Top Restaurants In Toronto's Kensington Market
A cluster of narrow alleyways, colourful Victorian homes and unique shops, Kensington Market is one of Toronto‘s most vibrant neighborhoods. Declared a national historic site in 2006, community groups have fought over the years to keep this independent area free of chain stores. As you might expect, Kensington’s cuisine reflects its rich cultural diversity and commitment to authenticity. Enjoy our guide to the top nine places to grab a bite in Kensington Market.
Fika takes its name from a Swedish expression that describes taking a short coffee break along with a snack. Owner Nikki Leigh McKean was inspired by the local café culture during a year spent studying in Sweden and wanted to bring some of the country’s delightful traditions to Canada. The menu features a selection of sandwiches, soups, pastries and daily specials. Go for the delicious grilled cheese & prosciutto sandwich. Stop by between Wednesday and Sunday to try the café’s larger brunch menu. The café mascot, a Swedish pony, is playfully incorporated into the bright interior décor.
El Trompo’s Guacamole | Courtesy El Trompo
During the summer months, El Trompo‘s small patio is one of the neighborhood’s best hangouts for people-watching and enjoying the sun. The 20-seat patio is almost always packed, but service is fast and friendly and the food is well-worth the wait. The restaurant serves up simple yet authentic Mexican cuisine, including tacos, quesos fundidos, taquitos, quesadillas, and fajitas. Go for the popular ‘chuleta con queso taco’, made with grilled pork, sautéed onion, mozzarella cheese and fresh cilantro. The menu also includes plenty of Mexican beers and margaritas to keep you refreshed during your meal.
Fresco’s Fish & Chips serves up a menu of traditional fish and chips along with poutine, sandwiches, chicken wings and chili. The small restaurant is known for its extra crispy fish crust, which is made using crushed Miss Vicky’s Salt & Vinegar kettle chips. Standards are high at Fresco’s: their fish dishes are prepared using Ocean Wise sustainable seafood products and owner Michael Fresco claims to have tested over 300 pounds of potatoes before selecting Ontario Russet for the restaurant’s chips. Fresco’s pays homage to the British origins of its signature dish, with Beatles memorabilia featured prominently in the restaurant’s interior.
Nu Bügel is known for its authentic Montreal-style bagels, which are boiled in honey-water and baked in a 20,000-pound wood-burning oven. Customers can grab bags of bagels to go or enjoy one in the café, a comfortable space decorated with deep orange walls, wooden flooring and a few intriguing antiques. Bagels come in several different flavors, but the coconut variety is one of the café’s most popular. The menu features soups, salads, and bagel sandwiches, including the smoked rainbow trout with baby arugula, sweet horseradish jelly and pommery mustard, which was listed among the city’s top sandwiches by Toronto Life.
Nu Bügel, 240 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 748 4488
Rasta Pasta serves up a creative fusion of Jamaican and Italian cuisine. The menu features a variety of authentic Jamaican dishes including saltfish and goat curry, along with dishes like the jerk-chicken Panini, which blend the talents of Jamaican owner Magnus Patterson and his Italian partner Mary Neglia. The tiny restaurant’s most famous dish however, is the daily jerk-chicken special, an amazingly affordable plate of chicken topped with homemade jerk sauce, served with rice, beans, and boiled cabbage. The restaurant’s signature chicken is marinated in sauce for two days, before being steamed in an oven and finally roasted in the black oil drum barbecue.
Rasta Pasta, 61 Kensington Ave Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 501 4505
Sanagan’s Meat Locker
Sanagan’s Meat Locker specializes in high-quality meats and poultry sourced from small Ontario farms. This old-fashioned butcher shop is known for its knowledgeable staff and commitment to ethically raised meats. Regularly ranked among the best butcher shops in Toronto, Sangan’s is also one of the best places in Kensington Market to grab a hearty lunch. The menu changes regularly, but expect dishes like bacon cheeseburgers, chipotle pulled pork sandwiches and butter chicken pies, served alongside French fries, soups and salads. The meals are ideal for take-out, but seating is available at a few countertop spaces inside the butcher’s rustic interior.
Sanagan’s Meat Locker, 176 Baldwin St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, +1 416 593 9747
Ranked among Toronto’s best tapas by blogTO, Torito presents its Spanish-influenced menu in an inviting setting. The interior plays up the Spanish theme with Salvador Dali artwork and Pedro Almodóvar movie posters. The restaurant’s small but well-chosen menu focuses on local, sustainable ingredients wherever possible. You’ll find classic tapas dishes such as patatas bravas with aioli, along with more innovative offerings such as the piquillo peppers stuffed with braised oxtail on a vanilla scented puree. An excellent selection of cocktails and wines rounds out the menu.
A mainstay in Kensington Market, Urban Herbivore specializes in healthy, vegan cuisine. Everything is made from scratch and to order, with no preservatives or additives. The menu features juices, stews, soups, sandwiches, and desserts. The custom built salad and grain bowls are particularly popular, allowing customers to add a choice of fresh toppings and dressing to bases like quinoa and beluga lentil; or spinach and arugula. Dine in the restaurant’s interior, which is decorated with bright green accents and lush ferns and dishes are also available for takeaway in biodegradable packaging.
Urban Herbivore, 64 Oxford St. Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 927 1231
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is a cheerful bakery and vegetarian café that has become an institution in Kensington Market over the years. As the name suggests, this place is best-known for its pies which come in creative flavours like peanut butter mousse, as well as more classic varieties such as blueberry. Aside from pies, the café offers a seasonal, rotating menu of sandwiches, soups, pizza flatbreads, quiches, and cakes; many of which can be mixed and matched to create filling lunch combos. The café’s interior is a charming space, decorated with colorful lanterns, pastel tones and quirky artwork.
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, 287 Augusta Ave Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 236 7585