Toronto is a city of many tongues. Including English and French, around 140 languages are spoken here, from Cantonese and Urdu to Spanish. With almost a third of Canadian newcomers settling in the city, this constant influx of people naturally brings with it new culinary ideas and influences. Chefs across Toronto are attuned to this exciting international spirit and many are tapping their own cultural roots for inspiration. Our insider’s guide to global dining in Toronto tracks this worldly trend, from new global brunch destinations and hole-in-the-wall lunch joints to casual fine-dining spots and dessert-focused eateries and bakeries.
The ice cream sandwich and the grilled-cheese sandwich become one at The Burger’s Priest. Don’t leave town without trying The Vatican on Ice, a mash-up of two North American junk-food classics, places the sweetness of vanilla ice cream between the rich, molten grip of two entire grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s outrageous, and it works.
Here, Italian-Canadian Top Chef Canada finalist Vittorio Colacitti redefines global comfort foods: wood-fired pizza is topped with octopus and piquillo peppers, and jerk shrimp is wrapped in crispy potato strings.
The Good Son, photo by James Yigitoz
Delicacies such as charred eggplant salad (talong) and purple yam custard with puffed rice (ube leche flan) are exquisitely presented at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen.
Brunch like an Egyptian at this sunny spot, which serves up honey cardamom lattes and mint-infused Egyptian tea with date grilled cheese sandwiches and fava-bean stew (foole) with soft-boiled egg, tomato, feta and falafel.
Find mom-and-pop Caribbean eateries, hip coffee roasteries and bakeshops, as well as accessible chef-owned spots, in this west-end neighbourhood.
Try Boralia‘s take on pemmican, a First Nations dish reimagined with bison bresaola, cured lardo, black currants and gin-juniper vinaigrette.
Restaurants here serve incarnations of Indian and Pakistani regional fare, including taste bud-blowing Hakka cuisine (Indian-Chinese).
Bar Raval looks like a Gaudi masterpiece with its curved mahogany bar and wavy walls. Sip cocktails, sherry and vermouth with pintxos—Spanish snacks such as briny olives, queso and squid in ink.
This basement lounge at British-inspired restaurant Marben, has a cocktail menu focused on punches and classic and bespoke cocktails sorted by flavour profile (bitter, strong, fresh).
Pair your refreshing jicama salad, pork burger and spicy slaw with Havana-inspired fruity cocktails, mojitos and beer at brick-walled, candlelit Bar Habana in the back room of restaurant La Cubana.
Toronto Food Tour
Little Iran Food Tour
Take a culinary tour of Little Iran, from Finch Avenue to Highway 7 in North York, with Toronto food writer Suresh Doss. Around a dozen buzzing strip malls are home to bakeries selling fat barbari flatbreads, restaurants serving sheep’s head stew for brunch and vendors scooping handmade saffron-pistachio and pomegranate ice creams. Doss points out where to buy hard-to-find ingredients such as smoked rice and sweet lemons served in juicy segments as a sidekick to your tea.
Toronto bakers have adopted the motto, “Do one thing well.”
Feast on sticky cinnamon buns—a baked good with Swedish origins.
Savour buttermilk scones with house-made jams.
Devour French-inspired handcrafted éclairs.
Come for bean-to-bar chocolate and spicy Mayan hot chocolate shots.
Order exquisite Thai treats such as golden jackfruit seeds, coconut layer cake and pineapple cookies.
[This story appears in the March 2017 issue of WestJet Magazine]