Corey Mintz’s 50 Under $50 List

For our 2018 list of the 50 best restaurants where two can dine for $50 or less, we asked food writer Corey Mintz to eat his way through the GTA. After many meals from Mississauga to Scarborough and everywhere in between, he has determined the top 50 must-try spots and what you’ve got to eat at each one.


1 Hopper Hut

880 Ellesmere Rd
Scarborough, ON M1P 2L8
(416) 299-4310

There are so many good (and filling) things to eat at Hopper Hut that it’s disrespectful to come here without a crew. Start with hoppers, a crepe-like batter cooked into a bowl shape, eaten with chili/coconut chutneys and curries. From there, get a bowl of mild mutton curry and blast furnace-spicy crab curry, with roti for dipping. Then move on to kothu roti, a griddle-fried hash of roti, onion, chili, egg and meat. You can order most of the dishes with a choice of mutton, beef, chicken, squid or shrimp. For the lamprais (bindle-sized packages of rice, vegetables, curry, egg and dried fish wrapped in banana leaf), whatever meat you choose will be dwarfed by the remaining ingredients.

For the most up-to-date information, view Hopper Hut’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


2 P.G. Clucks

610 College St
Toronto, ON M6G 1B4
(416) 539-8224
https://www.pgclucks.com/

If you’re going to do one thing, do it well. Pawel Grezlikowski took that to heart and has done his thing, fried chicken sandwiches, exceedingly well. Starting with whole legs, Grezlikowski removes the bones before brining the meat, then soaking it in buttermilk. Despite demand at the high-volume, small space (his shop is 200 square feet), he won’t pre-cook the chicken in batches for quick service. Instead, each piece is fried to order for approximately six and a half minutes. The shop makes their own fermented hot sauce and buttermilk sauce. The only parts of the sandwich that are outsourced are the pickles (Vlasic bread & butter) and buns (Thuet Bakery), which are intentionally just the right size to be held in one hand while the ample chicken spills out over the side. In a town ripe with the low-hanging, trendy fruit of fried chicken sandwiches, Cluck’s stands out for a product with superior consistency, integrity, quality and taste. There’s no room to sit. But the sandwiches are available for delivery to your table next door at craft beer mecca Birreria Volo.

For the most up-to-date information, view P.G. Clucks’ listing in our new restaurant directory.


3 Lion City

1177 Central Pkwy W
Mississauga, ON L5C 4P3
(905) 281-0860
https://www.lioncityrestaurant.ca/

The long menu at Lion City reflects the influence of the regions that surround Singapore: gado gado (salad of blanched vegetables with peanut dressing) and rendang (meat simmered in coconut milk, then pounded and fried) from Indonesia; various Thai curries; rojak (fruit salad with spicy shrimp paste dressing), hokkien mee (fried noodles) and chili crab from Singapore; nasi lemak (coconut rice served with dried anchovies and a fried egg, usually eaten for breakfast) and char kway teow (lard-fried flat noodles with shrimp and eggs) from Malaysia and Singapore. With so many rewarding choices, it’s impossible not to order too much here. But go ahead. You’ll take the leftovers home.

For the most up-to-date information, view Lion City’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


4 White Lily Diner

678 Queen St E
Toronto, ON M4M 1G8
(416) 901-7800
http://www.whitelilydiner.ca/

The owners of this 29-seat diner don’t make a big deal of it, but they smoke their own pastrami, ferment their own pickles and bake their own bread. They even make doughnuts, in different flavours, every day. And the attention to detail, quality and freshness pays off. Everything on their concise menu — smoked turkey sandwich, biscuits, grits, sausage gravy — is a gem. Chef Ben Denham’s time at casual restaurants with high standards (Electric Mud, Hoof Cafe) has been distilled down to a collection of dishes that offer heavy, blockbuster satisfaction (buttermilk griddle cakes with cottage cheese, patty melt with poblano relish). And there are lighter options (kale caesar, blanched broccoli salad) to mitigate post-pancake lethargy.

For the most up-to-date information, view White Lily Diner’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


5 King Place

236 Sherbourne St
Toronto, ON M5A 3X2
(647) 352-0786
https://www.kingplacerestaurant.com/

This fluorescent-lit room located at a chaotic intersection is not a great place to sit down for a romantic meal, but the Pakistani cuisine is outstanding and ideally suited for takeout or delivery. Owner Mehood Meer (known as Mr. Butt) has a deft hand with ginger, coriander, butter, cumin and fenugreek. When something is spicy here, like the nihari beef, it is forehead-mopping spicy. Buttery naan is cooked fresh to order. Despite the wide variety of slow-cooked meats, no two dishes taste the same: each is a thoughtful calibration of flavours with a potency barely contained by Styrofoam containers, their magic released in the form of spiced steam as you remove the lids at home.

For the most up-to-date information, view King Place’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


Photo credit: Cindy Chan

6 Pasta Baldassarre

122 Geary Ave
Toronto, ON M6H 4H1
(647) 293-5395
http://famigliabaldassarre.com/

When Leandro Baldassarre moved his pasta manufacturing business into its space on Geary Avenue, his plan to serve lunch became ensnared in licensing red tape. So, for half a year, he operated PastaBaldassarre as a speakeasy, with only locals knowing to check Instagram for announcements of daily menus. Now that Baldassarre is legit, the lunch counter is no longer Toronto’s little secret, and the queue for the nine seats is often out the door. There is a revolving collection of lunch specials: chestnut-filled buckwheat medaglia, tortelli dizucca, agnolotti in sage butter, cavatelli with anchovies andrapini. Beyond the cliquey appeal, Baldassarre is a worthy destination because they serve a superb bowl of pasta.

For the most up-to-date information, view Pasta Baldassarre’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


7 Faley

42 Rexdale Blvd
Etobicoke, ON M9W 5Z3
416-746-4948
http://www.faleyrestaurant.ca/

Some measure food by how hard it is to stop thinking about it. And Faley’s gan-ben beef, fried nubs of meat encased in a sugary coating (let’s not pretend it’s anything else that makes it sweet) is embedded in my brain’s craving centre. Every time we come here, we say we’re going to order vegetables and we never do (though the vegetable pakoras are packed with peas and broccoli). After the saucy and garlicky noodles, chili chicken glazed with sweet soy sauce and laced with fingers of onion, who has room? If anything we always talk about ordering another plate of the beef. Quality is consistent at both locations of the Hakka restaurant.

For the most up-to-date information, view Faley’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


8 Centre Street Deli

1136 Centre St.
Thornhill, ON L4J 3M8
(905) 731-8037
http://www.centrestreetdeli.com/

Here is the best Montreal smoked meat money can buy: Tender, moist, gently spiced, heaven on rye. Add a crisp garlicky half-sour and nirvana is here. Wanna gild the lily? Their sweet frites get the job done. For those less in love with fat, chicken in a pot gets the Bubby seal of approval, for its honest golden broth filed with fresh poached chicken. Also of interest are crispy knishes, tasty shredded beef on the inside and crisp-fried mashed potato on the outside.

For the most up-to-date information, view Centre Street Deli’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


9 Rhum Corner

926 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, ON M6J 1W3
(647) 346-9356
http://rhumcorner.com/

This dark, twinkly room is all about relaxing under the glow of its neon sign and hum of loud Caribbean music. The name is based on co-owner Roland Jean’s penchant for making drinks in the corner of the bar with a bottle of rum, some Coca-Cola, ice and limes. Start with accra, dumplings of fried malanga (that root vegetable resembling a furry yam). Plates of rice and beans with oxtail or griot (Haitian slow-cooked pork) make for rich meals, accompanied by fried plantains. Jars of pikliz sit on each table. The spicy pickled carrot and cabbage cuts through the fat and booze of the night.

For the most up-to-date information, view Rhum Corner’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


10 Adamson Barbecue

176 Wicksteed Ave.
Toronto, ON M4G 2B6
(647) 559-2080
http://www.adamsonbarbecue.com/

“We are different from other joints in Toronto,” Adam Skelly says with a touch of Lone Star-style bravado, “because we’re the only authentic one.”

He and his girlfriend, Alison Hunt, are the co-owners of the just-opened Adamson Barbecue in Leaside. They serve a menu based on the classic traditions of central Texas: mainly beef, some pork, a little bit of turkey and very simple seasoning. It all comes from the Texas-made, 50-year-old Oyler smoker that can handle 1,500 pounds of meat.

“I cook using only wood,” Skelly explains. “No gas, no electric heat, certainly no bags of wood chips or chunks. I order wood by the bush cord.”

For the most up-to-date information, view Adamson Barbecue’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


11 Itacate

998 St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto, ON M6E 1A2
(647) 701-0420
https://www.facebook.com/itacateTO/

The sign out front says Macelleria, which means butcher. So technically this is a taqueria within a butcher shop. But it’s more the other way around, as the kitchen in the front takes up more space than the display fridge at the back filled with chicken livers and goat legs. Between tacos made with fresh tortillas and soft tamales as big as a shoe, it’s hard not to over-order here. But don’t miss the indulgent fried quesadillas stuffed with meat, cheese and chicharron, or the pambazos sandwiches, packed with chorizo and crema. Specials like chilaquiles and pozoles are a treat for weekend visitors.

For the most up-to-date information, view Itacate’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


12 California Sandwiches

244 Claremont St.
Toronto, ON M6J 2N2
(416) 603-3317
http://eatcalifornia.ca/

This hulking mess of a sandwich comes to you courtesy of California Sandwiches. Hogtown’s renowned Italian sandwicheria has been around since 1967, making it a veritable antiquity in the restaurant world.

The original Little Italy location takes over a corner spot on a residential street, squirrelled away from the main thoroughfares. Inside, the goods are made to order, with patrons paying in cash only and getting tsk-tsked if seen using their cellphones (they mess up their landline).

For the most up-to-date information, view California Sandwiches’ listing in our new restaurant directory.


13 Szechuan Legend

505 Highway 7
Richmond Hill, ON L3T 7T1
(905) 889-7883

This Richmond Hill establishment might not seem like much to the naked eye, but the bare bones interior is made up for in full by the extreme Szechuan spice and bold flavours. Szechuan Legend is located in Commerce Gate, a plaza that’s lined with one Chinese restaurant after another.

For the most up-to-date information, view Szechuan Legend’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


14 Banh Mi Nguyen Huong

322 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 1J6
(416) 599-4625

This tiny Chinatown storefront, opened in the 80s by the parents of Banh Mi Boys owners David, Peter and Philip Chau, is the original banh mi mom and pop. The small space produces hundreds of sandwiches a day, an industrial slicing machine spitting out the French buns as quick as they can be filled with deli meats, pickled carrot, daikon and cilantro. But it’s not the banh mi that makes me a regular (I think Tiem Banh Mi Dieu Ky on Gerrard East is better), or even the always fresh rice paper rolls packed tightly with shrimp or pork. Or the selection of sticky Vietnamese sweets. It’s the bot chien, 9V-sized chunks of rice flour cake, fried on a flat top with egg, scallions and pork floss, finished with soy sauce and sriracha. Eating a whole portion feels like finishing two bags of jumbo buttered popcorn. So it’s pretty great.

For the most up-to-date information, view Banh Mi Nguyen Huong’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


15 Mr. Jerk

209 Wellesley St.
Toronto, ON M4X 1G1
(416) 961-8913
https://www.mrjerk.ca/

Mr. Jerk was one of my first food loves as a young, broke person. This was back when it was located at Yonge and Dundas, surrounded by video game arcades and they still sold single cigarettes for a quarter. Maybe I’m prejudiced by my nostalgia for those heaping portions of rice and beans with oxtail gravy. 20 years later, I can’t eat a pound of carbs in one sitting. Now it’s the jerk (dry or covered in gravy) that keeps me coming back. And not the chicken but the pork. You could make an argument that the higher fat content helps the pork absorb the smoky, spicy flavours better than the chicken. Or that the pork offers a better mosaic of textures — chewy, creamy, crispy. But I’ll gladly admit it’s a personal preference and root for the underdog of jerked pork.

For the most up-to-date information, view Mr. Jerk’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


16 Bar Buca

75 Portland St.
Toronto, ON M5V 2M9
416-599-2822
https://www.buca.ca/

Buca and Buca Yorkville are two of the most luxurious restaurants in Toronto. Bar Buca, the company’s all-day bar and cafe, offers a wedge of that excellence for a fraction of the price. The soaring ceilings and wine list can entice you to spend more, but a schiacciata (focaccia sandwich) and a coffee is a more-than-filling meal. Stop in for strapazzate (gooey eggs with burrata and truffles) paired with a buffalo milk Nutella latte at breakfast, or try a late night schiacciata with fried squid, smelts and lemon dill zabaglione, which deserves to be legendary. The weekend brunch menu includes the crespelle, a showstopper stack of semolina pancakes around cannoli-style filling with grappa maple syrup poured over top.

For the most up-to-date information, view Bar Buca’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


17 Allwyn’s Bakery

81 Underhill Dr.
North York, ON M3A 1K8
(647) 847-4698

For TTC users, making it to Allwyn’s may seem like a bit much for a wintry jaunt. The North York bakery-meets-jerk shop is squirrelled away in a northern strip mall, barely visible due to condensation on the windows. Inside, three shelves showcase hard dough bread while Grace sodas peer out from the fridge. Regulars pop by at lunch for the jerk pork, oxtail, curry chicken, and the jerk chicken sandwich.

The sammie sees a mound of succulent, well-spiced jerk chicken piled into an oh-so-soft cocobun ($4.25). The option of coleslaw is there for those who desire some crunch and a hint of acidity. Folks hankering for a bit more heat can douse the ‘wich in the Sriracha sauce that sits next to the cash.

For the most up-to-date information, view Allwyn’s Bakery’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


18 Santouka

91 Dundas St. E
Toronto, ON M5B 1E1
(647) 748-1717
https://www.santouka.co.jp/en

It’s official: Toronto is experiencing ramen mania. This year alone we’ve seen the opening of New York noodle giant Momofuku, along with ramen-houses such as Kinton and Sansotei. Meanwhile, the team that brought us Yours Truly is set to open a ramen shop come December, and Ramen Raijin, from the owners of Vancouver favorite Kintaro, is opening on Gerrard Street soon. And now we can add Santouka Ramen to the list.

Hailing from Japan, Santouka is a chain with locations worldwide. Toronto’s Dundas East location, which began its soft-opening phase over the weekend, is the second in Canada; the other one is in Vancouver. Santouka specializes in a pearl-colored tonkotsu broth made from simmering pork bones for roughly 20 hours, then adding vegetables, dried fish, kelp and other ingredients.

Toronto’s Santouka currently offers four different tonkotsu-based ramens, which are each seasoned differently. Flavors include shio ramen (salt), shoyu ramen (soy sauce), miso ramen (miso) and kara-miso ramen (hot spices and miso). Prices range from $10.95-$11.45. Toppings could include pickled plums, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms and, of course, pork.

For the most up-to-date information, view Santouka’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


19 Udupi Palace

1460 Gerrard St. E.
Toronto, ON M4L 2A3
(416) 405-8189
http://www.udupipalace.ca

For the most up-to-date information, view Udupi Palace’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


20 Holy Chuck

1450 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON M4T 1Y7
(416) 962-4825
http://holychuckburgers.com

Holier than the Priest, Chuck’s mission is that same all-American flat-top burger with American cheese on a buttered bun. We’re wowed by their signature The Holy Chuck: Two fat patties, rich and juicy, topped with caramelized onion, bacon and cheese. Don’t ask for ketchup; they’re religious about their toppings. Almost as much fun is the double lamb burger with perfectly roasted red peppers and garlic feta aïoli. Unfortunately the fries are no better than the Priest’s — sometimes pale and underdone. But the shakes — the shakes are what happened with Hamilton Beach met Eros. Thick, rich, creamy and smooth, they go down slow and sexy.

For the most up-to-date information, view Holy Chuck’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


21 Ho Ho BBQ

3833 Midland Ave.
Scarborough, ON M1V 5L4
(416) 321-9818

This old-style Chinese restaurant is known all over Toronto for its crispy pork and classic Hong Kong cuisine. Ho Ho BBQ is a Scarborough native that has been serving up some of the best crispy duck and pork for decades.

For the most up-to-date information, view Ho Ho BBQ’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


22 Reyan

75 Dundas St. W.
Mississauga, ON L5B 1H7
(905) 848-2615
http://reyan.ca/

There’s a lot on the menu of this small, suburban strip mall restaurant. Owner Ali Fallaha, a geologist back in Syria, wants to have something for everyone. So he serves shawarma (a purist, he fills the pita with meat and pickles only), falafel (forming each donut-shaped ball in a little brass hand press), and so on. But the showstopper is fattet hummus, a Palestinian and Syrian staple. The dish starts with a base of hummus thinned to a saucy consistency with lemon juice and chickpea water. Each serving is then layered with pita chips, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, paprika, parsley and sumac. Part stew, part salad, the symphony of sweet and savoury, creamy and crispy, is finished with a splash of hot ghee, erupting in a spectacular crackle as it hits the bowl’s contents.

For the most up-to-date information, view Reyan’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


23 Dayali Beijing Roast Duck

20 Gibson Dr.
Markham, ON L3R 8B5
(905) 604-8680
http://www.dayali.ca/

Despite the name , and the very fine duck dish, there is so much else to love here: big steaming bowls of spicy chicken, shrimp, duck gizzard, chicken feet, pork liver, brisket, or barbecued bullfrogs on a stick. There are also some lighter dishes, like corn with pine nuts and spinach with peanuts. My favourite dish from the long menu is the duck bones. The kitchen whacks up the leftover duck carcass, fries the bones and tosses them in salt, pepper and cumin. The end product is like a plate of hickory sticks with bits of meat stuck on. The menu has separate prices for members and non-members. They take reservations for groups over 5. But if they don’t know you, you’ve got to be aggressive at the door to get a seat.

For the most up-to-date information, view Dayali Beijing Roast Duck’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


24 Sababa

390 Steeles Ave. W.
Thornhill, ON L4J 1A1
(905) 764-6440
http://www.sababafoods.com/

For the most up-to-date information, view Sababa’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


25 The Stockyards

699 St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1B2
(416) 658-9666
https://www.instagram.com/thestockyards/

It’s matured into a haven of porcine pleasures They only fire up the smoker Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, so ribs are on offer from 5 p.m. on those days. They sell out around 6:30, so call at 5, show up at 5:30 and take out dinner, cause it’s no fun eating at the hectic counter. The ribs are the best in town. Smoked all day over hickory and apple wood, they’re vaguely sweet and super-succulent with a light mahogany crust, big and meaty, with no goopy sauce. Fabulous fried chicken is great grease. Read more…

For the most up-to-date information, view The Stockyards’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


26 Dim Sum King

421 Dundas St. W., 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON M5T 2W4
(416) 551-3366
https://www.dimsumkingrestaurant.com/

I have been coming to this classic cart-service restaurant since the tables at the back were filled with old men holding chopsticks in one hand, a cigarette in the other. It hasn’t changed much. Large families with hyperactive children are still seated on the dais. There’s always a lineup after 11:30 a.m. on the weekend. And carts still rumble between tables, waiters occasionally pausing to lift lids on bamboo steamers filled with char siu bao (barbecue pork buns), har gow (shrimp dumplings) and cheung fun (rice noodle rolls). As options glide past you, it’s always a race to see if you will find your favourite dish before you fill up on noodles, pan-fried dumplings or lo bak go (turnip cakes).

For the most up-to-date information, view Dim Sum King’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


27 North of Brooklyn Pizza

650 Queen St W
Toronto, ON M6J 1E4
(647) 352-5700
https://www.northofbrooklyn.com/

Pizza, pho and burgers are all such ubiquitous menu staples that it’s hard to justify picking one for a list — especially in a town with plenty of outstanding pizza: Pizzeria Libretto, Queen Margherita Pizza, Maker Pizza. We even have a flawless Neapolitan place down the street from our home, Via Mercanti. And yet, if I had to choose one pizzeria, it would be North of Brooklyn. Even with its stupid name (it sounds like someone Harvard bragging by saying they went to school “near” Boston), sesame crust and calling pizza “za” on Instagram, North of Brooklyn really does make the best pizza. The even coat of sauce, dispersal of toppings and a crust with perfect balance of crispy, fluffy and chewy makes it just a little more craveable than its competitors.

For the most up-to-date information, view North of Brooklyn Pizza’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


28 Country Style Hungarian

450 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M5S 1Y5
(416) 536-5966
http://countrystylehungarian.com/

An older clientele keeps this time capsule with its heaping portions and red-checkered tablecloths much as it must have looked and tasted when it opened in 1962. Forearm-sized cabbage rolls come surrounded by sauerkraut and sour cream. Pasta dough grated over boiling water to create squiggle shapes, is known as spaetzle in Germany, nokedli in Hungary and simply dumplings on the menu here. It arrives on a huge plate of fried chicken livers and onions. This holdout from another era (the owner owns the building as well) still has salt and pepper shakers on the table, plus a third shaker full of paprika.

For the most up-to-date information, view Country Style Hungarian’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


29 Electric Mud BBQ

5 Brock Ave.
Toronto, ON M6K 2K3
(416) 516-8286
http://electricmudbbq.com/

Son of Grand Electric is a rockin’ out barbecue hut, an ode to bourbon and rock, to smoke and fat. And being the scion of Grand Electric chef/co-owner Colin Tooke, it’s great. Do not skip the Clydesdale (bourbon with grapefruit, agave and lime). Or the crack rolls (well named) — warm dinner rolls with butter that sat under the smoker and got smoky sweet. Also eat the slightly smoky ribs topped with just enough hot sweet Thai sauce. And the crazy crisp fried chicken. And the smoked baked beans. And the sesame seed-topped coleslaw. And the fab custardy banana cream pie.

For the most up-to-date information, view Electric Mud BBQ’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


30 Rose and Sons Deli

176 Dupont St.
Toronto, ON M5R 2E6
(647) 748-3287
http://www.roseandsons.ca/

The former diner, which Anthony Rose and Robert Wilder used as the forward operating base for what is now an empire of restaurants running along Dupont (Big Crow, Schmaltz Appetizing, Fat Pasha, Bar Begonia, Madame Boeuf), has reached its final form. Seeing which side their bagels are buttered on, the pair now cater to a Jewish-leaning clientele with fluffy matzo balls plunked into chicken soup, hot pastrami sandwiches worthy of any deli, flaky knishes, delicious steamies, karnatzel and the worst coleslaw I’ve ever had in my life. I love this place but it wouldn’t be a deli if there weren’t something to complain about.

For the most up-to-date information, view Rose and Sons Deli’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


31 Emporium Latino

243 Augusta Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 2L8
(416) 351-9646

In Kensington Market, tourists line up for glitzy, Instagrammable food shops while the jewel of the neighbourhood remains hidden by the facade of a Latin American grocery store. But, past racks of corn chips and masa, beyond the fridge filled with queso fresco and chorizo and the freezer hiding aji Amarillo and aji rocoto, is a little kitchen pumping out the best brunch in Kensington. Enjoy pupusas, tamales, fried plantains with crema, chiles rellenos (roasted poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, battered and fried). This is not fast food. They will take 10 or 15 minutes to prepare your meal. So order at the cashier, hand your ticket to the kitchen and go grab a coffee nearby while you smugly outwit the tourists.

For the most up-to-date information, view Emporium Latino’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


32 Ozzy’s

661 Nassau St.
Toronto, ON M5T 1M2
(416) 862-7983
https://www.facebook.com/ozzysburgers/

Toronto used to have terrible burgers: overcooked hockey pucks on too-big, too-tough buns. But over the last decade, thanks to a renaissance led by the Burger’s Priest, you can now get good burgers all over town. Even in Kensington Market there are two more burger shops (the Burgernator, Top Gun Steak & Burger) within a block. But only at Ozzy’s can you get a burger of fresh ground beef smash-griddled to a crisp and placed on a squishy bun for $5. In a city where this commodity typically runs $8 to $10, I feel like I’m stealing from Ozzy.

For the most up-to-date information, view Ozzy’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


33 Ramen Isshin

421 College St.
Toronto, ON M5T 1T1
(416) 367-4013
https://www.ramenisshin.com/

It took a long time for Japanese ramen to become popular in Toronto. When it finally did, in 2012, the trend proliferated quickly, much of it mediocre. But since then, a few purveyors have risen above expectations, their broth a little more complex, their noodles a bit more springy. The long menu at Ramen Isshin has the classics, multiple vegetarian options (with vegan noodles available) and a penchant for experimentation — cold ramen with okra and kimchee, black sesame tan tan ramen, curry tsukemen. The standout Red Dragon ramen manages to surprise with a variety of flavours and textures — wok-fried pork bits and braised pork belly slices, peanuts, fermented chili paste, a blend of red and white miso and tonkotsu broth — while remaining sufficiently tethered to the concept of ramen to not seem gimmicky.

For the most up-to-date information, view Ramen Isshin’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


34 Juanmoto

60 Kensington Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 2K2
https://www.instagram.com/coldteabar

Cold Tea was nearly a self-parody staple of Kensington Market: a dingy bar with a semi-secret entrance and loud industry patio cookouts in the summer. The owners, having outgrown the legal headaches of the tailgate party atmosphere, have transformed the space into a slick restaurant with the requisite high chairs and neon lights. Partnering with restaurateur Leemo Han (Hanmoto, Pinky’s Ca Phe), the bar now serves up Han’s brand of elegantly delicious messes — brined, grilled and fried wings covered in tart green goop, variations on the sloppy joe and McChicken, ice cream sandwiches rolled in tiny, puffy rice balls. Regulars have no need to worry. Cold Tea hasn’t gotten too fancy for their summer Sunday barbecue series.

For the most up-to-date information, view Juanmoto’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


35 Aragvi

2006 Highway 7
Vaughan, ON L4K 1W6
(905) 597-5197
http://www.aragvi.com/

Aragvi is one of the only places in Toronto serving up true Georgian cuisine, and we can’t get enough. Tucked away in a strip mall behind an unassuming sign sits this small, yet mighty restaurant serving the most traditional Georgian cuisine outside of the small country.

For the most up-to-date information, view Aragvi’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


36 Lasa

634 St. Clair Ave. W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1A9
(647) 343-1110
http://www.lasabylamesa.com/

Lasa means taste or flavor and is the newest venture from Les Sabilano, who brought Filipino cuisine into the mainstream spotlight with his Queen West eatery, Lamesa. He has taken over the space that formerly housed his parents’ Filipino grocery and take-out joint, Kaibigan, at St. Clair West and Wychwood Avenue, an area with a sizeable population of Filipinos.

The décor was designed by Cheryl Torrenueva, whose work has appeared on HGTV and Food Network USA’s Restaurant Impossible. The restaurant’s aesthetic is very much DIY with kitschy elements such as random thrift shop knick-knacks like succulents on a plank of wood and other homey details. “I wanted it to be a casual but fresh take on Filipino décor,” says Torrenueva.

The 24-seater is an open, airy and inviting space with a lot of wood, “like the kind of stuff you would find washed up on shore in the Phillippines,” she explains.

For the most up-to-date information, view Lasa’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


37 Mustafa Turkish Pizza

866 Wilson Ave.
North York, ON M3K 1E6
(416) 631-0300

Yes, the interior is decorated with a fake rock wall and ceiling. It’s more reminiscent of the classic Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark” than an actual cave. But the main attraction is the pide (a.k.a. Turkish pizza), crisp-bottomed oval flatbreads presented with a variety of topping combinations: ground beef and onions, lamb and mozzarella, sausage and eggs, spinach and feta, pastrami. Also get an order of iskender, slow-cooked thinly sliced lamb, covered in tomato sauce and served with yogurt and thick wedges of bread. Although you won’t have room for dessert, the kitchen’s fresh sarma, kadayif and kunefe (all combinations of pistachio, butter, sugar and phyllo pastry) are outstanding.

For the most up-to-date information, view Mustafa Turkish Pizza’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


38 Gandhi Indian Cuisine

554 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5V 2B7
(416) 504-8155
http://gandhi-indian-cuisine.business.site/

Gandhi Indian Cuisine has made a name for itself as Toronto’s original northern Indian roti shop. Operating for 25 years and counting, its flavours and freshness have been getting people to come back time and time again.

For the most up-to-date information, view Gandhi Indian Cuisine’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


39 Pho Hung

350 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 2G4
(416) 593-4274
http://phohung.ca/

Pho Hung is better tasting than ever, plus the room is pretty nice for a pho parlour. One cannot go wrong on the encyclopedic pho menu; commonplace pho flavours like chicken and beef are competent, but they have some superb pho flights of fancy like item 15d: bun mang vit co dau phong, aka bamboo shoot soup with vermicelli and side of duck coleslaw with peanut. This is noodle soup with a big bowl of shredded duck with cabbage, and puree of ginger with chili, sesame and vinegar.

For the most up-to-date information, view Pho Hung’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


40 Schmaltz Appetizing

414 Dupont St.
Toronto, ON M5R 1V9
(647) 350-4261
https://www.schmaltzappetizing.com/

Appetizing shops are a dying breed. Not to be confused with the deli, an appetizing shop is a Jewish purveyor of all the things to eat with bagels. New York City used to be rife with them, but at this point Russ & Daughters, which has been around since 1914, is one of the only ones holding down the fort.

In Brooklyn, Shelsky’s is doing a stellar job at revitalizing the style (if you’re in the area, order the Brooklyn Transplant). Toronto isn’t exactly run over with them; to be specific, we’ve got pretty much one: Schmaltz Appetizing.

At Anthony Rose’s sliver of a shop, patrons can have their pick of smoked Acadian sturgeon, kippered salmon and gravlax. There are pickles, chopped egg, and enough cream cheese to keep your bagel happy.

For the most up-to-date information, view Schmaltz Appetizing’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


41 Origination Noodle

421 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, ON M5T 2W4
(416) 345-8729
http://www.originationtoronto.ca/

The signature dish,Yunnan rice noodles, arrives in a basket filled with fish, mushrooms (both fresh and rehydrated) a chicken leg, yuba, snow pea leaves and Spam. Then comes a steaming bowl of chicken broth (you can order it with coconut milk, spicy, with or without MSG) teeming with noodles. They combine it all together for a blowout lunch that does not need, but is wonderfully aided by, a garnish caddy, stuffed with jars of chopped peanuts, garlic, chilies (dried or fresh), scallions, pickled mustard greens, plus squeeze tubes of vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil.

For the most up-to-date information, view Origination Noodle’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


42 Folia Grill

1031 Pape Ave.
Toronto, ON M4K 3V9
(416) 424-2800
http://foliagrill.com

Right in the heart of the Pape village lies Folia Grill, a joint serving up classic Greek fast food. Trade in french fries for fried zucchini, greasy food for fare doused in olive oil from Tripoli and mayonnaise for tzatziki. Become one of Folia Grill’s many regulars — it’s not hard with its low prices — and feel the sunshine of Greece more often.

For the most up-to-date information, view Folia Grill’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


43 Love Chix

1588 Dupont St.
Toronto, ON M6P 3S6
(416) 546-0626
http://www.lovechix.ca/

Love Chix loves its customers and its chickens probably the same amount. Hailed as one of Toronto’s best chicken restaurants. Chef Paul Marshall’s menu has flavours reaching from all corners of the globe. Highlights include the fried chicken with honey hot sauce and the butter chicken poutine. There are plenty of sides bursting with flavour and other mains that are vegetarian-friendly or feature another meat besides chicken. But you should really get some chicken.

For the most up-to-date information, view Love Chix’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


44 Otto’s Bierhalle

1087 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M6J 1H3
(416) 901-5472
https://www.ottosbierhalle.com/

The couples on dates beside us seemed to be enjoying their meals of sausages and sandwiches — until ours showed up. As the server placed the choucroute platter before us, they looked dispirited, realizing they had ordered wrong. The fancified version of the German home cooking classic features dense bratwurst and light weisswurst, rounds of crispy pork belly, sauerkraut, potato salad, charred Brussels sprouts and pickled vegetables. There are several other platters in the $50 range, all definitely a meal for two.

For the most up-to-date information, view Otto’s Bierhalle’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


45 Sampaguita Village

322 Wilson Ave.
North York, ON M3H 1S8
(416) 630-2122
http://www.sampaguita.ca

Named after the national flower of the Philippines, this spot has a busy, convivial interior that feels more like a decades-old community hall than a restaurant. Despite the clubhouse atmosphere, the staff is welcoming and friendly with newcomers.

Every restaurant should copy one idea from SV’s playbook: two of their specialties, the pancit Sampaguita and fried chicken, are both available in a smaller size so that sampling a variety is less of a task. The former is a rich, satisfying, kitchen sink-style take on a stir-fried dish that includes both glass vermicelli and yellow Shanghai-style noodles plus a hodgepodge of shrimp, a trio of meats (chicken, pork and beef) and vegetables.

For the most up-to-date information, view Sampaguita Village’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


46 Gale’s Snack Bar

539 Eastern Ave.
Toronto, ON M4M 1C6

Gale’s Snack Bar has been a Leslieville staple for over 40 years. Step inside and feel the history with vintage posters decorating the walls, old school appliances still working just fine and brightly coloured, hand-painted menu boards. The cuisine is traditional diner fare, like the type you see in old movies: sardine sandwiches, roast beef slathered in gravy with peas and an especially delicious club sandwich. The food is no frills, a far cry from a high-end gourmet meal, but it is all part of the time-travel experience. Worth mentioning is the most expensive menu item costs a jaw-dropping $3. Gale and her team make everything with love and care deeply about the space and its clientele, practically untouched by gentrification.

For the most up-to-date information, view Gale’s Snack Bar’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


47 Harry’s Charbroiled

160 Springhurst Ave.
Toronto, ON M6K 1C2
(416) 532-2908
http://harryscharbroiled.com/

When Grant van Gameren, Nate Young and Robin Goodfellow took over Harry’s Charbroiled Dining Lounge in Parkdale, regulars of the original Harry’s were weary of the hipsterization of yet another beloved spot. Almost three years in, Harry’s has come into its own, but in a lot of ways, it’s still the same. No one item exceeds $20. The beer list, comprising Export, Labatt 50 and Canadian, is gloriously approachable, and the buns have been upgraded from classic Wonder Bread to Martin’s Potato Rolls. But between the buns are some gourmet shakeups courtesy of chef Nate Young: vegan options abound, and burgers get a boost from items like chorizo and pineapple.

For the most up-to-date information, view Harry’s Charbroiled’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


48 Torteria San Cosme

181 Baldwin St.
Toronto, ON M5T 1L9
(416) 599-2855
http://www.sancosme.ca/

Enter through the painted glass doors of Torteria San Cosme and it’s as if you’ve never left the street. Depending on the day, it’s warmer and drier, but the bustle of Kensington Market is sustained. The sunlight floods the +tongtong designed shop and the façade of the open kitchen is disguised as a large torta stand, straight off the avenues of Mexico City, or “D.F.” to the locals. A team of efficient sandwich assemblers works nonstop until their product is sold out.

Arturo Anhalt, chef and owner of Milagro restaurants, launched Torteria San Cosme almost on a whim — alongside his girlfriend and manager Katie Nicholson — when he caught a glimpse of a “for lease” sign one day while shopping at Sanagan’s. The idea, however, had been percolating for well over five years. “I think people are tired of tacos,” he says matter-of-factly. “Mexican food is way beyond the tacos!”

Tortas, Mexican sandwiches stuffed with a vast assortment of toppings inside soft, puffy telera bread, are a ubiquitous street food in many parts of Mexico. Ribera San Cosme, the shop’s namesake, is an avenue in Anhalt’s native Mexico City. A hub for street food, the Mercado San Cosme lies along this road, where Anhalt’s father would take him to explore the diverse culinary landscape when he was young. Of course, tortas were a frequent indulgence.

For the most up-to-date information, view Torteria San Cosme’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


49 When the Pig Came Home

3035 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, ON M6P 2S7
(647) 345-9001
http://www.whenthepigcamehome.ca

Kimberly Hannam and Ryan Getner started selling their peameal bacon sandwiches at farmer’s markets across Toronto over 4 years ago – Sorauren, Downsview, Annex and Leslieville, to name a few – but now the pork has come to rest, quite literally, at their first permanent location in the Junction, aptly named, When The Pig Came Home.

“Ryan has almost a sick obsession with BBQ”, Hannam says with a chuckle, on a stuffy day in late summer, sitting by the sunny front window of their Dundas West Shop. “The deck at our house has always been an arrangement of barbeques.”

For the most up-to-date information, view When the Pig Came Home Delicatessen’s listing in our new restaurant directory.


50 Soufi’s

676 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M6J 1E5
(647) 350-7737
http://www.soufis.ca

This breezy Syrian café, which also serves tea and espresso, is a bright, Wi-Fi-enabled space where the staff encourage guests to dawdle. Soufi’s keeps ordering simple with a brief menu featuring many variations but really only two dishes. The manaeesh are folded sandwiches on baked to order dough, packed with cumin and garlic spiced beef (sujuk), spinach with pomegranate molasses and walnuts, labneh with olives and mint, or another half dozen options. Even if you’re not in the mood for dessert, knaffeh are a must. The shredded phyllo dough, baked over soft cheese in a pool of orange blossom syrup and garnished with a crumble of pistachio, is sublime. It’s available in a vegan (cashew “cheese”) and banana caramel version as well.

For the most up-to-date information, view Soufi’s listing in our new restaurant directory.