Traveling to Toronto? Whether it's for business or pleasure, plan ahead and make a reservation at one of these top restaurants in Ontario's largest city.
Toronto is becoming known as a destination for foodies, with top-rated restaurants offering a range of farm-to-table and international cuisine, along with selections from nearby Ontario wineries. With an ever-evolving dining scene, it can be difficult to narrow down where to eat in Toronto, so we’ve put together the top places to get a great meal close to downtown’s business hotels and the Financial District. Reservations are recommended for these popular, upscale restaurants in Ontario’s largest city.
1. Bar Isabel
797 College St.
Bar Isabel serves up Spanish tapas and Mediterranean meat and seafood in a warm, bistro atmosphere reminiscent of Madrid or Marseilles. Dishes elegantly served on colorful hand-painted plates enhance the European vibe. Try the whole grilled octopus, which is fanned out like a star. This is also the kind of place where you can skip the entrees and make a meal out of two or three appetizers. Bar Isabel is open late just like tapas bars in Spain.
2. Maple Leaf Tavern
955 Gerrard St. East
Maple Leaf Tavern is housed in a historic building in the trendy Leslieville section and shines with old-fashioned woodwork and brass fixtures. The wood-fired grill prepares steaks, chops, and seafood, including a hearty 24-ounce pork chop shaped like a tomahawk and a slab of Albacore tuna almost as large. Eat at the bar and get free pickled eggs and one of the top-rated burgers in town.
3. Nota Bene
180 Queen St. West
Named the best new restaurant in Toronto by Air Canada’s EnRoute magazine when it opened in 2008, chef-owner David Lee continues to win awards for an Asian-inspired menu that includes sashimi plates and Wagyu beef. A selection of grilled vegetable choices and an ample cheese plate filled with local selections make this a good option if your group includes a vegetarian or vegan diner.
Note Bene is open for lunch and dinner daily except Sunday, with a special pre-theater menu on evenings when there is a performance at the Four Seasons Theatre a block away.
317 Dundas St. West
This elegant eatery is named for architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Art Gallery of Ontario (Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario) in which the restaurant is housed. There is a prix fixe three-course menu or dinner with grilled trout as the main course, also on the a la carte menu. Or, just opt for a glass of Canada’s famous Icewine and a dessert like blueberry polenta cake, and rest your feet and your eyes after touring the museum.
66 Wellington St. West
Perched atop the TD Bank Tower building, memorable views from the 54th floor are matched by a creative menu featuring Canadian foods, from coastal oysters with Ontario sake mignonette to a risotto made with Canadian barley, not traditional rice. Canoe has been top-rated by the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. There are private dining rooms for small groups as well as event space for up to 250 guests. Canoe is open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and weekends for private events.
6. Steam Whistle Brewing
255 Bremner Blvd
Although not a restaurant, Steam Whistle Brewing is a great place to spend happy hour sipping their signature pilsner. Steam Whistle is noted in Toronto for its location and its collection of vintage vehicles, some of which are used as delivery trucks. It’s housed in Toronto’s historic red-brick Roundhouse, where railroad locomotives were turned around for their return trips, and the circular tracks are still visible. It’s a popular after-work destination, and it draws visitors with its collection of vintage cars and trucks from the 1940s to 1970s, one of which has been retrofitted as an electric car running on clean hydropower. Steam Whistle Brewing includes an art gallery featuring local talent and brewery tours.
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