The Best Filipino Restaurants in Toronto
The best Filipino food in Toronto cannot be found in any restaurant, but at my mother's house during a Filipino fam-jam. Since she's not inviting you over anytime soon, however, you might want to try one of the fine establishments scattered all over the city. One thing you'll find is that Toronto's Filipino restaurants are symbolic of Filipino cuisine in general — it's mostly about taste and not so much appearance.
Let's face it, Filipino food is Thai food's ugly sister. But who cares? Filipino cuisine is comfort cooking, the soul food of Southeast Asia: copious amounts of pork cooked many different ways, deep-fried bite-sized pulutan (finger food), tender braised meats and sauteed vegetables in savoury gravy-like sauces, all served with heaping plates of steaming white rice. You're probably just craving standard fare such as pork adobo (the national dish), pancit (noodles) or deep-fried lumpia (those little egg rolls), but if you did want to go extra-exotic with an order of bicol express or kare-kare, or even straight-up Fear Factor with a side of sizzling sisig (diced pork face on a sizzling platter), it can all be had in our fair city.
Special mentions go to Aristokrat BBQ in North York, Butchokoy in Parkdale, Quiapo! Quiapo! in Mississauga and Mayette's, near Danforth and Pharmacy. There's also a new sit-down place called Barkada at Steeles and McCowan that looks promising. Let's hope more Filipino restaurants in Toronto realize that people are looking for dining experiences that transcend heat lamps and steam trays, stryofoam containers and plastic utensils!
Here are the best Filipino restaurants in Toronto.
Writing by Leonard Cervantes. Top photo by Jesse Milns.
Casa Manila proves that Filipino cuisine can look good AND taste good. From the decor to the plating, Casa Manila is as close as you're going to get to a sit-down restaurant experience. This is probably the only Filipino restaurant in town that is first-date worthy - if your first date is at the Ontario Science Centre. The standout here is the kare-kare - a satay-like oxtail & vegetable stew. Order with white rice and don't forget the bagoong (salted shrimp paste). More »
Max's is a local franchisee of a Philippine-based chain known for their special brand of fried chicken. Anyone expecting the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices will be disappointed in this Filipino interpretation of an American classic that gained favour with stationed US soldiers in World War 2. No crispy battered skin, but if its a crunch you crave, Max's encourages you to chomp the bones now rendered edible by Max's secret cooking process! Waste not, want not! More »
You'd never know that Ritz is a Filipino restaurant from the outside looking in. This ain't no regular greasy spoon. They serve Filipino breakfast and that means it's a REALLY greasy spoon. The prices are reasonable, the people are nice and you can't beat any one of the -silog breakfasts. Silog means any meat served with fried egg and garlic rice. My favourite is the longsilog breakfast featuring longaniza, which is a sweet Filipino sausage and also my porn nickname. More »
Remely's is a Scarborough mainstay and they're really known as party caterers (i.e. my mom didn't want to cook that many little egg rolls) but if you pay them a visit, you'll find that there's tons to try here. In my opinion, Remely's shines in the "noodle" category - pancit in both Canton, Malabon and Palabok styles as well as Filipino-style spaghetti, which basically means add cut-up hot dog pieces to the sauce and then mix in enough sugar to give you a cavity. Don't hate us, Italians. We're sorry. More »
There's so little signage here that it would be easy to bypass Dalisay the next time you're up in Thornhill. Go inside and you'll find the same setup - hot tables with food in steam trays under glass. I had high hopes for the beef caldereta but my aching jaws told me that they either should have cooked it for longer, used a more tender cut or better yet, made it with kambing (goat) instead. The accompanying sauce however, wasn't bad. More »
Places like underestimate themselves. The food here is good enough that if it were served to me on china with nice cutlery and a napkin on my lap, I'd easily pay up to $20 per entree. Consider it a steal that Barrio Fiesta is content to give you two entrees and your choice of rice or noodle in a styrofoam takeout container complete with plastic fork and nice all for the low, low price of about $8. My pick is their pinakbet, which is sort of like a Filipino-style ratatouille without the CGI rats. More »