes options, but everything is dressed up enough to make it count. Generally, you have to pay to take in the views from the tower, but with the purchase of a main, it's complimentary. Some people come here because they think it's romantic: don't fall for that. Ain't no romance in waiting an hour for an elevator ride that will make your ears pop and then hollering at one another while the children of tourists crawl on your feet 351 metres in the air. Though the food isn't awful, this is one to avoid. Dill that salmon at home, y'all.

Old Spaghetti Factory
The Old Spaghetti Factory is actually an Old Blacksmith Shop. Despite being filled with tourists and thus, yangy children, there is some undeniable historical value that comes along with paying a visit. The warehouse was built in 1898, and converted into a restaurant in the '70s. On the menu, you'll find quintessential, vanilla, touristy foods like a handful of different spaghetti dishes (forgive the obvious, but really), seafood linguine and penne with chicken.

Tappo is an Italian and Mediterranean-themed restaurant in the Distillery District. There's a strong wine focus (PDF) here, and in fact, the restaurant's name means corked in Italian. (This will have bad connotations if you're an actual wine connoisseur. Go with your gut, I say). The Distillery is one of the city's most touristy areas, so places like Tappo are usually cram-jammed, and can get away with charging prices that rival what you'd pay for fine dining, but for less remarkable food.

Big Daddy's
Big Daddy's Bourbon Street Bistro & Oyster Bar, in case you're unfamiliar with the joint, is exactly what it sounds like, only a little less awesome. It's perched on the corner of King and University, perfect receiving position for unsuspecting, fannypack-clad folks roaming around the downtown core. Seafood, clearly, is the specialty here, with the seafood fondue earning rave reviews. Oysters are a major draw as well, and tourists get their fill with the prix fixe menus, which can be had for either $26 or $31. Big Daddy's does its best to take on that Louisiana feel with the decor, too, which harkens back (sort of) to an old school jazz bar vibe.

Sultan's Tent
If you've never had the...experience of visiting the Sultan's Tent, you may have at least noticed the ads around town for this tourist trap at Front and Church. You will, as the ads promise, be able to catch live belly dancing performances here every night, accompanied by four-course dinners, Moroccan style. Check out their menu here and you'll get an idea of the cheese factor in this place. While the whole idea is just dripping with fromage, there are somewhat authentic options available, like fekkous and, of course, hummus and olives.

Le Papillon on Front
Le Papillon at Front and Church serves up French and Quebecois fare, and they aim to offer a relaxed approach to fine dining. They opened the city's first creperie in 1974, and you'll also find escargots, French onion soup and a selection of steaks and duck. The class factor is amplified by $5.50 pint specials. The decor is pretty lovely, though and the menu, though slightly overpriced, is decent. Le Papillon is not the most villainous culprit on this list but if you must eat at a Toronto restaurant with this name you'd be better off heading to the other one on Eastern Avenue.

Fred's Not Here
Fred's Not Here has been serving up steaks and seafood to ravenous tourists for a quarter of a century. Located right in the midst of Restaurant Row, Fred's Not Here is ideally situated to soak up the masses that spill from the Lightbox, Rogers Centre and Royal Alexandra. Their lobster and crab soup is a standout dish, as are their jumbo shrimps, which are roughly the size of a small kitten. They're also known for speedy service, even when it comes to groups, in case you need to make it to a show in time.

Wayne Gretzky's
Wayne Gretzky's is a giant web of a sports bar, perfectly positioned on Blue Jays Way so as to swallow up the hoards of jersey-clad folk streaming out of the Rogers Centre. Though this is one of the more obvious tourist traps on the list, diehard hockey fans who live in the city have been known to check it out because it's home to Gretzky's own collection of memorabilia. There's a rooftop patio, too, so that doesn't hurt. The dinner menu includes just about everything a sports fan could want, from pub food to steaks. That said, beware the cocktail list, which includes gems such as the Gretzky on Ice, made of Polar Ice and Gretzky ice wine. (Also beware patrons whose teams lost the game).

Panorama Lounge
I'd question whether people of any other city love their own skyline quite as much and in as masturbatory a fashion as Toronto. It's no surprise, then, that tourists love it, too, and they come to Panorama, on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre at Yonge and Bloor, to take it all in. Views are served with tapas-style apps and cocktails, and during the warmer months, people flock to the patios, which the restaurant says are the highest in Canada.

Did we miss an especially touristy outlet? What would you add or remove from this list? Add your 2 cents to the comment thread below.

Photo by Fion N in the blogTO Flickr pool



DR / July 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm
Mr. greenjeans is a legendary joint! if it wasn't for him we'd be stuck in blues
billy sake / July 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm
rainforest cafe at yorkdale!
nananan / July 31, 2013 at 12:42 pm
Anything along King St brings in the rubes.
Pacific Rim / July 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm
All these silly izakaya and raman places.

Clearly catering to the oriental tourists that engulf the city.
Bob replying to a comment from Pacific Rim / July 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm
Uhhh... or just catering to the citizens of Toronto?
Mappy replying to a comment from Bob / July 31, 2013 at 12:51 pm
And its many visitors from Asia.
bfm / July 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm
How is Pickle Barrel not on here?
Stephane / July 31, 2013 at 01:06 pm
Honourable mention to Captain John's for it's years of tourist vacuuming.
Charles Nathan Tower / July 31, 2013 at 01:10 pm
When you eat at the CN Tower you get an express elevator right up to the restaurant, there is no hour long wait... if you are going to write a piece about a restaurant, maybe you should go there first? even if it isn't that great. do your research Sarah Ratchford!!!
W. K. Lis / July 31, 2013 at 01:11 pm
Could the Food Building during the C.N.E. be considered a "restaurant" and be included?
capn / July 31, 2013 at 01:13 pm
RIP Captain John's!
Gord / July 31, 2013 at 01:36 pm
We're actually the third largest city in North America. Kicked Chicago in the seeds a while back.
matts replying to a comment from Charles Nathan Tower / July 31, 2013 at 01:36 pm
What he said: having dinner at CN Tower is actually a good experience for tourist mainly because they can get up there without wait and you get a dinner and a view instead of paying for tix.
Sean / July 31, 2013 at 01:42 pm
what? / July 31, 2013 at 01:44 pm
"yangy children"?
Marilyn / July 31, 2013 at 01:53 pm
Sloppy writing ... "Greenjeans" in the heading but "Green Jeans" in the paragraph. Who says "y'all" in Toronto!?
Shame replying to a comment from Pacific Rim / July 31, 2013 at 01:57 pm
Bollocks to the ramen places indeed. I will forever equate them to faddish tastes and empty promises.
w-hat replying to a comment from Gord / July 31, 2013 at 01:58 pm
We overtook Chicago as fourth. NY, LA and Mexico City are all larger.
Sarah / July 31, 2013 at 02:01 pm
Hard Rock Cafe. I know it's a chain, but anyone who has never been to one in the US, will flock to the one in Toronto.
Holden replying to a comment from Gord / July 31, 2013 at 02:02 pm
Actually we're the fourth largest. Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto
Skye / July 31, 2013 at 02:02 pm
I was actually pleasantly surprised by Wayne Gretzky's. The food is quite good, in an upmarket-sports-bar way, and the rooftop patio is a hidden gem. I'd definitely go again...though maybe after high tourist season is over.
EC / July 31, 2013 at 02:06 pm
RIP Planet Hollywood!!!!!!!!!!!
Dixieland / July 31, 2013 at 02:07 pm

Once a visting Yank gets wind there is a Hooters nearby, they flock to it for Bud Lights and gourmet wings.

Its like a god damn family restaurants for those hicks.
Duh replying to a comment from Marilyn / July 31, 2013 at 02:10 pm
I say y'all.
Jorgen / July 31, 2013 at 02:10 pm
Well don't I feel stupid for taking my ex to the CN tower. Maybe that was her breaking point. We loved the food though and the express elevator made it a hassle free visit.
Neilio / July 31, 2013 at 02:12 pm
what about 'real sports'
Hollie / July 31, 2013 at 02:14 pm
Having eaten in most of these at one time or another, First Sultan is OVERPRICED for the quality of food, and it is not real Moroccan more a fusion. For real Moroccan hit Walima or the new Marakesh on the Danforth.

Greenjeans is a main stay of Eaton Center and I have had several enjoyable experiences there at a reasonable price point.

Panorama is not known as a place to eat, but as a place to hang and grab a drink with a decent view.

The CN Tower, if you want the view go for the view, and my meal there was actually quite good and reasonable.
Lily / July 31, 2013 at 02:14 pm
Hey Lucy- both on King and on Bloor. Terrible.
Me replying to a comment from Marilyn / July 31, 2013 at 02:14 pm
14 year old Blog "writers" apparently.
Rafa replying to a comment from Neilio / July 31, 2013 at 02:16 pm
What about it? It's a great sports bar. Very reasonable prices given what they could get away with, decent pub fare, and more TVs (including one 3 stories high) than you can shake a stick at.
Me replying to a comment from Marilyn / July 31, 2013 at 02:18 pm
Jesus, even under her new names Robyn's 'writing' is grating. I managed to the C.N. tower "review" but had to stop after that. It's so badly written it hurt my brain.
Neilio replying to a comment from Rafa / July 31, 2013 at 02:22 pm
im not saying its not a great sports bar.
i AM saying it's a HUGE tourist trap.
i thought that was what this thread was about.
Laura / July 31, 2013 at 02:34 pm
I do kind of like Big Daddy's. I've only eaten there once or twice but the jumbalaya was pretty good. Eggspectation near the Eaton Centre is pretty touristy but I am not ashamed to say I have eaten a good handful of hungover breakfasts there. At least it's cheap and greasy and you get a ton of food, which is all I really require in my morning after meals.
Kevin / July 31, 2013 at 02:34 pm
How is Medieval Times not on this list?
Laura / July 31, 2013 at 02:35 pm
I've also never been to The Sultan's Tent's website before and immediately burst out laughing upon hearing that MIDI-Arabian theme.
Easy / July 31, 2013 at 02:37 pm
Jack Astors at Front and University.

It even sucks in the 905ers who don't know a restaurant from their asshole.
Robyn replying to a comment from Me / July 31, 2013 at 02:38 pm
Hey! I'm drinking Pabst at TBW! The sun and peeing in a bush messes up my writing!
west of toronto / July 31, 2013 at 02:38 pm
aka "The top 10 least hipster restaurants in Toronto"
Liz / July 31, 2013 at 02:39 pm
The thing about Green Jeans is that there is such a dismal selection of restaurants in the area that if you're at the Eaton Centre on a Saturday it is definitely not the worst thing you could be eating.
emily / July 31, 2013 at 02:47 pm
Guys, this is not as awful as a typical Ratchford piece. She's improving. We should be supportive. I think she actually wants to be a journalist. Don't worry, Sarah, you don't have to write well to become a journalist... just maybe a good one.
@myblocktyler / July 31, 2013 at 02:49 pm
RIP Planet Hollywood indeed! I'm an old Planeteer from the late 90's, my first real serving job in Toronto. Back in the days of having a smoking section. Everybody WAS kung-fu fighting!
Devon / July 31, 2013 at 02:49 pm
I think I'd add Ruth's Chris Steakhouse... it is sooo overpriced and while it's not a terrible meal, there are lots of better places in the city to get steak and seafood that offer more ambiance, flavour, and flair!
Cyril Sneer / July 31, 2013 at 02:50 pm
It's too bad about the food at Panorama. It's a neat place, but it's too bad you can't enjoy it more due to the overpriced, low-quality menu.
krb / July 31, 2013 at 02:50 pm
nit-picky, but Tappo is just "cork", it's a noun, and not a negative connotation unless you use the conjugated verb form.
George / July 31, 2013 at 02:52 pm
Keg Mansion?
BritAl / July 31, 2013 at 02:57 pm
The CN tower is actually pretty great. You obviously haven't been...

- There is an express elevator and no waiting
- There is no "hollering at one another while the children of tourists crawl on your feet 351 metres in the air" - the restaurant is on the second floor.
- having a main is only like $15 more than the cost of viewing.
- the view from the restaurant is way superior to that from the viewing platform.

All in all pretty good value.
Foodist / July 31, 2013 at 03:00 pm
What, no Medieval Times?

Kind of sad that Toronto has to use a Bourbon St themed restaurant for its stereotypical tourist trap. I guess there wasn't a moose-themed maple-syrup place to put on the list?
Brandon / July 31, 2013 at 03:06 pm
I know this is just BlogTO and not a major national newspaper, but using "y'all", "burgs" and whatever the hell "yangy" is is just poor writing...
Dude11 / July 31, 2013 at 03:12 pm
Gotta throw Baton Rouge, 3 Brasseurs, Hard Rock Cafe, and the Loose Moose on here! I would even add Jack Astor's in to the mix. $10 for a pint of beer? CRAZINESS. Funny, I wouldn't have included Fred's Not Here as I actually really like their food... but can see how people may find it touristy, especially considering the location.
Dude11 replying to a comment from Kevin / July 31, 2013 at 03:16 pm
YES!!! Totally forgot about this one! Probably THE most touristy place in the city!
patty / July 31, 2013 at 03:18 pm
whatever, i eat at the old spaghetti factory all the time.
barfood / July 31, 2013 at 03:21 pm
Sadly I might all Mill Street Brewery Pub minus their beer.
Ronnie / July 31, 2013 at 03:31 pm
I've given in to the tourist traps here and there, even though I've lived in the city my whole life, but let me tell you, 80% of the restaurants listed have the worst service EVER! They probably think they can get away with it because they get so much traffic... but pleasing only the tourists is bad business!
Stu / July 31, 2013 at 03:41 pm
Basically any place near or in tourist spots like ACC, CN Tower/Rogers Centre, etc.
horace / July 31, 2013 at 03:47 pm
The Old Spaghetti Factory reminds me of the long defunct Mother's Pizza chain. Decore-wise, anyway; OSF doesn't do pizza.
Soused / July 31, 2013 at 03:53 pm
Soused / July 31, 2013 at 03:56 pm
I will second Pickle Barrel, Marche and Old Spaghetti Factory. Horrendous. When a tourists bus pulls up at the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch just 200 metres away from the St. Lawrence market I want to commandeer the tour.
Leila / July 31, 2013 at 04:03 pm
So you basically took the comment section of "The 10 most famous restaurants in Toronto" and turned it into a list. Some of these places may be tourist traps but they're the restaurants we're known for.
Yankee replying to a comment from Dixieland / July 31, 2013 at 04:18 pm
As an American now living in Toronto, I'd like to thank you for that stereotype. You sir, sound like a real winner and couldn't be more spot on.

It's true, whenever I visit somewhere the first thing I look for is a Hooters. Let's be honest, if a town doesn't have a Hooters, it sucks. I used to live fairly close to a Hooters back in Virginia, and I went there countless times. I can't wait to eat those tasteless wings and drink some of that cheap beer. I'm sure everyone of my fellow hicks would agree that there is no greater restaurant.

It's widely known fact in America, that if you're not eating at Hooters, the terrorists are winning. I'm just my part to support the troops. In fact, our annual ex pat redneck convention was just held at the Hooters this past 4th. You should join us next year, as we talk about how much we hate Obama, miss Bush and make fun of commie Canada.
Dixieland replying to a comment from Yankee / July 31, 2013 at 04:31 pm
Sorry we couldn't have a Sonic or a Roy Rogers for ya'll.

Me replying to a comment from Yankee / July 31, 2013 at 04:39 pm
But you Yanks ARE the terrorists.
Lindsay replying to a comment from emily / July 31, 2013 at 04:40 pm
Unfortunately, she's still lot a long way to go.
Imola replying to a comment from Gord / July 31, 2013 at 04:41 pm
Gord, let's not get ahead of ourselves. We beat Chicago for the title of fourth largest city, after NYC, LA, and Mexico City.
Me / July 31, 2013 at 04:44 pm
And Robyn/Amy/Sarah/etc, maybe if yuou were to get a job instead of "Blogging" from mommy's basement, you could afford to do some of the things and buy some of the things that those you seem so envious of do and possibly not be as bitter as your "writing" portrays you as it seems the longer you have been doing this the worse you are becoming. Relax a little kiddo, try to accept that some people have more than you do and not hate them so much. maybe leave the basement once in a while and just enjoy life.
sw / July 31, 2013 at 05:05 pm
Benihana / Lone Star / Canyon Creek / Loose Moose / East Side Mario's / Any restaurant along Restaurant Row / Les 3 Brasseurs / Milestones / Jack Astors / Sassafraz / Alice Fazooli's / Houston's / Ki / Medieval Times / Spice Route....
Food / July 31, 2013 at 05:20 pm
Do you like roaches with your spaghetti?
Hahaha replying to a comment from Charles Nathan Tower / July 31, 2013 at 05:23 pm
You actually expect someone who can't even write a blog post without getting in some personal dig or ignorant opinion to do research?

LOL that's a good one.
Tonio / July 31, 2013 at 06:17 pm
Another tourist trap: I would mention the (not so) French restaurant Saint-Tropez on King street.
sean / July 31, 2013 at 06:32 pm
A 'Tourist Trap' is not just somewhere tourists go,but also a place that is poor value. RealSports is actually the only thing MLSE hasn't screwed up.
Sean / July 31, 2013 at 06:57 pm
Big Daddy's is actually Simcoe and King, not University and King. But otherwise, sure.
toronto dude replying to a comment from billy sake / July 31, 2013 at 06:59 pm
i second rainforest cafe. i popped in for a lunch at xmas time while shopping at yorkdale. it looked interesting but then.....the water doesn't just gently flow over the roars and to make it worse they have the digital thunderstorms complete with flashing lights. it makes so much noise you can't even talk and it was so dark in there i was using my cellphone light to read the menus..and of course mediocre overpriced food and lousy service...yikes what a nightmare...i guess i should have known better but i learned quickly from that time
jameson / July 31, 2013 at 06:59 pm
Chain restaurants aren't tourist traps, they're just chain restaurants...

I agree about the Real Sports Bar comment, it's a tourist restaurant, not sure if it's crumby (I would never go to that place).

I would also add Grand Electric. Although, these tourists are simply from outside of Parkdale...
Sean Ward replying to a comment from Neilio / July 31, 2013 at 07:20 pm
RealSports is the bomb. Gotta distinguish between a tourist trap and a destination spot. RealSports is just the mother of all sports bars (in Toronto, anyway). And the food, for what they do, is awesome.
Sandy replying to a comment from billy sake / July 31, 2013 at 09:07 pm
Yup Rain Forest Cafe....very dis-appointing!
john / July 31, 2013 at 09:33 pm
toronto dude replying to a comment from john / July 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm
according to UbD.....yangy = an asian guy that everyone loves and acts like a white guy....what does that mean? who knows.......i'm guessing the use in this article is a missuse or a mistake
toronto dude replying to a comment from john / July 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm
seriously blogTO..we appreciate the irreverence and humour in the tone of your stories but i think most of the readership is over 20 so skip using hip/street/teen lingo as we don't even know what your talking about
Tesh replying to a comment from toronto dude / July 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm
OK in terms you generation might be able to understand - You get the Bozack!
bluecheesethug / July 31, 2013 at 11:28 pm
another vote for 3 brewers
the food there is mad horrible
really disgusting, no care
Steve / July 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm
Sorry but no, you lost me right at the beginning with the CN tower restaurant. Regular admission is $32. Lunch menu is $55. So for $23 dollars more I get no lineup for the elevator, access afterwards to the observation deck, a 3 course meal of pretty good quality, where I get to sit and enjoy the view for a much longer time.

The rip-off is going up there for $30, spending 30 minutes up there just walking around the windows because there's not actually much to do, and then coming back down. Whenever I have friends come into town who want to do the tower, I always tell them to do the restaurant, it's way better value.
notbelvedere / August 1, 2013 at 02:55 am
monumentally shitty writing, sarah. did u pass high school english? i'd expect more from my german smallbrained pointer.
Mike / August 1, 2013 at 07:47 am
Lots of haters in here! Why do I get the feeling that they are all teenage boys with sexual angst? Fellas, is the blog writing REALLY what's making you upset?

Note: I liked it.
Rex / August 1, 2013 at 09:11 am
Wow. If these are the worst offenders, we're a lucky city. Sure, Jack Astor's and the Old Spaghetti Factory overprice mediocre food, but nobody is getting sick or ripped off. To rip off tourists, you have to be able to tell the difference between a tourist and a local. Can't do that here.

Think the Sultan's Tent will rip you off for Moroccan food? Try Morocco! In Marakkech, the 'tourist traps' charge four times what a restaurant catering to locals charges. You also run a higher risk of dirty food and sneaky charges on your bill. Same goes for Mexico, China, Latin America, the Caribbean, Italy ... everyone who has travelled anywhere has tales of being gouged at a restaurant.

What's the biggest risk to a tourist in Toronto, finding out their pint costs $8? Big deal. As a local, BlogTO leaves me at risk of paying $36 for a pitcher on a side street in Parkdale (Electric Mud). None of the restaurants on your list, even with their astronomical rents, would insult their customers that much.
WN / August 1, 2013 at 11:32 am
I would define "tourist trap" as when there's more tourists than locals (because they would know better). The best example (already stated by a couple of people) would be Capt Johns. 99% of locals wouldn't step foot in there, but even after it was shut down, they still had signs and menus on the street level or a while and every time I passed by, I would see tourists being intrigued by it and considering whether to go up the gangplank.

I would also agree with a previous poster that being a chain restaurant doesn't make it a tourist trap. A Jack Astor or East Side Mario downtown might have a lot of tourists, but the exact same restaurants on every major corner in the 905 will be filled with only locals.

Rainforest Cafe in Yorkdale is not so much a tourist trap as a family/kids trap.
MrPotato / August 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Spice Route?
Alex / August 1, 2013 at 03:30 pm
Mr.Greenjeans has good food, and since there isn't much around the Eaton's Centre they're often the best choice in the area. I like the old spaghetti factory too, but I think it's more nostalgia from when I was a kid since the food there isn't that great.
Alexis / August 1, 2013 at 05:01 pm
The Food Building at the CNE. Dirty, out of date building, grimy bathrooms, overpriced cafeteria food. Heck, the CNE itself is the biggest tourist trap! Old run down out of date fair.
stopitman / August 1, 2013 at 05:39 pm
Mr Greenjeans isn't really a tourist trap... there are a lot of tourists, yes, but it has good food for good prices, especially considering it's location.

I don't think of it as a tourist trap because it's not chintzy (although if decor is a sole reason for being on this list, almost anything on Queen or Ossington would be there too), the food is good, and the prices are good.
Chowhoundgta / August 1, 2013 at 08:37 pm
If you are looking for a mixed, fuzzy, or smoothy type drink with liquor in it Panorama has got your number. Same goes for The Hard rock Cafe. Can The Senator be on this list. Even revamped it is soooo not happening food-wise.
becky / August 2, 2013 at 01:29 am
this list is rather mean spirited and pointless. travelers shouldnt be made to feel badly for their blindfolded choices while traveling very briefly in foreign places. where did you eat when you were in Esfahan, or the like? spread the love and hospitality, toronto!
AA / August 2, 2013 at 07:34 am
Amsterdam Brew House is on the fast-track to make this list.
Eric26 / August 2, 2013 at 06:49 pm
Thank you for mentioning Le Papillon. Every single one of their desserts is terrible.
Alex replying to a comment from Alexis / August 3, 2013 at 09:56 am
I would hardly call Swiss Chalet and freshly squeezed lemonade "overpriced cafeteria food". You can score some fair deals there and if you really want to, you can bring your own lunch. Imagine! The CNE food building is actually quite well maintained. When I was there last year, the bathrooms were immaculate; quite impressive. Don't try and paint it all as terrible with your cynical brush.
Lesley / August 3, 2013 at 10:40 am
Hot House Cafe!

Shocked that place is relatively full anytime I walk by. Nice view of the Flatiron, but SO bad.
noscones / August 5, 2013 at 05:25 pm
the loose moose or any other of those joints on front street
Happy Sam replying to a comment from stopitman / August 6, 2013 at 01:08 am
I have to agree with others that Mr. Greenjeans really isn't any kind of tourist trap, in the spirit of that term. It actually serves decent food, and the prices are standard. It's not gimmicky in any way. It's only crime has been standing the test of time. It's not like they have ultra-modern decor, but they don't have 1980s decor either.

It's not like I go to Greenjeans everyday or anything, but it's certainly not on my "avoid" list. I tend to go there when I am at the mall and hungry but am in the mood for something peaceful over the chaos of the Urban Eatery. When I go, I always get the veggie burger with sprouts and sweet potato fries. (It's my second favourite veggie burger in town, after the BBQ burger at Fresh.)
Samantha / September 19, 2013 at 01:03 am
How is Captain Johns not on here?
Check out my blog about Toronto tourism below.
Rs replying to a comment from bfm / December 16, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Pickle barrel is AWFUL.
Diana / July 30, 2014 at 08:40 pm
Really? Old Spaghetti Factory? I think it's cheap! But then I always get the platter with the appetizer, dessert and drink along with the main dish for like under $15...
Sue / July 30, 2014 at 08:46 pm
I don't agree with this list at all. I have dined at most of them and the CN Tower restaurant is lovely. Mr. Greenjeans is a fab lunch option, good, relatively inexpensive food in a bright space. What's with all the hate!?
Jeff Goebel / July 30, 2014 at 08:55 pm
I think only tourists go to Planet Hollywood. Home of the $12 beer and everything overpriced.
COMWAVESUCKS / July 30, 2014 at 09:01 pm
Obviously Sarah has has never had the privilege of being invited for a meal at 360 Restaurant @CN Tower. Like the others have stated, there are no screaming children or hour long elevator waits (those are for the Tourists spending top$ to visit the observation deck). The food is not gourmet but has not descended to the 'rice as a side' option, as erroneously stated by Sarah. After your meal you descend the stairs and pass through the 'locks behind you' doors to be a free admission tourist joining the rest of the top$, kid screamng peeps.
Alison / July 30, 2014 at 09:02 pm
Le Papillion is not a tourist trap. It's a Toronto Classic. And the Front st location is the best of the 2
le / July 30, 2014 at 09:10 pm
Ate at the 360 last year and it was actually quite lovely. The view was a nice bonus.
Jim / July 30, 2014 at 09:13 pm
Joe Badali's. I think every bus tour company parks outside.
Jane / July 30, 2014 at 09:24 pm
How could you forget the Grandaddy of them all? Fisherman's Wharf. Uggh.
CN Tower may be a restaurant in a tourist attraction, but the food is a lot better than people expect, so I wouldn't call it a "trap". It at least puts out with some effort. Why would anyone wait for hours to catch the special elevator for the restaurant. Like another reader has pointed out, clearly she has never dined at 360 and is just guessing.
I had the worst "lasagne" of my life at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Montreal. Revolting. I'd throw in The Real Sports Bar.
Terry / July 30, 2014 at 09:42 pm
Would the Hard Rock Café qualify as another one? Tourists seem to like it, even if it is independent....
Craig / July 30, 2014 at 10:41 pm
I would add Terroni's to the list
Jennie / July 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm
There's NOTHING authentic about the Sultan's tent. Hummus is not a Moroccan dish and the tagine's they make are cooked in pots and placed in tagines to make it 'look' authentic. Terrible representation of Moroccan food. Calling this Moroccan is like calling Taco Bell authentic Mexican food. PASS!!!
Todd replying to a comment from Jennie / July 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm
Chill the F out babe! This list is for tourist traps. Tourists love this kinda thing whether 100% authentic or not, this brings in some serious cash....
Dallas / July 31, 2014 at 12:06 am
I'd love to see a follow up with the 10 must-do alternatives--similar style and price--to these 10 traps. Even at the end of each entry in this article: "try (x) instead!"
Yvonne / July 31, 2014 at 12:24 am
What's the shit of "Fresh"???? crapping so called vegetarian hipster chain. That place makes me vomit.
Ian / July 31, 2014 at 12:46 am
Terrible article. CN tower as others have pointed out is not a trap - it's excellent value as noted by others. The shitty little two-table patios that blog TO wet themselves over are the traps. $8 for a cheap beer in a can, just be in a 'cool' hipster bar? Yawn.
torontourists / July 31, 2014 at 01:08 am
THE GRENADIER CAFE IN High Park. Avoid, especially during Cherry Blossom season
MasterClass / July 31, 2014 at 02:26 am
Why do you people keep reading this blog if the writing is so bad?
Spike replying to a comment from TVontheRadio / July 31, 2014 at 06:37 am
We can't have The Grid back because it died and couldn't find a way to be online. And as somebody else said, why are you even reading Blog TO to begin with if you hate the writing?
Figaro / July 31, 2014 at 07:23 am
Turn them all into condos!
asas replying to a comment from billy sake / July 31, 2014 at 08:16 am
that place doesn't exist anymore
Rob replying to a comment from Gord / July 31, 2014 at 09:22 am
4th actually, behind Mexico City, NYC and LA
R / July 31, 2014 at 09:27 am
3 Brewers
Nash / July 31, 2014 at 09:58 am
And all the other chain restaurants in the city!
Christian / July 31, 2014 at 10:27 am
The food at the Sultan's tent is just horrible, and the whole thing is overpriced. Too bad because the overall atmosphere, while very campy, was actually kind of fun.

And definitely Benihana should be on this list. The meals are actually food-court quality, and you're paying a ridiculous amount of money for the "show". Quintessential tourist trap.
Christian / July 31, 2014 at 10:28 am
As for Tappo, when a restaurant shows up on my Groupon feed every week, you know something fishy is going on.
Randy replying to a comment from Shame / July 31, 2014 at 02:36 pm
Ramen restaurants and izakayas are not "fads". They styles of restaurant originating from another culture/country, just as a sushi restaurant or a pizzeria might or a souther bbq restaurnt be. Get out of your basement much?
J. Slattery / July 31, 2014 at 03:44 pm
I have been to all these places and they last because they're good. You get to meet regular diners and not trend snobs (which Toronto has a fatal case of!).
Mike.C. / July 31, 2014 at 04:27 pm
"hopped on the gluten train" - WTF? isn't it good they have allergy free options for people with celiac and intolerance? Ya I can't spell but c'mon..worst article on the site - disappointed
Yzzie / August 1, 2014 at 08:44 pm
"hoards of jersey-clad folk"


Hoard: a stock or store of money or valued objects, typically one that is secret or carefully guarded

Horde: a large group of people.

And that's not a tourist traps list, that's a poorly-researched list of non-trendy restaurants hipsters like to sneer at. There are surprisingly few real tourist traps in Toronto, at least not on the Captain John's scale of things. And a restaurant in a popular attraction doesn't really count - I mean, the Eaton Centre and the CN Tower are tourist traps in and on themselves, more so than their restaurants.
jeff replying to a comment from Stephane / August 2, 2014 at 03:39 am
Closed now
Webster / September 8, 2014 at 04:13 pm
Gawd, what a lazy article. Waiting for an hour to get an elevator up to 360? Um, no, because the restaurant has a dedicated one. Big Daddy's "perched on the corner of King and University?" Try King and Simcoe. I stopped reading at that point but Sarah Ratchford would do well to stop talking out of her a$$ because right now she's number one on the list of Toronto's most incompetent web "journalists."
dr.frasiercrane / September 8, 2014 at 07:31 pm
Sw totally agree with every one. Easily the most exhaustive list on this page. Well done!
disgusted / September 8, 2014 at 09:42 pm
From the looks of the comments section I would just rather not eat anywhere that I would have to be in any proximity of the assholes who berate the BlogTO writers. It's ironic when people so tastelessly rude comment on the writing of food critiques. It's pretty pathetic when you have to beg for validation by bullying bloggers. If any of you were such experts on writing you'd have no time to be self-editing Internet blog posts you would be editing English papers or perhaps literary work. Not sitting by your computer snorting at the writer's use of colloquial English on a colloquial public forum. I suggest you jackasses retire from here and move on to a more distinguished media outlet's food review section since you're so highbrow and demanding.
Healthy / October 17, 2014 at 12:33 am
Milestones & Baton rouge!
Mr. Veritas replying to a comment from torontourists / November 6, 2014 at 07:39 pm
Hey, that's our version of the world famous Tavern On The Green-show some respect!
cobbles / May 19, 2015 at 03:42 pm
I live in little Italy and continue to be amazed how many people eat the crap that Cafe Diplomatico slings. Maybe it's the patio scene.
Mark / May 20, 2015 at 05:09 am
The biggest tourist trap is a Leafs game at the ACC.
Matt / July 2, 2015 at 12:29 am
Simply, Toronto is not a tourist city, it is very nice city to live in but nothing to visit for
Mel replying to a comment from Pacific Rim / October 10, 2015 at 04:30 am
Do you live in another country? You clearly have no idea how multicultural this city is, as your comment was clearly naive. All those "izakaya or ramen places" are no different than a lot of restaurants in this city - they cater to all demographics in Toronto. We are one of the most multicultural city in this world, and using the word "oriental", is racist. I'm sure you're voting for the conservatives, so... please fast track yourself to 2015 and then comment.
Jim / October 10, 2015 at 04:46 pm
To the off topic posters about size. I always like to brag about size too ,( what guy doesn't) but this 3 or 4 thing is a little deflating if you consider a much more substantive measure. Sheer numbers are one thing but GDP is much more significant. Chicago is 10 times Toronto. We have Etobikoke and Scarborough and NY, theyve got GDP.
Andrew Holt / October 11, 2015 at 04:32 pm
The list that ranks Toronto as the 4th largest city in North America is a bit flawed. That list is going by pure population rather then by metro population. Chicago metro is a good 4 million larger then metro Toronto. Going by pure population Edmonton is actually bigger than Boston, Seattle and Atlanta.
lisa / October 11, 2015 at 08:08 pm
Big Daddy's at King University is no longer open. But when it was, I loved it!!
Matthew / October 11, 2015 at 09:18 pm
If only The Organ Grinder was still around. That was a great place to go to.
PM / October 12, 2015 at 08:45 pm
Just did the CN Tower 360 Restaurant and enjoyed it very much. Paid $55 per person got a two course meal which was very good. Our reservation put us into express lanes straight to the restaurant where we we're seated and enjoyed a panoramic view of the whole city as our table revolved, one revolution takes 75 minutes, which worked out perfect. So if you are going to the CN Tower anyway you'll pay $32 for the ekevator why not pony up the extra $23 for a great meal and VIP (no line up) elevator service. I realised that I was tipping on $55 X 3 meals when it should have been $23 X 3 (I shouldn't tip the waiter for the elevator ride) but I was so satisfied with the whole deal that I gave him 18% on the whole bill.
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