Food & Drink
Queen & Beaver or The Oxley — You can’t go to Toronto without going to a pub! These sister pubs are lovely & among the best. The Oxley is in Yorkville (I go here every visit); the Q&B is downtown, near the Eaton Centre.
Terroni — A mini-chain of A+ Italian restaurants. The one on Price Street is my local hang; the downtown options are just as good.
Scaramouche — Very local & well-heeled restaurant at the base of an apartment building at the edge of Forest Hill. Think French haute-cuisine, but with a Canadian sensibility. One of my fam’s go-to spots for special occasions. Tourists do not come here.
Lai Wah Heen — Toronto has an A+ Chinese food scene, most of it quartered in China Town. This chic restaurant at the Metropolitan Hotel is where I go for dim sum in chi-chi surrounds.
Bar Raval — Spanish tapas, coffee & drinks in a gorgeous Gaudi-esque space in Little Italy, just down the street from Diplomatico (below).
Café Diplomatico — Italian classic in Little Italy. I used to go here all the time when I lived here. It’s a true old-school gem with a great local vibe and awesome fresh pasta. Also open for breakfast, with a cheap breakfast special from 8–11AM.
Trattoria Nervosa — Opened in 1996 in a classic Yorkville Victorian house, this cute spot is popular with locals (and local celebs) and serves some of the best pizza outside of Toronto’s Little Italy.
DaiLo — Cool Asian restaurant with inventive cocktails and an eclectic menu—think deep-fried watermelon, octopus tacos—in a fab two-story space.
Ossington Avenue — You can easily bar and restaurant hop on this happening main drag, known as the ‘Ossington Strip’. It runs north / south west of downtown; the concentration of bars & restaurants is especially pronounced between Dundas and Queen St. W.
Canoe — Elevated Canadian dining, cocktails & wine facing the CN Tower. One of my regular splurges; I’ve been known to head straight here after a flight into nearby Billy Bishop airport to dine solo at the bar. ☞ The CN Tower views are stellar.
ByMark — Upscale, richly textured, cushy-cool restaurant, in the gleaming Mies van der Rohe buildings downtown.
Bakeries & Cafés
Harbord Bakery — Historic Jewish bakery in business since 1929, serving up amazing challah, blintzes, Linzer cookies, danishes, and much, much more.
Blackbird Baking Co. — Super-cute bakery in Kensington Market. Outstanding baguettes, breads, cakes, and tarts; you can often buy maple syrup here too.
FIKA Café — Swedish inspired café in a classic Toronto Victorian house in Kensington Market. Room full of books in the back and a backyard patio for summer months.
Bang Bang — Delicious, drool-inducing ice-cream sandwiches in creative combos like ginger & cinnamon and birthday milk n’ cookies.
Writer’s Room — Newly reopened following a major facelift, this rooftop bar at the top of the Park Hyatt hotel remains the spot for cocktails & skyline views. Its name is an homage to its origins as a gathering place for Canadian literary luminaries, Margaret Atwood included. ☞ It’s around the corner from the Oxley (above), for pub grub before or after a visit.
Hemingway’s — Yorkville institution with a year-round rooftop patio, any number of beers on tap, and TVs aplenty showing ‘the game’.
Bar Hop — One of the city’s original craft-beer pioneers. Cozy tavern with A+ selection on tap.