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Photo: Jonathan Adediji / Alo

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Tempt your taste buds! Food in Toronto

Toronto offers a truly international assortment of fine restaurants, but of course there are some “typically Canadian” restaurants too. Here are some classic eateries for every taste and budget.

Photo: Shutterstock

Eat your way through the market

The St Lawrence Market is an ideal place for comfort food. Dating back to the 1800s it still attracts a bustling crowd of shoppers, especially on Saturdays. People flock to this cavernous space with over 100 stalls for its fresh food, great variety and the personal, unpretentious atmosphere. Don’t leave without trying a hot sesame seed bagel from St. Urbain Bagels. Yes, these wood-fired bagels are really from Montreal, but even Toronto bagel connoisseurs agree they are the best in the world. Sign up for a workshop at the Market Kitchen, St. Lawrence Market’s cooking school for a market tasting experience.

St. Lawrence Market

92-95 Front Street East, Toronto

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Photo: Shutterstock

Do Dim Sum

Dim sum, the traditional Chinese meal of small dishes, is a Toronto tradition that goes back many years. While there are plenty of inexpensive dim sum eateries around, it’s worth splurging a little on Lai wah Heen, considered by many to be the best in Toronto. You can always order one of the fixed-price dim sum menus if it’s too hard to choose from the likes of soft bean curd wrapped in mushrooms and truffle, shrimp rolls served with hawthorn sauce or dumplings with fresh lobster and other delicacies. Centrally located behind the Eaton Centre in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

Lai wah Heen

108 Chestnut Street, Toronto

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Behind the Eaton Centre

Terroni for Toronto

There are so many excellent Italian restaurants in Toronto, but Terroni has become a popular “go-to” place for locals thanks to its reliably delicious antipasti, primi and dolci, fun atmosphere and reasonable prices. What started as a small store on Queen Street West in the 1990s, has expanded into multiple restaurant locations across the city and even a magazine highlighting food, wine and craft traditions from different regions in Italy. The Terroni on Adelaide Street is full of atmosphere, housed inside three floors of the historic York County Court House. It can get quite noisy, especially as the after-work crowd gathers, but your attention will probably be on the food, drinks and people watching.

Terroni

57 Adelaide Street East, Toronto

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Photo: Jonathan Adediji

Top of the charts

Alo is on the list of 100 top eateries in the world and it just might break the bank (yours) – if you’re fortunate enough to get a reservation. Chef Patrick Kriss’ contemporary French restaurant offers an à la carte menu as well as blind, multi-course tasting menus to really let those taste buds loose. An elevator transports guests from rather scruffy Spadina Avenue up to the chic bar, lounge and elegant dining room on the third floor of this heritage building. If you can’t get a reservation here, try sister restaurant and cocktail bar Alobar in the upscale Yorkville neighborhood (162 Cumberland Street), or the slightly more modest Aloette, one floor down from Alo.

Alo

163 Spadina Avenue, 3rd Floor, Toronto

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Photo: The Lakeview Restaurant

Star-studded peameal and poutine

The Lakeview Restaurant, built in 1932, won’t end up on any Michelin lists, but this all-night diner has attracted big Hollywood names over the years and played a backdrop in Hollywood North productions such as Hairspray with John Travolta, Cocktail with Tom Cruise and the Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water. This is a place to get your fill of some typically Canadian comfort fare, like a Canadian Peameal Bacon sandwich (named Captain Canuck), poutine, (fries in gravy and cheese curds) and pancakes with maple syrup. Want to go all out? Order what’s been called “the 10th most unhealthy food ever” – a deep-fried Mars Bar – invented in Scotland.

The Lakeview Restaurant

1132 Dundas Street West, Toronto

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Photo: Mill Street Brewery

Canadian beer, eh?

Toronto is a city of breweries with microbreweries tucked away in some of the most eclectic and unexpected locations, each with its own loyal followers. If you only have time to visit one, check out The Mill Street Brew Pub, in the historic Distillery District, worth a visit for its location alone. Mill Street crafts more than 20 brews and offers a guided tasting tour. The knowledgeable staff will help you pair a lager or stout with a flatbread or smokehouse barbecue plate to enjoy in the restaurant or on the spacious outdoor patio.

Mill Street Brew Pub

21 Tank House Lane, Toronto

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Distillery District

Room with a view

Scaramouche has been around forever – well over 40 years anyway, and it’s still the epitome of fine food and dining. The elegant city restaurant is the place to go for a special night out and a great view of the city, especially when it’s all lit up at night. And, oh la, the food is ever so good and made with very local Canadian ingredients. Try the roasted Québec Chicken or splurge on sustainably harvested Canadian caviar. There’s also the Scaramouche Pasta Bar and Grill with a wide menu at mid-range prices. Located rather discretely and surprisingly, in a residential condominium that was one of Toronto’s first modernist buildings.

Scaramouche

1 Benvenuto Place, Toronto

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Note: Remember to calculate for 13% tax on top of the prices listed on restaurant menus – in addition to a tip of about 15%.

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