Baro
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Toronto Right Now

Published On 10/09/2017
Adam Epstein and Tara Wilkins

Adamson Barbecue

East York

Adam Skelly and Alison Hunt’s lunch-only smokehouse expands on the city’s growing obsession with BBQ. The duo serve up traditional Texas BBQ from a wood-only smoker capable of handling up to 1,300lbs of meat at a time. Think slabs of brisket, spare ribs, turkey breast, pulled pork, and sausage that's paired with slaw, beans, potato salad, and imported bottles of Waco’s finest -- aka Big Red soda. In true Franklin/Micklethwait fashion, Adamson is open 11am on weekdays until they sell out -- and they will sell out.

Courtesy of Bombay Street Food

Bombay Street Food

Discovery District

Bay St's former What A Bagel spot is now home to Bombay Street Food, a Mumbai-inspired pop-up that focuses on the delights of home-style Indian dishes. The menu isn’t extensive or full of butter chicken and samosas like you'd expect, but it introduces halal-friendly Chicken Frankie rolls (renditions on roti), Eggplant Bhaaji Pav, Masala Haddock, and vegetarian sides like Gunpowder Fries, which are tossed with South Indian spices and topped with a tangy coconut chutney.

Clocktower Bar

Clocktower Bar

Summer Hill

Clocktower Bar is the only reason you need to venture up to Summerhill this fall. The Yonge St spot is a lot more than just Boxcar Social on bitters -- all signs point to its backyard BBQ-esque patio, which has become an intimate checkpoint for fizzes, Old Fashioneds, and the Barcelona Address, a potent mix of Lustau Oloroso sherry, Cinzano, prosecco, and lemon oil. The best part? Get a handful of drinks at half price from 6-8pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Lisa Poshni

Her Father's Cider Bar + Kitchen

Harbord Village

How do you top 80-plus variations of small-batch cider? You don’t. At Her Father’s, the city’s first all-cider bar, you pair each local and international craft brew with versatile seasonal menus of brunch, lunch, dinner, and snack plates. Dishes like its lobster salad ($18), cider-glazed cod ($24), and deviled eggs with snow crab ($3) go hand in hand with cocktails such as the Spiced Apple Old Fashioned ($14) and the Ctrl + Alt + Delete ($10), which spikes Shiny Peach Cider with Stoli, Pluck rooibos tea, and peche de vigne liqueur.

Courtesy of Pray Tell

Pray Tell

Little Italy

Pray Tell is a new 50-seat snack bar from Nickie Minshall (Track & Field), Dustin Keating (Montauk, Track & Field), and chef Sonia Mondino (Home Of The Brave, Patois). PTB’s food menu is small, but each small, shareable plate is hearty, including California cold rolls ($9), steak tartare ($15), coconut ginger sorbet ($5), and a pocket pizza supreme ($9) stuffed with Bolognese and mozzarella served in a miniature pool of lemon herb oil. There’s also a curated wine list, Left Field and Mill St. brews, and cocktails like Make Nice ($13) with passion fruit puree and rose-infused Cointreau.

Courtesy of Real Mo-Mo’s

Real Mo-Mo's

St. Lawrence

Monique Guffens’ new King East eatery pulls flavors from Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands -- a great new spot for casual dates and weekend hangs. For starters, go with an order of Tibetan vegetable dumplings ($10) to work up an appetite for mains such as the bison burger ($18), grilled tofu & soba noodles ($18), and the cider-braised PEI mussels ($15). If you’re fighting off post-work blues, then grab a glass of the tequila sangria ($12).

Courtesy of Street Shak

Street Shak

Queen West

If you’re a fan of Simone’s and Mr Jerk, then you’ll grow fond of Street Shak. Tony Bradshaw’s Queen West Barbadian eatery screams fast-casual with a menu full of rotis, oxtail, jerk chicken salads, fish cakes and bakes, spicy tamarind and coconut tofu, and a Bajan-style macaroni pie. For those that can take the heat, there’s also a small cubby that’s dedicated to Scotch bonnet hot sauces that pair well with drinks such as Boylan sodas and bottles of Carib, Red Stripe, and Heineken.

Courtesy of Baro

Baro

King West

Baro could be depicted as a modernized revision of the Valdez’s old Latin American concepts, but the street eats have leveled up. Longtime chef Steve Gonzalez is on a “nuevo Latino” kick, which has translated to pulled smoked chicken tostadas, five-spice chorizo and arepitas, guava chicken wings, and ceviche that includes plantain, passion fruit, and pineapple agua chile. Throw in churros with salted dulce de leche and a bar that carries 20 different kinds of tequila, including Clase Azul Añejo, and you have a reason to spend your Friday nights at this King West spot.

Bodega Henriette/Instagram

Bodega Henriette

Upper Beach

Bodega Henriette is the closest thing Toronto has to upscale chopped cheese culture, and its quirky design fits the Beaches. The restaurant/bar/cafe/market hybrid has a small corner of grocery essentials that’s enhanced by fresh pastries, sandwiches, weekend brunch, and an array of cocktails and craft brews for the evening. They also have Wi-Fi, so forget about your Starbucks go-to order and grab one of Henriette’s espresso old fashioneds.

Courtesy of Crepe TO

Crepe TO

Old Toronto

Rez Zarafshan and Aurash Gashgaei’s Church Street crepe house ditches plates and utensils for on-the-go paper cones, with good reason. Their sweet and savoury crepes are a mouthful and go by names such as Roxbury (nutella, marshmallows, bananas), Hell Boy (spicy salami, hot peppers, havarti cheese, tomato pesto), and TFC (roast beef, turkey, cheddar, pickles, BBQ sauce, garlic aioli). Pro tip: don’t ignore their breakfast classics or juice bar, which is stocked with soy milk smoothies and freshly pressed Costa Rican sugar cane.

Courtesy of Doma

DOMA

Little Italy

This Little Italy retreat is owner/chef Paul Kim’s first project since training at Ottawa’s Le Cordon Bleu, and it showcases his flair for cuisine that’s equally French and Korean. Located at Clinton and College, Doma’s 44-seat space is complemented by a chic Scandinavian-inspired interior and a custom cocktails list courtesy of Danielle Yoon’s Drinksmith that includes creations like Pear Of My Eye (Tito’s Vodka, Disaronno, asian pear, lemon). The food menu, on the other hand, changes every month but always features the option to taste every dish for just $65 per person.

Courtesy of FAMO Sandwiches

FAMO Sandwiches

Corktown

Husband-and-wife duo Babak Fahmi and Shabnam Moier have caused quite the stir in the greater Toronto area as FAMO’s fusion-sandwich style puts the unusual first. Their creations use alternative cuts of meat, like tongue and oxtail, and include baguettes and ciabattas being topped with slow-braised beef cheek, green-tea-glazed crusted tofu, and pulled chicken breast with spicy mango slaw. The daily chef’s special is usually a great bet, as are the fingerling fries, Vineland wine, and tall glasses of Station Cold Brew.

Courtesy of Kaboom Chicken

Kaboom Chicken

Riverside

The new Riverside grab-and-go is a Korean fusion spot that co-owner Richard Lee defined as “food truck-style food gone brick and mortar.” Kaboom’s take on street eats revolves around its renowned Korean fried chicken, which is caramelized with a sweet chili “Korean Crack” sauce and often served on a Hong Kong-style bubble waffle. The menu also includes kimchee rice balls, a galibi beef take on poutine, and a fried chicken ramen burger. And yes, it lives up to the hype.

Courtesy of Oakwood Hardware

Oakwood Hardware

Oakwood Village

Anne Sorrenti’s new restaurant has become the jewel of Oakwood Village thanks to an eclectic menu that plays Cupid with cuisines and emphasizes seasonal ingredients. Throw back a margarita sour or plum shrub bourbon cocktail courtesy of bartender Nick Watson, then go to town on charcuterie boards, winter salads, slow-braised beef tacos, Korean-style poutine, coconut curry seafood bowls, and a lentil shepherd’s pie that will give you the veggie and cheese sweats.

Courtesy of Otto’s Bierhalle

Otto's Bierhalle

Little Portugal

The team at Otto’s Berlin Doner have expanded to Little Portugal, pouring their love for imports and architectural metal into a German beer hall that’s full of nostalgia. Andrew Bailey and Steve Nguyen’s new menu is sans doner, but now they’re doing spaetzle and cheese ($8), sauerkraut fritters ($5), and Bavarian “feasts” ($35 to $55). This is a bierhalle, after all -- for the boozier crowds, there’s dozens of local brews and internationals on tap, an extensive bottle array of ciders and seasonals, and a rotating list of house cocktails.

Courtesy of P.G. Cluck’s

P.G. Clucks Fried Chicken

Little Italy

At P.G. Cluck’s, fried bird is the word, as Pawel Grezlikowski’s latest venture has become a pitstop for Nashville hot chicken. Their short menu features sandwiches topped with pickles, smoky chili sauce, and sweet jalapenos, paired with coleslaw, potato salad, cheese balls, chipotle macaroni, and additional pieces of deboned deep-fried bird. The chicken is sorted by heat level, and if you have the right attitude, you can get the secret menu item -- the honey and jalapeno sandwich served on a honey cruller bun.

Steven Lee

Planta

Yorkville

The new offshoot from Chase Hospitality Group and David Lee (Nota Bene) has abolished the v-word (“vegan”) in favour of sticking to one golden rule: only using plant-based ingredients. It might seem like a limitation but at Planta, chef Lee thrives -- their brunch, lunch, and dinner menus boast Coconut Ceviche and Smoked Beet Pastrami, and snacks like the 18 Carrot Dog which slaps a smoked Cookstown Greens’ carrot on a housemade turmeric bun, with all the fixings. They also do cocktails with cold-pressed juices and desserts like the standout Carrot-Walnut Cake.

Brian So

Salt & Tobacco

Cabbagetown

Located next door to Jet Fuel, Salt and Tobacco is a new Cabbagetown eatery that’s an inviting intro to Roman-style pizzas. Their menu offers 11 thin-crust styles with prosciutto, genoa salami, soppressata, pineapple, brussels sprouts, and giardiniera. For drinks, there’s local craft beer, select wines, and imported chinotto, aranciata, and limonata sodas.

Courtesy of Wafels & More

Wafels and More

Kensington Market

Tired of gelato and soft-serve? Rebound with Wafels & More, the authentic Belgian waffle bar that serves treats both sweet and savoury. Their Liege-style creations are nothing to scoff at, as they call for pearl sugar (imported from Belgium) and are made with a dough (not batter). Other favourites include the Canadian (maple syrup & vanilla ice cream), Cream & Cookies (mini Oreo & dark Belgian chocolate), and the Speculoos Bomb, which features a Nutella-like spread of Speculoos cookie butter.

Courtesy of White Lily Diner

White Lily Diner

Riverdale

Do yourself a favor and skip the upscale bistros for a reunion with some diner classics at Ben Denham and Ashley Lloyd’s comfort food spot. In addition to Southern grits and buttermilk griddle cakes, there are turkey clubs, hummus plates, Caesar-ish salads, and four different patty melts that can be attacked four different ways. To finish things off, they also do baked goods, such as lemon meringue tarts, roasted pear pies, and daily doughnuts that include sour cherry and sticky toffee pecan versions.

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