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Toronto's 10 Hottest Restaurants

By Suresh Doss
July 18, 2014

It’s been an exciting year for Toronto’s dining scene. From farm-to-table to modern Cantonese, and fried chicken to smoked sweetbreads, the city’s restaurants are gaining international recognition for their progressive cuisine. Here’s a list of the hottest restaurants worth checking out right now. Let us know if we missed any of your favourites in the comments below. 

  • People's Eatery

    Why it's hot: The folks behind the über-popular 416 Snack Bar recently opened this new spot in Chinatown. Chefs Jonah Snitman and Dustin Gallagher are serving up an inspired fusion of Chinese and Jewish cuisine. And the cocktails are fantastic.

    Must order: Get the whitefish salad with tobiko, smoked fish board and, yes, General Tso tofu.

    Insider tip: The cocktails are not to be missed, so hit up the bar and let the mixologists take you on a ride. 

    307 Spadina Ave.; 416-792-1784

  • Byblos

    Why it's hot: The Eastern Mediterranean-themed eatery is the latest project by restaurateurs Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji, and it's quickly become the talk of the town for its stylish decor and punchy flavours. Chef Stuart Cameron (Patria) has developed a menu that defly brings together the exotic flavours of Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Bonus: plates are great for group sharing.

    Must order: Spanish octopus with pomegranate; steak tartare with chile paste and yogurt served with Barbari bread.

    Insider tip: Reservations are a must, but think about what type of atmosphere you want before you call. Late-night with friends, go upstairs. If you're looking for something low-key and casual, head downstairs.

    11 Duncan St.; 647-660-0909

  • Langdon Hall

    Why it's hot:  Chef Jason Bangerter has taken over the kitchen at this Relais & Chateaux hotel in Cambridge, and he's cooking up incredible, elegant dishes using produce from the estate's lush garden and local foragers and producers.

    Must order: Get the chef's tasting menu; it's the best way to experience Bangerter's cooking.

    Insider tip: Stay overnight — chef Bangerter's opulent brunch is worth it. 

    1 Langdon Dr., Cambridge; 519-740-2100

  • Portland Variety

    Why it's hot: We finally have a proper pintxo bar in Toronto. Milton Nunes, owner of the popular bakery and coffee shop Le Gourmand, opened this new spot on King West a few weeks ago. During the day, the front of the restaurant serves as a coffee and pastry counter, with an assortment of baked goods and coffees. By night the restaurant switches it up by offering a pintxo and tapas menu. 

    Must order: Stick with the pintxos at the front, or sit down and order the shrimp pil-pil, seared octopus or dry-aged rib-eye. 

    Insider tip: The restaurant has a strong cocktail list with many hits. Also available are wines by the glass for under $10.

    587 King St. W.; 416-368-5151

  • Kwan Restaurant

    Why it's hot: It used to be that if you wanted good Cantonese cooking in the city, you had to head Uptown. Not anymore. Kwan's is the hottest spot in the city for dim sum and modern Cantonese cooking. While a number of dishes remain authentic, the playfulness and creativity coming from the kitchen brings dining in Midtown to new heights.

    Must order: During the day, it's all about the dim sum. For dinner, don't miss the Peking duck and the pork dishes. 

    Insider tip: To avoid disappointment, go with a group (four or more). Kwan's menus are extensive and you don't want to feel like you missed out. The seafood section in particular requires a few hungry participants.

    1496 Yonge St.; 416-901-6618

  • Fat Pasha

    Why it's hot: Anthony Rose's latest restaurant brings modern Jewish family-style cooking to the masses.

    Must order: Start with the daily salatim (an assortment of fresh salads, pickles, cooked dishes), then the latke platter with pastrami salmon, smoked fish and caviar. The mixed grill and shawarma is also terrific.

    Insider tip: Fat Pasha is one of the hottest reservations in town right now, but you can nab a few seats at the bar if you go earlier in the evening.

    176 Dupont St.; 647-748-3287

  • Bar Buca

    Rob Gentile's new Italian snack bar in the King West district has quickly created a citywide obsession with shared Italian plates. The tiny 38-seat bar features a full morning menu of assorted pastries, incredible cannoli and great coffee cocktails. Once lunch kicks in, there are more than 30 shareable items on the menu. Highlights include the artichoke salad and the grilled skewers.

    Why it's hot: The myriad snacking-plate options allow you to customize your experience. Grab a quick pre-theater snack, or eat and drink for hours. 

    Must order: Baby octopus spiedini ($7), artichoke crudo ($7).

    Insider tip: The chef's rail has the best seats in the house.

    75 Portland Ave.; no reservations; 416-865-1600

  • Photo by: RenĂ©e S. Suen

    Shoto

    Why it's hot: The menu takes you on a global journey of textures and tastes. The 20-seat open dining space puts you front and center with the kitchen brigade as you embark on a 10-course dining experience like no other in the city. Standout dishes include the goose wonton dumplings, sunchoke consommé, spaghetti with nori and banana cashew crumble.

    Must order: The tasting menus ($150).

    Insider tip: A more affordable tasting menu is available Tuesday to Thursday ($95). The beverage pairings are a must — they include local and international wine, beer and a variety of cocktails.

    190 University Ave.; 647-253-8000

    Photo credit: Renée S. Suen

  • Chantecler

    Why it's hot: Located in Parkdale, Chantecler has quickly gained a reputation for its shareable lettuce-wraps meal (braised meats complete with all accoutrements) and a limited daily tasting menu prepared by chef Jonathon Poon himself. The restaurant recently launched Sunday brunch service, with many items paying tribute to Cantonese dim sum. Picture-progressive Canadian fare sprinkled with hints of modern Cantonese.

    Must order: The chef's tasting menu ($65) and the beef tartare ($12).

    Insider tip: Reservations are hard to come by, so it's best to pop in earlier in the week and grab a seat at the bar.

    1320 Queen St. W.; 416-628-3586

  • Drake 150

    Why it's hot: Queen West hipster-laced Drake makes a splash in the core, bringing the cool to the Financial District with Drake One Fifty. Designed by British designer Martin Brudnizki, the expansive space features artwork by Douglas Coupland, cork ceilings and a 360-degree bar, and is complemented by chef Ted Corrado’s bistro menu. Eat through a daily raw bar, pizzas from the wood-fired oven and luxury items like the côte de boeuf, whole-grilled fish and seasonal seafood platter, which are designed for sharing. Power-lunch-popular hits include the short-rib burger, rotisserie chicken and the signature liver and onions.

    Must order: Dorset Ontario Lamb ($28), liver and onions ($26).

    Insider tip: Call ahead to avoid disappointment; the restaurant is packed daily but oftentimes cancellations are released just before dinnertime. 

    150 York St.; 416-363-6150

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Places Mentioned

Cafe Boulud

French • Bloor-Yorkville

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Bar Isabel

Spanish • Little Italy

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Richmond Station

Eclectic • Financial District

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Electric Mud BBQ

Barbecue • Parkdale

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Chantecler

Canadian • Parkdale

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
The Chase Toronto

Seafood • Financial District

Food- Decor- Service- CostVE
 
 
 
 
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