- Best Patio: If it's people-watching you crave, check out the Drake Hotel on West Queen West: It's great for relaxing at the sidewalk bars and roof lounges, and savoring the famous BBQs. If you're looking for fine dining in a leafy locale, try Trattoria Giancarlo in Little Italy for its pretty patio, good Italian fare, and excellent wine cellar.
- Best Pizza: Neapolitan pizza — paper-thin crust, light on toppings, and big on flavors — is all the rage in Toronto. Arguably the yummiest is to be found at the bustling Pizzeria Libretto, where an imported oven from Naples cooks the tasty pies in less than 2 minutes. On the other side of town, Queen Margherita is Libretto's equal, some say rival.
- Best Charcuterie: Toronto has taken its sweet time to fully embrace this trend, but at last, the top spots offer good and sometimes excellent charcuterie made in-house. With more than 40 kinds of cured, dried, and otherwise prepared meat, bone, and organ dishes, the Black Hoof reigns supreme.
- Best Tapas: Partners Chris McDonald and Doug Penfold at Cava do tapas best with inventive dishes and more than 20 wines offered by the glass for pairing.
- Best Bakery Lunch: Toronto loves its tarts, croissants, and dainty desserts: The number of fine bakery-cafes is proof. A favorite is the pioneering Patachou, which brought true French pastries to the city back in the day and arguably still makes the best croissant in town. Woodlot also serves (daytime only) fine coffee and excellent pastries; there's a daily selection of savory and sweet croissants and exquisite individual quiches.
- Best Hotel Restaurant: Dining at TOCA at the Ritz-Carlton is a treat. The Canadian-themed dishes are crafted with care, and the service is refreshingly un-institutional. Lai Wah Heen, in the Metropolitan Hotel, is a longstanding favorite for Peking duck, great dim sum, and an impressive menu of mostly Cantonese specialties.
- Best for Families: Grano is an Italian restaurant that knows how to treat the ragazzini. Simple pastas, delicious breads and sweets, good salads, and the lively, warm atmosphere combine to make it feel like you're visiting family. Mangia e Bevi, in the Distillery District, is equally welcoming, with good pastas, pizzas, and salads — and a tolerant approach to little ones and their restless ways.
Best Japanese: There are plenty of good sushi spots and Japanese restaurants to choose from, but there's little doubt of the fun and fine food to be had at Guu Izakaya with its great selection of small-plate dishes served in a pub-like atmosphere. A now separately-owned spin-off called Kinka Izakaya is an alternative for the many Guu fans.The Most Memorable Dining Experiences
- The Black Hoof: Nose-to-tail eating is taken to extremes — and to truly tasty heights — at this brilliant restaurant-bar. Co-owner/chef Grant van Gameren's hand-crafted charcuterie is the main draw (the tongue sandwich receives raves), but the pastas and entrees are equally inspired, as are the cocktails created by co-owner Jen Agg.
- Canoe: The panorama from the 54th floor of this iconic bank tower in the heart of the Financial District is stunning, but as the many regulars can attest, the food is so good you might forget all about the view. It's Canadian cuisine, such as Nunavut caribou and Québec foie gras, handled with delicacy and expert technique. The daytime vibe is corporate; evening is more romantic.
- The Local Kitchen: Parkdale's favorite spot is part authentic Italian trattoria, part contemporary Toronto. The crowded, convivial room is idiosyncratic, the service pro yet friendly, and the food delicious. Chef Fabio Bondi arrives pre-dawn each morning to make stunning fresh pastas such as smoked gnocchi with creamy taleggio.
- Scaramouche: Chef Keith Froggett and maitre d' Carl Corte have been quietly perfecting one of the city's finest restaurants for over 25 years. The formal dining room, which is best for special occasions, is complemented by the adjoining casual pasta bar and grill. Located in a tony apartment building in midtown, there are beautiful views over the city.
- Woodlot Restaurant and Bakery: It's a bit of the farm in the city, a coy conceit that works to great effect. There's a wood-burning oven where breads, pies, and even meats and fish are cooked by chef/co-owner David Haman and his team. Menus (one meat, one vegetarian) feature savory pies, excellent soups, fresh pasta — all prepared with heart. Desserts and breads are not to be missed.
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