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.
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.
202 Davenport Rd., Rosedale
Husband and wife Joso and Angiolina Spralja are the force behind this old-school spot that’s been around forever with its Croatian-inflected menu. Beloved by locals, the late Joso was a folk musician, chef, and artist; his son and daughter-in-law now run the restaurant, which is still brimming with charm. The original fish-heavy menu is still in full effect, with everything from whole roasted bass to pastas and risottos. Joso's is undeniably atmospheric, with red-hued walls crammed with somewhat questionable nude artworks—prudes be warned.
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.
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.
181 Dovercourt Rd., West Queen West
This super casual spot is usually crowded for bunch 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.
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.
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.
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.
778 St Clair Ave. W., St. Clair West Village
There’s lots of competition among the top-tier Indian restaurants in Toronto, and Pukka is at the top of that list. Punjabi curries, vindaloos, paneer, and butter chicken—all the comforting hits from the subcontinent can be found here. And while the food is uniformly excellent, it’s the wine list that’s the standout. Created by sommelier Peter Boyd, it’s a mix of thoughtfully considered bottles that pair well with whichever dish you order (ask the staff for recommendations).
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