The 15+ Best Kensington Market Restaurants You Have to Try
By Ana Bilokin on August 7th, 2018
Affordable, authentic, and incredibly diverse, casual dining in Kensington Market in unlike anything else in the city! Decorated by artists, the shops are densely packed together, as restaurants intertwine and mingle with grocers. The area is rapidly evolving yet rooted in history – there’s always something new to discover!
26+ Unique Ways to Explore Kensington Market
We love these Kensington Market restaurants for their authenticity!
In the spirit of this vibrant neighbourhood, Kensington Market restaurants often come in the form of hidden gems. At first glance, you might just walk right past these hole-in-the wall spots – but we assure you, the food inside can’t be beat! Service might not always be the top priority, and seating can be limited, but its here that creativity and tradition come together, making for a food scene thats as diverse as the people. Served by some of the raddest folks in the city, you can taste the food of world in Kensington Market, without breaking your budget. Plus, you’ll discover some hot new food trends while you’re at it, too!
If you’re looking for affordable Baja-style tacos in Toronto this is THE place to go! You’ll be coming back time and time again once you get a taste of their juicy, tender creations, loaded with fresh toppings from around the market. Bring cash and get ready to eat on the fly, this place focuses on serving you the best food possible, without any pretensions!
Wanda pies are truly out of this world! Not too sweet, and always delicious, they have classic home-made charm, perfected. You can get just a slice or a full pie for later (or to dig into right now, we won’t judge). Not into the idea of pie as a meal? They’ve got a rotating selection of vegetarian lunch specials, which you can follow up with one of their tasty tarts, cakes and other treats. It’s all home-made in their quirky and colourful shop!
Any fan of barbecue, breakfast, fried food and Canada can’t miss stopping by The Dirty Bird. Crispy, spiced, yet tender and juicy, their delicious chicken sits happily atop its waffle bed, with your choice of side. You can’t go wrong with their classic, The ODB, or celebrate The Great White North with some chicken and waffles of the same name. Go for another local favourite, Classic Poutine, on the side!
Here, crepes are the specialty, offering both sweet and savoury selections beautifully laid out on your plate. Not only are they gorgeous and delicious, the whole menu is fully gluten free, organic and vegetarian (or vegan) so your body will thank you, no matter what your diet. To round out the meal, try one of their vegan ice creams. With unique flavours such as Sea Buckthorn or Strawberry Basil, you won’t find anything else like it.
Fresco’s is a little joint with some of the bestFish and Chips you’ll find, and more! At this dine-in spot you can choose the type of fish you want (including shrimp and crab cake options), upgrade your fries to a whole variety of different sides, and even opt for an extra crispy batter made with Miss Vickie’s chips. Not to mention they have poutine, chilli, wings and po’ boy sandwiches too… all prepared with care. What more could you ask for?
Jamaican Italian fusion… who knew it could work so well! From juicy and tender jerk chicken to pasta dishes with a Jamaican twist, this unique place is a real hit. Seating in the shop is very limited, so take your saucy meal to a local park and enjoy! Sitting in the summer sun with flavours like this will make you swear you’re in the Caribbean.
You can thank neighbouring Chinatown for this vegetarian option. Dim sum, sushi, noodles and expertly made meat alternatives fill the menu. With so much variety, there’s something for everyone – even meat lovers. They also have a long tea list and pretty spacious interior (for Kensington Market) so you can really sit back, relax, and eat your fill!
Setting the bar for how we’ve come to think of Kensington Market restaurants, Jumbo Empanadas is a family-run Chilean eatery and a neighbourhood favourite that’s been open since 1991. It’s the kind of place people love to come back to again and again for their empanada fix. With both meat and veggie options that cost less than $5 for a jumbo guy and $1.50 for a mini, it’s a Kensington Market must!
They sell tacos that are unlike any other you’ll get: instead of hailing from Mexico, these are inspired by Indigenous cuisine. A heaping pile of colourful local vegetables and meats top Ojibway-style frybread, making for a meal that tastes amazing while helping preserve Indigenous culture. Try brunch on the patio, too!
This majorly popular family-run Vietnamese place is perfect for some noodle-filled casual dining. The expansive menu might be daunting at first, but you’ll be sure to find the perfect dish. If you’re a meat lover go for #1 on the menu, Hung’s Special Beef Rice Noodle Soup, loaded with all the beef varieties, and try a Vietnamese ice coffee to cap it off.
One of the fresher Kensington Market restaurants, his cool new place doesn’t have that classic been-in-the-market-for-20-plus-years vibe, but the food is just as special. Their German street food offerings are unique to the city, but the multicultural influences on Berlin’s street food make it fit right in. Grab a Döner or Currywurst, chill on the patio, and rock out with the disco ball and speakers in the bathroom. Yeah, you got that right!
The experience of eating at Film Café is pretty hard to define. Their menu is full of unique items inspired by Japanese street food, but they also do good old eggs and bacon breakfasts. Then, their specialty drinks list… out of this world! It’s got Golden Melon Hot Chocolate and so much more (just go look at it!). On top of all this, they’re always projecting silent movies on the back walls, have plenty of plugs for laptop workers, take reservations, and their big ticket item this summer? Gold leaf covered ice cream!
More of a grocery store than a restaurant, Emporium Latino is about as authentic as it gets. Humble and delicious, the whole experience will transport you straight out of Toronto! Amongst all the made to order food – tamales, fried yuca, tacos and empanadas – it’s their papusas that draw everyone in. Come for the simply delicious eats, but stay to shop around the imported goods you can’t find anywhere else.
Fight hunger with these incredible Burgers of Mass Destruction! Your tastebuds won’t know what’s coming for them when they’re hit with an Atomic Burger, or maybe you’d rather join The Resistance? Vegetarians, pick up the AK Veggie 7 and don’t look back. These guys don’t mess around, just deliver quality burgers with impact, one patty at a time.
Fine dining is slowly making its way in, and Kensington Market restaurants have begun to compete on a level with the rest of the city. Bonafide just opened in the Market this summer. With excellent service, decadent European-inspired tapas – perfect for sharing – and an extensive cocktail and wine menu, it’s is sure to be an oasis from the bustle of the market.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, step out of the realm of Kensington Market restaurants and discover the amazing flavours of Chinatown. Dumpling House will fill all of your steamed and pan-fried desires, while delivering other favourites too. Just a few doors away, Banh Mi Nguyen Huong serves some of the best Banh Mi you can find at their deli-style counter, making for a delicious meal that’s quick and cheap. If you’re in the mood for buns, check out Mashion Bakery for sweet treats, or some pork buns to tie you over till your next meal.
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