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Best of Toronto

The Best New Restaurants in Toronto, 2009

Posted by Frank / January 18, 2010

Toronto New RestaurantsThe best new restaurants in Toronto all have a few things in common. Kitchens for one. These restaurants also apparently share a common thread of lunacy in their restaurateurs. I mean you'd have to be madder than a March hare to open a restaurant at the very bottom of the current economic trough, in a year more notable for restaurant closures and downsizing operations than for new places to nosh.

That said, many of these restaurants also share an ethos that definitely doesn't rely on the currently dwindling level of corporate expense accounts to succeed. They all share passionate, uncompromising operators who believe they owe their patrons nothing less than their best every night and at a reasonable price point. For their dedication, these brave souls deserve to be rewarded with the kinda proletariat patronage that's stronger than Samson, pre-trim.

I know, I know...there are plenty of really great places that aren't on this list. Some are found elsewhere, on other more specific menu-based lists. Perhaps your favourite can be found on our best new brunch restaurants or best new cheap eats lists. Console yourself with the fact that the rest o'the restos on the list are definitely best of show as well, and all seem to have traded in stunt food (it was sooo 2006 anyway) for more comfort cuisine. The fact of the matter is any one of the establishments on this list will provide some fantastic ambiance and a memorable meal.

So with that, here are the best new restaurants in Toronto that opened in 2009.

Previously:

The Best New Restaurants in Toronto, 2008
The Best New Brunch Restaurants in Toronto, 2009
The Best New Cheap Eats in Toronto, 2009

Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya

Initial plans to open the first Toronto outpost of the popular Vancouver chain Guu (meaning 'viscous' in Japanese) as an automat were scrapped when the tiny Japanese serving droids took longer than expected to convert to 120v resulting in the loss of an entire crop of tapas. Now employing human servers, Guu still offers some of the tastiest Japanese inspired small plates to an izakaya starved city that's quickly turning tapanese. More »

Union

Union

Not to be confused with the labour movement of the same name, there's just as much power in this Union owing to chef Teo Paul's commitment to exploring local produce and creating simple, tasty fare. You had me at "elk sliders," Teo, you had me at "elk sliders." More »

Local Kitchen & Winebar

Local Kitchen & Winebar

Despite the fact this restaurant is nowhere near my 'hood and thus woefully misleading in the name department, co-owners Michael Sangregorio and Fabio Bondi crank out plates inspired by equal parts slow food and Nona. Their commitment to locally grown produce (that in many cases they grow themselves) reflects exactly what makes Italian food great - mad respect for the ingredients. More »

Buca

Buca

Continuing along Italian lines, our next restaurant stakes its claim along the well-heeled stretch of King West and ready to catch some overflow (and no doubt some of the few remaining expense account ducats) from such local stalwarts as the Spoke Club. Former McEwan understudy Rob Gentile offers some creative takes on pizzas and re-imagines some Italian classics. More »

Buddha Pie

Buddha Pie

The western edge of the Junction represents with the inclusion of a pizza joint that takes their pie back to first principles and builds a simple tasty, classic slice (which sadly contains no actual Buddha). Walk in through the door and ask the person at the counter to "make me one with everything," I dare you! More »

Earth

Earth

This haunted north Toronto former Cibo space has been given an exorcism by Globe Bistro impresario Ed Ho. Chef Kevin McKenna's simple bistro card pays homage to local, seasonal produce and may just successfully lift the curse with such classic fare as elk venison shepherd’s pie and Creemore braised beef cheek. More »

Nunu Ethiopian Fusion

Nunu Ethiopian Fusion

Traditional Ethiopian dishes with a modern presentation are on offer at this well appointed space. Share huge plates heaving with Misto Misto with 13 different items to appeal to every taste and mop it up with the giant, chewy, homemade injera. More »

Raaw Japanese Cuisine

Raaw Japanese Cuisine

This Liberty Village sushi shack plies its trade with an elegant, minimal room with subdued lighting and dark finishes. Strangely, there are actually cooked items on this menu as well including the expected tempuras and teriyakis. Sip green tea and munch gyozas for lunches out with your friends from the animation studio. More »

Discussion

32 Comments

Give Me Freedom / January 18, 2010 at 01:10 pm
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Frank, I thought we all agreed that Liberty Noodle wasn't very good? http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/liberty-noodle

And with the gourmet burger craze that descended upon the City, I'm surprised that not one made this list. For example, W Burger Bar http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/w-burger-bar.

Bigone / January 18, 2010 at 01:53 pm
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Everytime this site makes a list everything is west of Yonge.

The fact that not one Leslieville place made this list is shows the website's bias.
Bigone / January 18, 2010 at 01:53 pm
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West End Bias is everywhere on this site
Bias? / January 18, 2010 at 02:00 pm
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Bias? I'd say it's more like observant. Is it bias to say a Mercedes is better than a Honda? East side is sooo lame.
jack replying to a comment from Bias? / January 18, 2010 at 02:31 pm
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yes.. mercedes breaks down all the time
wayne / January 18, 2010 at 03:08 pm
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aren't these things decided by votes? if the east side never wins anything its because no one goes there.
Stu / January 18, 2010 at 03:20 pm
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We have an East Side?
crunchy / January 18, 2010 at 03:40 pm
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let'z face factz:
the west side has more popular faves because the restaurants, are on a whole, better than what the east side has to offer. leslieville has a few, like three good spots maybe??? the danforth is gross and i think that's about it.
i'm tired of people picking on west end sites just because more young, fun (and really...let's face it) attractive people choose to frequent and live there.
east end is more for families and people not as invested in dining out.
Burt / January 18, 2010 at 04:31 pm
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East side / West side debates are as lame as the people who start them. There's good stuff all over this city. I'm more familiar with the west side, so it seems like it has more places to me, but there are lots of places I love in the east too.

What I can't believe is that Liberty Noodle somehow slipped onto this list. That is one of the worst new places I've been to. Is your mouth broken?
Collin / January 18, 2010 at 05:12 pm
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calling out the west end bias is like calling "First".

we get it. it's west-end bias. the list are user voted. perhaps the east end fans are just not reading or voting in these best of lists.

As mentioned, i thought it was agreed that Liberty Noodle is pretty much a bust, and Raaw is just another run of the mill sushi place in a booming neighbourhood.
Burt / January 18, 2010 at 05:19 pm
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Agreed. I'd go so far as to say this whole post is a bad entry in an otherwise great category. I'm filing it under "Worst 'Best of' posts of 2009.
megr / January 18, 2010 at 05:24 pm
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wow, there's only 1 restaurant on this list (Union) that I agree deserves to be on this list. while this sort of thing is really subjective, I can usually see a few mentions on these 'best of' lists that i can get behind. not this one
Saywhat / January 18, 2010 at 05:33 pm
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Liberty Noodle? Pathetic. I can't comprehend how it made its way onto this list. It is bland (both the food and decor)and unfriendly - incredibly uninspiring.

Was this list populated by votes? If so, I would imagine that someone from Liberty Noodle spent all day voting rather than perfecting recipes.
Richard replying to a comment from jack / January 18, 2010 at 07:00 pm
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Honda's aren't as reliable as they're cracked up to be. The new accords have notorious brake issues, Honda took SEVEN years to address the syncro issues in their transmissions that spanned 7 different models, the Odyssey's have had a ton of issues, early model TL and MDXs have had them as well. They're far from perfect. And they're also responsible for the ugliest cars on the road today: Acura TL, RL, MDX, ZDX, RDX, Honda Crosstour, Honda Pilot, Honda Ridgeline, etc.

Even their new CR-Z is a POS. Its a hybrid successor the the 1900lb CR-X, except after 20 years its gets about the same mileage. It weights 2800lbs, has 122hp, only two seats, and gets 33MPG. Fail.


And that is my anti-Honda rant of the day :)
Richard replying to a comment from jack / January 18, 2010 at 07:00 pm
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ugh, I meant to have that as a reply to the Honda vs Mercedes comment above.
larisatimetus / January 18, 2010 at 07:05 pm
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Good health and all you wish come tru!
angerfaralivejournal.com
Gastronomic gastroenterologist / January 18, 2010 at 09:18 pm
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Great.....another useless list ! The validity of the list just went out the window with Liberty Noodles being in it.
morga replying to a comment from Saywhat / January 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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I disagree with your assessment of Liberty noodle. In its first few months I thought the same as you did and couldn't believe the opportunity they squandered. Last month I gave it a second chance, it was quite good. Their curry beef Ramen is excellent and I will continue to frequent it as it is great takeout and a hot bowl of noodles on a cold day is great. I unlike most give places a second chance before I slam them online.
dean martin / January 19, 2010 at 06:40 am
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I wanna try the Japanese sushi. I am just curious what it taste like. Better should research on the ingredients first and the how-to-cook procedure before i taste some. I am afraid it cause me a lot of trouble on my allergies. Hehe..
Iknow / January 19, 2010 at 08:50 am
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Why doesnt someone start a BlogToEast.com?

That way all these whiners can have their own forum to talk about the 4 restaurants, 11 coffee houses and their fancy "beach" that make up the east end.

jack replying to a comment from Richard / January 19, 2010 at 02:41 pm
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great... but still cheaper than fixing a mercedes
Colin / January 20, 2010 at 01:35 am
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Liberty Noodle?! What. The. F**k?!
nobodyimportant / January 20, 2010 at 10:44 pm
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The west side is etobicoke and farther west. downtown is what you should all be saying. all these places are downtown.
davedigger replying to a comment from Colin / January 21, 2010 at 11:11 am
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Gotta agree with you there. Makes the whole list suspect.
FromTheEast / January 29, 2010 at 02:55 am
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I didn't get to visit Liberty Noodle after the opening, but I was in Toronto in December and thought it was quite good. Had the curry beef/gyoza/tom yum ramen between two people.
meh / February 7, 2010 at 01:22 am
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People. Don't like the list, Vote.
This reminds me of complaints about government and politics. VOTE!
dickwad replying to a comment from meh / February 10, 2010 at 05:49 pm
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vote where, dickwad?!

BlogTO doesn't base their list from readers.
Joe / June 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm
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While Latitude is on the other end of the pond, its dish is worth the drive. Their executive chef Micheal Maddison Chef will be competing at the Expogast - Villeroy - Bock 2010 Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg! Check em out at: www.latituderestaurant.ca
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm
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Bias? I'd say it's more like observant. Is it bias to say a Mercedes is better than a Honda? East side is sooo lame.
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