Cooking with Alison

Recommended Toronto Restaurants (Updated Periodically)

In Reviews on December 7, 2015 at pm

Most recent updates were made on March 28, 2016. (Original version date: December 7, 2015)

Here is a list of our favourite places to eat in Toronto and the surrounding area (GTA – Greater Toronto Area). John and I shared this list with our out-of-town wedding guests. Since restaurants tend to lose their consistency or change ownership frequently, I plan to update this list periodically, so be sure to check back every now and then. I’d love to hear your recommendations!

 

Favourite Toronto Coffee Chain

Jimmy’s Coffee, Toronto – I love their coffee. I just wish they had more locations north of downtown.

Western Food

Favourite Pizza (updated January 27, 2015)

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza, Toronto – This Detroit style pizza is unlike any other pizza in the city. The dough is thick and more alike a soft and chewy, yeast bread than a pizza crust. Don’t pass up this place, even if you’re a thin crust pizza lover like myself (unless you don’t like bread), because the edges, tall sides, and bottom of the crust are baked until crunchy. In fact, there is cheese baked into the edges of the crust to make it extra crispy. Their pizzas are unique, delicious, covered in lots of cheese, and absolutely addictive. Even our leftovers were still crunchy the next day. The service is great, too. But be sure to make reservations on the weekends as they don’t have much seating and tend to sell out early. Take-out is an option too, but it’s best to eat this pizza fresh out of the oven.

Favourite Chicken Wings

Barque BBQ (Best Dry, Smoked Wings) – The rest of the barbecue items on the menu aren’t anything special, but the Barque dry rub smoked wings are definitely worth the trip. They’re my all-time favourite dry wings.

Crown and Dragon (Best Wings Flavours) – This pub has a great selection of unique and delicious wings flavours.

Drums ‘n Flats (Most Options) – The wings at Drums ‘n Flats are delicious, locally sourced, and, the best part, customizable. You can choose drums, wings or a mix of both; dry, wet or double dipped in different sauces; and flavours from a great list of options.

Duff’s Famous Wings (Best Classic Bar Wings) – Duff’s makes my favourite classic pub-style hot wings. I always order these deep fried chicken wings dry with the sauce on the side.

Favourite Burgers

Holy Chuck – This is a chain throughout the city. Other good and popular burger chains include Burger Priest.

Favourite Steakhouse

Jacob’s Steakhouse, Toronto – This restaurant is pricey, but it’s the best. A much more affordable steakhouse in Markham that’s decent is Peter’s Fine Dining. You will find my reviews of some of the other top-ranked steakhouses in the city here. 

Favourite BBQ Restaurant

Electric Mud BBQ, Toronto – For a dive bar atmosphere with a simple menu and delicious food.

Favourite Biscuits (and Deep Fried Chicken)  

Luther’s Chicken, Toronto – This place is actually known for their deep fried chicken, which is good and has a unique seasoning, but their biscuits are even better.  I don’t normally like biscuits, but I love Luther’s biscuits.

Favourite Casual Greek Food (Fast Food)

Mr. Greek Express – Mr. Greek Express has stand-alone locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area and is by far, the best fast-food/casual Greek food. All other Greek vendors in food courts are terrible in comparison. We love their pork souvlaki and roasted vegetables.

 

Malaysian Food (updated February 25, 2016)

One 2 Snacks, 8 Glen Watford Drive, Unit #26, Scarborough, 647-340-7099 – This small shop has the best and most authentic Malaysian food in the city. The prices are very affordable, but note that it is a take-out place only. The best stuff sells out early.

 

Thai, Cambodian, Loatian Food (updated February 26, 2016)

sabai sabai, Toronto – I have long complained that the Thai and Cambodian restaurants in Toronto only make me miss the restaurants in Kingston, ON, even more (see my Kingston recommendations here). But the food at sabai sabai is flavourful and unique to all of its competitors. I’ve tried most of the items on their menu and they have all been good, but my favourite dish is the Loatian wings. I suggest making reservations as the tables fill up quickly.

 

Japanese Food

Favourite All You Can Eat Japanese Dinners

Spoon and Fork, Vaughan – For their sashimi selection, thai food, and other cooked foods.  In particular, their thick peanut and red curry beef and coconut shrimp.  Also, their decor and customer service is the best.  However, dessert and drinks are not included in their all you can eat. Note that Spoon and Fork has a few locations throughout the city, but each location has a different menu. We like the one in Vaughan the most.

Sushi Legend, North York – For their scallop sashimi, stir fried shrimp, stir fried beef with garlic, and other cooked foods.  Note that the scallop sashimi is only available at dinner time on the weekends.

Favourite Take-Out Sushi and Sashimi

Taro’s Fish, North York – This is actually a fish market.  The fish is incredibly fresh and the texture of their rice is the best I’ve ever had.  We highly recommend the sashimi (they have lots of variety) and the sushi. I don’t, however, recommend their rolls.  Note that this store has a few seats that allow for dining in, but they usually fill up very quickly during peak times.

Favourite Sushi Restaurant

Ja Bistro, Toronto – Be sure to try the blow torch sushi.  The lobster based miso soup is great, too.

Favourite Ramen

Ramen Isshin, Toronto – See my ramen tour reviews here.

 

Korean Food

Cho Sun Ok, Thornhill – Be sure to try their cold noodle soup (Mool Naengmyun). Their kimchi braised pork tenderloin dish is also really surprisingly good (Kimchi Jjim). Before you go, be sure to check out their photographic menu (with descriptions) on their website to help you figure out what you want to order. Also note that this restaurant is quite small and they fill up very quickly during peak mealtimes.

 

Vietnamese Food (updated January 27, 2016)

Pho Mi Asia, Toronto (1008 Wilson Avenue) – This place makes my favourite rare beef noodle soup. Their broth is more herbally and savoury than most other places, which I really like, because a lot of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in the city make their broth too sweet for my taste. But what really sets this place above the rest is their thinly sliced rare beef. I don’t know how they do it, but the texture of their beef is so much better than any other place I’ve tried. It’s never dry, never overcooked, not too fatty, and always has the perfect chewy texture. Also, the amount of toppings that you get is generous compared to most other places. I usually order the rare beef and tendon noodle soup. Furthermore, they have the best selection of Vietnamese hot sauces. My only complaint is that the broth isn’t scalding hot enough for me.

 

Chinese Food

Best Chinese Egg Rolls (Dan Quen) and Egg Cakes

Tung Tung Dan Quen King, Scarborough – This store can be found inside the Chinese plaza,Market Village. They make fresh Chinese egg rolls (dan quen), which is a subtly sweet and crispy roll. These are the best and are unlike any of the Chinese egg rolls that you buy in tin cans. These make great souvenirs for friends and family, because you won’t find these anywhere else. They come in round shaped, hollow, plain flavour or at flat and filled with coconut and sesame. We prefer the hollow plain ones. Also, their egg cakes are really popular too.

Best Chinese Bakeries

Lucullus – This Chinese bakery chain has locations throughout the city. We find that their buns are the softest, their BBQ pork buns have the best filling, and their $5 boxed rice lunches are pretty good too!

Aroma Bakery (updated January 27, 2016) – This Chinese bakery chain has more traditional Chinese baked goods. They traditional Chinese wedding pastries are the best, but we come here for the absolute best BBQ pork puff pastries. The filling has a subtle smoky flavour that we can’t get enough of.

Best Bubble Tea 

Share Tea, Markham – This chain has a few locations. I go to the one in First Markham Place (Chinese plaza on Highway 7 with the best Asian food court, see below for more details). They have the best fruit bubble teas, by far. Great quality tea, real fruit, and great options for added toppings.

Ten Ren’s on Highway 7, Markham – This location for Ten Ren’s has the best decor, atmosphere and menu. There’s a great selection of traditional teas as well as the standard bubble teas and fruit teas.

Cha Time – You will see Cha Time all throughout the city, but I’ve found that they are hit or miss depending on location.  The one downtown is the best, but the wait times are the longest. Although the quality of their tea isn’t the best, we’re still recommending it because their Roast Milk Tea is delicious, especially if you add grass jelly to it.

Favourite Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

Marathon Donuts and Coffee in Scarborough / Marathon Cafe in Richmond Hill – They are owned by the same owners, one of which won Hong Kong’s international milk tea competition in 2012 (see article here).  I actually prefer their yin yang (milk tea and coffee mixed drink).

Best Asian Food Court

First Markham Place, Markham – This Chinese plaza has my favourite Asian food court. It has little shops, many Asian restaurants on the outside of the plaza, and the best Asian food court inside the plaza. On the outside of the plaza, you will find great beef noodle soup at Mei Nung Beef Noodle House, good “little dragon buns” at Ding Tai Fung Shanghai Dim Sum, and our favourite bubble tea shop, ShareTea, among many other options, including Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants. In the food court inside the plaza, the fish broth and noodles from Fish Soup Delight is our favourite meal, the roast pork from Extra BBQ House (yellow sign) is very good, the pho from Pho Ling’s isn’t bad, the Kashmiri food from Masala Mahal is good, and the real mango drink and real passion fruit drink are very good from Real Fruit Bubble Tea.

Best Chinese Roast Pork

Extra BBQ House in the First Markham Place food court, Markham –  As mentioned above, our favourite Chinese roast pork can be found in Toronto’s best Asian food court. Note that there are two vendors that sell roast meat, be sure to go to the one with the yellow sign.

Best Fish Soup

Fish Soup Delight in the First Markham Place food court, Markham – As mentioned already, this place makes the best fish noodle soup that we’ve ever had. They boil halibut bones for hours and hours, until the broth is practically opaque in white colour. They don’t use MSG, and the fish flavour is wonderfully strong.  I always order the wontons and noodles in fish soup.  My dad likes the beef brisket, and my mom likes the soft pork bone.

Favourite Dim Sum

Paradise Fine Chinese Dining, North York – This is our favourite restaurant for dim sum. The decor and tea is higher class and they make the absolute best Chinese dessert: Golden fried sesame balls with soft custard centre. Everything that we’ve tried there has been good, but the texture of the Steamed BBQ Pork Buns is very crumbly, so we don’t recommend that one. Go before 11 am for better prices.

Casual Chinese Lunch/Dinner

Congee Queen – This chain has locations all throughout the city. They have an extensive menu and they serve good casual Chinese rice and noodle dishes, as well as proper dinner dishes.

Kenny’s Noodles – This chain is also good for casual Chinese rice and noodle dishes and they also offer proper Chinese dinner dishes as well. But note that the decor at Kenny’s Noodles isn’t as nice as Congee Queen or My Wonderful Kitchen.

十粥十 (My Wonderful Kitchen), Richmond Hill – This restaurant has a great and long selection of casual Chinese dishes. They also have proper dinner menus as well as some unique dishes that you don’t see in many other restaurants. Everything that we’ve tried has been good. We especially like the salted egg deep fried fish balls. Of our three suggestions, this restaurant has the best decor and a slightly classier atmosphere.

Favourite Congee

Sam’s Congee Delight, Scarborough – This hole-in-the-wall restaurant has been around for a very long time and is our go-to for when we want good congee and fried dough sticks. It is found inside the Chinese plaza, Market Village.

Favourite Chinese (Cantonese) Dinner Restaurants

Magic Wok Cantonese Cuisine, Markham – This restaurant has been around for a very very long time and our families have been patrons for almost just as long. Their menu has medium priced dishes for casual dinners as well as higher end seafood dishes for special occasions. We highly recommend that you try the mango chicken and/or pineapple beef dishes. Also, you might want to ask them to use less oil and/or less salt. 

金爵豪宴 (Golden Duke Chinese Cuisine), Markham – This is our new favourite Chinese restaurant to go to for dinner. They have the best service, the best consistency in their dishes, and a nice decor. They also have the best salted egg deep fried bitter melon dish, and the best Chinese desserts we’ve ever had. We’ve loved almost everything we’ve tried there. 

Favourite Chinese Seafood Restaurant

魚樂軒 (Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant), Toronto – This restaurant is where you will find deliciously cooked giant lobsters and giant crabs. With an impressive decor and excellent food presentation, this is by far our favourite seafood restaurant in the city. Their 4-way lobster set lunch meal is the best deal and their sharks fin soup is beyond incredible. Do make reservations ahead of time and please note that this restaurant accepts cash only! Finally, don’t get this restaurant confused with Fishman Wharf which is also a Chinese seafood restaurant and is practically across the street from this one. They are not affiliated.

Favourite Hot Pot Restaurant

Hipot, Markham – This hot pot restaurant is all you can eat, it has a great selection, and gives everyone their own pot to cook with! Reservations are recommended.

 

Indian/Pakistani Food

Lahore Tikka House, Toronto – We find the food at Lahore Tikka House to be surprisingly delicious and unique, especially considering the casual, fast-food-like atmosphere.

 

Jamaican Food

Favourite Jamaican Beef Patties

Allan’s Pastries, Scarborough – If you can, get the small, frozen, raw ones that you have to bake yourself. These are, by far, the best patties we’ve ever had.

 

Desserts

The Absolute Best Desserts (Gourmet)

DT Bistro, Toronto – DT Bistro is a nice restaurant and the owner, Chef Don, has won international awards for his dessert creations. The price tag for a dessert in his restaurant can get close to $10 each, but please believe me when I say that the Passion Fruit Parfait is the Best dessert I’ve ever had. I suggest calling in advance and ordering them prior to your arrival, as they sell out quickly. Seriously, the Passion Fruit Parfait is a life changer. Their non-caffeinated teas are very good and high quality, too.

Favourite Canadian Chocolates (Best Caramel Chocolates Ever)

Purdy’s Chocolatier – Purdy’s is a Canadian chocolate company that makes our favourite nut and caramel chocolates, and chocolate hazelnut chocolates. They can be found in several malls. Be sure to try the mini hedgehogs (the mini ones have a better chocolate to hazelnut ganache ratio than the regular sized hedgehogs), the almond caramel, and the dark chocolate cashew caramel. Alison searched high and low for the best caramel chocolate and fell in love with the ones made by Purdy’s, because the nuts are toasted beautifully, the caramel isn’t too sweet, and the caramel is the perfect balance of chewy and soft.

Favourite Gourmet Donuts

See my donut tour reviews here 

Favourite Gelato

il gelatiere, Toronto – Our favourite flavour is pistachio.

 

Best Croissants in North America (Montreal, Quebec)

Unfortunately, the best croissant in North America isn’t in Toronto. This recommendation is for those of you traveling through Quebec, particularly in the Montreal area. Be sure to stop byL’Amour du Pain for the best croissants in North America.

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