Toronto Food Scene – A Culinary Hotspot

toronto, travel, torontonians, food scene, food blogger

toronto, canada, travel, food scene, culinary tour

I can finally say I’ve visited Canada guys! It’d been on my list of places to visit for awhile. When a conference took my brother and me there, we decided to add a couple days so that we could explore. More specifically, so we could eat and drink our way through. Our destination – Toronto!!

Fun Fact: Torontonians or 6ers?

If you’re from Toronto you call yourself a Torontonian. If you’re thinking 6ers because of Drake lyrics, that’s just a nickname – no one uses it unless they’re joking around. Or so we were told.

My brother has visited Toronto a couple times before, so he was able to take me around to some of the cool hotspots for great food. From what I’ve read, Toronto has become quite the food scene and is filled with cute cafés and small restaurants. Apparently, over the past 3 years, Toronto is making a name for itself in the culinary world. Check out this article from Vogue. What I noticed about Toronto as a city, is that is very diverse and that clearly carries over into the culinary world.

Here is my Toronto food journal. If you’re visiting, I’d highly recommend these!

Sunday, February 25th

We arrived mid-morning and after dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we headed to lunch!

Bar Rival

bar raval, toronto, restaurants, spanish tapas
via

Address: 505 College Street

Website

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

The food was so good and the perfect first start to the trip. Our waitress recommended a delicious bottle of Chardonnay – Pearl Morissette Niagara Vineyards Cuvée Métis. Bummed to find out that we probably can’t get it here in the states, but we’re on a mission to find it!

What we ordered: Mushroom Tower – perfectly cooked and the grilled bread used as the base of the tower was delish; Octopus – prepared with potatoes in an olive oil based sauce – heaven; Ham; Chorizo with cheese, artichoke, and shishito peppers.

*Bar Isabel I heard is also amazing and it is the sister restaurant to Bar Raval

Livelihood Café

Address: 254 Augusta Avenue

Website

Cuisine: Coffee/Tea shop, light eats

After lunch, we started a walking tour and took a stroll down Augusta Avenue/Kensington Market. It was clearly a great Sunday Funday place to stroll – lots of cute shops, cafés, etc. We decided to stop in Livelihood Café for a tea while on our walk.

What we ordered: Evergreen Peppermint Tea

Just what we needed. They have vegan/gluten-free baked goods (protein balls that looked yummy), light fare (sandwiches, etc.) and would be a cute place to go to read a book or do some work. I read that Livelihood Café hires new immigrants in an effort to assist in provided job opportunities – such a great concept. For more info, check out the Livelihood Project.

The Organic Press

Address: 257 Augusta Avenue

Website

Cuisine: Juice Bar, Smoothies

We took our teas and continued walking, we stumbled into The Organic Press which serves 100% organic smoothies and cold press juices on their menu. The shop also sells plants and was filled with them. We took a seat and just chatted. Loved the chill vibe.

416 Snack Bar

416 snack bar, toronto eats, food, travel
via Toronto Life

Address: 181 Bathurst Street

Website

Cuisine: Tapas, small bites

LOVED this bar! My brother and his friend have been a few times and raved about it so I was happy to check it out myself. It has a moody atmosphere, with low light and candlelight, there’s a DJ playing chill jams (apparently it gets more club lounge vibe late at night), inventive cocktails and seriously delicious, Asian inspired, small bites.

What we ordered: fresh oysters, a special of the day (‘special thing’): mini burger, and the spicy tuna/mushroom handroll. We went back again on Tuesday and got spicy tuna/mushroom handroll again and the Korean fried chicken – it was fire!

So tasty. Because we were just there for ‘snacks’, we didn’t order much but we saw a few other items come out that looked amazing: falafel double down, steak tartare and steamed buns. Just another reason for me to go back!

La Banane

 

via blogTO

Address: 227 Ossington Avenue

Website

Cuisines: French

Dark walls, rich greens, and brass details make this a cozy and very stylish restaurant. The bar was my favorite – so beautifully designed.

What we ordered: To start, my brother ordered the albacore tuna, which was in a brown butter sauce topped with capers and dill – loved the flavors. I ordered the crab croquettes – creamy and literally melted in your mouth – so good! For our main course, my brother ordered the duck and I ordered their signature dish – the Eurobass en croûte – cooked perfectly and in true French fashion, simplistic in its presentation – making it all about the flavor! Definitely, order the bass #thankmelater

Monday, February 26th

Café Cancan

via Allons-y

Address: 89 Harbord Street

Website

Cuisine: French Bistro

Such a cute and pastel-filled bistro – great music playing and I just loved the cozy and fun feel. It is a brunch must.

What we ordered: After I ordered my grapefruit mimosa, I ordered – Escargot! because whenever I see it on a menu, I have to have it. For my main course, I ordered the French picnic – smoked salmon, ham, soft boiled egg, avocado, cheese, and toast. It reminds you of a deconstructed sandwich, it was tasty in its simplicity. My brother ordered the steak au poivre that was served with none other than frites – delish!

Grey Gardens

via blogTO

Address: 199 Augusta Avenue

Website

Cuisine: Wine Bar, small plates

Grey Gardens was the perfect spot for happy hour! A huge wine selection and tasty bites – what more could you ask for?! I had a delicious Greek wine: Hatzidakis ’16 from Assyrtiko, Santorini

What we ordered: Oysters – it came with two delicious sauces – my fav was the jalapeño Szechuan sauce. The smoked fish chips ‘n dip was phenomenal – I’m actually not normally a fan of smoked fish but this was amazing! Oh! and the clams with white bean, ham, seaweed, and kale was out of this world. If you watch my Instastories, you know we LOVE littleneck clams and these were just so different and tasty. It kind of reminded you of a bean stew in its flavor – light yet hearty.

The Drake Hotel

via blogTO

Address: 1150 Queen Street West

Website

Cuisine: Canadian Comfort Food, Sushi

We stopped by the Drake Hotel in between our happy hour and dinner for drinks. Yes, it really is a hotel and no, it is not named after Drake lol. However, they have a chill restaurant and bar inside and apparently it becomes quite the hotspot at night. My brother and a friend went for NYE a couple years ago. They have a DJ regularly spinning and sometimes live music. Will give the food a whirl next time, but I did enjoy my cucumber spritzer!

Chantecler

via EaterToronto

Address: 1320 Queen Street West

Website

Cuisine: French

A small restaurant that really delivers!

What we ordered: The steak tartare was the best I’ve had so far!! We also ordered a delicious grilled shrimp appetizer. As our main course, we shared the half chicken (which was cooked perfectly) and the pommes frites. Highly recommend visiting! And, it’s open late night *wink*

Tuesday, February 27th

Tuesday was conference day but afterwards we got back on our food tour.

La Palma

via Narcity

Address: 849 Dundas Street

Website

Cuisine: Italian

We were about to go to happy hour and stopped by because it looked like it had a cool diner vibe. We just ordered cocktails and a couple bites. The restaurant is chic and trendy with lots of light, pretty blush/beige tones complete with green, bronze, and copper accents.

What we ordered: Roasted cauliflower and grapes in a cream sauce; Saucisson sec and gruyère – who doesn’t love a good cheese and charcuterie 😉

From here, we went back to 416 Snack Bar before dinner – it’s just that good!

Parts and Labour

via Bizbash

Address: 1566 Queen Street West

Website

Cuisine: American

Chill, casual vibe at P& L. We ordered steak tartare, crab carbonara and the halibut. Very well prepared. They are recognized for their cocktails, so I’d definitely go to try them out. We were boring and ordered wine and a martini lol, but next time! I also want to try their brunch next time I visit.

Overall…

I can’t wait to visit again and try more fab restaurants! It is clearly a city to keep a culinary eye on. If you’ve been to TO and have recs, please share!! Also, if you’re going in the warmer months there are a ton of cool outdoor spaces, roof decks, etc at many of these restaurants/bars that are worth checking out.

Toronto street photos by @mattison_ave

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