Exploring new Toronto restaurants is always an adventure. All over the city, chefs infuse their cooking with a globe of influences while creative restauranteurs experiment with new concepts and gustatory innovations. Leaving white tablecloths as a thing of the past, each restaurant executes its own unique culinary vision. Together, they make for a diverse and exciting restaurant scene that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. Whether you’re looking to celebrate with a full tasting menu or simply stop by for a casual lunch, there’s a restaurant on this list that’s sure to inspire you.
Follow your tastebuds and read on to discover some of the freshest restaurants in Toronto.
If you’re looking for more classic fine dining options, check out these tried and tested Downtown Toronto Restaurants. Or, to dive in even further, these Ossington Avenue Restaurants and Toronto Brunch Spots are all local favourites.
Charming and timeless, Donna’s is a casual lunch spot and the perfect backdrop for sparkling dinner conversations… but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Located on a nondescript stretch of Landsdowne, the name of the plant-filled restaurant is actually a sort of alias for the three Momofuku alumni who run the joint. Through their combined expertise, they’re executing home cooking using perfectly balanced flavours, but the spirit of the place still embraces imperfection with mismatched dishware, homemade fixtures and a well-loved LP collection. Striving to work in harmony with the community, the menu is always in a state of flux, but you can always count on Donna’s good food, good drinks and good vibes.
827 Lansdowne Ave | website
Dinner at SARA will get you a couple steps closer to fully understanding the meaning of ‘refinement’. Far from stuffy, the whole restaurant experience is designed to heighten your senses and offer a moment of serenity and pure appreciation. With vaulted, cathedral-like ceilings and resolutely minimalist decor, the colours of the food jump out at you, while vibrant flavours marry Japanese and other global influences. The distraction-free mindset brings diners together, too. Each table has a small built-in container to store your phone in while eating. Though its sister restaurant RASA is much grittier, SARA does not mess around.
98 Portland St | website
3. Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour
The Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour is more that just a restaurant, but a complete dining experience. With a passionate local guide as your host, the 3 hour walking tour invites you to sample unique delicacies at 7 different tasting locations serving food from around the globe. As you get to know the history and culture of two vibrant neighbourhoods from an insider perspective, the stories behind the food enrich your tasting experience. These diverse and authentic flavours have shaped the Toronto we know today, and have even influenced the other celebrated restauranteurs included on this list! The Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour is perfect for the curious diner who wants to truly get to know the city.
Learn more about the Toronto Food Tour here!
4. Loga’s Corner
If you’re looking to eat on a budget, you’ll be pressed to find better food that’s just as affordable. Actually, even if you’ve got a bit of extra cash, eating here is far from a compromise. The Parkdale joint serves authentic momos that’ll transport you right to the Himalayas. And with satisfying options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, these Tibetan delicacies are sure to hit the spot. Operated with honesty, care and a respect for the community, dining at the family-owned restaurant will leave you feeling warm inside and out. Plus, their infamous homemade hot sauce is just the cherry on top.
216 Close Ave | facebook
At Dandylion, seasoned chef Jason Carter marries innovation and simplicity. Pared down dishes bring out the depth in their ingredients and the brief seasonal menu ensures each course is a show stopper. The design of the space doesn’t overdo it either. The modest 30 or so seats leave Carter with enough time to greet his guests and make sure each diner’s experience is as special as possible. By avoiding bells and whistles, not one nuance is overlooked at Dandylion. Here, dinner is an uncompromisingly pleasant experience.
1198 Queen St W | website
6. Seoul Shakers
Covered in graffiti, the gritty storefront of Seoul Shakers still bares evidence of the space’s previous tenant, Holy Oak Cafe. The seemingly abandoned facade makes stepping into the dim, neon-lit bar all the more exciting. Wood-panelled and draped in foliage, the room looks like someone’s grandfather discovered Instagram, and perfectly harnessed his kitschy-chic aesthetic. Beyond appearances, the food at Seoul Shakers stands out, too. Korean, but with South American influences, the mouthwatering sharing plates, available until 2a.m., pair perfectly with bright, boozy cocktails. Watch out though, the small space fills up fast, so come early to make the most of your night, or explore up-and-coming Bloordale Village as you wait for a table.
1241 Bloor St W | instagram
Spanish influences enliven Canadian fare at this world-class restaurant. Known for their use of wild and foraged ingredients, the tasting menus at Edulis (available in two different lengths) vary daily depending on what’s in season, in stock and on each guest’s preferences, too. In a modest space reminiscent of a neighbourhood bistro, even the supplementary black and white truffle menus carry no pomp or pretension, but simply an earnest passion for the finest of ingredients. Combined with genuine hospitality, the result is a dinner that’s elevated and refined but unmistakably heartening. The team at Edulis puts you at the centre of the experience and understands: this is your moment to come together and savour, not theirs to show off.
169 Niagara St | website
8. Famiglia Baldassarre
Primarily a wholesale pasta retailer, Famiglia Baldassarre wanted sell lunches to local community members, but because of restrictive zoning regulations they had to operate as a pasta speakeasy for their first few years in business. Now, after a long legal battle, it’s finally a full fledged restaurant. The secret’s out, but there’s still an air of exclusivity. Service only lasts two hours from noon to 2p.m., Tuesday to Friday, or until they run out. You’ll probably have to wait in line to get it, too, but we promise, it’s worth it. The pasta, which costs only $12 a plate, is some of the best you can get outside of Italy, handmade from fresh, locally sourced ingredients you can taste.
122 Geary Ave | website
Colourful and playful, the food at Yukashi is an undeniable splurge. Each dish of the omakase is crafted with an insane attention to detail, resulting in complex plates that look more like surrealist landscapes than something you’d want to chew on. Watching the chefs work from the bar is mesmerizing, too, but once you get a taste… you won’t be able to resist. Their signature wagyu beef dish is unbeatable, and luckily comes with every meal. Served with uni and torch-flamed right at your table, the indulgent creation melts right in your mouth. Yukashi pushes the bounds of Japanese cooking to new territories you could only dream of but, somehow, it’s real.
643a Mt Pleasant Rd | website
Another sleek-yet-understated Canadian restaurant, Actinolite is a warm oasis of considered refinement. Thoughtfully sourced ingredients dance on the plate while the warm hospitality of industry professionals ensures your tasting experience goes off without a hitch. Most importantly, a commitment to its locale is clear in every part of Actinolite’s business model. In the kitchen, the chefs create wondrous dishes out of wild ingredients that are often overlooked, bringing flavours to your palate you never knew existed. They also offer a Neighbourhood Menu for walk-ins, ensuring that the restaurant plays a role in bringing its community together for years to come.
971 Ossington Ave | website
Highly celebrated for its imaginative cuisine, DaiLo is a bit more upbeat than the other restaurants on this list. In a dimly lit, teal and gold setting, flavourful plates pack a punch by blending traditional Asian dishes and ingredients with French techniques. Let the chef pick your meal if you want to go all out, but a flexible menu means you can eat as much or as little as you want. Once you get a taste of how good the food is though, odds are you won’t want to stop. Plus, don’t skip the drinks either. The in-house sommelier knows exactly what to pair for the optimal dinner extraordinaire.
503 College St | website
12. Byblos Uptown
With its extensive menu of flavourful sharing plates, Byblos is Eastern Mediterranean cooking at its finest. Each dish is seasoned to perfection with sultry flavours of the Levant. With so much variety, it’s a good thing dinner is served family-style – you’ll surely want to get a taste of everything. Even the rice is far from average. Topped with crispy lentils and labneh or pomegranate and carrots, each option is bursting with flavour and texture. The Turkish manti dumplings, stuffed with smoky eggplant and topped with yogurt, are also a crowd-pleaser, and the wood fired pide is mouthwateringly delicious. The downtown restaurant is also sleek and welcoming, but the second uptown location is even more stylish than the first.
2537 Yonge St | website
In contrast to Yukashi where you won’t find a single sushi roll, Omai specializes in exactly that. The Japanese restaurant is minimal and understated, perfectly complementing the concept of temaki. The pre-seasoned hand rolls are designed to be easy to eat. The rest of the pan-Asian menu at Omai also bears influences from Korean, Chinese and even some European cuisines, but still has its roots in the cooking chef Edward Bang learned from his mother, for whom the restaurant is named. The chef’s counter, which comprises most of the seating in the restaurant, adds to the familial vibe. From the kitchen, Bang acts as your host and sommelier, recommending sakes and Japanese beers as you watch him prepare his palm-sized creations.
3 Baldwin St | website
14. Chop Chop
For fresh, authentic Taiwanese food head to Chop Chop, located just minutes outside of Chinatown. The family-owned eatery is set in a sun-filled contemporary space, but with nothing on the menu over $16 (and most closer to $12) it’s also an enticing option for those wanting to eat well on a budget. Mom’s pan-fried green onion pancake is a must-try while Asian beers, sake and fruity cocktails ensure the more casual eatery still makes for a satisfying dinner destination. Plus, the servings are generous and made quickly with high-quality ingredients. It’s easy to see why this is one of the new favourite Toronto restaurants for authentic Chinese food in the city.
771 Dundas St W | website
This Italian restaurant at the heart of Little Italy does away with some of the usual suspects. Chef Rob Rossi has reinvented his culinary approach, opening a new restaurant in the same location as his previous venture. Instead of meaty dishes, Giulietta’s many vegetable and seafood-centred sharing plates feel fresh yet still familiar. With simple and recognizable ingredients Giulietta takes the complication out of elegance, and offers a straightforward dining experience that’s been met with many accolades. The desserts are mouthwatering, cocktails imaginative, wine list extensive, and the oxtail ragu pappardelle truly hits a home run. Those years of feeding carnivores paid off, it seems.
972 College St| website
In a city where the culinary scene thrives on fusion, Patois’ rule-breaking cuisine might just be setting a new norm. Out of all these Toronto restaurants, this one captures the essence of Toronto’s youth culture the best. It’s one of those places people just seem to keep coming back to. With generous portions, a cool, fun-loving attitude and unique dishes that recall Torontonians’ diverse heritage, it’s easy to see why. Fusing Caribbean and Asian flavours may seem like a far fetch, but Patois pulls it off with style, offering a menu that’s cohesive and soulful, with finesse you can taste in every bite. Plus, the cocktails and pineapple-themed decor take the often snowy city on a much needed beach vacation.
794 Dundas St W | website
17. Après Wine Bar
A brand new spot that just opened this year, you can trust you’re in good hands at Après. Run by the same people as Canis, a favourite Toronto restaurant for locally-sourced fare, it distinguishes itself through one key factor: the wine. Offering a vast selection of natural, low impact bottles, you can simply stop by for a drink after work, after dinner (‘Après’ is French ‘after’, after all) or to make a meal of their perfectly pairable snack plates. Either way, strike up a conversation with the grape-loving staff and you’re sure to learn a lot about various modes of wine production, the natural wine movement, and the stories behind their countless bottles from all over the world.
1166 Queen St W | website
Chef Nuit Regular and her husband Jeff are well on their way to starting a Thai food empire with their Toronto restaurants Pai, Sabai Sabai and Sukhothai. After years of serving authentic Northern Thai fare, their latest endeavour, Kiin, kicks it up a notch. Here, the carefully crafted fare is fit for nobility. With artful plating, authentic ingredients from several regions of Thailand, and a heaping spoonful of creativity, the cuisine at Kiin draws from techniques used in traditional Royal Thai cooking to create something exquisite. The attention to detail is immediately apparent. Dishes garnished with fruit and flowers are immaculately composed making each plate colourful, intriguing, and most of all, delicious.
326 Adelaide St W | website
Maha’s is named for its owner and chef, an immigrant mother who always dreamed of opening her own restaurant. Alongside her two kids, the trio serves up an authentically Egyptian all day brunch, and then some. The East End spot has gained a cult-like status, drawing patrons from Leslieville and beyond. The food is so good, it even makes weekend lineups worth it. Order a few plates to share and make sure you don’t miss their famous foole. The generous portions are prepared with love, and with explosive flavours in every bite, this is home cooking you won’t find at other Toronto restaurants.
226 Greenwood Ave | website
From the outside, Skippa is a modest spot on a nondescript Little Italy street. To overlook it, however, would be quite the loss. The modern-yet-cozy sushi bar fills up night after night based off just its reputation, and getting a reservation might require a bit of patience. What sets it apart is its maximalist approach to sushi, exploring what can be added instead of taken away. The menu grows and changes with the seasons, using unbelievably fresh Ocean Wise fish and local Ontario ingredients whenever possible. The result is unique flavour combinations that make each dish a standout. You can order each dish individually but, depending on what’s available, the full omakase costs $50 or less and is undeniably the best way to get the most out of your Skippa experience.
379 Harbord St | website
Simple and intimate, Wynona all about seafood, wine and pasta. Perfectly complimented by their natural wine selections, the handmade noodles are some of the best you’ll find in the city. Meanwhile, the cured albacore tuna with citrus is perfect for enjoying on the little covered patio out front. If seafood and pasta aren’t your thing, they now offer an equally elegant brunch with a slightly meatier menu. Plus, it’s one of the few places in Benedict-loving Leslieville that takes reservations for brunch, so you can enjoy your Sunday morning without having to wait in line! 819 Gerrard St E | website
In a striking midcentury dining room that’s straight from the set of Mad Men, Arthur’s is a traditional American grill but with modern sensibilities. Honouring the Chase Hospitality Group president’s late father, the restaurant’s namesake, this brand new venture finds balance in extremes. They serve prime cuts of steak that would make Arthur proud alongside succulent vegan fare to suit any diet. While the food is nothing to snicker at, the colossal dining room might be the restaurant’s most striking feature. Spacious, yet calm, the octagonal space is a feast for the eyes with an organic centrepiece and polished leather banquettes. Plus, with a rooftop terrace and brunch service, Arthur’s is sure to be unstoppable.
12 St Clair Ave E | website
23. Leela Indian Food Bar
Indian food is a popular takeout staple, but restaurant owner Hemant Bhagwani believes too much of the same rich and creamy dish that can quickly tire the palate. Drawing inspiration from Indian roadside eateries, or dhabas, Leela Indian Food Bar is different. Their small, beautiful plates are designed to be eaten in sequence, seducing you with unique, authentic flavours and new combinations in every bite. Even their butter chicken treads an unconventional path. Melon seeds and charcoal smoke emanate right from the centre of the dish. The tasting menu is a bargain, too, consisting of 12 dishes for only $39.50. Indulge, and you’ll lose yourself in a medley of spices, aromas and textures like you’ve never experienced before.
3108 Dundas St W | website
24. Fat Pasha
Inspired, and frequented, by world-class chef Yotam Ottolenghi, Fat Pasha brings innovative Israeli and Middle Eastern cooking to Toronto. The restaurant’s owner Anthony Rose has a couple other restaurants in the city. Each draw inspiration from Jewish traditions, but the cuisine at Fat Pasha is his most vibrant endeavour. The shareable, vegetable-filled dishes are undoubtedly delicious, and are, naturally, set off with some schmaltzy menu items for good measure. Bring a friend, or even better, a few, for lunch, brunch or dinner, and get ready to eat your fill. Though Fat Pasha’s portions are generous, you won’t be able to stop savouring until you practically lick your plate clean.
414 Dupont St | website
25. Buca Osteria & Bar
Buca Osteria & Bar is Italian dining at its finest. The Yorkville-based outpost of Toronto’s celebrated King Street Buca location offers a menu with more fresh, sustainably-sourced seafood than before. The pizza and pasta selections that earned them their reputation are still on offer, and their dedication to sourcing the best ingredients is tireless. Plus, an attentive wait staff will ensure that your dining experience is seamless. They’ll answer any question you have about the menu, quickly revealing the careful thought that goes into sourcing and preparing every dish. Perfect for celebrating special occasions, Buca is any pasta or seafood lover’s dream.
53 Scollard Street | website