Here are some excellent (and I mean excellent) places I have found to fill your tummy right here in Toronto.
Harbord House – Canadian
On Harbord, between Bathurst and Spadina
I went here last year and they have a great selection of food. Boasting a plenty of comfort food, it’s an ideal place for summer through fall. What I love about this place is they have a young chef, trying to make his mark in the city. The poutine is made with a mix of sweet potato fries and Yukon gold, gravy, cheese curds, and carmelized onions. Everything here is hearty and made fresh. The ingredients are local and the beers are from microbreweries all over Canada. They boast great ciders from Alberta and delicious wheats from Saskatchewan. All their beers are unique to their restaurant.
Poutini’s – Canadian
This place is my Achilles Heel. I have been to Montreal and this still beats all of ’em. Located on Queen/Dovercourt, this tiny shop is always packed on a Saturday night. I have never had poutine like this in my life. Way better than Smokes IMHO. Cheese curds are squeaky, fresh and from up north. The menu only has some basic things, but why change a classic? You will NOT regret going here.
259 Host – East Indian
Wellington/Blue Jays Way
Unlike The Host on Prince Arthur, 259 Host has a completely different menu and presentation. Considered high end Indian at a low price, you can enjoy delicious creative twists like Avocado Samosas, Jackfruit Masala, Goat Cheese/Spinach stuffed Naan, Cheese Croquettes (Brie stuffed inside panir, cooked so brie melts within) and Pan fried Halibut. Given the award for Best Butter Chicken in Ontario, 259 Host enjoys telling all their guests EXACTLY what’s in every meal to create a unique dining experience. Everything is made from scratch including the tomato sauce and spices are roasted every morning.
Fynn’s of Temple Bar
This is a great place to stop for a bite. You’ll find many of the ad community frequent this nouveau-style pub. With excellent choices like the Bison Burger, the Steak Salad and the Mulligatawny (Indian soup). The sandwiches of the day are usually a great choice. Oh, and I must mention they have around 10-14 kinds of beer on tap. My favourite is Erdinger.
Roti Palace – West Indian
Bathurst/Bloor, Just south of Bloor
They make a great naan and everything is quick. With plenty of women working behind the counter, you can order all your favourite West Indian foods. I recommend the doubles, which are like a vegetarian snack/burger made with chick pea patties and chaana inside. They run you about $1.25 a pop and fill you up.
Banjara – East Indian
I’ve been here a few times and I love their Butter Chicken too. Seeing as I’ve eaten a lot of butter chicken in my life, I’ve found their blend of spices completely unique. There is definitely more creaminess to it and you can actually taste some smoke too. It’s horribly addictive so I shant talk about it anymore.
Ghazale – Middle Eastern
I am listing this location only because I find they have the best food. I often go for a chicken shwarma here with lots of pickled turnip, taboule and yummy hummus. It’s great for a quick fix.
El Rancho – South American
Located on the second floor of a house on COllege, this place was not what I expected it to be. When I walked in, everything was very kitchy and camp. Right outta the 70’s. But we didn’t find one burrito, or taco on the menu. What we failed to realize, was we were in a South American Restaurant, not Mexican. It had completely different food! Like the Mixed Grill, which includes striploin, and other meats in special seasoning, charcoal grilled and served on a sizzling hot platter, with a side salad & chimichurri. The chicken fajitas are lovely. If you want spicy, you’ll get it here. The salsa is made fresh and so are the tortilla chips. The service was excellent and with many menu items you don’t normally get to see on a menu, we had fun trying something new. Oh, did I mention, at night it turns into a dance floor? Speaking of Salsa…
Disgraceland – Americana
Ossington/Bloor, near Delaware
This relatively new bar in the Ossington area showcases fare that The King himself would approve. Fried Chicken and Biscuit gravy, Fried Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Green Eggs & Ham, the list goes on. They don’t have a TON of beers to choose from, but they have plenty of boardgames and karaoke night. It’s a nice open space and a great place for you and a few friends to grab a pint. They also have a wicked brunch lineup.
The High Park Kabab House – Lebanese
A friend and I went here on a whim and boy were we blown away. If you enjoy souvlaki and fresh salads, this place is fo ryou. The chicken has been marinated for so long and there is not one piece that is dry. There are layers of flavour to all their marinades which include lime, smoke, lemon and spices. Phenomenal food and one of my favourite eats!
Caplansky’s – Jewish/European
I first tried this deli when it was on Euclid, in between College and Dundas. Their Smoked Meat is pure decadence. You know when something is so good you nod with every bite? Yeah I did that. The fries are fresh and salted to perfection. There are other Jewish faves like The Knish and the 8 oz. Smoked Meat Burger. The best deli I have eaten at yet.
Greg’s Gourmet Ice Cream – Dessert
You know I was going to put this up here. This is The Holy Grail of Ice Cream. The moment their ice cream touched my tongue, I was sold. The amount of care and quality in these ingredients rivals that of Haagen-Daas. Depending on the season, you can see flavours like Cinnamon Nutmeg, Guinness, Ginger, Avocado, Pumpkin, Grapenut, and Roasted Marshmallow (you can actually taste the char) which is their #1 seller. Considering I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, let alone care for ice cream, I wolfed down a litre in an hour. My favourite is Lemon Meringue Pie.
Duff Wings – American/Canadian
This is a great place to chill with a few friends and knock back a pint or two. Their wings come in the mildest to the hottest and are reasonably priced. Oh yeah, and the wing sauce is like crack. Nuff said.
Big Fat Burrito – Mexican
I love going here. The burritos are hot and fresh. Although it’s a very small place, the food more than makes up for it. Get the works or better yet, try the Sweet Potato Burrito. It absorbs the flavours of the toppings nicely.
Burro Burrito – Mexican
A great authentically Mexican burrito shop. I prefer it to Burrito Boys and I really enjoy the rice and beans. The tacos are also quite lovely.
Pho Hung – Vietnamese
Ossington/Queen or Chinatown
Into Vietnamese fare? Pho Hung has plenty of franchises all over the GTA. Come in on a busy or quiet day and you’ll get great service and tons to choose from. I enjoy the Beef Bun with Spring Roll. The veggies at the bottom are slightly pickled and very cooling after a hot meal.
Yummi Bar-B-Q – Korean
Hot, fast and yummy Korean food. I always go for the Kalbi, which is short ribs. All dishes are served with rice, macaroni salad, kimchi and other pickled veggies. The chicken and beef are marinated to perfection.
Burger Shoppe (BQM) – Americana
Opening up a new shop in the Queen West area, Burger Shoppe has a million toppings to choose from and the burgers are made fresh too! I would recommend visiting the Queen/Broadview location thought because, for some reason, the burgers taste better there. Try the Hawaiian burger: A burger topped with a ring of pineapple, bacon and white cheddar. It’s both sweet and salty. The pops aren’t bad either. The food has a 1950’s feel to it.
Craft Burger – Americana
Craft Burger makes the best burger and fries in the city. The fries are crispy and the burgers taste juuuuuust right. There isn’t much room so I suggest getting your meal to go.
Oddfellows – Canadian
If you like meat, but want to try something new, you may like Oddfellows. Located around Shaw/Queen, the atmosphere is great. There are no separate tables. Everyone sits at one long table, so you end up sparking conversations with your neighbours! It’s not so fun watching them get their meal first when you’re starving though. They have uniquely yummy choices like the Boar Burger and Venison Burger which has a completely different (more gamey) taste.
Dolce Gelato – Dessert
So many kinds of gelato! All the flavours are made in the back. My personal fave is lemon and pink grapefruit. Very thirst-quenching on a hot summer day. They have ready to server waffles and crepes with fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce and gelato on the side which I enjoy devouring every summer.
BBQ Time – Korean/American
Queen/Blue Jays Way
Fast and fabulous, BBQ Time has got to be one of the Fry Kings. Their fries are perfect in every way. Their fare is a blend between American and Korean. I like going for the Bulgogi lunch meal and the service is wonderful.
Phil’s BBQ – American/Canadian
Are you in the mood for ribs? Phil’s has wonderful racks of ribs, moderately priced. The best part is, the sauce is great, but doesn’t take away from the meat flavour. A half rack with fries will have your tummy thanking you.
The Red Tea Box – Dessert
Looking for a unique gift or just something for the sweet tooth? These mini works of art come with vegan options! Stop by and check out all the unique cakes they have on display. With the bakery in plain view, you can believe everything is fresh. The back patio is great for a light summer lunch on the green with some tea.