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Best of Toronto

The Best Diners in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / October 11, 2013

diners torontoThe best diners in Toronto satisfy cravings for all day breakfasts, dirty burgers and homestyle comfort foods. The most authentic on this list are decades old and pride themselves on unaltered interiors and original menus, while others recreate the nostalgic vibe by design: jukeboxes, neon signs, sticky vinyl booths and all. Either way, the diner is place to imagine that the passage of time has stopped, and all that matters is a plate of comforting, hot food.

Here are the best diners in Toronto.

See also:

The best greasy spoons in Toronto
The Best All Day Breakfast in Toronto

George Street Diner

George Street Diner

This little red retro diner near the St. Lawrence Market is outfitted with an iconic lunch counter, short-order kitchen, swivelling stools and upholstered vinyl booths. On the menu are full Irish breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and daily specials, along with house-baked pies and breads. More »

Patrician Grill

Patrician Grill

Marked by an iconic (and original) neon sign, this authentic Corktown grill has been family owned and operated since 1967. The menu keeps it classic with three-egg breakfast specials and homestyle American comfort foods like gravy-smothered meatloaf. More »

Rosedale Diner

Rosedale Diner

An institution since 1978, the menu at this neighbourhood diner is known for an assortment of Israeli dishes and bistro-esque specialties. While it’s a little fancy by diner standards, the spot wins big points for all day breakfast options and duck confit poutine. More »

Sadie's Diner

Sadie's Diner

This quirky Adelaide Street diner and juice bar does vegetarian and vegan renditions of all the obligatory diner standards. All day breakfasts offer pancakes, egg scrambles and rancheros, plus there's chocolate peanut butter and banana shakes and pie served a la mode. More »

Okay Okay

Okay Okay

Okay Okay is more than just okay - it’s kind of awesome. The laid-back Leslieville breakfast and lunch spot does a full array of eggs along with familiar favourites from the griddle like banquet burgers, triple decker grilled cheeses and club sandwiches piled high. More »

The Senator

The Senator

This family style diner claims to be Toronto's oldest operating restaurant, dating back to 1929. Extensive breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus offer above par diner fare made of top quality, locally sourced ingredients. As if any other reason is needed, two words - spiked milkshakes. More »

The Lakeview

The Lakeview

This always-open, neo-retro establishment caters to locals as well as the late night run-off from the bustling Dundas West and Ossington bar scenes. Here greasy standards and 24-hour cure-all brunches stay true to the genre but are upgraded decent ingredients and thoughtful, made-from-scratch preparations. More »

Thompson Diner

Thompson Diner

This contemporary take on the classic 24-hour diner is fully licensed and in tune with every possible comfort food craving imaginable. Breakfast is on anytime of day, burgers are available between grilled cheese sandwiches and shakes come super thick and with the option of booze infusions. More »

The Amazing Ted’s Diner

The Amazing Ted’s Diner

Ted's isn't just '50s-styled, the Scarborough diner has actually been around since 1954. Even after recent renovations, the spot preserves its nostalgic charm. The menu features familiar greasy spoon specialties like three-egg breakfasts, liver burgers and blue plate specials. More »

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co.

The menu at this newly opened Junction Triangle establishment excels at iconic staples like corned beef hash, chopped salads and a super satisfying griddle-cooked dirty burg. The humble but hip diner even does retro-styled corn dog. More »

Avenue Diner

Avenue Diner

This old school greasy spoon at Av and Dav might look a little rough around the edges, but the unassuming nook is still a reliable place to find basic, no-frills breakfasts, burgers and bottomless cups of coffee. More »

Chew Chew's Diner

Chew Chew's Diner

Board the gravy train at this railway-themed diner on Carlton and you’ll hardly be starved for choice. The all day breakfast menu bills 20 different omelettes, over a dozen Benny variations and eggs paired with almost every type of meat imaginable. More »

Discussion

44 Comments

Alana / October 11, 2013 at 01:53 pm
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I'm always meaning to try The Lakeview.
f*ckyeaheastend / October 11, 2013 at 01:53 pm
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dont care about the rest of the list happy to see Ted's make the cut!
dan / October 11, 2013 at 02:17 pm
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the homeway at 955 Mt. Pleasant Rd is wonderful!
http://www.homewayrestaurant.ca/
Katie / October 11, 2013 at 02:25 pm
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ZET'S! 24-hour, airport strip sanctuary of cheap steaks, all day breakfast and great views of vacations coming and going.
Simon / October 11, 2013 at 02:27 pm
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Seems a tad pretentious. No mention of a lot of "real" diners in the city..You know the ones without "Chefs"!
K / October 11, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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Okay Okay? No. Every single time I've eaten there, I've hated it. Disgusting.
TheZissou / October 11, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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Steve's at Bathurst & Wilson. A North York staple since forever.
moonshake / October 11, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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I keep hearing just how bad the Lakeview is and yet it is on this list? Makes you wonder...
TheZissou / October 11, 2013 at 02:37 pm
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Also, Rosedale Diner is a diner in name only. Pretty upscale.
cathie / October 11, 2013 at 02:47 pm
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Steve's gave me food poisoning not once but twice (yes, I was stupid enough to go back) so they're off my list. I've never heard anything at all positive about Lakeview - it gets raked over the coals on Chowhound, which is a shame because visually the place is very diner-ish. Never heard of Ted's but its on my list.
Fail To The Thieft / October 11, 2013 at 02:58 pm
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You're not talking about The Grille at Queensway & East Mall, therefore, you're not really talking about the best diner(s) in Toronto.

#CMONSON
Tee / October 11, 2013 at 03:48 pm
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I really miss the Victoria Diner. The best food with no ambiance.

What about the Times Square diner on Wilson Heights?
Joco / October 11, 2013 at 04:07 pm
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The George Street Dinner is hands down, the worst breakfast I've ever had and worst diner I've ever been to.

The service was terrible, the place holds like 20 people yet with 4 servers it took me and by gf 15 minutes to get an order in.

Then came the food, my gf's frittata was ice cold (and was sittingin con the counter all morning), and so salty she couldn't eat it. and my bacon wasn't even half way cooked. Plus $4 for 8oz of OJ all for almost 30 bucks.

Avoid at all costs!
Blasto / October 11, 2013 at 04:23 pm
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Seriously the Lakeview is the worst. I always hope it will be good, but its always terrible.
Mar / October 11, 2013 at 04:51 pm
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Detroit eatery
jameson / October 11, 2013 at 06:47 pm
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The Senator is also a bit surprising since it's mainly for tourists...

Not that it isn't good, but it's not great in the least. Odd list.
just a guy / October 11, 2013 at 06:54 pm
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I cannot believe the Mutual Street Deli did not make this list (Mutual at Dundas East). Now THAT'S an old school diner that gets it right!

Rat replying to a comment from Blasto / October 11, 2013 at 08:21 pm
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Agreed
bryan d / October 11, 2013 at 08:27 pm
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the lakeview is fine... but, it's not a diner anymore - more of a "diner" like the thompson (aka a mediocre restaurant with chrome accents).
a real diner has a breakfast special for 3.99-4.99 (with coffee!) before 11 and a waitress with a story and a smile that will break your heart, an a-hole cook that you can't help but respect, and they'll make you want to leave a 30% tip (you can afford it).
DC / October 11, 2013 at 08:47 pm
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Patrician absolutely, Ted's & Avenue ok. As Simon above said, not a lot of actual diners on here. There are a number of great diners in the city, most are likely not concerned about missing this list, or aware BloTO exists.
tnt replying to a comment from Mar / October 11, 2013 at 09:01 pm
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Ya, Detroit eatery if you want to sit there watching kids sit on the bench out front spitting and smoking..
The Glue / October 11, 2013 at 09:17 pm
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2ND the comment above on The Homeaway. Best brunch for a reasonable price I have had in this city
Michael Greason replying to a comment from dan / October 11, 2013 at 09:55 pm
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Not half as good as it used to be. The Homeway - before renovation and new ownership - was probably the last place I had proper chips. I went to the new Homeway and the chips were contemporary restaurant awful
Michael Greason replying to a comment from dan / October 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm
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The Lakeview has awful food. It wins "Best of" polls because the people who go there are too young to remember the taste of a real diner and because many of them are too drunk to notice how awful the food is. The best I have ever had there is mediocracy and the worst was inedible. Eggs that tuened black from dirty frying pans. Sausages that were deep fried and overcooked until they tasted like powder. Home fries that were raw - and black to boot. The decor is so great and the potential is limitless. The last two owners have failed to deliver the food. (Diner fare is not health food - but food that is an indulgence and is bad for you but tastes bad is too much to bear.)
The Lonely Troll replying to a comment from Mar / October 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm
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Detroit +1. A real diner, quirky and friendly after you've been a bunch of times. Also Tom's on Queen West across from CAMH, still holding on...
John / October 12, 2013 at 08:53 am
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So glad to see the Patrcian on here. Hands down the best breakfast.

On the other hand George Street and Chews have the worst food and are over priced!
Bob But Not Doug / October 12, 2013 at 09:43 am
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Okay Okay used to be good when it first opened and was called (IIRC) Okay 2 (i.e. squared). Then I believe it changed hands and the quality of the food went straight downhill. The waffles used to be the best I'd had in the city, but the last time I went they were dried out and tough. Haven't been back since.
Bob But Not Doug / October 12, 2013 at 09:43 am
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Also, Jim's Best Western should be on this list.
stan smith / October 12, 2013 at 10:20 am
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UMMMMM
What about VESTA LUNCH on Bathurst and Dupont?
This list is shit
Sean / October 12, 2013 at 10:43 am
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Sad to see Gale's snack bar not on the list.
nardl blarn / October 12, 2013 at 11:32 am
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You know a BlogTO list is really bad when there are better examples in the comments than on the list itself.

Totally agree with bryan d- a diner has a breakfast special (2-4 eggs, bacon ham or sausage, home fries, toast, unlimited coffee) for 3.99-4.99. A diner is unpretentious, and that's something BlogTO and the BlogTO writers really have a problem with.

I wanted a little more digging here, a nice feature on the best real diners in the city.
Westender / October 12, 2013 at 02:25 pm
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I second Gale's snack bar. Absolutely criminal that it is not on the list....
Na replying to a comment from Westender / October 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm
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Probably because Gale named it a snack bar. Look them on The Best Snack Bars in Toronto list.
lol / October 13, 2013 at 10:57 am
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People's at Dupont and Spadina was the shiz until Rose and Sons tiefed the location. Their home fries and gravy and coleslaw were awesome.
ignore the classics / October 24, 2013 at 03:45 am
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It's not a popular opinion around these parts, but I can't believe that Fran's isn't on this list, any of the locations, really. It's got the actual, non-pretentious diner food and at least with the College location, has all that traditional Toronto history that elsewhere on this site, people go out of their way to defend.

People want to be "above" Fran's, but it's one of the longest-running, most traditional diners in Toronto. Shame that it's not "classy" enough for people to consider adding to this list. Best greasy breakfasts in the city, and isn't that what diner's are all about?
Kate / October 24, 2013 at 10:34 am
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How about the Goof (Garden Gate) in the Beaches?
JL replying to a comment from ignore the classics / November 6, 2013 at 02:31 am
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Agree with this! Fran's has great food, is open all the time and is a classic. There's no need to ignore a chain if it's a good enough diner in Toronto to fit on this list (probably one of the most popular too).
Cynthiac / December 27, 2013 at 04:38 pm
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Based on this review, we tried Chew Chews today. We were so disappointed. The food was terrible. The $12.99 omelet managed to be flat, spongy and crunchy all at the same time. The pulled pork on a bun was much worse though. We should have known better when we arrived at the height of the lunch hour and the place was empty. There are so many better diners in Toronto, without a doubt. This place should not be on this list. Food served was simply grim.
diner lover / January 12, 2014 at 06:25 am
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Try Frankies on Queen W. Great food good prices. Its a diamond in the rough. Been around a long time. Doesn't get the accolades other places get. Family run place. I love it there.
ted / April 14, 2014 at 11:07 pm
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Zet's and Steak Queen are worth visiting.
kerrie replying to a comment from Katie / May 10, 2014 at 08:41 am
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YES! I describe Zet's to people as the type of place you meet your crew after having completed a bank robbery, jewel heist, murder etc. It feels very Goodfellas to me...
greggy / May 16, 2014 at 08:38 am
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Agree with Michael above...

The Lakeview? Consistently serves me cold food and wilted lettuce. The servers are great (biased a bunch are actor friends), but don't go there for good eats... It's gotten considerably worse in the last 4 or so years.
Abe / May 16, 2014 at 08:46 am
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You forgot Mars Diner near college and bathurst, best diner in town!
K replying to a comment from Abe / May 16, 2014 at 09:50 am
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I love Mars! Super fast, cheap and soooo good.

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