toronto restaurants first timer

10 essential restaurants a Toronto first-timer needs to try

Restaurants a Toronto first-timer needs to try are just as essential to native Torontonians as they are to the visitors who get told to check them out. As pretty much the most diverse food city in Canada, it’s tough to narrow down where to go your first time coming here, so here’s a little help with that task.

Here are my picks for essential restaurants a Toronto first-timer needs to try. 

Seven Lives

Kensington has this spot for giant seafood tacos that’s a favourite with the locals. which usually has a huge lineup.

Nom Nom Nom Poutine

If this is your first trip to Canada, period, everyone will probably tell you what you need to try is poutine. This unique shipping container stall destination for the staple of fries, gravy and cheese curds on Dundas West has a ton of varieties to sample.


Plant-based visitors will want to hit up this Yorkville vegan joint that locals agree is one of the classiest and best (but don’t worry, they still do a mean veggie burger).

Kingsway Fish and Chips 

This place at Bloor and Royal York has been around forever and has a classic vibe, great fish and chips both fried in beef tallow, and a ton of local sports memorabilia for decor. 

Chris Jerk

Jerk chicken is practically a part of the Toronto food pyramid, and this Scarborough spot near Finch and Kennedy does an amazing version of it that they even serve on top of poutine. 


Multiple locations throughout the city of this crowd-pleasing Italian mainstay make a meal here a no-brainer for a first-timer to Toronto.

Lady Marmalade

Locals often have lots of suggestions for what to do for dinner or nightlife in town, but sometimes forget that you still have to wake up the next morning and find somewhere to break your fast. This beloved brunch spot in East Chinatown does just the trick. 

Stockyards Smokehouse

Chicken and waffles as well as green chilli burgers are hidden gems at this charming restaurant found in the somewhat unassuming St. Clair West neighbourhood. 


The pad thai from multiple locations of this place is fiercely adored, so get a taste of one of Toronto’s favourite cuisines here. 

SanRemo Bakery

Everyone goes gaga over the hot table at this Etobicoke place, and a first-timer to Toronto is sure to do the same.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at Terroni

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