The Best New Restaurants in Toronto, 2009
The 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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »