Toronto is deep into a love affair with local foods. From top dining rooms to little cafes, from the new wave of pizzerias to the boom of burger joints, just about everywhere you look, cooks are tapping into local, farm-fresh sources, from great cheeses to pastured meats, organic fruits and vegetables, and plenty of local wine and craft beer to wash it all down. Whether the trend and its politics appeal, it's a good way to get a taste of the territory. There are too many to list in their entirety, but here are a few of the top locavore haunts.
Allen's. Burgers, brunch, and big salads: This 20-year neighborhood favorite inspired by, and named for, Joe Allen of New York is in fact a champion of local sources. The excellent meat, the heart of any great burger, is sourced from local farms and then ground on-site. The owners are so proud of their sources, they list the animal feed on the menu. The excellent wine list is local, too.
Cowbell. Chef Mark Cutrara is so dedicated to knowing his food, he took a year off to learn the art of butchery before opening this nose-to-tail star. He has the same commitment to his sources: local, small-scale, and often organic farms. If you're in town, check out the monthly "Farmers Dinners" that feature a member of the Cowbell family of suppliers.
Gilead Café and Bistro. You could say star Jamie Kennedy is Toronto's original locavore chef; he's been promoting these sources for decades, and to great effect. Kennedy is a maestro at the stove, and his suppliers reflect his high standards. After years of running a small restaurant empire, he's back in the kitchen at this modest and beautiful boîte.
Pangaea. Chef Martin Kouprie has a taste for locally sourced wild foods, so expect to find seasonal menus embellished with cattail hearts, wild mushrooms, wild berries, and what is arguably the last wild meat, caribou, on offer.
Ruby WatchCo. One prix-fixe dinner nightly with four courses and the main ingredients supplied by local purveyors. Celebrity chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk work closely with farmers, and the mutual respect is evidenced in the truly inspired results.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.