With French food hotspots in various neighborhoods and at all price points, Toronto has many excellent places where you can get your European fix.
What most international visitors may not know about Toronto is that French is the official second language in the city, and it is still home to a strong and ever-growing francophone community. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the city also offers outstanding options for casual to high-end French fare. These are the best French restaurants if you’re craving a taste of Europe in the big city.
Restaurant, French, $$$
Headed up by internationally renowned chef Daniel Boulud, Café Boulud offers a seasonal, fresh menu steeped in French culture, with both classic and modern dishes inspired by the chef’s family’s roots in Lyon. Located within the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Boulud worked with Martin Brudnizki Design Studio to create a laid-back yet sophisticated room highlighted by plush banquettes and Hermès wallpaper. Try the signature Parisian steak tartare if you like delicious hand-cut beef with traditional condiments, gem lettuce and crostini.
Nestled away in the Yorkville neighborhood, this intimate restaurant features classic bistro-style tables and floor-to-ceiling windows, flooding the space with natural light. With a menu boasting classic fare, you can’t go wrong with oysters served alongside mignonette sauce or potato gratin topped with cantal cheese and thyme. The food menu is complemented by an extensive curated wine list created by the in-house sommelier.
Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, French, Cocktails, Wine, $$$
Courtesy of Cluny
Perhaps one of the lesser-known treasures of the city, Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie is tucked away in the corner of the Distillery District. Watch the chefs work from the wraparound table or indulge in treats at the bread bar. Begin your meal with an extensive sampling of local cheeses, and then move on to selecting a special cut of meat from the steak-frites section. The interior exudes French touches, such as blue-tile floors, wooden bistro chairs and patterned china.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, French, $$$
Courtesy of Alo
Alo is the ultimate Toronto French fine-dining experience. Settle in for the blind, multi-course tasting menu in either the dining room or at the kitchen counter helmed by chef de cuisine Nick Bentley. For an exceptional dining experience, opt for the wine pairings, matched by wine director Christopher Sealy. While the menu is ever-changing, expect dishes like foie gras, black venetian caviar and soufflé.
For a taste of Paris in Toronto’s downtown core, try La Palette. Housed in a former stable, the space exudes European charm with bar-top tables, artwork and a bar wall. A chat with the knowledgeable bartender will get you the perfect drink to suit your palate, while the tasting menu offers a wide range of meals. From escargot and fromage fondant to confit de canard, it’s impossible to go wrong with any dish on offer. Once a month, keep an eye out for a night of live music.
Step inside what was once two woodcutters’ cottages from the 1860s for the ultimate romantic dinner. Auberge du Pommier’s decor is a mix of a French countryside aesthetic and modern sophistication. Cozy up next to one of the wood-burning fireplaces during the colder months, or embrace the warm air on the expansive patios during the summer. Order from the tasting menu for a selection of the restaurant’s best seasonal dishes.
This tiny spot often feels more like a friend’s dinner party than an actual restaurant. With an open kitchen and small workstations, guests can watch chefs create delicious dishes. The place has an industrial vibe, but the tiled backsplash spelling out the restaurant’s name is the pièce de résistance. Try bar snacks such as the chicken paté paired with cranberry jelly or the classic french onion soup. For mains, try the steak tenderloin melts with sunchokes and shallot jus, and the french fries served with lemon and mayonnaise remain a classic for a reason.