The 10 most exciting dinner spots in Toronto right now
Choosing the restaurant to best fit your needs and budget when dining out in Toronto can be both exciting and daunting; the variety of flavours in a culinary scene that’s recently Michelin-approved seems endless.
With so many delicious options across the city, it can be hard to keep up with those that have recently opened and others that have come under new culinary direction.
Here are some hot spots to have dinner at right now. Reservations are recommended.
Acting as a gateway for many into the varied flavours and textures of regional Chinese cuisine – much that can be found a block away in Chinatown – this lockdown pop-up turned success is the funky downtown cousin to MIMI Chinese.
Big Hug Hospitality co-owner David Schwartz describes the dishes served as home-style food prepared in a kitchen with a charcoal grill and wok station.
Here, head chef Joseph Ysmael looks after the menu that’s inspired by the bolder flavours found in Chendu and Xi'An, plus the open-air dai pai dong (food stalls) of Hong Kong. The fact that the room is a riff of an old-school Cantonese diner adds to its charm.
Check out Sunnys' signature dish, the husband and wife beef, a cold starter that tosses ribbon-like shavings of master sauce braised shank, tendon, and tripe in chili oil that’s finished with peanuts.
It’s a benchmark take on the Sichuan dish that embraces the meat salad’s characteristics of being slightly numbing, collagenous, chewy, and crisp.
Located on the lower level of the splashy new Ace Hotel Toronto, this is the boutique hotel’s in-house restaurant that specializes in coastal Mediterranean flavours that have been cooked over wood fire.
Dig into the traditional Mediterranean-inspired dishes from a roasted red pepper carpaccio (an ode to Macedonian pepper salad) to a deceptively simple sounding half grilled chicken that’s caressed with house-made harissa and kissed by sweet and spicy drop peppers.
Extend the experience in the Shim-Sutcliffe-designed and Atelier Ace-outfitted space by visiting the lobby bar for an aperitif, and heading to the rooftop to check out the late-night views with a nightcap from Evangeline.
The crowd favourite for family-style Cantonese eats that includes stadium-sized bowls of congee studded full of seafood or other add-ins, comforting stir fries, Cantonese barbecued meats, and of course those wok-fried turnip cakes, comes downtown.
Located north of the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street, the two-story dining room has been welcoming groups of hungry diners since news trickled about its opening.
This Brockton Village shop specializes in freshwater fish from the Great Lakes including those sourced from Indigenous fisheries.
The fishmonger is known for hawking fish that has been harvested using ikejime (which stresses fish the least) but has become a sought-after table for its limited available ticketed omakase dinner experience.
One night it was freshwater sushi omakase with otsumami, another featured binchotan grilled marinated trout, and most recently a tempura omakase using local seafood. Subscribe to their newsletter to learn about the next event.
If there was one space that recently opened that truly captures what it means to be a Canadian, it’s probably this contemporary Indian restaurant on West Queen West. Surprisingly, securing a table isn’t too much of an issue in this long dining room.
What started as a pandemic pop-up by chef-owner Miheer Shete has become a brick-and-mortar space that serves locally inspired Indian cuisine, that has demonstrated sophistication and mastery in creating harmonious flavours and textures that pop off the plate.
Here, classic European techniques are used to transform seasonal Canadian ingredients into innovative and delicious dishes like vegan-friendly aloo gnocchi that’s christened with a wedge of tamarind-glazed roasted cauliflower, all swimming in a silky moat of coconut curry.
Even gulab jamun is revamped, taking a page from classic baba au rum, and is soaked in screech rum with aromatic cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise.
Respected chef-owner Jay Carter – a favourite of many in the industry – opened this casual neighbourhood restaurant and bar with business partner Susan Beckett in the Junction Triangle in late summer.
The menu appears simple but it’s hard to miss the finesse in each dish's execution when the food comes to the table.
Start with (homemade pimento) cheese and crackers before moving on to the binchotan-grilled thick and creamy lemon pepper (Humboldt) squid, and the restaurant’s cheeseburger that’s topped with not one, but a slice each of cheddar and American cheese.
Kiin reopens after a long hiatus, bringing elegance and refinement to a cuisine that’s most known as being casual and punchy across the city.
This is celebrated chef-owner Nuit Regular’s ode to Royal Thai cuisine presented over four progressive courses, each with multiple components.
Dishes could include Regular’s signature chor muang (Thai flower dumpling), a lobster tom yum, crab curry with wild betel leaves, young jackfruit curry, and more that’s all served family-style.
Debuting on King West in October 2019, this contemporary French wine bar didn’t have an opportunity to shine until now. Transforming fresh ingredients procured from fine local purveyors into sophisticated but approachable fare, executive chef-partner Ben Heaton has returned to the fold to create refined, chef-driven plates.
Heaton, who once owned contemporary British The Grove, is a master of elegant cuisine that’s not too fussy, inspired and delicious.
Joined by head chef Jamie Ullrich, the menu is filled with seasonally inspired items like a scallop crudo that’s bathed in strawberry ponzu to grilled chanterelles that are buried under a cloud of taleggio fonduta, and aged meats sourced from Cumbraes that’s sided by classic Robuchon-style mashed potatoes.
The restaurant is offering a five-course truffle tasting menu which starts with the prized delicacy dusting a mascarpone-topped Einkorn crumpet as well as house-cured charcuterie.
Truffles are shaved over amberjack sashimi that’s bathed in ponzu with beech mushroom, and blankets ethereal hand-cut egg yolk tagliatelle before showing up in a mousseline stuffed inside Rhode Island Red Chicken and on the main’s savoury vegetable side.
But it’s the ice cream capped with tableside shaved Alba white truffle that leaves an unchallenged lasting impression, as do the wine pairings.
When Jay Moore took over the reins of Lake Inez’s kitchen, he drew from his diverse culinary training (Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Shoto, Sushi Kaji, and Thuet) as well as his former business, J&J Barbecue, to create an eclectic menu that isn’t only thoughtful and flavourful, but also playful.
Matched by an interesting beverage list curated by co-owner Zac Schwartz that’s brimming with low-intervention wines, beers, and ciders, it’s the mystery patio dinners that run from Thursday to Saturday from April until November that’s a must-try when it comes to this Little India restaurant.
Rain or shine (the patio is covered), the six-course with wine degustation isn’t just tasty, but also entertaining as Schwartz describes his pairing choices with brilliant anecdotes that aren’t only nostalgic, but often pushing PG.
Expect unconventional dishes such as hamachi topped with pickled plums mingling with comfort-driven panzanella salad featuring candy-like tomatoes, and heartier numbers like a roast leg of lamb served with sided of charred sushi rice.
As the Terroni Group's newest Italian commissary kitchen, café, storefront, and restaurant, this Junction Triangle offshoot specializes in the production of all the pasta and frozen pizza products used in Terroni's restaurants.
From a ground-floor patio to a fully stocked bakery and takeaway counter, this day-to-night operation serves early-morning coffee and pastries, weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner.
There are classics like carpaccio, and crowd favourites including seafood studded cavatelli cozze e vongole and a platter-sized cotoletta alla Milanese. The latter is a breaded bone-in veal chop that’s served with a simple salad and great with a glass of Italian wine imported by the brand.
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