Best Toronto restaurants © Will Travel for Food

The famous Toronto skyline

A few weeks ago I went to visit an old friend in Toronto for Labour day weekend. I’ve only been to Toronto a few times and I didn’t know the city well. In fact, I still don’t know it that well since it’s such a large city and I was driven around all weekend, which doesn’t help. However, I enjoyed quite a few meals out, some of which were good and some which not so much.

My weekend started with lunch at Bannock, which is part of the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants and had just opened, was just as described on their website: comforting. The traditional Canadian comfort food was well executed and my boneless back rib burger was delicious!

Bannock restaurant Toronto © Will Travel for Food

Bannock restaurant

downtown restaurants toronto © Will Travel for Food

Canned goods at The Bannock

best toronto restaurants © Will Travel for Food

Boneless back rib burger with smokey tomato jam at The Bannock

Because I don’t just eat when I travel (no really!), my next stop was the Distillery Historic District, which is a must if you visit Toronto. There you will find the Corkin Gallery, one of the most beautiful art spaces I’ve ever seen! Even though the art hanging on the walls was interesting, the actual walls –and space– stole the show! Spend some time strolling around the area and visiting all the stalls and stores. You will perhaps end up like me at the Soma chocolate store. You can line-up for their all-natural gelato or skip it and go straight to the chocolates like I did. I highly recommend the rich and peppery Maldon salt and Aleppo pepper chocolate bar.

Distillery District Toronto © Will Travel for Food

The Corkin Gallery at the Distillery District

© Will Travel for Food

The Distillery District

the Distillery District Toronto © Will Travel for Food

Soma chocolatier at the Distillery District

My first dinner in Toronto was at Ici Bistro, a tiny and charming 24-seat neighbourhood bistro. Reservations are an absolute must but try and get the later seating. We got the early seating and were a bit rushed when the time came for the next reservation to be seated. The dishes were creative, well executive and the plates were colourful and beautiful.

ici bistro toronto © Will Travel for Food

Goat cheese, shiitake, beet cannelloni and root salad at Ici Bistro

french food toronto © Will Travel for Food

Crispy calamari à la niçoise & Buffala mozzarella at Ici Bistro

A drink on the rooftop terrasse of the Hyatt Regency Hotel across the street from the impressive Royal Ontario Museum was the perfect ending to that first day. The views are stunning and so are the gin tonics.

Toronto restaurant © Will Travel for Food

Toronto skyline from the Park Hyatt’s rooftop terrasse

Royal Ontario Museum © Will Travel for Food

TheRoyal Ontario Museum’s beautiful Crystal building by deconstructivist architect Daniel Libeskind

Brunch at Saving Grace the next morning was not what I would call revelatory. They say it’s the best brunch in Toronto and with over a half-hour wait, I expected so much more. The coffee and service were bad and the food was ordinary, nothing to write home –or on this blog– about… I might have been even more upset had I not started the day earlier with a latte from Sam James Coffee Bar, which offers some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, ever! I had a Sam James latte every morning for the 3 days I was in Toronto and I got desperately hooked on it – it’s that good!

Saving Grace restaurant © Will Travel for Food

Saving Grace restaurant


best brunch toronto © Will Travel for Food

Frittata with pancetta, pumpkin and gouda at Saving Grace

La Merceria store and café © Will Travel for Food

La Merceria store and café

nadege toronto {Photo: © 2011 Nadège}

Nadège {Photo: © 2011 Nadège}

I spent the rest of that first day walking and nibbling my way around the city, from The Beaches , which feels like you’ve just been transported to a seaside town to the St. Lawrence Market, a very impressive market located in two historic buildings: the North St. Lawrence Market, dedicated to fruit and vegetables and housing over 50 Ontario producers and the South St. Lawrence Market housing over 50 specialty vendors and restaurants including a Sunday Antique market.

One of the memorable “nibbles” I had that day was a cannelé from Nadège, the dainty French pastry shop that displays delicious sweet treats like jewels. I know you’ll be tempted to grab one of the colourful macarons on display but go for one of the mini cannelés and you won’t regret it.

That night I had the best meal of my trip at The Black Hoof. I’m so glad I listened to my friend Marcella who insisted that I go. We started off with deliciously unique libations across the street from the restaurant at The Black Hoof cocktail bar. The dinner that followed was spectacular! We shared quite a few of the tapas-style dishes and they were all excellent, from the house-cured prosciutto to the smoked sweetbreads to the absolutely addictive pork carnitas tacos. The Black Hoof is definitely a must when visiting Toronto!

The Black Hoof © Will Travel for Food

The Black Hoof cocktail bar

The Black Hoof Toronto © Will Travel for Food

Pork carnitas tacos at The Black Hoof

© Will Travel for Food

Smoked sweetbreads with ranch dressing, mache and radish at The Black Hoof

The Black Hoof Toronto © Will Travel for Food

Smoked pork belly with red pepper and anchovy sauce at The Black Hoof

My last day was spent walking around The Brick Works, a community environmental centre that has transformed a former brick quarry into an “international showcase for urban sustainability” that is open year-round. There you will find gardens, a farmers’ market on the weekends, event venues, kids activities and a whole lot more, including Café Belong, a restaurant that had just opened when I was there. The high ceiling and intricate lighting system and the impressive Le Creuset collection were enough to make us want to try it. I was a bit disappointed because the service was very slow and the food arrived cold at our table but, in their defense, it was one of their first days and the place was very busy. The menu is promising and I’m sure the food is delicious now that they’ve been open for a few weeks.

restaurants toronto © Will Travel for Food

Café Belong at the Brick Works

toronto best restaurant © Will Travel for Food

Summer squash with soft boiled egg and Saskatoon berries at Café Belong

best restaurant in toronto © Will Travel for Food

Sweet and sticky pork with apples at Café Belong

toronto best restaurants © Will Travel for Food

Pot de crème with peaches and berries at Café Belong

Wow, another long travel post! It took me a while to write this one and I hope you’ll enjoy it!

I haven’t described (or listed below) every single place I visited in this post for fear of boring you. However, if you are planning a weekend in Toronto, take a look at my Toronto Google map for more addresses and details, and don’t hesitate to drop me a note if you have any questions!

Sam James Coffee Bar
297 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1G7
647 341 2572

401 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M5H 1W2
416 861 6996

Saving Grace
907 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1V9
416 703 7368

Ici Bistro
538 Manning Avenue
416 536 0079

The Black Hoof
923 Dundas St. W.
416 551 8854

Drake Hotel General Store
1011 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON M4W 2K9
416 966 0553

The Brick Works
550 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON  M4W 3X8
416 596 7670

Soma Chocolatemaker
Distillery Historic District
55 Mill Street
Toronto, ON
416 815 7662

The St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E
Toronto, ON M5E 1C4

Share the love!

Related Posts: