1221 Bay St., Yorkville
After years of adapting dishes for vegetarian or celiac diners, chef David Lee decided to create a welcoming space with dietary restrictions in mind. The result? Planta is committed to 100 percent plant-based, environmentally conscious food. Menu standouts include the watermelon poke, kimchi spring rolls, and coconut ceviche. It's worth noting that all the salads are gluten-free and the cocktails have cold-pressed juice bases, too.
421 Spadina Ave., Chinatown
Mother's Dumplings is, as the name suggests, a family business serving up Chinese comfort food. The main body of the menu comprises hearty whole-wheat handmade dumplings stuffed with combinations like pork, ginger, and pickled cabbage, or winter melon and tofu. One of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in Toronto, the space is small and unpretentious, with only eight tables illuminated by festive Chinese lanterns. Order the dumplings of your choice boiled, steamed, or pan-fried or go for the equally excellent noodles, stews, and soups.
190 University Ave., Old Toronto
David Chang has made quite an entrance in Toronto setting up a three-story Momofuku empire inside the Shangri-La Hotel. Here, his five eateries—the Noodle Bar, Daisho, Shoto, a bar called Nikai, and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar—each offer a little something different. The structure is super modern in design—it's all glass and wood with no real decorative fuss. No matter where you choose to dine, Chang's signature flavor-packed food coupled with Tosi’s irresistible desserts prevails across all five spots. A quick breakdown: Shoto is a ten-course tasting menu (reservations are essential). Daisho is a described by Chang as Momofuku’s take on a steakhouse, serving lunch and dinner with Asian and international flavors—buttermilk biscuits with garlic butter and chili honey, squash salad with zaatar and labneh, and hoisin duck breast. Nikai specializes in sake and Canadian whiskey, with the added benefit of being able to order Chang's ramen from the Noodle Bar if the mood strikes you.
2800 Dundas St., West Queen West
This super casual spot is usually crowded for brunch but not so crowded that you’ll be waiting for a table forever, especially when the weather’s nice and you can take advantage of the outdoor seating. The menu covers everything from poached-egg dishes and shakshuka to reliably delicious fresh baked goods (think double-chocolate banana muffins), with an emphasis on fresh, organic fare.
Live Organic Food Bar
264 Dupont St., Annex
On the whole, Canada is a health-conscious nation, and while you'll certainly see plenty of poutine around, wellness-centric eateries are becoming increasingly common. Live is a seriously wholesome option: Every dish served is organic, non-GMO, and free of refined sugar and gluten. Choose from hearty salads, vegan burritos, and kimchi pancakes. There's also a location in Liberty Village.
546 College St., Little Italy
With deep-red-painted walls, a long oak bar, and warmly lit interior, Kalendar is classically romantic, which is something its owners (a husband and wife) set out to create when they opened the space more than two decades ago. The dinner menu is hearty, offering everything from wild mushroom risotto to thin dahl-puri crust pizza. Kalendar is also known for its weekend brunch; when the weather’s warmer, a generous, lantern-lit front patio adds to the charm.
199 Augusta Ave., Kensington Market
The latest offering from renowned Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg is located in hypertrendy Kensington Gardens and happens to be one of the prettiest dining rooms in town. (It's all grey marble and brass accents.) The menu is inventive and fish-centric, with plenty of lighter comfort food—delicate razor clams in an herbed broth topped with charred smoky onions or seared scallops and sunchokes. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, the small plates are reason alone to drop by—take a seat at the bar, peruse the substantial natural wine selection, order a dozen oysters, and settle in for the night.
207 Ossington Ave., Ossington
Although chef Tom Thai emigrated from Vietnam in the late 1970s, Foxley—primarily a South Asian bistro—pulls foodie inspiration from the large immigrant population that defines modern Toronto. Think ceviche infused with Asian flavors, like Arctic char with green apple and pickled ginger or chimichurri hanger steak. While the décor is fairly straightforward, chef Thai’s food, always with just the right amount of seasoning and acidity, keeps the dining room full nightly.
503 College St., Little Italy
"Dai lo" translates to "big brother" in Cantonese, which feels apt given that chef Nick Liu’s parents still occasionally make the dumplings. Chef Liu cooks the food he grew up eating through his Canadian childhood as the son of Chinese immigrant parents, but it's reimagined with a little fusion thrown in. Everything is pretty sensational, but the musts are the crispy octopus taco with sambal aioli, the miso salt cod, and the hakka wontons. Aside from the food, the space is really considered and so striking, with blue leather booths and distressed-looking painted-brick walls broken up by sections papered with hand-painted scenes of Chinese nature.
60 Yorkville Ave., Yorkville
Chef Daniel Boulud does nothing in halves, and this café, located in the beautiful Four Seasons in Toronto, is no exception. Café Boulud is a classic French brasserie with a distinctly Lyon-inflected menu, inspired by the chef’s upbringing. The main draw is the rotisserie that turns out the most succulent, rustic-style chicken served with crispy potatoes and country bread night after night. While the food is Provençal in style, the Martin Brudnizki–designed interior is sleek and sophisticated—leather banquettes, mahogany-paneled walls, and a long, vintage-looking marble-and-brass bar. Aside from the chicken, menu standouts include an indulgent duck confit, old-school fish quenelles, and the steak tartare. End your meal with the Grand Marnier soufflé and a digestif to send you straight to sleep.