From the short-rib beef tacos at Playa Cabana to the dumplings at new Thai resto Kiin, below are my top restaurants and dishes in Toronto.
This is part 1 because part 2 will look at some of the odder dishes I've been feeling across the city. I welcome your feedback and your picks, since I'm always on the lookout for new restos.
And in no particular order...
Best Mexican Spot: Playa Cabana
Why? Three words, friends: Short. Rib. Tacos. There's nothing more succulent than this badass dish perfectly balanced with Mexican spices, guac, and braised in ancho chiles. If you're averse to intense spiciness, don't sweat it, this dish will be your alley. I'd also recommend the octopus tacos and their massive burritos, but be warned the latter is best if you got a hefty appetite.
Best Steak: Jacob's
Why? In a city filled with top-notch steakhouses, Jacob's is still my #1 thanks to its succulent cuts. Sure, it's pricey, but with steak you get what you pay for. I also get a kick out of the Caesar salad mixed right by the table. And you can't go wrong with a resto that features volcanic salt!
Best Italian: Enoteca Sociale
Why? This Toronto classic resto deserves your attention, even if it's a bit of a cliche pick. Noodle dishes are perfectly cooked and seasoned, without overdoing it on the sauce tip. The Carbonara is especially yummy, and their cocktails were surprisingly creative. Highly recommended for that special date coming up.
Best Asian Fusion: Dailo
Why? I was recently introduced to this resto and it's now on my must-try spots for any Toronto couple looking to enjoy shared plates. Their tasting menu stars some of the best lamb neck I've ever had. I also had a heavenly moment savouring their Miso Salt Cod Brandade, thanks to its dried chili yauhjagwai.
Best Thai: Kiin
Why? Prior to checking out Kiin, which opened last month, my #1 Thai resto was Pai, so it was little surprise that Kiin's chef came from Pai. If I had to pick one dish to try at Kiin, I'd suggest the Royal Thai Platter, a selection of four colourful dumplings, graced with pickled vegetables or roasted coconut or lemongrass. Especially cool was a cute dumpling that fit into a carved piece of cucumber, shallowly filled with plum sauce. Definitely worth treating yourself.
Best Pizza: Pizza Libretto
Why? No surprise here to any Toronto downtowner. The 'za is delicately flavoured without being inundated with greasy cheese, and the crust is deliciously light. My go-to pizza is the duck confit pie, with bosc pear slices and rosemary spices. I haven't had the apps but friends who've dabbled with that part of the menu haven't been disappointed.
Best Burger: Drake Hotel on Queen West
Why? I know what you're thinking: Come on, brah, this city is filled with burger specialists and you choose the Drake?! Don't knock it til you've tried it. I'm not sure what the Drake chefs do to their trademark burger, but it's one heckuva tasty patty! It's decently sized and comes between one heckuva bun that tastes hella. The burger is incredibly filling so you'll likely need to share the accompanying frites.
Best Brunch: Rose & Sons
Why? If it weren't for Anthony Rose revitalizing Dupont, this street would just be a haven for people jonesing for a good coffee (thank Jebus for Ezra's Pound!). Rose & Sons has consistently been wowing me with their rotating menu but I've always loved their brunch mainstays like the monstrous PLB Special Melt (pictured below) and their mouth-watering cornbread. Be warned it gets packed on the weekend, but some brunch items are available during their weekday breakfast hours.
Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of my top resto picks in Toronto!
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