Toronto, the gorgeous capital city of the province of Ontario, is a diverse ( half of the population was born outside of Canada) and bustling metropolis with loads of entertainment, outdoor fun, and dining options. Easily accessible from Chicago and New York City, Toronto — which is also surprisingly a very green city given its 2.8 million residents — doles out gems like the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, CN Tower (where you can walk around the top, 116 alfresco-stories up with EdgeWalk), Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto Botanical Garden (they have a lovely outdoor Yoga class), and activities all along the Don River, The Humber River, and Lake Ontario. (Toronto Bicycle Tours, for example, offers great guided electric bike tours along the Don River Valley). And, of course, Toronto is a leading city in the way of epicurean adventures, and not everything is infused with maple syrup and covered with bacon like one might assume.
Take the 501 “Red Rocket” old-fashioned streetcar along Queen Street through one of T-town’s notable neighborhoods — Leslieville, Riverside, Queen West, Parkdale, or Roncesvalles — or stroll the streets of bohemian Kensington Market and you surely won’t go hungry. Also, check out the authentic global cuisine in Little Italy, Little Portugal, Greektown, Chinatown, Korea Town, or Little India.
Since there are way more fabulous restaurants than I can possibly put into one article, here are the ones I’ve personally tried, and loved, while visiting Toronto:
The Good Son, a trendy restaurant with loads of mustachioed and tattooed eye-candy in the Queen West neighborhood, offers menu options that reflect Toronto’s fun-loving residents. Here you’ll find favorites such as wood oven pizzas, oysters, cheese boards with seasonal jams, halibut with red quinoa and a miso reduction, ceviche, and house-made gelato.
Culinary Adventure Co. offers foodies and adventurers something truly different: a lavish picnic on Toronto Island that guests don’t have to set up or take down. Guests can cruise on the ferry or paddle over on a heritage freighter canoe and then enjoy a walk on the island (or a jaunt to Hanlan’s Point, Toronto’s clothing-optional beach) while the Culinary Adventure team sets up a dining spot. This alfresco meal, set in one of Toronto’s most beautiful locations, will be unforgettable — I promise.
Super handsome executive Chef and co-owner Carl Heinrich has hit a homerun with Richmond Station, Toronto’s hot downtown farm-to-table eatery and the site of Top Chef Canada’s dinner series (Chef Heinrich won first place in season two). Diners will feel like they are enjoying a world-class meal while hanging out in the subway — the whole place, inside and out, has an underpass theme: subway tiles lining the walls, long rows of tables and communal dining, a large circular window in front, old black-and-white photographs, and a subway sign hanging outside. Meat fanatics will love it here thanks to the rabbit, burgers, pork meatballs, beef Carpaccio, skate wing, Cornish hen, and lobster capellini that dot the menu.
T-Bar at the Chelsea Hotel Toronto, a family-friendly (they even have a colorful kids check-in area so little ones can pick out a toy), centrally located downtown property, offers an excellent traditional breakfast, made-from-scratch Indian curry at a traditional lunch buffet, and knock-your-socks off specialty cocktails for the pre-dinner crew.
If you’re looking for a stunning interior (think exposed red brick, gentle lighting, reclaimed wood, and a monochromatic palette), mouth-watering fare, and a local neighborhood texture, then Globe Bistro is your sweet spot. Here you can indulge in a four-, five-, or six-course tasting menu with wine pairings, or order à la carte options like the Fogo Island Cod & Snow Crab, Vegetable Garden, or the Elk Loin. If you’re lucky to be here for lunch, order a fresh juice and a cappuccino — magnifique!