The top 25 specialty food stores in Toronto by neighbourhood
Toronto is home to almost every type of international delicacy imaginable and while plenty of stores and restaurants like to showcase diversity, it's always fun to discover singularly focused specialty food stores and importers. This list showcases neighbourhood treasures that are in some cases the sole source to find the sort of item that they sell.
Here are my picks for the top specialty food stores in Toronto by neighbourhood.
With an institution like Daiter's now closed, Toronto was on the cusp of losing a long-standing brunch time tradition. Schmaltz Appetizing on Dupont fills the void, ensuring cream cheese, bagels and briney fish are mainstays at brunch for years to come.
AVENUE & LAWRENCE
Goodbye Gluten eliminates any risk of cross contamination by ensure their entire inventory is gluten-free. The retail shop on Avenue Road south of Wilson sells everything from baked goods, breakfast cereals, frozen foods, pastas, prepared foods - even shampoo - all of which is gluten-free.
Devoted to all things honey and apitherapy (which means bee products for healing purposes), The Bee Shop is owned and operated by beekeeper, Oliver Couto who promotes urban beekeeping and distributes all types of honey, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax candles and more.
CASTLEFIELD DESIGN DISTRICT
Tucked away in the industrial area near Keele and Lawrence, Speducci Mercatto is an Italian butcher and fine foods purveyor. Find imported goods from the motherland, along with prepared foods, and cured and raw meats at the counter.
Solita in Little Portugal is a fine foods shop stocked with hard-to-find food and beauty items brought in from various regions in Italy. In addition to gourmet pantry items, expect to find select frozen goods, and a salumeria and cafe whips up ready to eat meals.
Kosher cuts of meat are the specialty at Nortown Foods, the Jewish butcher and grocer has been in business since 1960 and has become a trusted source for briskets to burgers and prepared foods and deli meats.
Trupti imports, grinds, roasts, and blends spices at its retail location on Thorncliffe Park. The shop carries a rainbow of bulk spices along with stone-ground flours, nuts and Indian specialty products and snack foods.
Queen's Pasta offers its fresh made noodles and gourmet sauces wholesale to restaurants and hotels, but the location on Newcastle does also sell to the public. Head here to stock up on handmade butternut squash agnolotti and cheese tortellini.
Looking for fresh cheese that haven't traveled an ocean to get to your table? Try International Cheese in the Keele and St. Clair area where fresh cheeses made with Canadian dairy include ricotta, buffala mozzarella, and fior di latte sold straight from the source under the house Santa Lucia line.
Maple syrup is certainly a national treasure, but few in Toronto have embraced its glory. Not so at Ninutik, a kitchen studio hidden away on Golden Road where syrup is crystallized and formed into art objects and beautiful edible gifts. Visit the studio to see (and sample) the range of products, but shop online unless you're buying bulk party favours.
In this neighbourhood of very niche shops La Tortilleria offers a hot commodity. Their fresh tortillas have likely graced your plate at restaurants citywide, but the retail outlets (there are several) are a great source to find fresh taco shells for take home. They sell Mexican Coke, too.
Yam Chops is Toronto's first (and only) vegan butcher offering meat-free alternatives to burgers, sausage links, and even lox. The shop is stocked with plant-based prepared foods, pantry items, and frozen items.
Famu prides itself on being Toronto's only Japanese butcher even though it resides on the north side of Steeles. The shop is a go-to for marbled waygu beef, and thinly sliced meats ideal for Sukiyaki and Shabu-shabu dishes. Find a range of sauces and seasonings among the pantry items on offer, and be sure not to miss out on prepared foods like deep-fried hamburgers.
Super Khorak (officially Khorak Supermarket) is one of my favourite places to shop on this stretch of Yonge approaching the city limits. The Middle Eastern grocer stocks a range of imported products and offers the holy grail of hot tables stocked with braised lamb shanks and bejewelled rice dishes.
Bernard's Pilipino Specialties is an unassuming grocery store that stocks an abundance of Southeast Asian snack foods and dry goods. Stop in for Filipino specialties ranging from ube-infused cakes to delicious lechon, the country's unique version of barbecued pork.
Stasis Preserves sells its namesake collection of handmade jellies, relishes, hot sauces, and spreads along with expanded offerings that include everyday pantry items and a deli showcasing artisan cheeses, salumi and baked goods.
Niemeyer Imports deals in Dutch products appealing to expats homesick for Holland. The inventory includes Dutch brand names of cheese and chocolates, soups, and liquorice. Online ordering is available, but drop in to enjoy the cafe serving koffie and croquettes on rye.
Diana's Seafood Delight is unique for distributing top notch seafood not just wholesale to restaurants and hotels, but also directly to the public. The bounty on offer is astounding, and you'll find everything from oysters by the case to fresh fish and seafood about as fresh as Toronto offers.
ST. CLAIR WEST
FV Foods operates a number of locations, but this outlet near St. Clair West and Bathurst is the most centrally located. The store specializes in imported grocery items from the Philippines, and carries Filipino sweets, baked goods and prepared foods.
ST. LAWRENCE MARKET
Rube's Rice takes rice very seriously, offering an abundance of grains ranging from popular options like brown basmati, sushi rice and arborio, to rare (and pricier) finds like jade pearl with bamboo extract.
SANKO has been a mainstay on Queen West so long, it's easy to look past it windows packed with rice cookers and tea sets - but you shouldn't. Aisles are stocked with housewares, kitchen knives and giftware along with imported Pocky and ramen, ready-to-eat onigiri and mochi, and elusive ingredients like fresh wasabi and yuzu juice.
Hidden away in an industrial unit near Highway 7 and Martin Grove, Dolce Lucano is an old world salumeria that makes and carries some the city's finest cured meats (find it for sale at Sandy Aleksander downtown). Buy direct from the source, where you'll find excellent prosciutto, sopressata, guanciale, and more.
What did I miss? Disagree with my selections in the comments.
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