When I first started traveling, my trips usually centered around sightseeing; I had to make sure to check off every major museum and monument each time I visited a new city. Over time, of course, I evolved, and so too did my traveling style. Now, while I’ll pop into museums as my mood dictates, my focus is on something more satisfying: where to get the best meals. In Toronto, happily, there were lots of options.
My first meal of the trip was breakfast at George Street Diner. I’m not usually big on diners, but I had heard so many good things about this one that I had to check it out! I grabbed a seat at the counter and was quite impressed by the super friendly staff and tasty food. My breakfast burrito was great, but the potatoes that came on the side were a bit too spicy for a spice-wimp like me.
No matter what city I visit, if there’s a food hall, I make my way there. Whether it’s langos in Budapest, cinnamon rolls in Helsinki, or gooey raclette in London, I’ve found a lot of my favorite dishes in food halls. At the St. Lawrence Market, I had fun browsing through the abundant piles of produce and stalls chocked full of meat. I nabbed a butter tart, found a seat at a hightop table, and people watched for a while.
El Catrin is a huge, brightly colored Mexican restaurant in Toronto’s Distillery District. Here, I indulged in a super tasty mango marg, guacamole, and Baja tacos. Their guac is made tableside – who can say no to that!
I stayed at the Gladstone Hotel, which was a hipster paradise. Its restaurant also served up some pretty solid food. For dinner one night, I had the Chicken Supreme: pan-roasted chicken with a potato and onion waffle, corn puree, and sweet & spicy Brussels sprouts.
I also ate several breakfasts there. One day I ordered the huevos rancheros, which looked just lovely…however, I wasn’t particularly blown away by the flavor. More successful was my second breakfast there: sourdough toast with house-made honey butter, a side of bacon, and a fresh fruit plate. The honey butter was To. Die. For. Regrettably, I don’t have a photo of it…just the happy foodie memories.
One Toronto spot I had seen on Instagram over and over again was Sweet Jesus, basically an ice shop on steroids. Their concoctions are … decadent, and their lines are about as long as you would expect from an IG hotspot. I braved the line and scored myself the Red Rapture: vanilla yogurt topped with red velvet cake, cream cheese icing, raspberry puree, and meringue crumble. NOM.
The Kensington Market neighborhood was fun, funky, and lively. I happened to visit on a Sunday, when the area basically turns into a gigantic street fair. It was a little crazy, but a great time to be there. I popped into Banh Mi Bar for lunch (and a break from the crowds on the street).
After getting my banh mi fix, I headed back out and stumbled upon the perfect dessert from one of the many street vendors: a maple bacon doughnut. It was deeeeeelish.
I ended my time in Toronto on a real high note, as my last meal of the trip also happened to be my best (as well as one of my best meals of 2016): lunch at Momofuku Daisho. I ordered the prix fix lunch, which was a great deal: a fried chicken bun topped with ssam sauce, pickled carrots, & scallions to start; “rice cakes” with spicy pork sausage, Chinese broccoli, and tofu for my main; and melon sorbet with caramelized white chocolate to wrap it up. It was all excellent.
The Bottom Line: Toronto offers a LOT of good food! Looking through my meals, it occurs to me that I didn’t really eat anything that was traditionally Canadian (unless you count the maple of my maple bacon doughnut); rather, Toronto has a lot of great multicultural food to sample – and I only scratched the very surface of it.