Where to Eat in Toronto: For All Budgets

Where to Eat in Toronto: For All Budgets

Have you ever struggled with figuring out where to eat in Toronto?

I mean, we all have really. The city is gigantic and absolutely filled with restaurants.

It’s such a big issue that there are blogs dedicated to Toronto food alone!

Well, this blog isn’t a Toronto food blog, but this post will help you figure out where to eat in Toronto.

 

where to eat in toronto
Photo from Unsplash

If you’ve ever looked at the “Toronto Top 10 Restaurants” or “Bes Places to Eat in Toronto” lists on Google, you’ll notice that they focus on expensive places.

But not all of us can afford to eat there.

When I travel, I certainly don’t go to the fanciest place in the city. And if I do, it’s not for every meal.

So my guide to Toronto restaurants is going to be a bit different.

I won’t just be focussing on the fanciest, more innovative restaurants in the city. And I also won’t just be sharing the cheapest eats in Toronto.

Instead, I’m combining the two (and adding in some mid-level options), to help everyone find the best places to eat in Toronto.

Because good food isn’t always expensive. And people have varied budgets.

So no matter if you’re a backpacker on a tight budget, a business traveller with a corporate card, or someone in between, this guide on where to eat in Toronto will help you find delicious food in the city.


 

Expensive Toronto Restaurants ($$$)

Ki

 

Ki is my go-to fancy dinner spot in Toronto. The food is incredible, and it’s conveniently located by Union Station.

Ki is a Japanese restaurant in Downtown Toronto with an extensive menu. It’s a popular spot for business people after work, so book ahead on Thursdays and Fridays to ensure you get a spot.

When I visit, I tell them roughly how hungry I am and let them choose my dishes for me. I’ve never been disappointed with their choices!

While the dishes aren’t crazy expensive on their own, it does add up.

My favourite dish is the Miso Black Cod. It’s to die for!

 

Azarias

 
Azarias is a local joint for my family, right on Bloor Street in Etobicoke. Etobicoke isn’t a typical area for “where to eat in Toronto” lists, but it’s easy to get to and the food is great.

Get off a Royal York Station and head West to find this lovely restaurant. It only opened a few years ago, but it’s quickly become a family favourite. My dad and sister go so often that the staff know them by name!

Azarias serves small, tapas sized portions. Their traditional menu includes a list of their top 10 most popular dishes to help you choose. But they also have incredible specials. Ask to hear them before you finalize your choices or you’ll end up ordering double!

Back when I used to drink, I also loved their cocktail list. Their red sangria was my go to.

I highly recommend the Spicy Shrimp Tacos and the Lobster Gnocchi. A surprising side is the Cauliflower Leek Mash – I’ve never managed to make one as creamy and delicious as theirs!

 

La Banane

where to eat in toronto

where to eat in toronto

My mom took me to La Banane on a birthday trip, where we played tourists in our own city for a few days. I’ve only been once but I was blown away!

It’s easiest to get there in a cab, as it’s not directly on a subway line and Dundas West is not known for it’s parking. If you’re going to take the subway, the nearest stop is Ossington.

The restaurant is small with a lovely French bistro feel. Although it’s not a big place, it’s always bustling.

La Banane gained fame for their Ziggy Stardust Egg dessert. Oh my god you must try it! It’s a giant chocolate egg that, when you crack into it, is full of chocolate truffles, milk sponge and dried fruit.

It’s so rich that we had to take the rest home and ate it over the course of three days.

(Admittedly, we never ate the fruit.)

While you’re there, try the seafood towers.

The only time I’d ever seen one before was in Chicago when some mobster-looking business men were devouring one per person. La Banane doesn’t have that mobster vibe, but you definitely feel elite picking through your own fresh seafood tower.

 

Rodney’s Oyster House

Rodney’s is my sister’s favourite spot in Toronto. She goes so often I’m honestly worried she may get mercury poisoning from the amount of oysters she’s eating.

But I can’t blame her.

Their food is delicious!

Rodney’s is located in King West, a truly amazing area for vintage shopping, cool restaurants and interesting furniture. The nearest station is Osgoode, but you’ll need to walk or take a streetcar to get closer to the restaurant.

If you drive, there’s underground public parking across the street.

Grab a seat at the bar to see the oyster shuckers at work. Select your own from their daily catches (spanning from East to West Coast). Try out the myriad of homemade sauces, from vinaigrette to seafood sauce to hot sauce.

I’ve never made it to the hottest one.

Don’t forget to get an actual meal!

Rodney’s Clam Chowder is out of this world. A cup is all you need before you’re rolling yourself home. (And really, isn’t that what we’re all looking for when we’re trying to figure out where to eat in Toronto?)

But my favourite is their Lobster Roll. I fell in love with lobster rolls while living in the Maritimes, and they’re a must try food in Canada. So why not have the best lobster roll I’ve ever found in Toronto?

It comes heaped with fresh lobster, bacon, and greens on a brioche bun. The side of homemade onion rings never gets more than a bite – I’ve never learned not to over order there.

Want even more decadence? Get it all to go and enjoy your oysters and fresh seafood at home! (I can’t think of anything fancier than oysters in bed … although it also sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.)

My sister wouldn’t let me post this without shouting out their Iced Tea. It’s freshly made in house and tastes like proper Southern iced tea. I don’t drink caffeine, but this iced tea makes me wish I did.

 

Farmhouse Tavern

Farmhouse Tavern is a small restaurant that serves farm-to-table Canadian food. The menu is constantly changing and you need a reservation to get in.

I’ve never managed to go (partially because of time and partially because I’m way too Type A to not know the menu before I get there), but my mom has raved about their food for years.

Don’t be put off by that though. Farmhouse has gained quite a name for themselves with their amazing food. They’ve been featured in a number of publications, like BBC News. And you can find them on most top lists of where to eat in Toronto.

Farmhouse Tavern is located in the Junction. Get off at Dundas West Station and bus north to the restaurant, or hop in a cab.

If you’re looking for a fancy brunch spot, Farmhouse now also does brunch on weekends. The pictures of their Eggs Benedict always make me drool.

 

Canoe

Canoe is another big name in Downtown Toronto, located near Union Station. It’s a place executives take guests to wine and dine them. Or where my mom takes friends so she has an excuse to eat there.

Canoe may actually be the best known fancy spot in Toronto. Everyone I know mentions them when I’ve asked where to eat in Toronto (although many have never been).

The menu is incredible. You’ll find classic Canadian dishes, like Atlantic Scallops or Wild Salmon, alongside Bison Tartare and Canadian Elk Loin. If you want to eat your way through Canada’s animal population, this is the place to do it.

Canoe does have vegetarian options, like Wild Mushroom Soup. But honestly this isn’t the place for a vegetarian meal.

If you really want to empty your wallet, go for their tasting menu. At $120 CAD per person (with a $60 wine pairing option), it’s sure to amaze your palette and max out some credit cards (… unless you’re more of an adult than I am, and have actual money to your name).

 

Mid-Level Toronto Restaurants ($$)

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen

where to eat in toronto

Chubby’s is one of my favourite spots to eat in Toronto. Admittedly, I’ve only been once. But that’s mostly because I no longer live in the country.

Chubby’s is an Instagram Foodie’s paradise. The Jamaican theme mixed combines island vibes with Insta-perfect meals.

For the rest of us, it’s just got damn good food.

Chubby’s is open for Brunch, Lunch and Dinner. It’s a hit with the younger-business people downtown, so it fills up quickly. It’s a short walk from St. Andrew’s Station in the Fashion District.

Be sure to get the Jerk Chicken! It’s what they’re famous for. But the Jerk Chips and Jerk Wings also steal the show.

Chubby’s is the perfect stop for a girl’s lunch, a cute date or an amazing solo meal. The mellow music and cheery waiter’s brighten even the coldest Toronto day.

 

Mad Mexican

Mad Mexican makes some of the best guacamole I’ve had in Canada. Seriously, I once went through a container and a half in an afternoon!

Mad Mexican is a great spot north of Bloor West Village. Get off at Jane Station and bus north to find delicious tacos, burritos, fajitas and more!

I seriously love this place. My dad and sister go constantly (they eat out A LOT).

The Fried Fish Tacos and Mexican Street Corn are my go tos. My sister always gets the Fajita Burrito.

But honestly the best part is the guac and chips. Living in the UK, where Mexican food is an atrocity (seriously, who sells guac in squeezy bottles??), I am constantly craving Mad Mexican’s fare.

 

Amber

I grew up in the Ukrainian area of Toronto, which fostered an intense love of all things pirogi.

Without a doubt, Amber is the best spot for homemade pirogies in Toronto.

It’s a hole in the wall eatery that’s incredibly narrow. Most patrons are upwards of 70. There’s often music competing with the TV.

But their food is pure comfort.

Their Borscht and the Cheese Pirogies are the stuff of this Eastern European girl’s dreams! They’re the best winter food in Toronto, and regardless of my lactose intolerance, my go to comfort food.

 

Indie Alehouse Brew Pub

The Indie Alehouse actually got me into yoga. Weird right? Well my mom and I started a beginner’s yoga seminar to justify trying out the Indie Alehouse nearby (the Indie Alehouse and an ice cream parlour).

I no longer drink, do yoga all the time, am lactose intolerant BUT I still think this place is awesome.

The Alehouse is close to Farmhouse Tavern on Dundas West. Get off at Keele Station and go North to Dundas to find this great lesser known restaurant.

Their menu is classic pub food: fried chicken, burgers, pizza, and fries. They have an impressive selection of craft brews that three years ago I would have happily bankrupted myself taste testing.

The main reason we visited was for the popcorn. What? We’re a popcorn family!

You can order a starter of popcorn, topped with either black truffle, cheddar and garlic butter, or bacon and parmesan.

What’s better than yoga and popcorn??

 

Gojima

I’m a sushi addict. There I said it!

It’s basically all I ate in New Zealand. But my addiction started much earlier: with Gojima.

Gojima is a sushi restaurant near Islington Station. It’s the best fish I’ve had in Toronto. The sushi is simple, but so fresh even the dishes in Singapore couldn’t compare.

Their menu is American-ized, with California Rolls and the like. But they do it so well that it’s hard to care!

The place usually isn’t busy, as a lot of people get takeaway.

I highly recommend the Spicy Salmon Roll (my personal favourite). And who can get sushi without tempura? There’s is always freshly made (which usually means I burn my mouth in my excitement to eat it).

 

SOMA Chocolatier

SOMA has some of the best chocolate in Toronto.

They have two locations: one in the Distillery District and one in King West.

The Distillery District is my favourite of the two, since it’s larger. And that means more chocolate!

Pop in for some fresh hot chocolate (that’s honestly just liquid chocolate), homemade truffles, or some sweet souvenirs for your loved ones.

 

Affordable Toronto Restaurants ($)

Smokes Poutinerie

Poutine is a classic Canadian eat. While there are lots of places that do it, the best has to be Smokes Poutinerie.

I all but lived on Smokes during my undergrad. They offer a variety of toppings to spice things up. The Pulled Pork Poutine is always a great option, especially after a night out.

They make such good poutine that it’s literally all they sell! It’s best taken to go (since the restaurants usually blare music and most eaters are hungover).

The heat of the box makes a great hand warmer on your walk home.

You can find Smokes throughout the city (hell, throughout the country!). They even have a stand at the Toronto Zoo now.

 

Sunset Grill

Sunset Grill is a lesser-known Canadian chain. It’s a classic greasy spoon that makes amazing breakfasts.

To be honest, in the million times I’ve been I’ve never even considered ordering lunch (even when I’ve gone at 4pm).

There are healthy options, but the true stars are the unhealthy. Sunset makes amazing waffles that are light and fluffy, but covered in whipped cream. And their omelettes are bigger than my face!

 

The Works

The Works is a great burger chain in Toronto. I love them for their customization options.

You can build your own burger, or choose from their extensive menu of preset toppings.

As a veggie burger lover, this is the dream! I don’t have to get a healthy burger; I can finally get a good, dirty burger that just happens to have a veggie patty.

My order is a Three Ring Binder topping and a side of Sweet Potato Fries. Usually, I end up with the other half of the meal for dinner.

If you think you can handle even more food, grab a milkshake. The Works makes thick, old school milkshakes that feel like you’re drinking melted ice cream.

(Is it possible to get lactose intolerance from a post? Cause I feel like I’m on the verge right now!)

 

Carousel Bakery

Carousel Bakery is a must have for any Toronto visitor. It’s the best spot in the city for a Peameal Bacon Sandwich.

These sandwiches are so good that I would sneak eat them when I was a vegetarian.

Carousel makes their own buns and perfectly sears the peameal. The sandwich is simple, with just two ingredients and optional condiments. I recommend topping it with mustard or honey (or both!).

You’ll have one and quickly want more. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), they’re located in the St. Lawrence Market, amongst dozens of other amazing vendors so you’ll want to try too many other things to fill up on peameal.

 

Magoos

Magoos makes my favourite veggie patty in Toronto.

It tastes absolutely nothing like vegetables.

And that’s exactly how I like it!

Magoos has a 50s diner feel. It’s located on Dundas, north of Royal York. It’s a hard one to get to on public transport and is best done by car.

Pop in for a burger that you can build yourself, the crunchiest onion rings, steaming hot chili cheese fries, or an old fashioned soda.

 

Rol San Restaurant

where to eat in toronto

Rol San is a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown that I learned about on a food tour.

Toronto’s Chinatown has some incredible restaurants, but it can be very hard to figure out which one to go to.

Well, if you’re looking for great dim sum, I can tell you where to go.

Rol San is a traditional dim sum restaurant, with lazy susan tables and ongoing green tea.

It fills up on weekends, so be prepared to wait for a table.

Order your meal from selections on a handout then sit back and watch them quickly pile up in front of you.

I’m a big fan of their dumplings (especially the Har Gow). Grab some BBQ Pork Buns and their fried dough dessert.

Soon you’ll be rolling yourself home!

 

SanRemo Bakery

SanRemo makes the best desserts.

I’ve been going for years and only ever getting their homemade Cannolis. It was only at Christmas that I tried their deli and realized how incredible their savoury selections are.

(And later, when I’d eaten 6 small cakes, that I realized their other desserts may even outdo their Cannolis.)

SanRemo fills up quickly. You’ll be elbowing for spots at the lunch rush, so consider taking your haul to go.

Pack up cartons with little cakes, fresh pies, and chocolate tarts. Grab loaves of fresh bread and some sliced meat to make your own sandwiches, or order some of their pre-made selections.

My sister swears by their Veal Parmigiana Sandwich, but I prefer the Turkey on Focaccia.

(And seriously, try their Cannolis. They’re so good!)

 

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky

where to eat in toronto

If SanRemo is the best all-around spot for dessert, Wanda’s is the best place for pie. I mean, it’s right there in the name!

I visited on a food tour, and went back the next day to bring home a literal stack of pies. (It got me some weird looks on the bus.)

They also serve savoury food, but I’ve never even glanced at it. The pies take precedence!

Wanda’s changes out their pies based on the season. I’ve tried their Cherry, Lemon Meringue and Key Lime. Honestly, I’m not a fan of cherry pies but their’s is pretty delicious.

But the best is the Key Lime.

Do yourself a favour and order a selection of slices to do your own taste test!

 

 
where to eat in toronto

After writing all that, I’m realizing I’ve just given you a new problem: you now have to decide where to eat out in Toronto of all of these amazing options!

Unfortunately, I can’t help you with that (other than to suggest you extend your visit so you can try them all).

Toronto’s food scene offers so many great options for visitors. Growing up there, I was literally spoiled for choice.

I had no idea how good I had it until I started moving to new cities and learning the drawbacks of different places. (New Zealand and the UK can’t do Mexican food to save their lives. 600 person towns in Italy will only even have Italian restaurants. Some places don’t have pirogies, like at all!)

Writing about where to eat in Toronto reminds me of the selection, the variety and the quality of the food where I grew up.

It’s also made me absolutely ravenous.

BRB while I book tickets to Toronto to eat my way through this list!

(And sadly eat grocery-store guac and chips over my uni notes until then.)

 

 

 

What are some of your favourite restaurants from your hometown?

 

 



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