With over 7000 restaurants in the city, some of the top Toronto restaurants offer an abundance of dining choices and tastes from around the world. Toronto is a hot spot for some of the best dining in North America. Food critics flock the city to rate the latest of “What’s Hot” and “What’s Not.”
Ratings are based on the quality of food, service and atmosphere. Prices are based on one person dining (appetizer, entrée, dessert, alcoholic beverage) including tax and tip.
Scale of 1 – 10
- Good: 1 – 3
- Very Good: 4 – 6
- Excellent: 7 – 8
- Outstanding: 9
- Flawless: 10
Top 5 Toronto Restaurants by Category
The following list is a short guide to the top 5 Toronto restaurants I have frequented over the years who I have found to provide above average to exceptional food, service and atmosphere. By category, they include:
66 Wellington St. W. (at Bay), 416-364-0054
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, well dressed business diners rush in ready to make deals over lunch. As evening arrives, the business rush is over but is quickly filled with the general public. The prized tables along the window provide breath taking views of the city. The menu features Canada’s best ingredients and is focused around regional Canadian cuisine. Executive Chef Anthony Walsh and his kitchen brigade execute each dish with finesse. Besides the stunning views, don’t forget to take a look at the restaurant’s open concept kitchen to have a glimpse of the pros at work. Appetizers include Canoe’s popular raw bar selection for $72 which features a variety of fresh seafood to share. Mains, one must try the Bison Striploin served with mushrooms and a peppercorn sauce. This thick cut and lean meat is full of flavor and should be ordered medium rare. For dessert, the warm, mini “timbit like” donuts served with warm chocolate dipping sauce are to die for – sugary and light. Service is professional but friendly. Food is explained in detail by ingredients used, method of preparation and service style. Waiters are attentive but not distracting and timing has been perfected. If you are true foodies and have high standards, Canoe is the place you can count on. Make sure to call ahead at least one week in advance if you like a table next to the window. Rating: 10 (flawless), Price: $95-$115.
860 The Queensway (at Islington), 416-252-2166
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Perhaps, the finest sushi in the city, sushi master Mitsuhiro Kaji continues to capture the attention of food critics for his masterful creations. Food critic, James Chatto wrote, “I believe his sushi and sashimi is the best in Canada.” Indeed, Sushi Kaji offers the freshest selection of fish. Kaji directly orders all his fish from Tokyo bay and only serves fish the same day he has purchased it. Leftover fish is never used the next day. Kaji doesn’t joke about freshness. Don’t’ be surprised to see the shrimp still jumping on your plate. Even soy sauce is made from scratch with dried bonito. Unlike most Japanese restaurants, Sushi Kaji only serves “omakase” meaning chef’s choice. Options are offered at $80, $100 and $120. For the perfect complement, try one of the fine imported sakes. Service is friendly and polite although the all Japanese staff shows signs of shyness. Kaji has also been known to keep quiet during service. So if you are sitting along the sushi bar, don’t expect a conversation. Rating: 9 (outstanding), Price: $115-170 based on “omakase” menu.
STEAK & SEAFOOD
Zorro’s Steak and Seafood House
7171 Torbram Road (at Derry), 905-671-1149
Since opening in 1975, Zorro’s has served affordably priced top quality steaks and seafood. Peeking through the doorway, patrons may feel intimidated by its “châteaux like” interior and tuxedo clad waiters, but not to worry, the restaurant accepts all patrons with its casual dress code. The menu features your typical steak and seafood house; a variety of steaks and seafood at market price. The shrimp cocktail appetizer at $22.95 may be pricey, but well worth it. The colossal size shrimp are chilled at the right temperature and is succulent and sweet. Favorite mains include Zorro’s USDA prime rib cut, a thick 30oz bone-in served au jus for $38.95. Warning: If you order this, there is a good chance you won’t finish, but its makes an excellent snack the very next day. A smaller version is offered at $34.95. All mains come with your choice of rice or fries and a salad. If you have never experienced table side cooking, I recommend ordering the Caesar salad, $8.50 which is made in front of you. If you have room at the end, the homemade cherry cheesecake is highly recommended. You may even want to bring one home for later. Service is impeccable as compared to fine dining restaurants in Europe. Waiters and waiter assistants work side by side ready and attentive. This is a dining experience you cannot miss. Rating: 9 (outstanding), Price: $75-$100.
Jacques Bistro du Parc
126A Cumberland St. (at Avenue Rd.), 416-961-1893
Tucked away upstairs above a lingerie boutique store in Yorkville is this cozy petit restaurant. Jacques Bistro du Parc has continuously provided top quality food and service over the last 10 years I have been there. Chef and owner Edith Piaf and his staff of bilingual waiters are like family and have stuck together since opening. The menu is simple that features fluffy omelettes, mussels cooked in an aromatic broth and French onion soup topped with gooey gruyère cheese which just may be the best in the city. For mains, the steak & frites is always a safe choice, but those wishing to be a bit more adventurous should try the perfectly cooked sweetbreads served with sautéed mushrooms and apples. For a classic French dessert, you must have the tarte tatin which is preordered in the beginning as it is made to order. Wines are affordable with focus on France. Service may be lacking at times when the tables are full but in most occasions it can be excellent to near flawless. How many restaurants can actually remember your favorite appetizer after having not dined there for two years? Impressive! Rating: 8 (excellent), Price: $65 – $75.
418 Dundas St. W. (at Spadina), 416-977-3909
Set in the heart of Toronto’s busy Chinatown, Asian Legend is not your typical Chinese restaurant. Once a popular spot just for its traditional Northern Chinese cuisine has now turned into an attraction for its newly modern designed space. Split into two floors, the upstairs is the main dining area, a clean all white faux leather banquettes with dark brown trimmed wood while the downstairs is a private dining area that can accommodate meetings or other functions. The menu is extensive and offers something for everyone. A must have is the restaurant specialty, its famous steamed soup dumpling filled with pork ($5.50). Sometimes referred to as “dragon dumplings” in China, these dumplings are piping hot. Be careful not to burn yourself. Another highly recommended dish is the chunky beef noodle soup, a rich flavorful broth with super tender beef. A personal favorite of mine is the minced meat with noodles in Peking duck sauce, a slightly salty and sweet blend of ingredients served with julienned cucumbers that cut the saltiness and sweetness – a truly satisfying meal. Overall, Asian Legend serves excellent Chinese food. Service still needs improvement, so don’t expect five-star service. Rating: 6 (very good), Price: $15-$20.
Need more info?
A list of the top Toronto restaurants can be further searched on Toronto.com, Martiniboys.com and Torontolife.com.
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