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2014 Toronto Restaurant and Bar Preview

By Suresh Doss
January 8, 2014

Toronto's dining scene was scorching hot in 2013, filling our bellies with octopus tacos, hot bowls of ramen, and Korean moonshine cocktails. Over 100 new restaurants opened across the city, with tacos and southern BBQ being key themes at restaurants and at food trucks. What's going to be big in 2014? Read on to find out. 

  • Food Truck 3.0

    It's time for some goat roti. Three years in, Toronto's street food scene is finally showing signs of good ethnic food. So far, food offerings from Toronto's top trucks include all things barbecue, poutine, and cupcakes. We all love our smoked ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, but it's time for some multicultural representation. In 2014 we'll see regional West Indian dhal puri from Randy's Roti, ramen from Nudulz, among a half a dozen other roaming vendors. 

  • Modern Ethnic

    In 2013 we saw a number of Toronto restaurants take ethnic dining to new frontiers,  marrying regional cuisines with modern cooking techniques and influences. We were introduced to turnip cake with xo sauce and Chinese sausage, Filipino sisig in crisp fried chicken form, and pickerel prepared in the Indian manner. In 2014, we can expect to see more modern ethnic takes on Indonesian, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, and (finally) more innovative takes on Indian cuisine.

  • Better dining options near the St. Lawrence Market 

    The St. Lawrence Market neighborhood may be home to the world's best food market, but until recently, proper dining options have been few and far in between. Construction finished on Market Street last year, creating a wide pedestrian walkway and a small army of restaurants that have started to open. Bindia was the first to open its doors, serving modern Indian. The folks behind Buster's Sea Cove will bring you Market Street Catch sometime early February, and highly anticipated tapas shop Barsa Taberna is set to open any day. These restaurants follow in the footsteps of neighborhood newbies WoodsTriple AAA, Carbon Bar, Fahrenheit Coffee.

  • Top Notch Dessert Menus

    The future never tasted sweeter. Last year, chefs teased the idea of bringing back fine dining, and recently their attention has turned to fine pastries and desserts. Move over plates of chocolate tortes and flavoured panna cottas, we're starting to see some refined dessert offerings. We've already tasted inventive desserts from Bero, Cafe Boulud, Momofuku ShotoRichmond Station this year, but expect this list to grow quickly with cooks revamping their treats list. 

  • Comfort Foods 

    Toronto is obsessed with all things American and Mexican. The burger craze shows no signs of slowing down with a number of new burger joints slated to open in late winter or early spring (Wahlburgers). Add to that, two new rumored tacquerias opening in the financial district (El Caballito being one), and a number of sandwich shops (Three Little Pigs, Cut The Cheese) Let's not forget about doughnuts, our sweet tooth will be rewarded with a slew of new shops serving up fried dough topped with a variety of ingredients. 

  • Food events

    Toronto's food-themed events play a crucial role in the city's culinary landscape. Nestled between the underground supper clubs, and the large-scale carnival-type, food events provide a platform for Toronto's booming popup and food truck vendors who have the opportunity to showcase their concepts to a niche foodie crowd without the worry of archaic city bylaws and restrictions. In 2013, it was the wild west, we reached a critical mass of events highlighting everything from poutine, to lobster (both firsts for Toronto) and two hour lineups for tacos. Food trucks and tacos are here to stay, but if current rumors are any indication, in 2014 we'll see more finely curated events programmed for a better user experience. 

    Events that we're excited about; Sip and Savour 2014, Food Trucks at World Pride, The Stop's Night Market, Toronto Taste

  • Vegetarian friendly

    Mover over pork belly, bring on the cauliflower pancakes and beet latkes. In 2014, we can expect Toronto chefs to continue shifting their menus away from meat-heavy dishes, and sourcing from local suppliers in Ontario more than ever to create beautiful vegetarian plates. Restaurants that opened in 2013 featured a larger-than-normal selection of vegetarian and vegan options (Harvest kitchen, THR & Co, Reds Midtown, Kupfert and Kim to name a few). Some restaurants like Leslieville's Glas wine bar was among the first to announce a weekly tasting menu that was both seasonal and vegetarian. Something we think will take flight in 2014. 

  • Even More Booze

    Ginger kombucha and smoked Horchata in in our cocktails? Yes please. Bourbon with carrot juice and walnut liqueur? bring it on. And Tequila? Make sure its at least a reposado. Predictions for 2014; rum and bourbon will coarse through Toronto's veins as more restaurants and bars source hard-to-find products that you can't find on store shelves. We'll also see more savoury cocktails on the menu (proscuitto, basil, beef jerky, oyster as ingredients). And despite the province's recent shortage on hops, the craft beer movement will be as hot as ever and if the newbies on the block are any indication (Collective Arts, Ontario Beer Company, Liberty Village Brewing Co, Six Pints Specialty Beer Co), we'll soon start seeing micro-breweries in the city's core. 

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