2014 was a good year for restaurants. Openings in Toronto seemed like a daily, maybe even hourly occurrence -- but not every new spot is equally deserving of your hard-earned dollars -- so please allow us to direct you to the 11 most commendable eateries to cut the ribbon this year...

Barsa Taberna

Barsa Taberna

St. Lawrence Market
The area around St. Lawrence Market is becoming more and more diverse where eating options are concerned. Barsa Taberna is one of the standouts in the neighbourhood and it’s smartly taken the concept of Spanish tapas to a fresh new level by incorporating flavours from around the world. So while the underlying idea might be Spanish in nature, you’re likely to find it tweaked with unexpected ingredients (dashi, or tamarind for instance) that elevate every bite.

Nana

Nana

Queen St. West
After months of speculation and an elaborate hoax that had the whole city guessing as to what would be opening in the papered-over place on Queen, we finally have our answer -- and it’s a good one. Anyone who has ever waited in line for the ridiculously good Thai food at Khao San Road should be happy to know that owner Montgomery Wan has bestowed upon us a new spot to snap up authentic eats you don’t need to travel 12 hours to Thailand to get your hands on.

Little Sister

Little Sister

Uptown
Toronto runs the gamut when it comes to food -- in any given ‘hood you can find everything from Indian to Italian to Greek. Indonesian however, isn’t a cuisine you would have associated with the city -- until now. Little Sister is Toronto’s only Indonesian restaurant and the Uptown spot is where to go to fill up on traditional Indonesian eats (or pretend you’re on vacation in Bali). Flavours are bold, cocktails inventive, and the décor is decidedly more Downtown than Uptown.

Patois

Patois

Dundas West
Toronto has what feels like countless places to get your Chinese food fix, as well as any number of spots to enjoy some jerk chicken or other Jamaican fare, but a Chinese-Jamaican hybrid is a new concept in the city -- and it’s one that works. The colourful space serves up dishes you won’t find anywhere else, like kimchi potstickers done “pierogi-style”, and a Jamaican patty double down featuring bacon, Swiss cheese fondue, and Sriracha.

Yasu

Yasu

The Annex
With seating for only 12, this tiny, tucked-away sushi joint is a haven for anyone who truly appreciates high-quality seafood. For $80 a person, you get 18 pieces of edomae sushi and dessert, and what you eat is entirely up to the chef. If you’re in one of the 10 bar-top seats, you get to watch him work. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are sourced from around the world and reservations are (obviously) a must.

bucayorkville

Buca Yorkville

Yorkville
The newest offering from the King Street Food Company’s family of restaurants, Buca Yorkville is the seafood-centric sibling to Buca and Bar Buca. You can still get the repeat visit-worthy pizzas and pastas Buca is so well known for at the newest incarnation, but the emphasis here is decidedly more pescatarian -- think cured fish platters, seafood-filled pastas, and a daily whole fish option.

Luckee

Luckee

Entertainment District
Celebrity Chef Susur Lee took dim sum upscale when he opened up Luckee in the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel. The sleek space is vibrant, elegant, and very much the opposite of that hole-in-the-wall you might go to in Chinatown after a night hitting the bars. The creative menu is comprised of what Lee dubs “Nouvelle Chinoise cuisine” and on it you’ll find flavourful items inspired by several regions of China, including the Hunan, Shanghai, and Szechuan regions.

Rasa

Rasa

Harbord Village
The Food Dudes have further expanded their culinary empire to include a sit-down space (with a second one on the way). Rasa opened up in July in Harbord Village and has been quietly garnering terrific reviews among a growing loyal following of foodie fans. The cozy, inviting space serves a globally-inspired menu big on bold flavours, creative preparation, and textures that surprise the palate (spare ribs w/ a root beer float, anyone?).

Montecito

Montecito Restaurant

Entertainment District
When Ivan Reitman made the move from directing classic flicks (Ghostbusters, FTW), and into fine dining, he made a smart move by teaming up with Jonathan Waxman. With their powers combined, they've created a huge bi-level spot with a large, yet inviting dining room, an upstairs lounge, private dining areas, as well as a large patio, and it's filled with with belly fillers that rotate with what’s in season, and they boastfully list their all-local suppliers on the menu.

DaiLo

DaiLo

Little Italy
DaiLo, the long-awaited Asian brasserie from Chef Nick Liu in Little Italy, as it turns out, has been totally worth the wait. Like many new spots in Toronto, it's divided into two parts; downstairs is a sit-down resto with a full dinner menu incl. whole fried trout, Singapore chili crab, etc., while upstairs is the more causal LoPan, featuring bar snacks like Jellyfish Slaw, KFC Popcorn Tofu, and the fast food-inspired Big Mac Bao.

CONNIE TSANG

Fat Pasha

The Annex
Yes, this completely justifiably popular place may be busy, loud, and boisterous, but that's mostly because of Fat Pasha’s amazing falafel; perfectly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft inside -- ideally dragged through house-made silky-smooth hummus. And whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the whole (or half) roast cauliflower, doused in pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, tahini, and salty halloumi cheese.

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1. Barsa Taberna 26 Market Street, Toronto, M8Z 0A5

Barsa Taberna is one of the standouts in the St. Lawrence Market and it’s smartly taken the concept of Spanish tapas to a fresh new level by incorporating flavours from around the world.

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2. Nana 785 Queen St West, Toronto, M6J 1G1 (Queen St West)

This Queen St West spot doles out some of the tastiest Thai cuisine around, featuring authentic flavors and a variety of favorites -- Nana brings Thailand to Toronto.

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3. Little Sister 2031 Yonge St, Toronto, M4S 2A2

Little Sister is Toronto’s only Indonesian restaurant and the Uptown spot is where to go to fill up on traditional Indonesian eats (or pretend you’re on vacation in Bali). Flavours are bold, cocktails inventive, and the décor is decidedly more Downtown than Uptown. The dinner options are colorfully plated, spice-crusted, and well-paired with one of the restaurant's specialty cocktails -- it's no wonder the space is consistently packed with a trendy crowd.

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4. Patois 794 Dundas St West, Toronto, M6J 1V1

Caribbean meets Asian street food in an unexpected yet delicious union. This colourful space in Dundas West serves up dishes you won’t find anywhere else, like kimchi potstickers done “pierogi-style”, and a Jamaican patty double down featuring bacon, Swiss cheese fondue, and Sriracha.

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5. Yasu 81 Harbord St, Toronto, M5S 1G4 (The Annex)

With seating for only 12, this tiny, tucked-away sushi joint on the South end of The Annex is a haven for anyone who truly appreciates high-quality seafood. For $80 a person you get 18 pieces of edomae sushi and dessert, and what you eat is entirely up to the chef. A visit to YASU is a primer in adventurous eating-- sample ingredients come from as Sri Lanka and are so diverse as to include Ankimo, otherwise known as the "foie gras of the sea."

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6. Buca Yorkville 53 Scollard St, Toronto, M5R 0A1 (The Church And Wellesley)

Buca Yorkville is the seafood-centric sibling to Buca and Bar Buca. You can still get the repeat visit-worthy pizzas and pastas Buca is so well-known for at this incarnation, but the emphasis here is decidedly more pescatarian -- think cured fish platters, seafood-filled pastas, and a daily whole fish option.

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7. Luckee 328 Wellington St W, Toronto, M5V 3T4

This sleek space is vibrant, elegant, and very much the opposite of that hole-in-the-wall you might go to in Chinatown after a night of drinking. The creative menu is comprised of what Chef Susur Lee dubs “Nouvelle Chinoise cuisine” and on it you’ll find flavourful items inspired by several regions of China, including the Hunan, Shanghai, and Szechuan regions.

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8. Rasa 196 Robert St, Toronto, M5S 2K7 (Harbord Village)

Located in Harbord Village, the cozy, inviting space serves a globally-inspired menu big on bold flavours, creative preparation, and textures that surprise the palette.

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9. Montecito Restaurant 299 Adelaide St W, Toronto, M5V 1P7

This two-story space in the Entertainment District has a massive dining room, an upstairs lounge, private dining areas, as well as a large patio, and a menu that changes with what’s in season (usually featuring fare like confit duck, or a sharing ribeye) and uses local suppliers who're all handily listed on the menu.

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10. DaiLo 503 College St, Toronto, M6J 2J3 (Little Italy)

This Asian brasserie in Little Italy is divided into two parts: downstairs is a sit down restaurant with a full dinner menu, while upstairs is more casual, featuring bar snacks like Peking duck,and mushroom & scallion tacos.

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11. Fat Pasha 414 Dupont St, Toronto, M5R 1V9 (The Annex)

Yes, this place is busy, loud, and small, but that won’t matter when you take your first lustful bite of Fat Pasha’s falafel, perfectly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft inside -- ideally dragged through house-made hummus. And whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the whole (or half) roast cauliflower, doused in pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, tahini, and salty halloumi cheese.

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