The Top 8 Restaurants in Toronto – And Why You Need to Eat There ASAPSep 07, 2016
For me, August was all about three words: out and about. My girlfriends and I, being the foodies we are, really made the most of our adventures and thoroughly checked out the restaurant scene in Toronto. With the incredible summer we’ve had here, it makes it super easy to enjoy everything Toronto has to offer. A friend of mine asked me to share all of my wonderful experiences I’ve had so far, so without further ado, here’s a list of my favs.
Nestled in Harbord Village, Rasa has quickly become a regular spot for me. (I love it so much that I don’t even mind the drive down from Richmond Hill.) The food was — obviously — amazing, but it’s the service that really sets it apart. I’ve been there a few times now, and every time I’ve had a blast connecting with the servers. (It’s like chatting with a long-lost friend.) The last time I went, I was there with my sis and dad, and we were being served by one of the owners.
I later realized he was one of the Food Dudes, but at the time, I had no idea who he was. That said, he was super hospitable, down to earth, and a genuine guy. (Nice traits in a man —just sayin’!) Most of the staff there personally wished my dad a happy birthday, treated him to a cake, and gave him a gift certificate. Between the service and the to-die-for chopped salad, I’m hooked. The patio is beautiful, and as far as the bar inside goes, I can’t wait to stop by for a drink on a cold winter’s eve. After all, its coziness simply can’t be beat.
I was bordering on heartbroken when Bar Reyna replaced Caren’s in Yorkville, but having said that, the place was in need of some sprucing. (Just a little, not too much.) The end result is a beautiful interior that provides intimacy and just a touch of the exotic. The patio in the back suited my girly personality, too. Since it’s fairly new, I wasn’t thrilled with the service, but it wasn’t bad, either. My girlfriend was totally convinced that the woman at the table next to us was one of the Desperate Housewives, so we spent a good chunk of our time comparing her iPhone photos to the woman next to us, debating the similarities. When all was said and done, we still had no idea if we were right or not, but it was fun to try and figure it out.
What I loved most about this place was the wine flights. I LOVE my red wine, but as of late, it hasn’t loved me back. (I’ve had headaches, fatigue, and overall feelings of discomfort.) My body is forcing me to explore white wines — and urging me to quit drinking altogether, but I’m not quite there yet. The flights are perfect because I got two tastes of their whites and one red at the end, headache be damned. I got too caught up in my convo with my girlfriend — whom I hadn’t seen in over a year — that I didn’t pay too much attention to the meal. I remember the sea bass was good, but definitely not exceptional. The wine, though? The wine was magic.
This wasn’t any kind of a girl’s night out, but it totally deserves an honourable mention. I was in Mississauga for a client visit, when I became absolutely starving. I’d been craving dosa for months now, and it was a no brainer when I drove past this restaurant on my way to my client, mentally making a note to leave plenty of time on the way back for a quick pit stop at Saravanaa Bhavan. Simply put, if you haven’t eaten here, you’re missing out. I consider it my South Indian haven. They have locations worldwide, which just goes to show how yum it is. I was transported back to India, and there aren’t very many places I can say that about.
This was a bit of a trek (all the way to Thornton, Ontario), but so worth it! A friend of mine has opened up a healthy restaurant and a centre for yoga and wellness, rolled into one wonderful experience. They had me at organic vegetarian world cuisine. My sister is a holistic nutritionist, so I knew she’d be the perfect dining companion for a place like this. There’s also an elixir bar — need I say more?
This spot will forever be known as where my solo date night inauguration was held. Obviously, it’s very monumental for me (lol), and holds a special place in my heart. I’ve shared my love for this space and its chef’s table (for the record, my boys equally love this place), because the chef’s table is where all the action’s at. While the food is just fabulous and our family fav is the carpaccio, the guys behind the bar who’re working their brand of magic are the real deal. Catching up with them and their lives — all while being treated like ritzy first class — is a real treat for my boys and I. We’ve never walked away without being completely spoiled.
This restaurant really needs no intro since it stands on its own. It has the same owners as Bar Isabel (which has been a big hit in the Toronto scene) and Bar Raval is a delightful culinary experience with an impressive wine and cocktail list. If you’re looking for a place to chill and nibble, this is it. The tapas are insanely good, and I’m getting ready to propose to the Smoked Mackerel. (Just thinking about it has me salivating.)
All that said, I have a cautionary note: Ladies, save your heels for another day. Not only is this restaurant always full and crowded, but there’s hardly any sitting space. Expect to stand around wine barrells, striking up convos with strangers, and connecting with the unexpected.
This is a real jewel in the Distillery District. I’m always amazed by the beauty of the Distillery, but I always forget it exists. This summer, when I was hosting my cousin and her friends from Dubai, I knew the Distillery District was the answer. (It always impresses out-of-towners.) The patio is one of the best I’ve ever seen, but get ready for a big line — a big line that lasts an hour and a half. That said, there’s a way to ease the pain; El Catrin has set up an outdoor bar with small snacks to cater to the hungry and thirsty souls who’re waiting for a table. While I was super irritated about the long wait, the margarita cooled me off. The best dish? Get the guacamole.
There you have it! Where to wine. Where to dine. And most importantly, where to live, laugh, and love.