Toronto Restaurant Guide

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Here is a complete review of the best restaurants in Toronto. The list includes Toronto's top restaurants plus reviews of the mediocre and the ones to avoid. This is your guide to dining in Toronto.

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• Click on the headings below to sort the list. Restaurants marked with an * are considered exceptional. •


Type Location Rating Restaurant Address Comments
Fine DiningDowntown*Hemispheres110 Chestnut St inside the Metropolitan Hotel (416) 599-8000Bliss. Yes the $28 pan seared black cod with celeriac mash is pushing the reasonable price point but the food, ambiance and impeccable service are outstanding. The soups have been wonderful including a lobster bisque that's poured over the seafood at your table. The lunch and dinner prix fixe menus offer excellent value as do some wines by the glass. Consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Toronto, it well deserves its laurels.
Fine DiningDowntown*Gallery Grill in Hart HouseUniversity of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle 416.978.2445As U of T students we looked on with envy at this posh, exclusive dinning room. Once we entered the working world we discovered how affordable and picturesque this vaulted ceiling oasis really is. Only open for weekday lunch and Sunday brunch, September through June, we recommend reservations. To start, order a bowl of the daily soup which is often a wonderfully creamy bisque with seafood or a roasted vegetable broth. The warm smoked trout salad is excellent as was a well-prepared skate (flat fish). The small and pricey desserts are offset by absolutely divine teas with at least a dozen different exotic blends to choose from.
ChineseDowntown*Lai Wah Heen108 Chestnut St inside the Metropolitan Hotel 416-977-9899This is the best high-end Chinese restaurant in Toronto. We recommend the relatively affordable prix fixe executive dim sum lunch for two which includes marinated abalones, shark fin wraps, bok choy dumplings, ham and shrimp pastry, and the generous lobster and e-fu noodles with soy bean. For the more adventurous, the regular menu boasts snake meat cakes, Mongolian style goat, pan-seared venison and barbequed duck. Impeccable service.
ChineseDowntown*Yeuh Tung126 Elizabeth Street (south of Dundas), 416-977-0933Excellent Chinese food especially the highly addictive and spicy chili chicken, one of the many signature dishes on the menu; excellent fried rice, chow mein noodles, tai dop voy (chicken, shrimp, BBQ pork with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, mushrooms and Chinese vegetables) and moo goo guy pan (chicken sautéed with vegetables); extremely efficient service, casual atmosphere, and substantial lunch specials under $6.
Fine DiningPort Credit*Breakwater Restaurant15 Stavebank Rd S inside the Waterside Inn (905) 891-7770The friendly and affable wait staff were keenly interested in our BYO wine and were more than willing to engage in a discussion of wine regions and share their own tasting experiences. If you don't mind the $25 corkage fee, you can bring something spectacular to avoid the 300% markup. We find it the best strategy as the Wine Spectator awarded list does not always have items in stock. The food is spectacular. We recommend the entire menu although we once experienced a seafood risotto that was over-salted. The heirloom tomato salad with olive tapenade was light and fresh; the gnocchi rich and satisfying. The chicken with brie showcased an amazing sauce. This is what a high end restaurant should be.
IndianEntertainment District*Kama Classical Indian Cuisine214 King St. W., opposite Roy Thompson Hall 416-599-5262One of the finest Indian buffets in Toronto. The stuffed naan is garlicky and outrageously delicious. An excellent dahl, great tandoori chicken and many items not found in most Indian restaurants.
JapaneseScarborough*NiJi Sushi Restaurant1095 Ellesmere Rd at Midland 416-755-3335A spectacular restaurant in East Toronto (formerly Scarborough), this is so far, the best Japanese restaurant we have encountered. The cooks greet you when you enter and say goodbye when you leave, something quite rare in Toronto but an absolute must in Japan. With the dinner order, a fantastic complimentary sample of seaweed in a hot and spicy sauce, some grilled fish, soy beans, tofu, and a warm rice and corn soup are offered. While everything we've sampled has been good, we suggest you forgo the traditional sushi combos and order a la carte, in particular the spicy (tuna, salmon or scallop) maki and the out of this world white fish tempura hand roll. The bento box combinations and dragon rolls are also highly recommended as are the sashimi or spicy chicken lunch specials.
CaféRiverdaleAbove AverageDark Horse Espresso Bar 682 Queen St. E, 416-893-2376Bright, spacious, independent coffee house serves wonderfully rich and smooth coffee, excellent muffins, teas, and other pastries. Friendly staff.
CaféDowntownAbove AverageFresh Start655 Bay St North of Elm (416) 599-6180Really good coffees, sandwiches and lunch specials.
CaféQueen Street EastAbove AverageJoy Bistro and Over Joy Lounge884 Queen St. East 416-465-8855The outdoor patio on the east side features couches, occasional live music and an adequate tapas menu including a delightful warm spinach salad with mushrooms and orange in a balsamic vinaigrette. Inside, a very popular more formal dining room with a separate menu and attached patio on the west side and a second floor space called Over Joy. The mussels change daily; our night featured bacon and cabbage in a tomato sauce that was over salted but competently corrected when returned to the kitchen. The very tasty voodoo chicken with fresh pasta wasn't too spicy but the portion was less than adequate. Excellent friendly service, chic decor, we even liked the art work (for sale of course).
CaféQueen Street EastAbove AverageLeslie Jones1182 Queen E at Rushbrooke/W of Leslie, 416-463-5663A strange unadvertised cash only policy is revealed once you're seated and service is extremely slow. Fortunately this restaurant avoids a third strike with a very good menu including a smoked salmon salad balanced perfectly with new potatoes and organic greens. The pulled pork gently seasoned with jerk spices was outstanding but the orzo salad was geared for dill lovers. The pizzas should be avoided just as much as they avoid credit cards.
CaféLeslievilleAbove AverageMercury Organic Espresso Bar915 Queen St. E, 416-435-4779The perfect morning pick-me-up. The Mercury offers some of the world's best coffees, along with a small selection of great muffins, cool music, and a cozy space.
ChineseLeslievilleAbove AverageSum Kee Noodle House1060 Gerrard St E at Pape 416-465-4167At first we thought this was a rough neighborhood because there was always a police car or ambulance in front. Turns out the people in uniform know great food at great prices better than anyone. The Singapore noodles with an amazing curry sauce is our favorite.
Fine DiningHarbourfrontAbove Average360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower301 Front St. W. 416-362-2411 When you consider that the cost of the pricey entrées include admission to the CN Tower, you have high end Canadian cuisine accompanied by spectacular views at very fair prices. During a long-weekend visit, the staff was more than accommodating to position us in the revolving restaurant where we would see the fireworks later that night. The rare seared tuna with nicoise salad was a delight as was the comforting roasted chicken main with root vegetables; the Atlantic salmon with lentils and green pea blini was a sparse little serving. The pricey desserts are merely adequate and are best avoided.
Fine DiningQueen Street EastAbove AverageGeorge 111 Queen St. E. 416-863-6006Serving only tasting menus, the server recommended six courses for two people, we suggest four is plenty. We have enjoyed the ricotta gnocchi with toasted almonds and Shitake duxelle, an amazing avocado foam, pecan crusted black cod in broth with truffled diced potato, and red romaine salad with Dungeness crabmeat. The very knowledgeable and accommodating sommelier gave excellent recommendations. There are unfortunately a couple of sour points: while most of the waiters seem top notch, on our last visit we had a chatty, annoying waitress trying to work her tip but sadly she was completely uninformed about the menu; adding to our continued discomfort with this restaurant, on separate occasions, they have either lost our reservation or managed to confirm it the day after we ate there!
Fine DiningEntertainment DistrictAbove AverageHarbour Sixty Steakhouse60 Harbour St., at Lakeshore in the Toronto Harbour Commission Bldg 416-777-2111The seafood, fresh and generous does not include the very expensive sides. The shrimp cocktail had the largest shrimp we have ever seen. This restaurant has the dishonorable distinction of being the most expensive meal we have ever had. At just under $500 for two, at some point you have to admit that you may have gone too far.
Fine DiningDowntownAbove AverageMichael Seltzer's Le Biftheque Steakhouse96 Richmond St. W. 416-366-4333Great steaks and ribs in a dark, cozy interior. Very well priced.
Fine DiningYorkvilleAbove AveragePangaea Restaurant1221 Bay Street at Bloor (416) 920-2323Upscale, smart and impersonal, this high-end restaurant caters to downtown professionals. Order one of the rich appetizers like the fantastic roasted pear endive and shaved fennel salad or the equally good quail salad and the cheese plate for a satisfying lunch.
Fine DiningYorkvilleAbove AverageSassafraz Restaurant1240 Bay St. (at Cumberland) 416-964-2222Smoking specials. The place to see and be seen, it was one of downtown Toronto's largest and well contained buildings on fire. We await the rebuild.
GreekDanforthAbove AverageOuzeri500A Danforth Avenue 416-778-0500Excellent Greek food served in a beautiful setting; there is a huge selection of appetizers not found in most Greek restaurants including grilled quail, gigantes (lima beans baked with herbs and tomatoes), a melt in your mouth skordalia (potatoes blended with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic) and a very competent tzatziki, all of which are priced to be enjoyed with a group of friends; the tarmoslata and feta solata are on the salty side but the very crisp and fresh grilled pita will offset that; the real star is the well marinated and tender pork souvlaki, one of the finest we've had (even compared to the ones we've eaten in Greece). The chicken souvlaki is also well done. Service is excellent and there is a reasonable selection of good (yes we said good) Greek red wines.
GrillKing WestAbove AverageMildred Pierce Restaurantclosed 99 Sudbury 416-588-5696Unobtrusively gliding through a spectacular chiffon interior gilded with Romanesque murals, the wait staff, dressed all in black, provided remarkably efficient service. The food, a mix of Thai, Mediterranean and Italian seemed secondary to sitting there and enjoying the airy space. Famous for their reservation-free Sunday brunch, after 18 years Mildred closed her doors with a promise to open in a new location. We await.
IndianQueen Street WestAbove AverageBabur Restaurant273 Queen St. W. 416-599-7720Well respected and refined, serving good Indian food consistently for many years (including consistently pricey, small portions).
IndianLittle IndiaAbove AverageBar-Be-Que Hut1455 Gerrard St. E. 416-466-0411This is really good Indian food at outrageously expensive prices.
IndianAnnexAbove AverageIndian Rice Factory414 Dupont St. 416-863-6006This restaurant led the concept that an Indian restaurant can be both clean and tasteful (just don't venture into the bathroom and shatter the illusion). Although quite good, the pricey portions are very small and service is slow.
IndianLittle IndiaAbove AverageLittle ChinaclosedIf you ever wondered what would happen if you combined Indian and Chinese cooking, you would get this restaurant. Nestled at the back of a grungy mini-mall, this restaurant offers extremely spicy Asian/East-Asian fusion cooking. Warning: ordering food mild is pointless.
IndianNorth YorkAbove AverageThe Host Fine Indian Cuisine14 Prince Arthur Ave. 416-962-9224Very good Indian food including items not offered at other Indian restaurants. Service is slow but, thankfully, there is a buffet.
Int'lChina TownAbove AverageBalkan BistroclosedRelocated to Windsor Ontario. Modestly priced traditional Turkish and Mediterranean menu, eat in or take-out. Raves for melt-in-your mouth veal and chicken schnitzel in a light and crisp batter, freshly prepared while you wait; delicious and flavourful eggplant parmesan with mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses; traditional Turkish Kofte (lightly fried ground beef and rice meatball in a soft and creamy shell of beaten eggs; warm grilled wraps loaded with mild melted cheeses; all mains are accompanied with a large bowl of mixed greens, beans, tomatoes and fresh cucumber, oven baked potatoes, daily vegetables, and rice. Excellent value for such substantial portions.
Int'lQueen Street WestAbove AverageButler's Pantry371 Roncesvailles, 416-537-7750; 813 Queen St. W., 416-203-0222; 591 Markham St. Mirvish Village 416-535-9868Best described as very affordable ethnic comfort food. An excellent Moroccan chicken bastilla pie (with onions, mushrooms, eggs and cinnamon wrapped in filo), a great Kosharee (green lentils and rice topped with macaroni and fried onions in a tomato sauce) and chicken jambalaya (Cajun chicken and rice with veg). The biryani is average but the beef bul go gi (Korean marinated beef) gets better marks. Most are offered with a great side salad and pitcher of house dressing. The cramped Roncesvalles location, desperately needing new furnishings and interior decorating, often runs out of food. The Queen street location offers much better breathing room.
Int'lDowntownAbove AverageEthopian House4 Irwin St. 416-923-5438A small menu, extremely friendly staff, fantastic curry and vegetarian choices; the injera (spongy and slightly sour flatbread) replaces forks, forms the basis of most plates, and is not to everybody's tastes
Int'lEntertainment DistrictAbove AverageN'awlins Jazz Bar and Dining299 King St. W. 416-595-1958Good live jazz and excellent food. Your best bet is sitting at the bar and ordering half-price appetizers until the band starts. We recommend any of the blackened items, an outstanding oysters Rockefeller and decent portioned salads topped with Cajun chicken or shrimp.
ItalianCorktownAbove AverageFusilli Restaurant531 Queen St E, 416-214-5148Authentic Italian meals at modest prices; once the owner gets to know you, he'll shun the menu and create something on the spot just like he does for the movie stars that drop by during filming.
ItalianRiverdaleAbove AverageThe Citizen730 Queen St. East at Broadview 416-465-0100Chef Klaus Rorick 'makes what he likes' and it works. The green salad he recommends, organic greens, shaved cantaloupe, and hints of mint, delicately flavoured with a warm champagne vinaigrette is marvelous. The superb gnocchi with bits of melt in your mouth stewed rabbit and baby fresh green peas is equally impressive with a perfect side of pan-fried rappini. When we request bread for soaking up the remaining juices, the chef offers up a moist and flavourful focaccia he made earlier that day. The banana-bread smores (melted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between two slices of banana bread) is rich and a bit too sweet for us. All in all, our first visit to this Leslieville restaurant ends with us wanting to return to sample more of its mix of menu options.
ItalianEtobicokeAbove AverageVia Allegro Ristorante1750 The Queensway 416-622-6677Why do we expect the Sopranos to be seated next to us? The very expensive food is really good but the staff gives you attitude if they feel you are not spending enough money. A five course New Year's Eve dinner was very good as are their pizzas. However we remain cautious as a recent visit produced badly thawed, freezer burned seafood that should never have left the kitchen.
JapaneseDowntownAbove AverageKokyo Japanese Restaurant501-A Yonge St. 416-962-6968Very generous portions of sushi and sashimi make this great value. The dragon rolls are very tasty. They consistently over salt the miso soup. Better get take-out as the cooks smoke at the back of the kitchen.
KoreanDowntownAbove AverageKorean Grill House369 Yonge St South of Bloor, 416-596-9206; 214 Queen St. W., 416-263-9850Grill your own all you can eat meal at your table, this is delicious and affordable Korean BBQ (beef, pork, chicken and seafood); most likely to end up with an asterisk.
MexicanDanforthAbove AverageEl Sol1448 Danforth Av (416) 405-8074 open evenings only Chef and co-owner Yolanda Paez originally ran the restaurant Gonzo's (see below) and the flavour has carried over to El Sol. This is superb and authentic Mexican food served on cafeteria carts in a kitsch interior Mexican art gallery restaurant. Some appetizers are overpriced, in particular the very tasty homemade chips and salsa. We find the smaller first course plates offer good value and are more than enough food. The sangria is excellent.
PakistaniLittle IndiaAbove AverageLahore Tika House1365 Gerrard East at Highfield East of Greenwood 416-406-1668Why is there a line-up at midnight to get into this place? Because Pakistanis say the food reminds them of home. To guard their cooking secrets, the renovated and soon to be expanded restaurant has a separate, locked, second kitchen within the kitchen to spice the food. Most items on the menu are served in very small (micro) portions, the smallest of which are the over-sauced butter chicken and vegetable dishes, so be prepared to spend a lot and order a few more dishes than you normally would. The biryani is spectacular and your best bet. The overcooked red snapper prepared in the tandoor (Indian clay over), is charred and dry. A word of caution, if you want to avoid the heat while still enjoying the spice, order your food "extra, extra mild". Mild is served at Pakistani standards.
PubAnnexAbove AverageMadison Avenue Pub and Restaurant14 Madison Ave 416-927-1722Massive labyrinth of micro pubs in a double housing complex; extremely popular with the student and "hook-up" crowd; good beer, happy hour food, vast casual atmosphere patios, unfriendly bouncers and inattentive wait staff. In other words, everything you could want on a summer's evening if you were 20.
PubEntertainment DistrictAbove AverageSmokeless Joe's125 John St., 416-728-4503Pioneering the concept that downtown bars could be successful and smoke free, this tiny well run basement establishment offers a huge selection of beers from around the world and very decent pub fare.
ThaiDowntownAbove AverageSalad King Restaurant335 Yonge St (416) 971-7041Downstairs: long tables piled with students taking advantage of cheap and tasty Asian lunch specials. Upstairs: a cooler atmosphere with better table service and more formal plated dishes. Consistently good food almost worth an asterisk. Do not enter without a reservation at lunch.
VegetarianDowntownAbove AverageLe Commensal655 Bay Street (At Elm St.) 416-596-9364Good but expensive vegetarian food. The money loosing (all you can pile on a) green plate lunch special is gone. Sold by weight, the buffet is a great way to sample the incredible number of options a vegetarian diet can offer. Good vegan choices, fresh juices and excellent desserts.
VegetarianKensington MarketAbove AverageUrban Herbivore 64 Oxford at Augusta, 416-927-1231 Dairy-free and mostly organic menu of super-sized sandwiches, salads, soups and massive muffins. Sandwiches are served on large multigrain rolls - mildly flavoured spinach-walnut pesto and olive-tapenade spreads form the base. Toppings include avocado, spinach, arugula, barbequed tofu, shitake mushroom, roasted red pepper, and sliced sweet potato. Mix and match from extensive salad bar offerings to create your own, and dress with choices such as raspberry/cranberry/ sesame orange/pumpkin vinaigrettes. Mostly take-out, with limited window-counter seating, tall butcher block table with wooden stools, or sunny benches outside. Clean. Great for a quick healthy bite.
AsianKensington MarketAveragePals WT International376 College at Borden, 416-929-1212Layers of white plastic sheets cover every table, even the one at the back which doubles as a makeshift living room where the family including the cook sit with cable television, newspapers, a baby's playpen and stroller. Seriously. Lunch specials at $5 are generous (except for the shrimp) and come quickly. The spicy diced chicken, lightly breaded was filling, the (few) shrimp with tofu was lighter in apparently the same sauce as the chicken but without the chilies. The hot and sour soup packs an immediate punch. The final bill, including beer, doesn't dent our wallet, but we won't be back.
CaféDowntownAverageCora's Breakfst and Lunch277 Wellington St. W., at Peter, 416-598-2672Having experienced the original in Montreal, we were extremely disappointed: helpless hostesses, lost wait staff, glacial kitchen service, and expensive eggs on a plate, we suggest they go back to Highway 401 and recover what they lost on their way to Toronto.
CaféEntertainment DistrictAverageDunn's Famous Restaurants284 King St. W. 416-599-5464A decent deli, great for an after hours food fix when the bars close; great cheesecake.
CaféDowntownAverageEggspectation220 Yonge St., Eaton Centre 416-977-3380Also a Montreal breakfast import but worse than Cora's (see above).
CaféEtobicokeAverageFaema Co. Ltd.25 West Mall, Sherway Gardens opposite Harry Rosen 416-621-2889Good coffees and excellent affordable thin crust pizzas, especially the Margherita, served by efficient staff who can't decide if they resent their job, their life or the customers the most.
CaféDowntownAverageJava Joe's70 Gerrard St. (at Bay)Popular with the anti-conglomerate coffee crowd, pricey sandwiches, window seating upstairs; very average food and strong coffee.
CaféDowntownAverageLettieri (multiple locations)441 Queen St. W. (at Spadina) 416-592-1360 94 Cumberland (at Bay) 416-515-8764 79 Front St. E, 416.260.0543Mostly a coffee house with pricey paninis and salads at lunch. Nothing spectacular but a good place to sit, stare or read.
CaféEntertainment DistrictAverageMarcel's Bistro & Lounge315 King St. W. Upstairs 416-591-8600Slightly higher end theatre district French bistro serving pretty good food in an unpretentious, upscale atmosphere.
CaféYorkvilleAverageMillenium Deli and Catering1105 Bay St 416-323-9770 The very friendly owner gets to know your tastes and suggests appropriate items including creating something on the spot for you. Nice salad bar and tasty daily specials; good quality and quantity value in the downtown core.
ChineseBaldwinAverageEating Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant41-43 Baldwin Street, upper level, 416-595-5525/6Very popular, generous and affordable lunch specials keep this place running. The egg drop soup was delicious and despite the long wait from the kitchen the General Tsao's chicken had a spicy muted kick that proved comfortably rewarding.
ChineseDowntownAverageGarden Restaurant Ltd.123 Dundas St. W. 416-596-0818Since relocating down the street, the quality (not the popularity) has gone down. Average BBQ pork and greasy duck, good Singapore noodles.
ChineseDowntownAverageHung Shing Chinese Restaurant195 Dundas St. W 416-977-3338Average Chinese fare.
ChineseRiverdaleAveragePearl Court Restaurant633 Gerrard St. East of Broadview 416-463-8778With some dim sum as low as $1, lunch for two will be well under $20. Waiting for the carts to come by can be hit and miss, depending where you are seated and what the cook just made. However it is a great way to sample different food you might not have considered. Beware, the very friendly staff may not know the correct English equivalent of a dish, so pointing can be "adventurous". We suggest you order from the menu card on the table if you are squeamish. The vegetarian choices tend to be our favorites.
ChineseDowntownAverageSpadina Garden Restaurant114 Dundas St W of Bay (416) 977-3413Since moving down the street the quality but not the popularity has gotten worse. Lunch deals are no longer deals (paying for the reno perhaps?) The sweet and sour soybean is loaded with tofu, has a tad too much vinegar but delivers a zesty finish at the back of the throat. The fried fat noodles in a simple soy sauce with vegetables are a total disaster. The spicy chili chicken's thick coating hides the meat inside and has an unpleasant hint of lemon. Although decent, it is no match for its neighbour Yeuh Tung (see below).
ChineseDowntownAverageWah Too Seafood Restaurant54 Centre St. (at Dundas) 416-971-6567Pretty good downtown Asian; more for the lunch crowd.
Fine DiningEntertainment DistrictAverageBiff's4 Front St. E. 416-860-0086While portions are small, prices are not. The seafood platter, although very fresh, had little flavour. We attended a private party here once and the truffle appetizers were incredible. The pasta main left us hungry. The house red wine (Biff's beefy red, an Ontario produced and re-labeled wine) is quite good.
Fine DiningEntertainment DistrictAverageBravi Ristorante40 Wellington St. E. 416-368-9030Very interesting selection of imported wines, including a buttery Chardonnay we never found again. Good eclectic mix of appetizers including beef carpaccio but the main courses are run of the mill from a chicken breast with smoked pancetta, a sautéed Atlantic salmon or pan-seared tiger shrimp. The butternut squash ravioli was done well but way overpriced for what you get. This restaurant unfortunately falls into the "we'll never go back" category based on the final bill.
Fine DiningEntertainment DistrictAverageFred's Not Here/Red Tomato321 King St. W. 416-971-6626Two restaurants sharing the same space. Downstairs, the Red Tomato: a visit with a lunch crowd, 22 people, 17 different items ordered, all spectacular. Great East Asian fusion pastas; the Voodoo chicken is spicy and sweet. Upstairs, Fred's Not Here: an evening visit before the theatre proved disastrous. The seafood was rushed and over cooked. The soft shell crab was decent but with a charred aftertaste. The food is much better on a slow night or at lunch. There is special menu pricing in the late evening as well.
Fine DiningDowntownAverageSiegfried's (George Brown Dining Room)300 Adelaide St E, 416-415-2260The culinary equivalent of getting your hair cut by a student: it takes a long time, they are very nervous, and the outcome is never as good as the professionals. Marketed as the master chefs of tomorrow, consistently for decades it has been impossible to get or confirm a reservation at this college as no one there knows how to use voice mail (they are hospitality students not secretaries after all). The frequently changing menu, often featuring Canadian inspired ingredients, is sparse and barely competent although presented well. Unfortunately education funding cuts have eliminated student pricing and for a $30 dinner you can get far better, more generous servings at upscale Toronto restaurants.
Fine DiningDowntownAverageThe Keg Steakhouse and Bar515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; 12 Church St, 416-367-0685; 165 York St, 416-703-1773; 1977 Leslie St, 416-446-1045; 927 Dixon Rd, 416-675-2311; 291 The West Mall, 416-626-3707The flagship Keg Mansion in downtown Toronto on Jarvis St. should be avoided like the plague unless you like chewy steaks, badly thawed seafood, miserable service, an overpriced menu and a dangerous parking lot. To our surprise, the airport location was remarkably good. The honey BBQ chicken and ribs was not too sweet and had a pleasant smoky finish. The garlic mashed potatoes are superb as are the mushroom sides. Alas, the Caesar salad is disappointing with inferior parmesan, bland romaine and inconsistent toppings: one order lacked croutons. The mixed green salad is far more generous and filling. The steaks are very good and service was friendly.
Fine DiningLeslievilleAverageTOMi-Kro1214 Queen St E at Leslie, 416-463-6677Popular with the advertising industry expense account, a feeling of impending disaster overwhelms you as you enter: unfriendly staff, dirty plates, and overpriced food. The appeal is a trendy interior filled with ambient vibes and hip looking waiters but the food is either pricey or sparse or both if you order the tapas. The butter chicken lacks the punch of authentic Indian restaurants, the seared scallops are more spinach than seafood and the organic duck breast was tough. Mediocre appetizers like sake-steamed mussels, teriyaki strip loin with tempura onion frittes or the soy, honey, ginger ribs don't deliver the hip Asian fusion promised by the menu.
Fine DiningCorktownAverageVeritas Restaurant (formerly Eggplant)234 King St E, 416-363-8447A Corktown resto/lounge offering local and sustainably harvested ingredients such as overcooked grilled salmon, onions and fingerling potatoes, over salted wild rice with wilted spinach, and no longer fresh mustard greens. A decently decorated two level space and friendly staff slightly make up for the chef's salt addiction.
FrenchQueen Street WestAverageCafé Crepe246 Queen St W, 416-260-1611Excellent variety of crepes and affordable pricing.
FrenchAnnexAverageLe Paradis Brasserie Bistro166 Bedford Rd 416-921-0995It should have an * but slowly, almost imperceptibly, this ageing restaurant is sliding toward oblivion. The neighborhood patrons are now rarely under 40 unless accompanied by a grandparent. The extremely popular daily prix fix menu is gone. There is a frequent turnover of kitchen and wait staff. The regular wait staff complains openly about the new cooks. Sometimes it's justified; key entree ingredients will be missing: a salade niçoise without green beans or eggs. And the better menu items are rarely found: the wonderful poulet dijonais (chicken in mustard sauce) now appears less than once a month, the satisfying croque poulet (chicken sandwich) has disappeared. The wines, arguably to keep costs down, have been changed but in effect downgraded. Still, the bright points on the now very limited menu keep us coming back for now. The trout almandine is rich and buttery, the soup of the day can be quite rewarding and the desserts are still very good, in particular the Balthazar, a flourless Belgian chocolate cake.
FrenchEntertainment DistrictAverageLe St. Tropez315 King St. W. Downstairs 416-591-3600Not just French but definitely average food with occasional live entertainment; service is a bit too friendly with questionable sincerity.
GreekDanforthAverageFriendly Greek Restaurant551 Danforth Avenue (416) 469-8422 + other locationsAfter the divorce, the former spouse of the owner of Mr. Greek (see below) opened up a similar restaurant, complete with the exact same menu, decor and pricing. Over the years, the Friendly Greek and its progeny have edged out Mr. Greek in terms of service and food quality: the chicken souvlaki is still good as are the appetizers and grilled calamari.
GreekDanforthAverageMr. Greek Restaurant568 Danforth Avenue, and various franchise locations, (416) 461-5470Now in franchise heaven with locations sprouting up faster than MacDonald's, they've taken Greek food to mass production and it tastes just like the cost-cutting, bulk purchase flavour the big M is famous for. What was once a decent pork or chicken souvlaki dinner is now oily meat, bland rice and potatoes and iceberg lettuce on a plate.
GreekEntertainment DistrictAveragePenelope Restaurant225 King St. W. 416-351-9393Large Greek restaurant, small bland servings; they should stock enough food for everyone instead of rationing it.
GrillEntertainment DistrictAverageHey Lucy Café295 King St. West 416-408-3633Good happy hour pizzas and specials but you'll have to wait a very long time to actually get them from the overworked kitchen.
GrillBeachesAverageLick's Homeburgers & Ice Cream Shops Inc.Multiple locations 1962-A Queen St. E. 416-362-5425THE burger joint of the 80s, franchise expansion removed the novelty, carefree atmosphere and jovial singing; instead, like a zombie choir, staff scream out your order, serve smaller burgers on pathetic buns with fewer, less fresh toppings. Still they do manage to serve a decent but somewhat dry veggie burger and the ice creams and milkshakes offer relief on hot summer afternoons.
GrillDowntownAverageSizzlers (The All New)460 Yonge St. 416-966-4714For a greasy spoon open from 11am to 5am, the quality and quantity is very good. The chicken platters, chicken souvlaki and the rib and chicken combo offer the best value. Salads are fresh and service is friendly.
GrillDowntownAverageThe Senator249 Victoria St. near Dundas St. 416-364-7517This is the diner attached to the now closed Senator Steakhouse. Dating back to 1948 it is Toronto's oldest restaurant offering traditional diner fare like cobb salad, burgers, omelettes and fish and chips. But at $18 for a plate of meatloaf, there is something seriously wrong here. Very good and friendly service.
GrillYorkvilleAverageW.C. Fields50 Cumberland St 416-921-3129Looks like they're charging for the recent renovation not the forgettable pasta entrees.
IndianLittle IndiaAverageNew Haandi 2000 Restaurant1401 Gerrard St. E. 416-469-9696Sadly one of our favorite Indian restaurants has slipped terribly over the last decade. Repeated visits have confirmed our disappointment. The staff remains very friendly but the buffet does not deliver. The naan is doughy and doesn't taste as if it has seen the inside of a tandoor. The tandori chicken is sour and chewy. The only remaining pleasant note is the well-prepared butter chicken.
IndianEtobicokeAverageSangam3085 Hurontario Street, Mississauga (905) 273-5772Relocated to Mississauga: decent Indian buffet and polite owners
Int'lMidtownAverageBarmalay Samovar Russian Restaurantclosed 505 Mount Pleasant 416-480-0048More for the experience than essential dinning, capable but bland Russian fair is on offer. With dinner you are treated to poorly timed live entertainment from the owners and staff. Now closed and replaced with an Asian restaurant.
Int'lDowntownAverageCoconut Grove Roti Shop183 Dundas St. W. 416-348-8887Good, cheap roti (chicken, goat, fish, beef, vegetable), includes peas and rice. Cheap tandori biryani, avoid the rest.
Int'lQueen Street WestAverageQueen Mother Café208 Queen St. W. 416-598-4719Known for their Pad Thai, popular but forgettable, it's been resting on its laurels for years.
Int'lEntertainment DistrictAverageRichtree Market Restaurant (formerly Movenpick Marche) 42 Yonge St. at Front (BCE Place) 416-366-8986Get it yourself Euro-market style restaurant with different stations for pasta, Asian, oven roasted meat, etc. Good desserts, coffees, seafood, fresh squeezed juices. A very slow checkout procedure, threats of a heavy fine if you loose your food card (handed to you upon entry), a very awkward washroom with sad attendants expecting tips, and the fact that you leave your things behind at your table while you wander the often busy, cavernous space to find dinner make this a stressful dining experience. Food servers are very friendly but the wait staff needs a customer service seminar.
Int'lQueen Street WestAverageThe Rivoli Restaurant-Night Club-Pool Hall 334 Queen St W, 416-596-1908Extremely popular Queen West outdoor patio, serving average international starters and affordable Asian and east Asian entrees like Pad Thai, vegan banana curry and bah me gai (stir fried noodles, chicken and shrimp in a coriander-lime sauce).
Int'lLittle ItalyAverageUtopia586 College St. (at Clinton St.) 416-534-7751Laid-back resto offering an international blend (mostly Indian and Latin) cuisine; nice patio, good quesadillas.
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageAlice Fazooli's Italian Restaurant294 Adelaide St. W. 416-979-1910Good for group dining, offering reasonable Italian fare at decent prices including popular salty, oily, garlic buns, a fettuccini with vodka, cream and smoked salmon that was too fishy for our tastes and many tomato sauce based pastas that are far more palatable.
ItalianBaldwinAverageBocca on Baldwin (Italian Cucina)26 Baldwin St. 416-348-0731Charming patio and equally charming chef Jose Corniellis greet diners to this happening trattoria. Unfortunately Corniellis should spend more time in the kitchen as service is terribly slow, even at lunch. Very good pizzas and paninis, garlicky caesars, overpriced pastas and a competent wine list.
ItalianLittle ItalyAverageCafé Diplomatico594 College St, 416-534-4637Very affordable traditional Italian food in the heart of little Italy, this hole in the wall diner is very popular with locals and students. Simple hot and cold paninis, competent pastas, burgers and fries and generous salads; nothing extensive or surprising, just good, cheap food.
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageEast Side Mario's151 Front St. W. 416-360-1917Adding average Italian food to the mediocrity of this entire street and catering to tourists too tired to go anywhere else, they are sooo lucky they are close to the CN Tower, the convention centre and the Skydome (Roger's Centre).
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageIl Fornello3 locations reviewed: 214 King St (416-598-1766) 35 Elm St (416-598-1766) 576 Danforth Ave (416-598-1766)With many locations, mass produced Italian food has been slipping of late. Notably what was once one of the best Caesar salads in the city is now limp and bland. The pricey lunch specials are not really deals as the plate portions are considerably smaller and less generous than the entrees which only cost a couple of dollars more. The pizzas and pastas still deliver good quality. The daily specials were done well. The oven roasted chicken, olives, white cheddar and caramelized onions on a thin spelt pizza was tasty. The seafood rigatoni had an excellent tomato sauce base but the shrimp and scallops delivered a "just came out of the freezer bag" quality and taste. The King St. and Elm St. locations have impeccable service. The latter offers excellent specialty menus for large groups upstairs. The Danforth location, with an all you can eat lunch buffet, should be avoided as the staff there will avoid you.
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageJoe Badali's Italian Restaurant Bar156 Front St. W. 416-977-3064How can something so huge be so mediocre? At least it keeps the Armadillo located next door (see above) in business.
ItalianBaldwinAverageJohn's Italian Café27 Baldwin St, 416-596-8848Huge lunch time servings and very reasonable prices, one order can easily be shared by two. Excellent smoked salmon or grilled chicken paninis, salads (probably the largest we have seen, they remind us of the big salad Seinfeld episode) and oversized desserts. Avoid sitting near the espresso machine as there is a constant banging of the coffee grounds. Very popular patio.
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageKit Kat Italian Bar & Grill297 King St. W. 416-977-4461Slow service, average Italian restaurant popular with tourists proving that well positioned advertising does work.
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAverageVerona Ristorante335 King St. W. 416-593-7771Very average Northern Italian food proving location is more important than quality.
JapaneseDowntownAverageIchimi Sushi66 Edward St at Bay 416-542-1266 416-542-1266Small and crowded, it offers average Japanese fare.
JapaneseYorkvilleAverageMasi15 Charles St. E. in the Comfort Hotel 416-924-1222This used to be a cheap all you can eat sushi bar. The food was mediocre but the price was right. One spectacular renovation later, the prices are still low, the buffet is gone and the food is still mediocre. The sushi is bland, the nori stale and the tempura just uninteresting. The miso soup had a chalky finish and the side salad was drowning in dressing. But we have to acknowledge that it is a beautiful place to sit and sip sake.
JapaneseQueen Street WestAverageSushi Queen Japanese Restaurant204 Queen St. W. 416-979-2288Average sushi though pricier than most, terrible sake.
KoreanDowntownAverageMt Fuji Sushi74 Gerrard St. (at Bay)Geared toward the downtown lunch crowd, good sushi and sashimi, great Korean cold bibimbap; very small inside.
LatinKensington MarketAverageJumbo Empanadas245 Augusta at Baldwin, 416-977-0056 Chilean empanadas are the specialty at this casual Kensington Market restaurant. Choose from chicken or beef (filled with chopped egg, red pepper, black olives and spices), or vegetable (with spinach, mushrooms, red peppers and basil). The less than filling empanadas are doughy and chewy, and are served with a tasty side of spicy salsa. Very affordable but more empanada selection is needed. Other Latin meals to try: humitas (filled with mashed corn and onions), and a larger sweet cornmeal pie (filled with beef, chicken, black olives, hard boiled egg and raisins).
LatinAnnexAverageSouthern Accent595 Markham Street 416-536-3211It wasn't their night: the waiter broke glasses twice, the busboy whacked a diner with the broom as he swept it up and the kitchen offered glacial out of order service...the amuse bouche should not be served with the mains! The watermelon gazpacho soup had an unpleasant herbal taste, the broiled garlic stuffed mussels were overcooked, the lukewarm and miniscule blackened chicken was accompanied by lumpy mashed potatoes and cold, sickly sweet bok choy in a chili brown sugar sauce. The creole jambalaya (chicken, ham, andouille sausage, rice and tomatoes) was generous but over sauced. Desserts were abysmal, a sour rhubarb strawberry pudding cake and unsweetened brownie were accompanied by cold coffee which we returned three times before giving up!
MexicanDowntownAverageArmadillo Texas Grill146 Front St. W. 416-977-8840This place is better than its awful competition. We suggest you keep going until you find better competition.
MexicanEast YorkAverageGonzo's977 O'Connor Drive North of St. Clair (416) 750-9424Gonzalo and his sister Yolanda Paez originally ran this restaurant but due to health concerns they sold it and moved back to Mexico. What was probably the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Toronto became a Tex-Mex dive. Fortunately the Paez's moved back to Toronto and opened up El Sol (see above).
MexicanDowntownAverageHernando's Hideaway545 Yonge St 416-929-3629 also 52A Wellington St E 416-366-6394Tasty but cheesy, greasy Mexican food; generous enchilada, taco or burrito daily specials offer the best value.
MexicanEntertainment DistrictAverageLone Star Texas Grill200 Front St. W. (at University) 416-408-4064Frequented by public servants working upstairs, this place stays in business offering all you can eat chips and salsa to accompany your booze. Mediocre food including a scaly alligator appetizer, average fajitas and extremely slow bar service.
MexicanDanforthAverageMickey's Hideawayclosed 461 Danforth AveNow closed and replaced by a sushi restaurant, we remember it mostly for the great margaritas and slightly better than average Mexican food.
PubEntertainment DistrictAverageBistro 333333 King St. W. downstairs 416-971-3336It's a pub not a bistro serving forgettable food in a mostly seat-free space.
PubAnnexAverageBrunswick House (Ye Olde)481 Bloor St W (416) 964-2242The only place we knew where you could get second hand beer fumes from decades old swill soaked furniture. A new owner and one spectacular exterior and interior renovation later, it attempted to appeal to all ages but remains a popular student hangout. We remain cautious as one of our friends, a bouncer there, told us of a fight that started inside, spilled out into the street and continued in the ambulances.
PubEntertainment DistrictAverageClub Menage Inc.333 King St. W. Upstairs 416-971-3332Huge covered patio, crowded dance bar, window go-go dancers, all very forgettable, just like downstairs (see Bistro 333 above).
PubDowntownAverageElephant and Castle (2 locations)378 Yonge (at Gerrard) and 212 King St. W. at Simcoe 416-598-4455Popular but mediocre pub fare, poor customer service.
PubEntertainment DistrictAverageHooters Restaurant280 Adelaide St. W. 416-977-4668The Hooter's "experience" is nothing more than friendly waitresses in t-shirts and shorts serving average roadhouse food like all you can eat wings and quesadillas in a small sports bar.
PubQueen Street WestAverageHorseshoe Tavern370 Queen St W 416-598-4753It's been around for over 50 years and at times it could use a thick coating of wrinkle cream. This is mostly a roadhouse concert hall playing live alternative rock. We're sure they serve food, we've just never seen any.
PubEntertainment DistrictAverageIndian Motorcycle Clubclosed King and Blue Jays WayIt didn't last but it was huge and took the baby boomer bar concept to the next level. Unfortunately, average food, evil bouncers, terrible service, well hidden motorcycles, bizarre music and unfriendly pricing put an end to it all.
PubLeslievilleAverageProhibition Gastro Pub (formerly Booze Emporium)696 Queen St E, 416-406-2669 Why would you force a new bar (The Booze Emporium) to change its name because it contains a reference to alcohol? Prohibition made the change (by superimposing its new logo Prohibition - over the original Booze Emporium logo) when liquor control authorities expressed concern that it promoted the use of alcohol, and insisted that the name be changed. If they can get the service and martinis right, this would make a pretty decent local hangout. Black banquettes, wood floors, a large central wooden bar that divides the front and back rooms and walls that feature the work of local artists lend a warm feel to the space. Food choices are diverse, well-prepared, and cater to eaters big and small. We share a plate of large, tender, fried calamari, a warm panko-crusted goat cheese and spinach salad, and mussels, and are very satisfied. We decide that this new gastro pub deserves a second visit and hope that the kinks are ironed out by then.
PubDowntownAverageRex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar194 Queen St W 416-598-2475Playing hit or miss jazz all day in up to five different sets; tolerable menu, should have more beers on tap; horrendous service, awkward seating arrangement, and feels like it could use a good fumigation or at least wipe the sticky bits away.
PubDowntownAverageThe Black Bull Tavern298 Queen St W at Soho 416-593-2766THE place to park your motorcycle. Suggest you drink beer on the huge patio and avoid the interior and the menu.
PubCorktownAverageThe Dominion on Queen500 Queen St E 416-368-6893A local hangout offering substantial servings, a good weekend brunch, excellent local beers on tap and live jazz (with cover) on Fridays and Saturdays. Best bets are the warm spinach salad, burgers, nachos and panini.
PubYorkvilleAverageThe Pilot Tavern22 Cumberland Street 416-923-5716Huge rooftop patio to sip and soak up sun, this really isn't a dining destination by any means but they frequently play live jazz.
PubEntertainment DistrictAverageUrban303 King St WestModern restaurant bar, great food, popular street level patio, much nicer than it's neighbour Gabby's (above).
SeafoodDistilleryAverageRed Lobster20 Dundas St. W., at Bay, in Atrium on Bay, 416-348-8938For a seafood chain restaurant it offers reasonable value for what you get, great unlimited cheese buns, seafood tends to be over salted and a little greasy for our tastes. We suggest your main fish entrée be poached in parchment to reduce the calories.
SeafoodNorth YorkAverageThe Fish House Restaurant & Seafood Bar2035 Sheppard Ave. E., 416-497-5051The downtown location closed but the North York one remains open. Raw fish bar, family friendly atmosphere and reasonably priced seafood, including swordfish, that's planked, broiled, barbequed or blackened.
ThaiDowntownAverageGreen Mango707 Yonge St at Hayden St. 416-920-5448; 730 Yonge St. at Charles 416-928-0021; 3006 Bloor St. W. in Kingsway Village, 416-233-5004; 2180 Bloor St. W in Bloor West Village, 416-604-8800Establishing its beachhead on the Yonge street strip, this is the restaurant that started the Thai food gold rush from Bloor to Gerrard. Being first, it was crowded, service was adequate and the food was excellent. But with lineups out the door they rested on their laurels, service became rude and the quality plummeted. Then the others came, and Yonge Street was enveloped in Thai restaurants. Competition was good for Green Mango because food quality improved and service, well, it's not as rude as before. They opened a second restaurant one block south and then expanded to key Toronto areas: Bloor West Village and the Kingsway. But what was novel Thai food couldn't keep up with the competition and food portions were shrinking to keep prices low. The spicy noodle still delivers a potent kick and the fried rice and pad thai are popular menu staples. The original location at Yonge and Hayden is more a take out joint and is priced cheaper than it's sleek sit-down siblings. The Bloor West Village location has excellent service and much better food but terrible acoustics and on crowded weekends diners may need to yell to each other to be heard.
ThaiDowntownAveragePapaya, Thai Pan Cuisine545 Yonge St. 416-944-9731This restaurant offers the best Thai lunch special in the area (but get there early as the small restaurant fills up quickly and is generally short staffed). For $6.95, you get a generous bowl of the daily soup (usually hot & sour), a delicious vegetarian spring roll, mixed green salad, and your choice of 12 or more excellent lunch specials. Our favourites include the Tom Yum soup (a heaping bowl of wonderful garlic, lime, chili and lemongrass broth with noodles and your choice of vegetables, chicken, shrimp or beef); Thai Basil Chicken, Thai Mango Chicken, and Yellow Curry with Beef - all served with a side of steamed rice. The super-thick mango milkshakes are out of this world yummy, and are a perfect balance to some of the spicier dishes. Just beware of ordering from the main menu at lunch as the wait is long and the food unappealing when it finally arrives.
ThaiDowntownAveragePi-Tom's Thai Cuisine6A Alexander 416-966-1813Mediocre service, uninspiring food and a slow kitchen do not keep diners away from this packed restaurant. We suspect its due to a lack of Thai competition on this strip of Yonge street between Welleslsey and College or the very sunny and spacious flowering patio.
ThaiDowntownAverageSpring Rolls693 Yonge Street, 416-972-6623; 40 Dundas St. W, 416-585-2929; 348 Broadview Av, 416-465-7655; 45 Eglinton Av at Yonge, 416-822-7555Although Green Mango (see above) had the jump on Spring Rolls by over a decade, they competed physically next door to each other with the new comer winning hands down. Thai restaurants, like coffee shops and tattoo parlors, opened everywhere on Yonge St. but Spring Rolls managed to stay on top by offering large plates filled with bean sprouts and a smaller helping of whatever you ordered. This misdirection, on par with magician David Blaine's tricks, worked surprisingly well. Over the years the amount of bean sprouts has diminished and the well orchestrated service has remained top notch. And the food delivers: the spicy Tom Yum vegetable soup with vegetables, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, mushrooms, chili and lemon juice has an earthy citrus aroma that warms the palate for the main course. The red and oily pad thai is more Western than the light bodied and complex Thai variety. The red or green curry dishes are very filling. Reservations are a must at lunch.
ThaiBaldwinAverageThai Paradise35 Baldwin Street, 416-351-1368Tasty but less than generous portions and a claustrophobic unpainted interior mar what could be a great restaurant. The very small chicken pad thai serving was made well and a simple vegetarian Siam eggplant dish with onions and green peppers had a tasty, earthy black bean sauce but was too plain to be impressive. They get top marks for good service and a fast kitchen but beware that the vegetarian dishes can contain eggs, seafood or a meat sauce so double check before ordering.
VegetarianKensington MarketAverageHibiscus238 Augusta at Nassau 416-364-6183Extremely polite and helpful staff welcome you to a mostly lactose free creperie that offers tons of vegan options. The salad sampler contained a mix of six excellent salads including sweet potato, pickled beets, green beans, broccoli, seasame seeded quinoa tabouleh with dried cranberries, and lentil and fusilli pasta. The main attraction are the thin, crispy, dairy-free buckwheat and brown rice flour crepes which can be ordered with sweet caramelized fruit or savory fillings such as mozzarella, spinach and mushrooms. One warning: a modest attempt at hip decor is undermined by a filthy, unswept floor and abundant food scraps lodged in the cracks of the table.
VegetarianBaldwinAverageVegetarian Haven17 Baldwin St, 416-621-3636Serving an extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes and located just below the Toronto Vegetarian Association offices, this soothing and hip bowling alley shaped restaurant has a great deal of street credit with the hard core vegan crowd. The tofu version of seafood, ham, or shrimp is good. The burgers are both generous and, at just over nine inches, certainly the tallest we've ever seen. The seitan (whole wheat gluten flour containing 80% protein), tempeh (fermented soybean), and tofu mains are served in numerous Asian variations like spicy curry, Buddha's delight, bird's nest, and black bean sauce. The only complaint is that the main entree portions are less than generous for the price and the food could be served hotter.
VietnameseDowntownAverageGinger695 Yonge St; 546 Church, at Wellesley, 416-413-1053; 521 Bloor Street W., 416-536-3131; 252 Carlton St, 416-923-7979; 403 Yonge St, 416-263-9999Line up at the counter, order by number and then, like a deli counter, you're handed a number and wait your turn for food. With limited seating it's more a Vietnamese takeout joint. Very affordable prices and reasonably good food without the sleek decor of the neighbouring Thai restaurants, it remains very popular with students and the lunch crowd.
VietnameseRiverdaleAverageThe New Pepper Chili Szechuan Restaurant368 Broadview Ave at Gerrard, 416-466-9898The old Pepper Chili was a 24 hour restaurant serving terrible BBQ pork. The new one is more Vietnamese than Szechuan despite its name. Affordable lunch specials offer standard Chinese dishes like beef with orange peel or lemon chicken served with rice and a very tasty but over salted corn soup. The real stars are the generous and affordable Vietnamese Pho (rice noodle soup) or Bun dishes. The latter is a bowl filled with cucumber, fresh herbs, grilled meat, vermicelli and bean sprouts covered with nuoc cham sauce (garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh lime juice, and fish sauce). The crispy spring rolls and the chicken shish kabob are excellent and come with very tasty fresh vegetables. A family run business, they are very accommodating and polite, some staff have excellent English skills and there is a spectacular fish tank in front to amuse the kids.
ChineseDowntownAvoidNew Treasure Restaurant150 Dundas St W 416-977-3778Below ground basement restaurant with below average Chinese food.
Fine DiningEntertainment DistrictAvoidLa Maquette Restaurant111 King St. E, 416-366-8191The real estate is spectacular: a main dining room with sweeping staircase and crisp linen tables and a huge patio overlooking a public park and waterfall which is equally enjoyable from an airy second floor atrium. If only the food and service could match it, this would be a great restaurant. We start by returning the main courses and suggest to the staff they should first serve the appetizers we ordered. As we are the only diners on the huge second floor, we are perplexed at this major gaffe. When we finally dig into the applewood smoked salmon and accompanying salad of micro greens we begin to feel the first tinge of regret...we're going to end up paying for the view instead of great food. The penne with chorizo and the organic chicken equally disappoint. This is a tourist trap, even for locals, and is best avoided.
Fine DiningKing WestAvoidSusur601 King St. W at Portland 416-603-2205Frequented by food critics who, after sacrificing anonymity and independence, enjoy the finest all expenses paid extravagance high-end dining can offer. You, on the other hand, will be lucky to be seated (and that's with a reservation). The smug and indifferent staff, long waits between courses and a bill equivalent to a down payment on a small car was enough for us to declare we'll never go back.
Fine DiningDistilleryAvoidThe Boiler House55 Mill St., Bldg #46, 416-203-2121Although the stuffed Cornish hen was quite good, we returned the steak twice before they got it to medium and even then it was merely adequate. A weekend brunch is offered and occasionally there is live music, though a bit eclectic and sporadic. A spectacularly lit, heated, covered, outdoor smoking area unfortunately doubles as the entrance to the restaurant. Every time the door opens, diners are exposed to second-hand smoke. A special note to the very inexperienced hostesses: you are there for the customers, not the other way around.
Fine DiningDowntownAvoidThe Senator Steakhouse and Top of the SenatorclosedWe'll say it: it deserved to go out of business. A remarkable institution in this city, for decades the Senator offered Toronto's finest steaks downstairs and incredibly good jazz upstairs. An ownership change took steaks off the menu and booked B list artists upstairs. It really was only a matter of time before it closed. The original diner, also Toronto's oldest restaurant, remains next door.
FrenchRiverdaleAvoidBatifole744 Gerrard St East of Broadview 416.462.9965Touted as the avant-garde resto for the supposed gentrification of south Riverdale, it reveals a neighbourhood desperate for a trendy place to eat. So much so that they will put up with rude service, an almost all beef menu, cramped dining, and overpriced, less than spectacular food.
FrenchBaldwinAvoidBodega30 Baldwin St 416.977.1287 It really makes us wonder whether people can tell the difference between great food and atmosphere. This restaurant has all the right ingredients: location, décor, and a well constructed menu. But it can't manage to serve decent food. While not horrid, it's not spectacular. Compared to other restaurants, the food isn't worth the price they charge. You leave feeling you paid for the rent not the groceries.
FrenchKensington MarketAvoidLa Palette256 Augusta Ave at College 416-929-4900It's rumored one can order horse meat here. It can't be any worse than the items on the menu.
IndianDowntownAvoidBombay Palace71 Jarvis St. at Richmond 416-368-8048A few years ago when the cook changed so did the flavour. This is horrible Indian food. The lukewarm buffet featured over cooked vegetables, stale curries, burned oil soaked pakoras, bland tandoori chicken, mushy matar paneer, and soggy salads. The quality of the meat (chicken, beef, goat) is disappointing. The décor is old, dark and gives you a feeling you don't want to touch anything. The only bright point was a decent rice pudding.
IndianLittle IndiaAvoidFamous Indian Cuisine1437 Gerrard St. E. 416-406-4511The unfriendly and cheap waiter hovered over us, imagining his profit evaporate with every item we took from the very small but flavorful all you can eat buffet. Their naan (Indian bread made in a tandoor) is first rate but the dank décor is not.
IndianLittle IndiaAvoidSidhartha Fine Indian Cuisine1450 Gerrard St. E. 416-465-4095(note there is also a vegetarian Siddartha with two “dd”s also on Gerrard on the South Side). It took the closing of Sidartha to wake up Little India to the reality that city health inspectors should not be taken lightly. And this is an example of a restaurant that not only bounced back, but did so with style. With one of the nicest decors on the strip, the buffet has a greater variety than most in this area. However the dishes are inconsistently spiced from day to day and some are far too salty. They have raised their prices nearly 40 percent more than the competition. You can eat much better food for less money elsewhere. We suggest you avoid this restaurant until inflation and the rest of the strip catch up.
Int'lNorth YorkAvoidDavey G'sclosedNotorious for serving the world's smallest sandwich, the shock that it wasn't presented with a magnifying glass distracted us momentarily from probably the worst service we have ever experienced. We have friends that went here specifically to be treated badly so that they would have new stories to tell afterwards!
ItalianLeslievilleAvoidGio Rana's Really Nice Restaurant1220 Queen E. 416-469-5225 If you turned a crowded bar into a restaurant you would get this. Packed with people, incredibly loud music, no room to move, it's the kind of place you visit to feel you are doing something on a Saturday night instead of staying home. Remember when you were a teenager and lined up for over an hour just to get into a dance club even if the music was bad, the staff rude and the expensive food blasé? Why? Can anyone tell us why?
ItalianEntertainment DistrictAvoidLa Fenice319 King St. WOne bad service experience was enough to keep us away for good.
JapaneseChina TownAvoidSimon Sushi409 Spadina at College, 416-977-2828Lined with students who are willing to pass on quality to save a few dollars, Simon Sushi's cheap eats appeals to anyone who has never tasted good Japanese food. As diners are seated they are served a warm bowl of mediocre miso soup which is the appropriate starter for one of the worst Japanese meals we have ever had. The tempura is undercooked and oily, the sushi and hand rolls are wrapped in stale, chewy nori, the salmon teriyaki and all of the seafood are of questionable freshness to the point where they are almost spoilt, and the salad, well it can be best described as some tossed lettuce served inside a big bowl of dressing. The bright points are a pleasant and swanky interior and good kimono clad service.
LatinLittle ItalyAvoidBairrada1000 College at Havelock 416-539-8239Serving adequate but salty Portuguese BBQ chicken seasoned with piri-piri sauce (known as churrascada), this average restaurant falls into the avoid category based on the atrocious service. While not rude, there is significant mismanagement here: it took over an hour for the waiter to take our drink order and bring us a basket of bread. The take-out line, which we debated as an alternative while we waited, was marginally better. The food is good including the sardines, suckling pig and roast potatoes but not worth the wait.
PubEntertainment DistrictAvoidDuke of Argyle86 John St. 416-340-9700The unfriendly, horrible service was a good indicator of the food to come.
PubEntertainment DistrictAvoidGabby's Grill and Bar309 King St W 416-979-9790 Also multiple franchise locations Extremely slow service on a huge and popular patio. Offering average pub food, we're convinced many people will put up with anything just to sit on a patio and sip beer.
PubLittle IndiaAvoidJenny's PlaceGerrard East of GreenwoodOf all the divey bars in Leslieville, this one has the notable distinction that no one has ever been shot there. Packed with regulars, it continues to defy statistical probability.
PubLeslievilleAvoidMaple Leaf Tavern955 Gerrard St. EastTo all the lost souls, lonely hearts and broken dreams filling the seedy bars in Leslieville, this one offers karaoke. Enough said?
PubEntertainment DistrictAvoidPlanet HollywoodclosedClosed. You're welcome.
PubLittle IndiaAvoidUlster Arms TavernGerrard East of GreenwoodA remnant of the old Orange order, now a mere sandbar in the sea that is Little India, it is a dive popular with the locals whose only pastime is to smoke at the entrance and watch the prostitutes across the street ply their trade.
SeafoodEntertainment DistrictAvoidCaptain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant1 Queen's Quay W. 416-363-6062A tourist trap, this boat has never set sail on a fishing expedition and you can tell.
SeafoodEntertainment DistrictAvoidFisherman's Wharf Restaurants69 Richmond St. W. 416-364-1344Lot's of seafood, none of it fresh.
SeafoodPort CreditAvoidSnug Harbour - Seafood, Bar and Grill14 Stavebank RD S.,905.274.5000It's packed on weekends because location is everything! Overlooking the Port Credit River, Lake Ontario, moored sailboats, a small park and lighthouse, it offers live music, a dance floor, and overpriced, over salted frozen seafood. The food prevents it from being a great restaurant. The terrible service precludes it from being a great place to drink. And the location stops it from going out of business.
VietnameseDowntownAvoidThai Thani179 Dundas St. W 416-977-4712Avoid. Horrible Asian food.
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