Hungry? In Toronto you won’t have to wander very far to find something amazing to eat. The city has emerged as a culinary destination worthy of any foodie’s must-visit list. There are ample opportunities to eat and drink your way through the city, discover something new to try, or simply learn more about what makes Toronto such an exciting food city. From specialty food stores and amazing markets, to food tours and food trucks, here are nine of the best spots and experiences for foodies in Toronto.
1. St. Lawrence Market
There’s no better spot to get your foodie fix in Toronto than with a trip to St. Lawrence Market. The sprawling South Market is filled with over 120 food vendors selling everything from seasonal produce and seemingly endless varieties of cheese, to freshly baked bread, meat, fish and homemade jams, preserves and sauces – just to name a small selection of what you’ll find among the aisles. The market is also home to many cafes and restaurants for anyone in need of a quick fix or something to take home.
2. Kensington Market
While you can shop for everything from jewellery to vintage clothing at Toronto’s eclectic and colourful Kensington Market, it’s absolutely also a spot for great food. The multicultural market offers something for every taste and craving, from Mexican to Middle Eastern. Kensington is downright crammed with restaurants, cafes, bars and specialty food stores so no matter what you’re in the mood for – you’re likely to find it.
Whether you get a fish taco from Seven Lives, an empanada from Jumbo Empanada, a jerk chicken panini from Rasta Pasta, Belgian-style fries from Moo Fites, or a Mexican torta from Torteria San Cosme, you definitely won’t have to search long for something to fill your belly with.
3. Any Toronto farmers’ market
In addition to St. Lawrence Market and Kensington Market, there are a whole host of farmers’ markets in Toronto, many of which are open year-round. And it’s not just piles of vibrant local fruit and vegetables you’ll find as you browse from stall to stall. The city’s many farmers’ markets are also filled with artisanal cheeses, baked goods, prepared foods, olives, honey, sweet treats, wholesome snacks and even locally produced wine. It’s hard to visit a Toronto farmers’ market without walking away without at least a few items in your bag.
4. A Toronto food tour
Get a real feel for what makes Toronto a great city for foodies with a food tour, of which there are several to choose from depending on what you’re most interested in eating. The best food tours in Toronto take participants through various neighbourhoods that make up the city’s diverse culinary scene, or focus on one specific neighbourhood known for having great food. Some worthwhile food tour companies to check out include Foodies on Foot (who run the ever-popular 501 Streetcar Tour), Savour Toronto, Tasty Tours and The Culinary Adventure Co.
5. The Cheese Boutique
There are many gourmet and specialty food stores in Toronto, but one of the best you’ll find is the Cheese Boutique.
As the name would suggest, a big focus here is on cheese and indeed there is a lot of it, whether you’re perusing the cheese counter (and snacking on a sample or two), or checking out the cheese vault. But alongside the vast array of cheese, you’ll also find so much more to eat here. The variety of prepared foods is always tempting, but so too are the many gourmet items in the form of olive oils, preserves, dips, sauces, jams, chocolates and house-baked pastries.
6. One of the city’s celebrity chef restaurants
As Toronto has been emerging as a city that takes its food seriously, celebrity chefs have taken notice. David Chang was one of the first when he came to town and opened the massive Momofuku building in 2012. The three floor space is home to three restaurants and a lounge/bar offering a variety of dining experiences.
Toronto also boasts restaurants courtesy of Daniel Boulud (Café Boulud), Jonathan Waxman (Montecito) and Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Italian). Toronto also has its very own crop of celebrity chefs with restaurants in the city including Mark McEwan (North 44, ByMark, Fabbrica, One Restaurant) and Suser Lee (Bent, Lee, Luckee, Frings).
7. Restaurants during Summer/Winterlicious
Seasonal culinary events Summerlicious and Winterlicious offer the opportunity to enjoy affordable three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at over 200 of Toronto’s best restaurants. Anyone with an interest in what Toronto has to offer food-wise has a wide enough range of eateries to choose from to experience some of the best food in the city. In addition to prix fixe menus, Summerlicious and Winterlicious also include the chance to sign up for tastings, cooking demos, classes and other food-related events.
8. A food festival
What better way to celebrate the diverse culinary offerings in a city like Toronto than with a trip to one of its many food festivals? The city’s food festivals, the majority of which happen in the summer, represent a multitude of cuisines and cultures. City-dwellers have their pick of Veg Food Fest, Toronto Vegan Food and Drink Festival, Hot & Spicy Food Festival, Halal Food Festival, Panamerican Food Festival and Taste of Toronto just to name a few fun ways to spend an afternoon eating.
9. A food truck
While Toronto may not have the same food truck scene as many other major cities, it is getting more and more food trucks rolling through the streets every day and the selection is as varied as it is delicious. You can find food trucks at various events as well as parked at busy downtown spots, sometimes alone but sometimes grouped together. Food trucks in the city serve up an astonishing array of dishes, from tacos and burgers, to churros, grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna, BBQ and so much more. Check out Toronto Food Trucks to keep track trucks and their whereabouts in the city, or follow along on Twitter.