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Best of Toronto

The Best Tapas In Toronto

Posted by Frank / May 10, 2008

TapasAh 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

Torito Tapas

Torito

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 »

Mezzetta

Mezzetta

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 »

Lee Restaurant

Lee

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 »

Discussion

20 Comments

Kate / May 10, 2008 at 09:11 am
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Just a correction: the chef at Czehoski and Coca is Nathan Isberg, not Isenberg as you have listed. Thanks.
Tim / May 10, 2008 at 09:52 am
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This has been corrected.
West / May 10, 2008 at 06:42 pm
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What exactly does ADHD have to do with the over-hyped, lousy-lame execution of tapas in Toronto restaurants?
Feldwebel Wolfenstool / May 11, 2008 at 08:27 am
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What is that? BROILED SPARROW?
gegtik / May 12, 2008 at 07:31 am
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You missed Latinada at bloor and indian road (just outside keele station's parking lot)
Denise / May 13, 2008 at 09:54 am
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Cava, Yonge and St. Clair, is my favourite favourite favourite for small dishes. They cure their own meats and the cocktails are excellent. Nuff said.
rotenblog / May 13, 2008 at 01:41 pm
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great timing! i just got back from barcelona and i'm already in tapas withdrawal!
oh toro / June 4, 2008 at 09:27 pm
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cava has a nice tasting menu. as a tapas restaurant, it fails.
Jay / June 8, 2008 at 10:35 pm
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Embrujo Flamenco should be number one on the list IMO having dined at all the places on your list...Embrujo Flamenco is my far the most authentic Tapas restaurant in the city. nuf said
LH / July 10, 2008 at 11:58 am
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Julie's Cuban Restaurant should make this list!
terry / January 3, 2009 at 09:58 am
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Relish on Danforth is really good too
Kay / June 7, 2009 at 07:50 pm
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Cava is on my best list as well, but be prepared to pay a little bit more. I went after they were listed as one of the best new restaurants in EnRoute magazine (Air Canada mag). Better than Torito (love that place), Lee (horrible service), and Embrujo (don't go there for the food, go there for some live entertainment because you will be disapointed). I have not tried the other ones on the list yet.
Maria replying to a comment from Kay / June 11, 2009 at 07:25 am
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sorry but if ever been in Spain you would understand that the only place that serves autentic tapas is Embrujo Flamenco, and for far the best
Chino / December 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm
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I went to Torito last night and it wasnt all that great. the dinner menu is pretty limited compared to other tapas restos, and the wine selection was moderate. i would would definitely go to embrujo flamenco if those two things are key.

however, the churros were pretty awesome and the ambiance and wait staff were excellent so i give it points for that.
Kasia / December 18, 2009 at 04:35 pm
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My favorite for Tapas and Salsa dancing is Babaluu in yorkville
http://www.babaluu.com/.On Tuesdays and Wednesdays they offer $7 tapas. Most people know Babaluu as a night club but their food is out of this world!U must try the "tabla de patacon" and the lemon chicken. The salsa lessons happen every night and are free!
We have our office Christmas party there every year(SickKid's) and we have a blast each year!
Dave / April 29, 2011 at 01:56 pm
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Cava is perhaps the best tapas restaurant in Toronto. Dishes range from 2-20 dollars, but they are all good. They do interesting cheese/chocolate pairings too, and have a well-constructed selection of wine. I thoroughly enjoyed my tapas there, and will go again in the future. TRY IT OUT, AND ADD IT TO THIS LIST!
Allison / March 19, 2012 at 04:49 pm
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YEAH MAN!
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm
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Julie's Cuban Restaurant should make this list!
Isabel / September 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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What happened to Bar Isabel?
リモワ スーツケース 最安値 / October 19, 2013 at 12:48 am
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