Toronto Eats – An Adventure in Variety
Toronto has such a diverse ethnic population and this is reflected in its cuisine. Many people have brought their favourite recipes from home and decorated their establishments to reflect an ambience of their native lands. What a way to travel around the world without leaving the city!
So, rather than dwell on the standard fare of Canadian and American chains, theme restaurants, or pubs, we’ll sort out the types to be found in this city by their culinary origins. By not naming or recommending any particular restaurants, we hope you’ll discover a favourite gem of a place on your visit to Toronto. We will indicate neighbourhoods or streets where a particular cuisine may predominate to help you in your quest for that memorable eatery.
The www.toronto.com site has listings of restaurants by area and type and the www.tordine.com site has over 7000 listings by style, location and other criteria. However, most of their restaurants are upscale and not necessarily great value. You will likely do better meandering and discovering your own, informal , non-corporate-run eateries with excellent food and service. Here is a brief, incomplete alphabetical listings of types of food:
There are both Ethiopian and Moroccan restaurants in the city in the Bloor-Yonge area and on Eglinton Avenue East and West.
There has been an explosion of both Japanese and Thai restaurants lately in town in all neighbourhoods, especially in the downtown core and theatre district. Try to find one where local Asians eat and with some authentic décor. Vietnamese dining places can be found on Spadina and a few blocks of College Street. A healthy choice.
With a large population from the Islands especially Jamaica, Toronto offers some authentic Caribbean cuisine in the downtown core.
The Roncellvalles Avenue is for Polish cooking and the Bloor-Spadina area and other scattered locations for authentic Hungarian food.
The Danforth (continuation of Bloor Street going East) is the place though many have gone “Mediterranean”, some still serve wonderful Greek ‘mezze’ (Hors-dóeuvres).
Lots of choices here throughout the city, but try the traditional area in the Gerrard Street East area, east of downtown.
Tons of choices throughout the city, but few are still family-run. For more traditional fare and ambience try College Street West (“Little Italy”) or St. Clair West (“The Corso”).
Latin (Mexican/Central and South American)
This new type of cuisine in Toronto reflects a large and growing Spanish-speaking community from many countries. Try Bloor Street west of Bathurst and St. Clair again west of Bathurst, for larger concentrations.
These are Arabic eateries scattered throughout the city with healthy food but most are the café, fast-food variety. A few real sit-down with service restaurants exist more uptown and the suburbs.
Concentrate in the Kensington Market area and College Street west of ‘Little Italy’, for seafood specialties.
This is not a city for great and fresh vegetarian cuisine, but there is one downtown and one in the west end (Dundas-Keele area) and many Asian and other cuisines have vegetarian choices.
Toronto can be a pricey city for meals of ordinary fare and service. But if you choose wisely and check menus outside before entering, one can do well. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if a restaurant is crowded with locals, especially weekdays, that’s a good sign. Ask a local where you are staying or one you meet while out touring for his or her favourite. Here are areas or blocks with a wide choice and variety of restaurants:
Better yet, discover your own out of the way ‘find’, and keep it a secret for a future trip to Toronto.