With internationally-acclaimed restaurants and cafes serving up top-quality munch, you’ll soon realise food is a big deal in Toronto.

The city has become a top foodie destination in Canada, and it is staggering just how much good food there is to eat here. It is often said that a great way to get an insight into the culture of a place is through its food and by eating out in Toronto you’ll get a sense of the diversity of Ontario’s capital.

Here we take you through some of the best local restaurants and cafes in the city. So, after you’ve booked your direct flights to Toronto from the UK, arrived and unpacked your bags, consider one of the below eateries to enjoy during your holiday.

Queen Mother Café

What: Hearty Asian fare

Where: Queen St West

The Queen Mum, as the restaurant is affectionately known by its many regulars, is a well-priced, busy restaurant located on Queen St. West in the heart of the Entertainment District (minutes to theatres, the concert hall, opera and ballet theatre and sports venues). It is housed in a historic building that dates back to around 1850.

Andre from the Queen Mother Café tells us a bit about the different foods you can enjoy, “Operating in the neighbourhood for over 40 years, this cafe is the Grand Dame of the strip. It offers a menu with plenty of interesting options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike - many of which can be made without gluten.

“The restaurant is famous for its fresh and delicious Lao-Thai flavours (the ping gai - Thai bbq chicken - and the pad Thai are favourites) and global comfort food cuisine (cannelloni, roti and burgers - vegetarian and beef - are also popular). The Queen Mum has sinful desserts enticingly on show in a vintage display fridge. Diners can enjoy their food inside in a comfortable and timeless setting, or, in warm weather, in the beautiful back garden patio, an urban oasis in the heart of the city.”

Ruby Watchco

What: Spontaneous local food

Where: Queen St. East

Join celebrity chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk at their sought after east-end restaurant Ruby Watchco. Ruby’s four-course prix-fixe menu is prepared using farm-fresh local, seasonal ingredients. The menu changes daily and is available for review on their website.

Carmina Trajano, the General Manager at Ruby Watchco, told us about what you can expect at the restaurant.

“Enjoy your meal in the restaurant’s gorgeous dining room. Its modern-rustic design is as enticing as the food. Come for fun, elegance, and an incredible meal. Let Ruby dote on you!”

Poutini's House of Poutine

What: Traditional and non-traditional Canadian Poutine

Where: Queen St. West

Another restaurant located in the Entertainment District is the Poutini's House of Poutine, a must-visit eatery for those of you that want to try the classic Canadian dish of poutine.

The fact the restaurant is popular with Torontonians says it all as the dish of chips, cheese and gravy is almost an obsession for Canadians.

Poutini’s signature dish is handcrafted with the fries being hand cut in-house and fried twice in zero trans-fat and non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, the cheese is delivered every other day from a local farm and the traditional gravy made in-house as well.

The menu doesn’t just boast the traditional poutine as you can also try bacon, BBQ pulled pork, smoked meat, vegan or roasted mushroom and onion poutines.


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Côte de Boeuf Bar À Vin

What: Parisian-style restaurant and wine bar

Where: Ossington Avenue

By day it is a French-style butcher shop, but by night (after 5 pm) Côte de Boeuf Bar À Vin turns into a rustic wine bar and one of the top restaurants in Toronto.

Bar À Vin has been inspired by the neighbourhood butchers of Paris and as well as serving its locally sourced meats, you can enjoy a full menu of French classics on the Ossington strip, just west of downtown Toronto.

Unsurprisingly, locals descend here in the evening to enjoy the great wine, French cheese, meats, pâté, rillette and fresh oysters. If you’re after a large meal, then you won’t be left disappointed either as you can try smoked duck breast and steak to name just a few of the dishes on offer.

The Rivoli

What: Homemade international and Canadian foods

Where: Queen St. West

Somewhat of an institution, the Rivoli on Queen Street West is a bar, restaurant and performance space with a fascinating history. Dating back to 1982, the likes of Amy Winehouse played pool here before her first-ever Toronto show, David Grohl played the drums for Iggy Pop in a backroom stage and Adele performed here.

Locals, however, don’t just come here because of its famous link with the music industry, but for its fresh food which is made in house. So, whether it is snacks, a main meal or some brunch you are after, then you must come to this popular spot.

There are nachos, beef burgers, Malay chicken, mac and cheese, seasonal salad and steak frites, to name just a few. Their signature dish, however, is their classic Pad Thai as this has been on the Rivoli menu since 1982.

Alo and Aloette Restaurants

What: Contemporary French foods

Where: Spadina Avenue

Set in a restored heritage building on the third floor at Queen and Spadina, Alo offers classically prepared French food through its five-course tasting menu. The a la carte menu of raw seafood, meat-based entrees and desserts make the eatery a popular destination for locals.

If you are looking to just go for a drink, then complementing the acclaimed food is a bar. Here you can enjoy cocktails that can be tailored to your taste, a large wine list and fine brandies.

Alo’s sister restaurant is Aloette, which is conveniently located downstairs, and is also a must-visit. This new French diner is a bit different as it doesn’t accept reservations and is only walk-in.

This restaurant is located in what used to be a nail salon, but the sleek spot is now famed for its fun and tasty food such as the tuna tartare, roasted squid and beef carpaccio dishes. Diners need to try the Aloette burger as the patty is topped with stringy onions, shredded lettuce, mayo and fried Beaufort cheese all on a soft house-made bun. The wine list is carefully curated and there are local craft beers on tap too!

The Real Jerk Restaurant

What: Classic Caribbean dishes

Where: Gerrard St East

If you’re after some international cuisine, The Real Jerk Restaurant is somewhat of a Toronto tradition as it has been serving Caribbean food for three decades. Its logo is a beacon for good food and good times. You can almost guarantee its flagship restaurant on Gerrard Street East, which is just a 17-minute drive from downtown, will be full of happy foodies.

Speaking on their website, Ed and Lily Pottinger, the founders of The Real Jerk Restaurant, say, “Our goal is to introduce you to the wonderful world of Jamaican cuisine, whether you visit our restaurant or try our recipes at home.”

Some of the most popular food you can try at Real Jerk includes jerk chicken, goat roti, chicken or beef curry and shrimp rundown to name just a few.

Carousel Bakery

What: World-famous sandwiches and wraps

Where: St. Lawrence Market, Upper Level 42

While you’re in Toronto you should make the effort to head to the St. Lawrence Market. It has previously been named the best food market in the world, and you can browse through fresh ingredients and artisanal produce like cheeses.

If you get peckish you should most definitely head to the Carousel Bakery as it is the home of the award-winning “World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich”. While many have tried to replicate this iconic sandwich, none have managed to master it.

The Carousel Bakery is a stalwart of the market as it has been in the same location for more than 30 years and every weekend and during the lunch hour in the week the locals come out in force to try the famous sandwich.

In addition, the Carousel Bakery offers a range of other sandwiches and wraps including steak, vegetarian, and sausage. If you like your bread, then you can choose from a selection of over 300 types.

How to eat like a local in Toronto

As you can see, there are so many amazing spots to enjoy a nice meal or bite to eat in Toronto. Whether you are soaking in the sights from the CN Tower, exploring the Distillery District or taking in the architecture of Casa Loma, you’ll find a delightful little place to eat and dine at like a local! Here’s a roundup of our favourite restaurants and eateries you should try in Toronto:

  • Queen Mother Café
  • Ruby Watchco
  • Poutini's House of Poutine
  • Côte de Boeuf Bar À Vin
  • The Rivoli
  • Alo and Aloette Restaurants
  • The Real Jerk Restaurant
  • Carousel Bakery

If you want to find out more about this amazing Canadian city, why not take a look at our range of Toronto holidays.

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