Navigating the city’s hot restaurant scene can be a competitive and sometimes stressful process, marked by long line-ups and even longer wait times. The hunt for the perfect table, at the perfect restaurant can be made all the more difficult when first-come, first-served policies are thrown into the mix. So with that in mind, we put together a list of tricks for landing a table at hot restaurants where reservations aren’t a thing.
5. Famiglia Baldassarre
With over 27 traditional handmade styles, Famiglia Baldassarre primarily produces pasta for some of Toronto’s top restaurants. But from Tuesday to Friday, from noon to 2 p.m., Famiglia offers a dine-in menu. Wait times typically average about 30 minutes, but on Tuesday’s you can often snag a seat right away. 122 Geary Ave.
What do you get when you combine a lively ambiance, affordable prices and quality pasta dishes? You get Sugo, Bloordale Village’s much-loved Italian restaurant; but you also get constant line-ups out the door. With a menu that includes overflowing bowls of spaghetti, fist-sized meatballs and layered deli sandwiches, the restaurant’s long wait is just a chance to work up the serious appetite you’ll need for your meal. The wait system is low-tech, with servers scribbling names on a notepad. Arrive early, put your name down and enjoy the hustle-and-bustle. 1281 Bloor St. W.
3. Bar Vendetta
Jen Agg’s new pasta and wine bar concept quietly launched in the former Black Hoof space in mid-September. Bar Vendetta is only open from Sunday to Thursday, and tables are “first-come, first-served.” Fortunately, Bar Vendetta’s low-key launch means minimal line-ups currently, but expect that to change. 928 Dundas St W.
It’s easy-to-miss Leemo Han’s Japanese-American restaurant Hanmoto, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy seat to snag. Rarely will you have a problem getting a walk-in-only spot on weeknights, but if you’re fiending those izakaya-style vibes on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll likely need to wait in line if you arrive after 7 p.m. 2 Lakeview Ave.
1. Bar Raval
Grant van Gameren’s atmospheric tapas bar is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach, known for its dramatic, Gaudi-esque curving architecture. Head to Bar Raval for stellar Spanish small plates paired with a great list of wines and cocktails. Get there as early as you can and be prepared to walk up College and grab a drink somewhere while you wait. It’s often standing-room only inside, so it’s best to embrace the bustling vibes rather than hoping for that perfect table. 505 College St.