There was a time, not long ago, when it seemed as if every restaurant was doing a tasting menu. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the concept started to feel a bit overdone. When ALO recently opened its doors people were skeptical of the tasting menu focus -- but not for long. Chef Patrick Kriss has taken the concept and loosened the reins, giving diners some choice in what lands on their plates. And what lands on their plates is gorgeous and extremely satisfying. Five courses (of which diners can choose from two different options) and as many as nine dishes are beautifully presented with a creative use of seasonal ingredients.
Do you like fried things? Answer: of course you do, which is why you need to get to A3 Napoli in Little Italy. Walk in, order food at one counter and pay and order drinks at another. Then seat yourself, sip your drink and wait for all the fried goodness to arrive, fresh from the friggitrici (a huge, circular deep fryer handmade in Naples). What exactly gets fried? Seasonal veggies, arancini, and meatballs to name just a few. And since this place comes courtesy of the folks behind Pizzeria Libretto, VPN-certified wood-fired pies are also on offer as well as pizza fritta (small, puffed, and stuffed fried pizzas).
Anthony Rose continues to expand his empire of Toronto restaurants. Most recently he took over much-loved Toronto diner Swan. The look and feel is familiar, and the menu leans heavily towards comfort items you’d expect from a diner, but with a California-inspired twist. Rose spent some time living in the Golden State and allows that to bring a subtle influence to the new Swan menu, which highlights fresh, seasonal produce and high-quality ingredients treated simply but deftly.
This brand-new Leslieville pub from the people behind Eastside Social does pub classics with an east coast twist. The name comes from a pub in Halifax the owners used to be patrons of. The space was transformed from its former identity as a Chinese restaurant into a warm, comfortable pub that feels like it’s always been there. The menu features maritime specialties like fried pepperoni, Halifax donairs, shrimps on toast, and fish and chips. Booze-wise there are 10 taps and plenty of scotch and Irish whisky to keep you warm on a winter night.
What is now Rickshaw Bar was recently Lot St. The changeover happened quietly, and the décor remains similar, but while both spots focused on small, sharable plates, the menu at Rickshaw Bar has been inspired by South Asian street food. Expect flavours from all over South Asia in dishes like pakora fritters, various curries, and paratha tacos which come in beef, chicken, and veggie versions.
Open 24 hours a day, this Dundas West spot splits its focus between classic BBQ and diner-inspired comfort foods like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and indulgent brunch items (available 24/7). So no matter what you order here, it’s probably going to stick to your ribs. And considering it’s sweater season (and soon to be snowsuit season), that’s a good thing. The space is designed in such a way that it’s comfortable no matter what time of day (or night) you’re there. Oh, and did we mention there are boozy milkshakes? We suggest ordering one.
There’s going for sushi -- and then there’s going to Kasa Moto for sushi. This swanky spot in Yorkville is swanky even by Yorkville standards. The two-floor restaurant comes from the same people behind Colette, The Chase, and Little Fin, and in addition to sushi the menu focuses on refined, contemporary Japanese cuisine. The sprawling (and did we mention swanky) space can accommodate 380, plus there’s a 170-seat patio. Expect colourful, delicately plated dishes, including both hot and cold items, rice and noodle dishes, robata, and the aforementioned sushi.
Everyone’s favourite comfort food is the focus of newly opened Bobbie Sue’s, the newest addition to the Ossington strip. The people behind Poutini’s and Hawker Bar have forayed into mac & cheese territory. Cavatappi gets doused in house béchamel and then topped with a variety of cheeses and other toppings. Stick with the basic version, or amp things up with twists on the classic mac like the pulled pork version, buffalo blue mac, and carbonara mac, which gives you noodles and cheese topped with pancetta, Grana Padano, and an egg yolk.
Recently opened Mexican restaurant Reforma 35 took over the space that was most recently Agua Y Aguacate (also Mexican). But while the latter was a more refined Mexican experience, Reforma 35 takes a much simpler, back-to-basics approach, putting the spotlight on Mexican street food and good old-fashioned margaritas. Think various tacos, chuncky guac, flautas, and enchiladas.
1. Alo163 Spadina Ave, Toronto
2. A3 Napoli589 College St, Toronto
3. Swan by Rose and Sons892 Queen St W, Toronto
4. The Thirsty Duck972 Queen Street E,
5. Rickshaw Bar685 Queen St W, Toronto
6. Old School800 Dundas St W, Toronto
7. Kasa Moto115 Yorkville Ave, Toronto
8. Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese162 Ossington Ave, Toronto
9. Café Boulud (2.0)60 Yorkville Ave, Toronto
10. Fring's455 King Street West, Toronto
11. Reforma 3535 Baldwin St, Toronto
Named for the Latin word "alo" (to nourish, sustain, and support), this restaurant upholds hospitality with a carefully-crafted French tasting menu in sleek, modern digs.
Blackened, crisp, Neapolitan pies are served at this relaxed Italian eatery, in addition to beer and wine. Try the pizza fritta—it won't disappoint.
This casual diner serves Californian-inspired North American eats such as avocado toast, New England clam chowder, butternut squash fajitas, and breakfast burritos, all made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
From the minds behind Eastside Social, this bar/gastropub's menu draws from Maritime specialities such as fried pepperoni, Halifax donairs, and shrimps on toast. Plenty of taps and an assortment of scotch and Irish whiskey will keep you hydrated at this watering hole.
This easy going spot serves South Asian street food-inspired small plates and snacks—think scallop ceviche, pakora fritters, and makai curry—and vegetarian shareables.
American classics are served 24 hours a day at this retro Dundas West diner. Favorites include bacon and brie hotcakes, two pigs and a cow (brisket, spare ribs, and pulled pork), and unforgettable boozy milkshakes.
Refined Japanese cuisine is showcased at this upscale Yorkville restaurant, and thankfully it involves more than sushi. Specifically, diners here can choose from an omakase tasting at the sushi bar, a cold soba noodle salad drenched in creamy tahini, or a salmon and tuna ceviche salad mixed with carrot and root vegetables. All the dishes are artistically plated -- perhaps where the higher price points are introduced -- and likely best enjoyed at the ivy-dressed rooftop patio.
Yes, you died and went to heaven. Creative mac 'n' cheese is offered at this takeout restaurant, like Buffalo Blue Mac, Curry in a Hurry Mac, and Pulled Pork Mac. As Katy Perry would say, "No regrets. Just love."
Located in the Four Seasons, this revamped version of Café Boulud includes a revised menu and decor reminiscent of a comfortable French bistro. The authentic French entrees will be family style, harkening back to Chef Sylvain Assié's childhood in Avignon.
Under the collaboration of Chef Susur Lee and Toronto native son, the one and only Drizzy a.k.a Drake, this Toronto hot spot offers American and Asian fusion-inspired eats like grilled octopus and whole pan seared branzino . "6 side" cocktails and an extensive wine selection will help make your meal VIP worthy.