This hungry city offers a mix of authentic eats (thanks to the globe-spanning immigrant population) and contemporary restaurants. Whether you’re hankering after Korean tacos, designer chocolate, Persian stews, or pasta better than nonna’s, Toronto is sure to deliver. This tour introduces you to some of the city’s best markets and restaurant strips and takes you to one of the top gourmet shops in Canada.
Start: King Station, and streetcar west to Jarvis Street
1. St. Lawrence Market
When the late Anthony Bourdain visited Toronto for The Layover, his first stop was Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. This is ground zero for food lovers: a two-level historic market with butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, and more. On Saturdays a farmer’s market adds to the cornucopia. The grab-and-go restaurants here make some top-tier bites. Musts include: Carousel Bakery, for the "world-famous" peameal (aka Canadian bacon) sandwich, and Yianni’s Kitchen, where the apple fritters are addictive. A bottle of Canadian maple-mustard from Kozlik’s makes for a tasty keepsake.
2. Kensington Market
A bustling neighborhood of fishmongers, vintage retailers, coffee shops, and music stores, Kensington Market pulses to its own beat. This multiethnic mélange was once a Jewish neighborhood—the original synagogue still remains—and has been gradually layered with successive waves of immigrants from Portugal, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The northeast corner of the market has a clutch of excellent Japanese options including sake bar Koi Koi and dessert shop Little Pebbles. Stop at CXBO for designer chocolates. Scandinavian cafe Fika has exquisite lattes, including one infused with cardamom. The Tijuana-style tacos from Seven Lives are overloaded to the point of busting, and that’s a good thing so long as you’re not wearing white. The no-name Latin food court at 214 Augusta St. has well-priced (and delicious!) ceviche, empanadas, tostadas, churros, and more. El Rey’s mezcal list knows no equal in town. Grey Gardens boasts the market’s fanciest fare; head there for ingredient-driven dishes like lamb tartare and grilled pork tongue. Finish with a bracing cocktail at Cold Tea, a secret bar tucked into the back of a nondescript strip mall. The red light marks the spot.
3. 707 Market
At the corner of Dundas and Bathurst, this quirky market is housed in a dozen (or so) retrofitted shipping containers. Here you’ll find fledging restaurants flexing their culinary chops—some will make it and become brick-and-mortar joints; others won’t. The food options are always interesting (from Japanese street food to Filipino pastries), but don’t come expecting to try anything in particular; the rent roll changes frequently.
4. Ossington Avenue
Little Portugal’s main north-south artery was, until recently, a semi-industrial strip. Today, Ossington maintains its shaggy-cool charm while being home to some of the city’s best eats. For snacks, Bang Bang is a must for custom ice-cream sandwiches (pick your cookie, pick your ice cream). Housed in an old mechanic’s shop, Bellwoods Brewery makes phenomenal beers with cheeky names like Cat Lady (a double dry-hopped IPA). The pizza slices at Superpoint are as advertised (super). Just about any cafe here will be a winner, be it Jimmy’s, I Deal, or Te Aro. The most coveted Ossington Street reservation is La Banane (exquisite French).
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.