Best of North Toronto 2019

The best foodie finds in midtown, from upscale sushi to burgers and more

In a city full of foodies, there is no shortage of wicked places to have a meal — especially in midtown. Here we break down the top restaurants, cafés, sandwich purveyors, burger joints, bakeries and so much more.

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BEST MACARON

NADÈGE was crafting impeccable macarons before Toronto even knew how to say the word. Her pastel-hued meringue rounds come in elegant flavours that rotate with the seasons. 1099 Yonge St.

BEST BURGER

It’s a tie! Are you feening for a takeout burger on the go or a sit-down meal that hits the spot? At HOLY CHUCK the toppings are incomparable: like the Greek Bahahastard with roasted red pepper and garlic feta aïoli on two lamb patties. Or head to BURGER CELLAR for the Canadian with maple glazed peameal bacon on a black Angus patty, served with a chic glass of chablis. 1450 Yonge St. & 3391 Yonge St.

BEST SALAD

At PALM LANE, you can build your own salad from more than 70 ingredients or choose one from the menu. New, is the Julius, featuring a bed of romaine with cauliflower, olives, almond Parm, cherry tomatoes and walnuts. 55 Avenue Rd.

 

Palm Lane

­­­BEST PASTA

We swear it’s not just ’cause Drake loves it, but SOTTO SOTTO sure knows its pasta. All the faves are here — cacio e pepe, linguine alla puttanesca, rigatoni ai quattro formaggi — dished out with a side of romance. 120 Avenue Rd.

­­­BEST BAR

Midtown isn’t synonymous with “late night,” but BAR BATAVIA flips that switch. It offers tipples such as Krakatoa — a refresher with grapefruit-infused bourbon and Aperol — and Indo-style snacks feed the peckish. 2031 Yonge St.

 

Bar Batavia

­­­BEST BRUNCH

WISH RESTAURANT puts its unique stamp on brunch. Eggs Charlotte sees poached oeufs topped with smoked salmon with a leek and Parm fondue, and a mound of challah French toast is gussied up with caramelized bananas and blueberries. 3 Charles St. E.

­­­BEST SOUTHERN BBQ

Go to THE STOCKYARDS on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays for the ribs and chicken. Any other day, hit ADAMSON BARBECUE for authentic Texas-style barbecue like brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork and more. 699 St. Clair Ave. W. & 176 Wicksteed Ave.

­­­BEST DIM SUM

KWAN has all the dim sum faves and then some. Feast on siu mai (pork and shrimp), har gow (shrimp with bamboo) or cha siu bao (barbecued pork buns) in addition to curried cuttlefish and tripe with ginger. End on egg tarts. 1496 Yonge St.

 

Kwan Dim Sum

­­­BEST DINER

Around for a cool 75 years (since 1944), AVENUE DINER is a beacon of comfort. Get endless coffee poured while chomping on standards like all-day brekkie, grilled cheese with bacon and banquet burgs. 222 Davenport Rd.

BEST FISH AND CHIPS

An east versus west dilemma. OLDE YORKE FISH & CHIPS, a Leaside mainstay with a family recipe, and sea witch with its battered halibut (or haddock, cod, trout) done up with chips or in a sandwich format. 96 Laird Dr. & 636 St. Clair Ave. W.

BEST TACO

This family-run taqueria, ITACATE impresses with its authentic flavours. Tacos include the placero, loaded with chicharron, guac and fresh cheese, and the classic al pastor, with pork and pineapple. 998 St. Clair Ave. W.

 

Itacate

BEST BRISKET SANDWICH

You could order one of the other fine sandwiches at BLACK CAMEL, but those pangs of regret can be avoided if you just go for the brisket. It’s the only real choice. 4 Crescent Rd.

BEST CLUB SANDWICH

The club sammie at COCOALATTE looks to Cali for inspiration. The handsome stack layers together smoked turkey breast with stripes of bacon, avocado and cheddar. 671 St. Clair Ave. W.

BEST MEATBALLS

Mama Rosa Marinuzzi makes her meatballs with love. 7NUMBERS’s polpette di vitello are a work of art. Perfectly cooked veal rounds stuffed with mozzarella and smothered in their homemade tomato sauce, delizioso! 516 Eglinton Ave. W.

 

7Numbers

BEST SHAWARMA

Hidden in the back of a Hasty Market, FLAMING STOVE is a must for shawarma fans. Saj bread is handmade and filled with your choice of falafel or chicken. 21 Davisville Ave.

BEST ROTI

This ever-expanding local chain dishes out true island flavour. RITZ CARIBBEAN FOODS classics include oxtail, chana roti and, yes, that jerk chicken. 32 Eglinton Ave. W.

­­­BEST BUBBLE TEA

FORMOCHA pours authentic Taiwanese bubble tea, from fruit teas (green apple or winter melon) to flavoured milk options (think rose or taro-coconut). Plus, their Cheesecake Hill lattes are essentially drinkable cheesecakes. 55 Eglinton Ave. E.

 

Formocha

BEST LOBSTER

Delivering nostalgia with a side of lobster, HOUSE OF CHAN is the full package. Served against a rich red backdrop, the lobster starts at two lbs. and can be ordered a variety of ways. R.I.P. Smoked & Cracked; we miss the lobster rolls. 514 Eglinton Ave. W.

BEST LUNCH

Equal parts healthy-ish and delish, PANTRY offers swoon-worthy curried cauliflower with pomegranate, grilled chicken breast and potato salad with bacon. If you can, eat in — the portions are decidedly larger. 1094 Yonge St.

­­­BEST PIZZERIA

It’s not often that a T.O. pizza joint serving N.Y.C.-style pieces is an offshoot of a Nova Scotian pizzeria, but the team behind YEAH YEAHS PIZZA knew what they were doing. Try the whole menu as you mourn the loss of Camarra’s. 1210 Yonge St.

 

Yeah Yeahs

­­­BEST CHINESE TAKEOUT

C’EST BON is, well, pretty bon when it comes to takeout. Don’t be fooled by the French moniker — this is Chinese fare, with a side of Thai. Order Shanghai noodles, mu shu pork with pancakes and Thai-style pineapple fried rice. 2685 Yonge St.

­­­BEST BAGEL

Our resident chef, Mark McEwan, is rather fond of the everything bagel and house cream cheese from KIVA’S. The bagel’s size and form impress, as do the variety of seeds used on the baked good. 2496 Yonge St.

BEST INDIAN

BANJARA does it all, serving both North and South Indian fare. From the north, go for tandoori chicken, some filling malai kofta, or thalis for those who like a bit of everything. Meanwhile, delicious dosas beckon from the south, giant parcels of crispy perfection. 164 Eglinton Ave. E.

 

Banjara

BEST VEGETARIAN

FRESH was here before all the other joiners came along. The spot does healthy but has plenty of fun. New to the menu? Nachos with cashew queso, and flatbread studded with beyond sausage and shishito peppers. 90 Eglinton Ave. E.

BEST FRENCH BAKERY

Fancy yourself some baguette, boule, fougasse, maybe a croissant or three? Head straight to THOBORS. Looking for less bread and more patisserie options? RAHIER also does impeccable croissants, backing them up with brioche, danishes, frangipane for all your French brunch needs. 627 Mt. Pleasant Rd. & 1586 Bayview Ave.

BEST STEAK HOUSE

Steak with a side of people-watching is what STK is all about. Order your steak — like a 14 oz. dry-aged Delmonico or a massive 34 oz. Tomahawk — and top it with the likes of lobster, Alaskan king crab or foie gras butter. 153 Yorkville Ave.

 

STK

BEST GELATO

How could we ever choose between HOTEL GELATO and HOLLYWOOD GELATO? Hotel dishes out fab flavours; meanwhile, Hollywood goes all childhood nostalgia. 532 Eglinton Ave. W. & 1640 Bayview Ave.

BEST PIE

Baker Vicki sure knows her way around a pie. Her award-winning creations at PHIPPS BAKERY CAFÉ include lattice-style fruit pies and a super-rich caramel and pecan number. 420 Eglinton Ave. W.

BEST DECADENT DESSERT

Hit up HK SWEETS for Hong Kong–style desserts that put all others to shame. Wow-worthy offerings include the Mango Honey Mountain toast, which takes 25 minutes to prepare. 2375 Yonge St.

 

HK Sweets

BEST RAMEN

Drawing lines at its sister locations downtown, HOKKAIDO RAMEN SANTOUKA offers the same incredible flavours with less stress. Signature blue bowls arrive with white tonkotsu broth (made from boiling pork bones), a swirl of egg noodles, strips of pork chashu and a single red pickled plum. 2057 Yonge St.

BEST BREAKWICH

Kitschy environs provide the ideal backdrop at UNCLE BETTY’S DINER for scarfing down this Breakwich. A pillowy King’s Hawaiian roll hugs fried egg and melty cheddar, with the option of bacon and avocado further jazzing up this timeless breakfast sandwich. 2590 Yonge St.

BEST NYC DINING

Gunning to be uptown’s answer to Soho House, ARTHUR’S RESTAURANT didn’t exactly tiptoe into the nabe. A menu of nostalgic American fare mirrors the clubby-retro environs, a sprawling rooftop terrace acts as yet another space to play flaneur, while an (optional) $450 yearly membership is the cherry on top. 12 St. Clair Ave. E.

 

Arthur’s Restaurant

BEST BISTRO

Bistro food has never looked so good. MAISON SELBY is a historic mansion dolled up to the nines, with each room more enticing than the last. Grub sticks to Franco staples, be it French onion soup, escargots, boeuf bourguignon or moules et frites. 592 Sherbourne St.

BEST SUBS

Don’t ever gaze at those other sub shops: BELLY BUSTERS SUBMARINES is the original. For the older crowd, subs come with a side of nostalgia; to young’uns they’re just plain tasty. Go cold cuts, or get jazzy with spicy sausage or even a cheesesteak sub. 3347 Yonge St.

BEST NEW RESTO HEADED TO THE ‘HOOD

For years we hoofed it down to Harbord Village, lured by the promise of Victor Barry’s bright Italiana. Come fall, Davisville shall have her very own PIANO PIANO outpost, with scrumptious pizza and pasta set against a lively backdrop. 623 Mt. Pleasant Rd.

 

Piano Piano

BEST BUTTER TARTS

Mark McEwan, our resident chef, fell hard for CHARMAINE SWEETS butter tarts, praising both buttery shell and filling. Owner Teresa also does divine Napoleons, Sacher torte cookies and airy chiffon cakes. Wannabe bakers should keep a lookout for her technique-driven baking classes. 115 Vanderhoof Ave.

BEST PUB

THE ABBOT is our publisher’s gastropub of choice, this cozy-like-home spot is creeping up on its 20th year. Remember: you didn’t come here for salad. Dive into comforting grub like cheese and beer fondue with focaccia, a classic wing or eight, or a wedge of shepherd’s pie. 3367 Yonge St.

BEST PERUVIAN

Once under the radar, the food of Peru is thankfully stepping into the T.O. spotlight at KAY PACHA. Here, it’s easy to learn about the cuisine, starting with Peruvian-style ceviche cured in spicy and citrusy leche de tigre. There’s also cute empanaditas, anticuchos chicken skewers, Japanese-Peruvian wings… 744 St. Clair Ave. W.

 

Kay Pacha

BEST INDONESIAN

This city isn’t exactly a hub of Indonesian grub, but at least the (sole) destination LITTLE SISTER is excellent. From spicy satay lilet (chicken skewers) to garlicky nasi goreng (fried rice) to rich udang kari (shrimp coconut curry) these flavours are spot-on. 2031 Yonge St.

BEST OYSTERS

ZEE GRILL in Mt. Pleasant Village is the destination for the spiffiest of molluscs. The oyster bar displays the goods nabbed from both the east and west coast, be they PEI’s Raspberry Points or Beach Angels from B.C. Dab with mignonette and you’re set. 641 Mt. Pleasant Rd.

BEST ICE CREAM

It’s impossible to choose between MY FAVOURITE ICE CREAM SHOP and DUTCH DREAMS. The former is where Rosedalers gather for post-dinner ice creams, the lucky ones licking their cones while sat at the picnic table out front. Those further west look to the latter, a veteran of the scene that serves its ice cream with a side of kitsch. 3 MacPherson Ave. & 36 Vaughan Rd.

 

Dutch Dreams

BEST BRISKET

Meatatarians can go right ahead and seat themselves down at this uptown shrine to meat. At STACK, they have Memphis-style double-smoked dry ribs to start, brisket-topped poutine for mid, and mammoth platters with just about everything to keep the night going. 3265 Yonge St.

BEST CAKES

As popular as that Betty in high school, BOBBETTE & BELLE pastry shop actually has reason to be. Their raisin-free carrot cake is iced with cream cheese buttercream. But their chocolate cake? Choco-fudge frosting, choco buttercream, chocolate ganache and homemade brownie chunks. Just wow. 3347 Yonge St.

BEST PASTA DEAL

Every day, this ANNABELLE PASTA BAR doles out $11 pastas to folks in the know. The combination of chef’s mood and encyclopedic noodle techniques may result in fusilli Genovese, orecchiette with corn, bacon and basil or rigatoni drowned in pork ragu. 909 Davenport Rd.

 

Annabelle Pasta Bar

BEST ORGANIC BUTCHER

THE HEALTHY BUTCHER knew and cared about all the key terms — organic, local, grass-fed, pasture-raised — before we could wrap our heads around ’em. Yes, these products may be on the pricier side, but we say eat less meat — just make it the best. 298 Eglinton Ave. W.

BEST INDIE COFFEE SHOP

Indie to the core, THE MAD BEAN keeps things fresh. Beans are roasted in Stouffville and delivered weekly, yielding the perfect pour. They do specialty drinks, too, like the Dublin Fog with minty green tea, vanilla and micro-foamed milk. 519 Eglinton Ave. W.

BEST VEGAN

Yes, people were eating plant-based fare before PLANTA Yorkville, erm, hoofed it onto the foodscape. But chef David Lee’s foray into vegan suddenly made it desirable and upscale — not just for granola heads. Everything from ceviche (coconut!) to pâté (lentils!) to pizza (cashew mozza!) has been given a plant-based do-over. 1221 Bay St.

 

Planta

BEST TURKISH

Istanbul meets Yorkville at swishy ESTIA. Move from authentic wood-fired pides — Turkey’s answer to pizza — to halloumi and grapes drenched in warm truffle honey. Teeny tiny manti dumplings sit in yogurt-y sauce and are stuffed with shredded oxtail. Just be sure to pronounce ‘manti’ properly. 90 Avenue Rd.

BEST FILIPINO

Cheap ‘n’ cheerful Lasa has morphed into LAMESA, which spins out both trad Filipino dishes and contemporary twists. Best way to experience their cuisine is via the Kamayan feasts every Sunday. A smorgasbord of goods is spread out on banana leaves to be eaten by hand. 634 St. Clair Ave. W.

BEST SUSHI WHEN PRICE IS NO OBJECT

Could we have one without the other? Thanks to SHOUSHIN, Jackie Too-Old-To-Be-A-Wunderkind-Now Lin’s uptown shrine to sushi, Torontonians fell in love with omakase. And now at SUSHI MASAKI SAITO, those same sushi lovers are spending $500 a head to dine on the eponymous chef’s sushi. Win-win. 3328 Yonge St. & 88 Avenue Rd.

 

Shoushin

BEST SUSHI FOR THE REST OF US

For Japanese flavours in affordable packages head to TOKYO SUSHI. Go for a variety of bento boxes, spiffy dynamite rolls and the like or sushi and maki combos. There are also a few Korean faves like chapchae and bi bim bap in the mix. 373 Eglinton Ave. W.

BEST GOURMET SHOP

Tucked away in a residential nabe, SUMMERHILL MARKET is an oldie but a goodie, with over 500 fresh-made items offered daily. Their house line of goods includes a new plant-based tahini dressing. Stay tuned for Eglinton Way and Annex outposts, making it even easier to shop Summerhill. 446 Summerhill Ave.

BEST NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD RESTOS

After helming the kitchen at Mark McEwan’s North 44 for years, chef Sash Simpson went out on his own this year with SASH. The Summerhill spot is already packed nightly with diners devouring every dish on the menu. 1133 Yonge St.

New to the nabe and already a fave, THE NOMAD STEAKHOUSE is giving patrons top-quality cuts on any type of steak you can think of, along with some fish and pasta options if you’re not in a red meat kind of mood. 453 Eglinton Ave. W.

SOPHIE’S KITCHEN is a cute midday spot that knew what the nabe needed — a place for families. Tuck into lemon ricotta pancakes while kids get the PB&J version. Or get brioche stuffed with green apple and candied bacon. 1614 Bayview Ave.

 

Chef Sash Simpson