If you know me, you know that Toronto is my favourite city in the world but if you also know me, you know I live here and am incredibly bias. Lets be honest though, Toronto is a great city. It’s rich with cultures from all over the world, great art, architecture, so many things to do, and fantastic places to eat. One of my favourite things to do is go out and try new restaurants. Given that Toronto has so many fantastic restaurants, you could literally eat somewhere different every day for a year and never run out new places to eat. However, there’s some places that I like so much that I’ve returned back time after time again and I thought I’d share those with you. Here are my favourites!
Stelvio located centrally on Queen West, near the intersection of Queen and Spadina is by far my favourite spot in the city. This rustic, yet modern restaurant serves Northern Italian cuisine and they do it incredibly well. As you sit on their patio you’ll hear everyone around you speaking Italian, that’s how good and authentic it is, even the local Italians come out to eat here. It doesn’t get better than this. The owners even own a location in Milan so they’re the real deal. Their gnocchi is my favourite but you can’t really go wrong with anything on their menu!
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Figo is another Italian spot located downtown Toronto near Peter and Adelaide. Although not quite as authentic as Stelvio, the atmosphere here is fun and the decor is beautiful. Figo makes for a great spot for any occasion and on top of their amazing lunch and dinner they also have a fantastic brunch. Don’t skip their zucchini fritti for an appetizer and try one of their fantastic pastas or pizzas for the main course.
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If you’re looking for fantastic Thai food in the city there is lots to choose from. The owners of Pai actually have brought authentic Thai food to all over the city with their multiple restaurants such as Khao San Road, a city favourite. However, personally, I love Pai. The ambiance of the restaurant is busy and fun and the food does not fall short from being authentic (I’ve been to Thailand, I can vouch for this). Everything is good on this menu but I love the green curry or the khao soi.
La Carnita is a Mexican chain of restaurants that has exploded across the city. When I first visited years ago they only had one location on College Street and today they have four locations throughout the city, as well as a spin off to their restaurant and cult favourite, Sweet Jesus (think over the top ice cream cones). However given their growth throughout the city, they haven’t lost the quality of their food. The Mexican street corn is a must-try for an appetizer and you can choose from their array of gourmet tacos for your main course.
Queen Mother has sat on Queen Street West since 1978 and today, the restaurant situated inside an old building still serves fantastic food. Their menu features a mix of everything but they are known for their Lao-Thai cuisine. My personal favourite is their khao soy gai, a traditional northern Laotian dish of chicken in a spicy broth filled with Thai herbs, turmeric, curry, coconut milk, egg noodles and vegetables. It’s delicious and reasonably priced. They also have a garden patio out back!
Can you tell I like Italian food? Oretta is newer on the restaurant circuit in Toronto. I was originally attracted to this spot because of its gorgeous decor, however, the food didn’t fall short. I would say Oretta’s menu is filled with Italian classics but with a modern twist. I ordered the risotto because the waiter said it would be like nothing I’ve ever had before, and he was right. It arrived as a crispy square of goodness and although it wasn’t like the classic risotto you may be used to, it was fantastic. I also had the cavoletti salad which was shaved brussel sprouts, almonds, pickled red onion, pecorino, and crispy prociutto. Sounds random but it was superb.
Boasting one of the best patios in the city, El Catrin is located in the historical Distillery District on the east end of Toronto. The restaurant decor and design is gorgeous. The beautiful mural located inside took Mexican artists almost 100 days to complete. Their menu includes a lengthy tequila list if that’s your thing and also a variety of tapa style dishes that allows you to sample everything they have to offer. Their guacamole is fresh, handmade right at your table and everything else on their menu doesn’t fall short of what you’d see in a Mexican restaurant in Mexico itself.
These are just a few of my favourite restaurants in the city. My list continues to grow of places I want to try and with that, I’m sure this list of my favs will only continue to grow and change.