Toronto’s best dishes are about having local foodie experiences. Sink your teeth into some of Toronto’s best eats with this guide. From off-menu items to iconic meals, here are some dishes that locals love.
You don’t often hear a salad being called a head turner, but the Singaporean-Style Slaw, one of Chef Susur Lee’s signature dishes, is Instagram-worthy. This 19-ingredient salad with salted plum dressing and peanuts (among other things) is available exclusively at Lee Restaurant. To add more drama, this dish gets tossed with flair at your table.
The chocolate chip cookies at Le Gourmand are insanely good. When served warm, they are the stuff that cookie dreams are made of—soft, buttery, chewy and filled with melting chocolate chips. Once you’ve had a bite you’ll fall in love, and no other cookie will ever do again. Eat them at your peril, but for the love of cookies, do eat them!
In a city that is devoted to brunch on the weekends, this standout stack of pancakes is one of the most coveted menu items. On Saturdays and Sundays the lines for a table at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Liberty Village’s go-to brunch spot, are long. But, the fluffy pancakes bursting with blueberries are worth it. During the week things are a little quieter, and your chances of scoring pancakes until lunch without the lineup are much higher. While Mrs Biederhof is an enigma, her pancakes are iconic in Toronto.
Take a walk up Kensington Avenue, and you’ll see a painted cat with the skeleton of a fish locked between its jaws on the door of a small taqueria that’s nearly always full of people hankering after some of the best tacos in town. Seven Live’s Baja fish taco is dynamite and well worth a little wait; service is super efficient here. You’ll get a big juicy crispy piece of deep-fried fish in not one, but two tortillas with pico de gallo, Baja sauce and crunchy cabbage. This eatery has a little seating inside, or you can perch yourself on the bench in front of the store, or enjoy your taco while strolling around Kensington Market.
The most popular food item from Taipei Shi-Lin Night Market is available in Toronto. For the ultimate fried chicken experience, head to this popular no-frills Taiwanese joint. Hot-Star serves huge pieces of delicious crunchy fried chicken made to order. Their large original chicken comes served in a bag. Have it plain or season the tender, juicy slabs with spices, salt and pepper or seaweed.
Summer’s has been a long-time option in Toronto for some of the most delicious homemade ice cream. Each batch of ice cream is made daily in small quantities, so it’s super fresh. Their hours vary throughout the year. In the summer, it’s not rare to see locals slurping an ice cream cone past midnight while sitting on steps, benches and other makeshift seating outside this little shop in Yorkville.
Peameal bacon was invented in Toronto by William Davies. After moving to Canada from the UK in 1854, Davies needed to preserve pork at his processing plant and began to cure it by rolling it in crushed yellow peas. Peameal bacon sandwiches have been called Toronto’s signature dish by Mayor John Tory. Ask anyone in Toronto where to get the best peameal bacon sandwich, and they will tell you to go to Carousel Bakery at St. Lawrence Market. Their simple ensemble of meat and mustard on a kaiser bun has been given the stamp of approval by celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Anthony Bourdain.
The long-fermented sourdough at Forno Cultura is incredible and a must-try for bread lovers. Each freshly-baked loaf is soft, nutty, tangy, and comes with a crispy crust that cuts beautifully. The third-generation bakers here use natural ingredients and organic flours. Prepare to be tempted by the dozens of baked desserts on display.
Thai Islamic noodles are one of Salad King’s favourite off-menu items. While the dish was never really a secret, the restaurant also didn’t advertise it, so it became one of those things that only those in the know would order. It’s safe to say the word is now out! However, there are plenty of people who have yet to discover these aromatic, zesty, thick rice noodles tossed with coconut milk in Panang curry, veggies and a choice of shrimp, beef or chicken.
Drupati’s have been serving Trinidadian cuisine for over 20 Years. They quickly became a household name. Their spicy chickpea stew served between two quick fried rounds of bread were the only thing on the menu when they first opened, and are still a favourite, but they’ve added more dishes since then.
King Slice is an essential late-night eat along Queen Street. On the weekends you’ll see crowds past 2 am queuing up for pizza from this hole-in-a-wall in one of Toronto’s most happening neighborhoods. Order a slice, slather it with their garlicky, buttery oil, add red chili pepper flakes for good measure, and prepare to savor every last bite.
Plenty of Toronto’s food bucket lists will tout hot spots for pho and ramen, but very few talk about curry laksa. This Malaysian favorite is a creamy, spicy shrimp-based broth concocted by stewing spices with coconut milk and is served with noodles, chicken, and often topped with tofu, fish cake, sprouts and sometimes tiny ribbons of pickled cucumbers. This fiery, salty, sweet and tangy noodle soup is not easy to get right but Restoran Malaysia does a good job. The restaurant is always busy, and the roti or nasi goreng are also good. This place is cash only, but there’s an ATM nearby.
WVRST currently serves 25 different kinds of sausage, along with great gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. They even serve sausages made with kangaroo, bison and elk. Choose classic on a white bun with a selection of toppings, or have it sliced up with tomato curry sauce or add some melted Swiss raclette cheese.
Less a dumpling house and more of an institution, Mother’s Dumplings on Spadina is the city’s go-to restaurant for Chinese comfort food. Although they also have noodles and buns on offer, Chef Zhen’s steamed and boiled dumplings made from a family recipe are some of the finest to be found in Toronto. According to Toronto Life, the best-selling pork and cabbage dumplings are one of five dishes that tell the story of Toronto’s Chinatown.