Toronto’s West End is a growing culinary dream with multicultural dining ranging from cheap eats to high-end indulgences. The ever-changing Ossington Strip has become a new food mecca for people all over the GTA. What's most incredible about the 650-meter strip is that its culinary mosaic has no overlap in cuisine. Each restaurant is truly a standalone and the Strip inspires what could be the best culinary scavenger hunt in all of Toronto. These are the places you should absolutely know about.
The best fusion
FoxleyAddress and Info
Typically a dirty word, "fusion" is often seen as a cheesy throwback, but Foxley is doing it right as it marries Asian and pan-Latin cuisines in tapas form. With an almost overwhelmingly extensive menu, you'll have a hard time deciding what not to order. Foxley serves up inventive tapas and an extensive wine list from around the globe. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the blue crab and avocado salad and the lamb and duck prosciutto dumplings. Oh, and Foxley is walk-in only, so be decisive in your timing when you're trying to snag a seat.
Best Greek restaurant
Mamakas TavernaAddress and Info
Fancying a quick hop over to Mykonos but don’t quite have the time or funds? Walking into Mamakas Taverna instantly transports you to the Greek Isles. The narrow restaurant radiates Mediterranean colors, smells, and, dare I say it, sun! This is not your grab-and-go gyro shack. Mamakas focuses on traditional Greek fare with a medley of beautiful spices. For a memorable night you won’t remember, have some traditional ouzo, an anise-flavored apéritif, to wrap up your meal.
Hawker BarAddress and Info
“Prove that you love me and buy the next round... ” is the sign that greets patrons just before entering this dimly lit Ossington haunt. Serving up a small, yet well-curated menu of Korean-inspired tapas, Hawker Bar leaves diners full to bursting with delectable chili soy chicken wings and lasaka katong. However, the dynamic flavours of the food are not the only star; this small restaurant serves up a dangerously delicious interpretation of a Singapore Sling. Be here on a Wednesday for Wings and Slings -- $15 for a pound of wings and a Hawker Sling.
Best date spot
UnionAddress and Info
This French-inspired bistro is all about comfort. Don’t come in expecting cheap eats, but you'll get your money’s worth with the size of the portions. Do not pass up Union's signature appetizer: elk sliders. These puppies are bursting with flavour and are big enough for an entrée. If you’re still hungry and feeling extra carnivorous, try the sticky ribs that fall right off the bone and leave you happily satiated. Stop in on a Monday night for half-off all bottles of wine.
Best Cuban food
La Cubana OssingtonAddress and Info
This dinette serves up some seriously delicious chow. No need to hop on a flight to Miami to cure your Cubano craving -- its small menu boasts big flavour and traditional plates. From succulent, slow-roasted pork shoulder to chicken medianoche, you can’t go wrong. The only decision you’ll need to make is when you’re going to come back. Come through on Thursday through Sunday and check out the backroom cocktail lounge for some cervezas and Cuban cocktails to go with a traditional Cuban sandwich.
Best cheap eats
Pho Tien ThanhAddress and Info
It might be in the best interest of this restaurant’s regulars to tell you that Golden Turtle just up the street is far superior -- but that would just make us liars. This no-frills Vietnamese eatery isn’t much for a venue, but the food speaks for itself. The pho broth is teeming with flavour and rich aromas, and the rare beef is a must-try. This cash-only nook will leave you full and your wallet unscathed.
Most Canadian restaurant
BoraliaAddress and Info
Ever wonder what the native Canadian settlers ate? Ever wanted to taste it for yourself? Well, now you can thanks for Boralia, a whimsically decorated spot serving elevated Canadian fare. The menu is a bonafide history lesson, taking you back in time with your palate as your guide. Boralia is delicious in both concept and execution; the couple that runs the restaurant pays a beautiful homage to the country’s culinary culture and rich history. The hearty pigeon pie and venison liver foie gras parfait would make the likes of Samuel de Champlain salivate.
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Foxley blends Asian and pan-Latin cuisine in tapas form. The extensive menu embodies fusion dining, featuring small plates like blue crab and avocado salad and lamb and duck prosciutto dumplings, and of course, an extensive wine list from around the globe. Beware that it doesn't take reservations, so be decisive in your timing when trying to snag a seat.
Designed to look like an open-air Greek market, MT features a variety of flavourful mezzes, grilled items, salads, and sides in Ossington.
This Singapore-style bar/resto may be small, but it serves up big flavor with their menu loaded with a mix of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian flavors.
Union serves comfort-worthy French food in decidedly non-French portions. The menu marries Parisian brasserie classics like French onion soup and steak frites with house signatures, like elk sliders on toasted challah and braised ribs with homemade barbecue sauce. Though dinner is certainly Union's raison d'être, the egg-centric brunch service is a must.
This dinette serves a small but thoughtful menu of traditional Cuban dishes. Expect golden brown pressed Cubano sandwiches; plates of achiote roasted chicken and guava barbecue short rib served with Cuban rice and beans, red cabbage slaw, and fried plantains; and fried sides like cod croquettes and yuca frites. The trendy counter-order is also a must for weekend brunch, when you'll find plenty of chorizo and egg creations.
This no-frills Vietnamese eatery doesn't have much ambience, but the food speaks for itself. The pho broth is teeming with flavor and rich aromas, and the rare beef is a must-try. Make sure you have cash (Pho Tien Thanh is cash-only), but don't worry, the cheap prices will keep your wallet full.
Boralia is a whimsically decorated restaurant on Ossington Ave that serves elevated Canadian fare. The menu is a bonafide history lesson, taking you back in time with your palate as your guide. The couple that runs the restaurant pays a beautiful homage to the Canada's culinary culture and rich history. The hearty pigeon pie and venison liver foie gras parfait would make the likes of Samuel de Champlain salivate.