The Best Izakaya Restaurants in Toronto
The best izakaya restaurants in Toronto are places where booze and creative eats go hand in hand. These Japanese gastropubs offer sharable dishes that help soak up the sake and beer while also providing an inviting atmosphere to unwind.
Here are the best izakayas in Toronto.
This Vancouver-based chain went through an ownership split with its previous Toronto outposts (which are now called Kinka) but makes a comeback with this sole location in Parkdale. With almost the same menu as before, including faves like gyu tataki, chicken karaage and litres of Sapporo on tap, you're pretty much guaranteed good times.
Formerly Guu, these boisterous restaurants on Church (between Gerrard & Carlton), Bloor (in the Annex) and Yonge (North York) never fail to greet guests with a welcoming (and deafening) irrashaimase! The energy is electric and the eats delectable. Popular orders are the oshizushi (blowtorched sushi) and fusions like deep-fried brie cheese or carbonara udon.
Part of another group of restaurants that started out in Vancouver, the vibe at this Cabbagetown izakaya feels particularly authentic. Start with some sake or shochu (or both), and be sure to try some of the over 40 different kinds of yakitori, which is cooked over Japanese white charcoal.
Cabbagetown just happens to be blessed with two great izakayas. Yet another Vancouver transplant following West Coast success, this spot offers vegan dishes in addition to its grilled meat and fish, sashimi, sushi, rice and ramen. Original cocktails, an extensive list of sake (with some even on tap), plus shochu and umeshu are also draws.
One of Toronto's original izakayas, Don Don now finds itself smack in the heart of what has become Little Tokyo in the downtown core. A mind-boggling selection of sake (including sparkling), along with shochu, umeshu and other wines keep the good times flowin', although if you really want to go wild, get sake bombs or pints of polar beer to drink with the tasty grub.
Founded in Japan, this is the Okinawa-based restaurant chain's first izakaya outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. Little Italy may be a strange choice for a Japanese pub, but in some ways it makes sense (ramen, pasta - similar enough!). A lively space that seats over 100 patrons, there's tons to sample here on the delicately plated, tapas-like menu.
If you want to feel like you've stumbled into a cozy, charming spot in Tokyo, then this is the place. (Except you'll actually be in Toronto's Little Portugal.) Authentically Japanese home-style cooking combined with shochu cocktails will make you feel like you've been transported halfway across the world.
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