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Restaurants

Utopia Cafe

Posted by Susan Hu / Reviewed on July 31, 2008 / review policy

Utopia CafeMy perfect summer-time afternoon goes something like this:

1. A table at Utopia's cozy back patio.
2. A pitcher of sangria.
3. Giant burritos that satisfy all my friends - carnivore and herbivore alike.
4. Christian Bale's anecdotes.

Ok. Well, maybe not the last one. But what sets Utopia apart from eat-the-food-with-your-hands sit down restaurants is the quality of the food. Every time I eat there, the thought always occurs - has eating elsewhere tricked my brain into accepting blandness? The veggies at Utopia, whether the tumble of baby greens in the side salad or sandwich filling, are always bright and crisp. The grilled items are seasoned and cooked to a texture that just can't be replicated at home. Aha, this is what flavour is! Not to mention little extras like: flavoured mayo, goat's cheese, and various types of soy for meat substitutions.

As far as soy types go, the veggie burger ($7.50) has become one of my favourites - forget Lick's. The thick, char fragrant patty served on a foccacia-esque bun is so big that I get full about halfway through, but so yummy, it always gets finished. Clearing the mound of accompanying fresh cut fries can too be a challenge. But along with a 75 cent splurge on wasabi mayo, it's a worthy attempt.

Utopia steak burritoThe meat-centric nosh is equally impressive. Unlike at other places that serve Tex Mex, I don't have to ask what kind of beef is in the burrito. The steak and cheddar burrito ($10.99) is actually made with steak; strips that are surprisingly tender and juicy for such leanness. It exudes a nice touch of smokiness. The bbq effect also permeates the chicken and shrimp burrito ($11.99).

Utopia has breakfast options as well, for brunch lovers. Their complete menu is on their web site.

Discussion

29 Comments

gegtik / July 31, 2008 at 10:28 am
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Utopia is awesome and I highly recommend it. All their lamb dishes are primo
Maria / July 31, 2008 at 10:29 am
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The link to the menu is broken.
Carlos / July 31, 2008 at 10:31 am
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yes! those breakfast burritos are amazing!
m. / July 31, 2008 at 10:31 am
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My only problem with Utopia is the hidden non-veggie ingredients. Word to anyone who might care: the rice has anchovy paste, the burger buns are not vegan and many staff are really unsure about what is and what isn't vegan friendly.
susan / July 31, 2008 at 10:41 am
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link fixed - thanks for the heads up
Ben / July 31, 2008 at 10:42 am
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Thanks for the heads up, m..
rotenblog / July 31, 2008 at 11:28 am
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please stop telling people about utopia. it's a secret.
mmmmmmmmmmmmm / July 31, 2008 at 02:24 pm
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is it really true about the hidden non-veggie ingredients?!? on no!! that's such a shame - i like their food :P
Teena in Toronto / July 31, 2008 at 08:50 pm
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I'll have to check 'em out!
frances / August 1, 2008 at 10:42 am
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i'm ADDICTED to the chicken burgers!!!
Ringer / August 1, 2008 at 11:59 am
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Love their food. But the rice is sometimes crunchy and cold. Staff are also hit and miss. Went there two weeks ago and they were horribly disorganized, completely inattentive, and altogether rude. Had been before and had a great time, so must have been a rough day or something.
JC in Toronto / January 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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The make the BEST mushroom questedias (I spelled that wrong, but you know what I mean). My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
kriss / September 1, 2009 at 10:57 pm
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I am visiting Toronto for a week and researched places to eat. found reviews on Utopia on the net and decided to try it out!

Wow, this is a great place to eat, unfortunately i was alone but I had a great meal and it definitely lived up to the comments i read.

I'm from Montreal and we have great places to eat all over, so I can say that we are very spoiled when it comes to dinning out.

This place is definitely worthy of of a four star rating, good food, excellent music and the prices are very affordable.
Would recommend highly.

We have a place similar in style on the plateau, it's called Cafe Souvenir, if you're ever in Montreal try the burger or anything else on the menu for that matter. Low key but stylish similar to Utopia same type of clientele: young, hip etc... they make the best omelet in Montreal hands down!!

Nice walk from my hotel (intercontinental on Front) and got to see part of little Italy witch was awesome

will go back for sure and bring friends!!!
off the wall replying to a comment from m. / November 9, 2009 at 02:21 am
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FYI: the rice does NOT have anchovy paste.
Galito / December 7, 2009 at 03:53 pm
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Best Veggie-poutine in Toronto, hands down.
gristle / December 30, 2009 at 05:13 pm
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Utopia cafe was definitely a good experience for me and my friends, despite the little blips that can be fixed.

Pros:
- Large menu, lots of selection
- Great tasting food (mostly tex-mex style food)
- Large portions
- Cheap prices (the most expensive item I noticed was 13.99)
- Excellent fries (large portion, good size, crispy outside, soft inside, salt AND pepper!)
- Very accommodating to those with alternative deitary needs
- Great service

Cons:
- awkward seating (wobbly tables and plastic patio chairs with arm rests, hard to adjust your seat)
- Slow service (I didn't mind this, but I definitely would not recommend coming here for a quick bite)
- Very loud music (my throat hurt from trying to talk over it)
- Somewhat crowded
- Get checked on about once and have to try to wave down the server if you need something
mysz / February 10, 2010 at 10:57 am
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First - I love Utopia
Second - I write below only because I love Utopia
Third - here we go...

Could we do something about the wine list - it has not changed since I started frequenting 2 years ago. It is time people! Honestly, some wine adventure would do you good. There are loads of phenomenal inexpensive wines that should be on your list...

Jared / February 2, 2011 at 03:11 pm
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People are always complainging that Toronto has crap selection for mexican food and it's no wonder. Utopia for Best Burrito? Seriously?? I'm a big fan of Utopia for a variety of reasons. But their burritos are bland and nothing special and their rice and beans is often dry and over cooked.
We have no one but ourselves to blame for the state of our Mexican choices. If we keep rewarding restaurants for making bland food we'll be rewarded with nothing but more blandness.
Ann / April 10, 2011 at 03:10 pm
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Service is really hit and miss at Utopia. I have had some of the worst service in Toronto here, which unfortunately overshadows the pretty good food.
g / April 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm
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I like utopia...lots of choices. The only thing that gets me is the lettuce in the burritos, it gets wilted due to the grill finish of the burritos.
Shirley C / May 1, 2011 at 05:59 pm
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Having read a few good reviews about Utopia's burger, I decided to try it.
I was extremely disappointed - beyond disappointed, not just because the burger was overcooked (after reassuring me that "the only way they cook their burgers is medium) or that they didn't put cheese on it when i asked for cheese and then brought me a bowl of packaged grated cheese after I mentioned it; not just because they also got the order of the couple next to me incorrect or because the fries were so unspectacular it made me miss McDonald's; or that their beer was lukewarm, or even that the Americano coffee I ordered (after being reassured that "the only coffee they served was Americano - which by the way is made with espresso and hot water, not just a brewed coffee - in case Utopia staff read this; not just because of all of those things - although that would be enough...and not even because after about 5 or 10 minutes of being there their sound system suddenly spiked up in volume and began belting out something akin to what I'd find in a night club playing a loud and very bad attempt at schmooze-rap, no sadly...not because of any one of those things only...but mostly because of the the wonderful reviews it received and that people, my neighbours, actually call this a good burger.
Next time, try a really good burger (ie: Tati Bistro for $14 or yes, Craft Burger for about $10, or even the decent burger at Hadley's just down the street) before you give Utopia a gold medal for a very mediocre product.
Come on, Toronto! We can't be THAT desperate, can we?
Lu / May 15, 2011 at 08:41 pm
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Just came back from trying Utopia for the first time and was disappointed: the prices were very reasonable and the burgers were a good size but that was the best of it: I had the Kissing Cousins burger (goat cheese on lamb with green onion mayo) & my husband had the Mediterranean burger w/ lamb (feta & tzatziki) --both burgers were on the dry side (too well done) and the fries were on the mealy side. Too bad, I really had high hopes.
Steely Dan / January 10, 2012 at 05:46 pm
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I decided to take a trip around the corner to a small place called the Fuel House. Its really hard to notice but I am glad that I found it. The poutine and burger were AMAZING. Utopida has a much bigger menu selection but I would highly recommend trying out the Fuel House if you are in the neighborhood, well worth it
colin / June 26, 2012 at 03:21 pm
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Read the article on the best nachos in Toronto, so far have managed to nail 4 of them and to me Utopia places first, Sneaky Dees 2nd, Hacienda 3rd, Disgraceland 4th and I still have 8 more to hit on the list.
Chris / March 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm
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Love this restaurant, great food, great atmosphere, great value. Highly recommended
Steven / October 15, 2013 at 08:41 pm
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There was one waitress leaning against the wall for almost an hour and the cute busgirl was doubling as hostess too. The bartender was also a waiter. WTF? He should stay behind his counter and be in charge of cash. Fire the lazy waitress and get one who who can wait the tables. Duh?

GREAT burgers!

The amount of meat on each half of the steak sandwich is the exact volume of 2 twoonies! Beware - you're just paying for the bun. grrr

GREAT fries!

Nice touch with ice water prior to ordering. Rare in restaurants these days.

No need to crank up the music volume if everyone is talking. The louder the music, the more people shout and the nice people atmosphere dissipates.

Chase / March 9, 2014 at 04:13 pm
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Nachos over rated. Please remove this restaurant off your website. Best thing on the menu was the water.
Alice replying to a comment from Chase / April 8, 2014 at 05:21 pm
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Agree. The food at Utopia is so inconsistent and has gone downhill. Can't believe the nachos made it on that "Best Of" list!
diane / April 9, 2014 at 09:51 am
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Used to be a regular but after a few bad experiences haven't been back. I wasn't one of those "pushy regulars" who expect to not have to wait for a table or anything, but it seemed like since I was a familiar face, they'd take longer to get around to me, probably thinking I'd be okay with it . Not really - I'm paying for a service just like everyone else. Once I sat there for 20 minutes as the waitress circled the restaraunt, greeting customers that arrived after me, refilling everyone's drinks (twice) before asking if I was ready to order. I was rarely greeted with a smile or a "hey, how are you?!" like most restaraunts tend to do with familiar faces. I got the vibe that it was a chore for them to "deal" with me. And like I said, I was never a difficult customer or anything like that. So because of the poor service, I haven't been back. And it's a huge same because the food was insanely good - I just don't want to pay money to eat somewhere that I don't feel welcome.

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