Cafe Keriwa, 1690 Queen St W. T 00 1 416 533 2552. You simply don’t hear enough about First Nations (Aboriginal) cuisine in Canada. Is it because (as had been suggested to me) they don’t traditionally have a ‘restaurant’ culture? I have no clue, but I do know that I want to learn more and eat a lot more of their food. If you’re in town then a perfect place to start is Cafe Keriwa who serve Blackfoot First Nations-inspired dishes using traditional Ontario ingredients like sea buckthorn berries and stinging nettles. Absolutely delicious.
Grand Electric, 1330 Queen St W. T: 00 1 416 627 3459. It’s the hottest taco joint on the block – with all the apparently ‘necessary’ hipster restaurant ‘rules’ – no reservations, no cheque splitting, a menu with very few items and service that veers between delightful smiles and ‘you’re-lucky-you’re-even-eating-here’ scowls. That said, there’s a reason why there are queues every day to eat at Grand Electric – the tacos are flat-out wonderful. Just amazing. The ‘Jesus Juice’ cocktail was pretty damn fine too. Join the queue and take your chances.
Saint Tavern, 227 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 647 350 2100. There was nothing I didn’t adore about brunch at the Saint; from the lovely room with its booths, long bar and superb service to every damn thing on the menu. There was an absurdly delicious bacon-maple-bourbon dish that had me cleaning my plate with sticky fingers, a fine alternative to boring old eggs and bacon when paired with a gorgeous creamy-spicy paprika-dusted deviled egg. Even the rice krispy-encrusted French Toast made me gurgle with foodie-glee. And I don’t even LIKE French Toast. Love, love, love.
Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 416 850 4579. I can’t recall the last time that just walking into a restaurant made me want to cry with happiness. It was a bright sunshiny Sunday when I found the Dakota Tavern. I pushed open the door and went into the beer-y darkness and down a flight of stairs into a windowless basement… only to find a magical room – lit with fairylights – a sweet, smooth bluegrass band playing on the handkerchief-sized stage and the room filled with starry-eyed music fans forking up the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.
Hawker Bar, 164 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 647 343 4698. There’s a slightly annoying trend for places to not open for lunch around the Parkdale/Ossington area – so I didn’t get to eat at a few of the places I meant to visit… however that did mean that I wandered into Hawker Bar by complete chance and was rewarded by a brilliant East-meets-West fusion of a pulled pork steamed bun for lunch.
Caplansky’s, 356 College St. T: 00 1 416 500 3852. The one thought that dominated my mind as I sat and grazed my way through a ‘highlights reel’ at Caplansky’s? ‘Damn. I haven’t eaten enough deli food in my life.’ I could go on for hours about the sheer brilliance of the kishke with smoked meat gravy, the hand-sliced in-house smoked meat, the grilled salami with chopped liver and red onions, but I’ll just get upset that I live so far from Toronto and can’t go and have it all RIGHT NOW. But you know what? You go when you’re there and have it for me.
I stayed in Toronto as a guest of Toronto Tourism. However – as always – my views are 100% my own.
Find out more: Toronto Tourism