The Best Tapas In Toronto
Ah Tapas. Is there any single more over-heated trend on Toronto's dining landscape than the small plate? It attracts more buzz than molecular gastronomy and I think I understand the rationale behind it: most restos make their biggest profits on the booze and small plates can highlight a kitchen's creativity, allow people to keep eating while they drink, and share a whole bunch of flavour without tying themselves to one dish. Makes sense. Much like their penchant for fascist dictators, the Spanish were way ahead of the curve on this one.
Though it's easy to be cynical when even the humble tubesteak is falling victim to this rampant tapas-try there's still much to love about the ability to indulge culinary ADHD and enjoy a little bit of everything your tastebuds crave.
Plenty of restaurants around the city are known for doing shared plates well. Esteemed joints like Foxley Bistro, JKWB or Julie's Cuban have or will appear on another list and were therefore excluded from this one. Most of the restaurants on our list can be classified as more wine bar but that doesn't keep them from turning out some fantastic food, ready to share, from classic to fusion in style. The only sad thing about them is that unlike Spain where a million good tapas bars are well within staggering distance, in Toronto you'll spend as much on cabs as you will on booze if you want to hit them all.
If you're gonna stick to one place for the evening, there's really no better place to do it than the number one on our list, the bull of Kensington Market, Torito (I might add that I finally and in this case emphatically agree with the number one our readers chose, Torito is inded teh roxxor). The wine's fantastic, the vibe is young and swell, the food is totally sexy and totally top shelf. What more could you ask for?
Top photos by Tanja
Nosh out at this Kensington hot-spot on a fantastic array of dishes to share from traditional tapas-- chow down on salty, velvet textured serrano ham with a seasonal salad garnish or suck the heads off exquisite whole, cripsy, olive oil annointed sardines; to the more ecclectic-- my fave is the whimsical beef tongue and cheek (it can be a bit much so you can always order it with the irony on the side if you prefer); coupled with a glass or two of killer sangria in white or red varieties and your evening can only end up being fantastic if this is where it starts. More »
This hidden gem just east of Corso Italia offers the middle eastern take on tapas called mezzes. Fantastic early week deals (1/2 price Mondays, Toonie Tuesdays), good wines, nice ambience and a delicious selection of dishes make this an ideal place to impress on a first date. Bests include mouthwatering swordfish skewers dressed with lemon juice and dill, savoury Beef Sambousak (minced beef wrapped in puff pastry and dressed with mezziki) along with Middle Eastern staples like tabouleh and falafel. Extra pita is a must. More »
Price conscious sibling (relatively speaking, natch) to the uber-upscale Susur, Lee offers up small plates of fusion fair all created (if not prepared) by the man himself. Tuck into a plate of fall-off-the-bone duck confit with sweet, tangy pinapple and spiced nuts; or go for the satay combo (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp) with mint chutney and tamarind & peanut sauce. You have to wonder how long this little snack shop will be sticking around now that its namesake has gone to make his name in the big apple... More »
The Danforth reps with our final list entry. Embrujo Flamenco has been a staple on the edge of Riverdale for at least a decade offering authentic Spanish tapas, live music and a comfortable patio for enjoying your Roja in the late-day sunshine along with a few plates of traditional fare perfect for putting on top of your glasses to keep the flies out. Smoky ostrich served with a balsamic reduction or dates wrapped in streaky bacon are a perfect way to keep your strength up while you people-watch. More »