The ultimate foodie’s guide to Toronto
Looking for a food adventure that’s close to home? I recently spent four days eating and drinking my way through beautiful Toronto and am here to share my ultimate guide to the city – breakfast to dinner!
If you're staying at the Fairmont Royal York–which I highly recommend for its central location and proximity to Union Station, CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and more–a good breakfast is simply a few steps away from your hotel room. Take advantage of Fairmont Gold, the hotel's premium accommodation that gets you into one of the hotel’s gorgeous, upper level suites and gives you access to the exclusive 18th floor Gold Lounge. Along with its gorgeous views, cozy fireplace and spacious work and lounging areas, the lounge hosts a scrumptious daily breakfast. No overcooked scrambled eggs or stale bagels here – the buffet is a little different everyday with skillet-baked eggs with mushrooms, hot oatmeal complete with all the fixings, waffles, fruit, roasted potatoes, quiches and much, much more.
For a fun and indulgent breakfast, book a pastry tour with Eating Through TO. One of the many small-group walking tours they offer, Eating Through TO’s Pastry Crawl will bring you to various cafes and bakeries along Queen Street West where you'll nibble on uniquely flavoured éclairs at Nugateau, Italian doughnuts at Sud Forno, South American traditional hot drink yerba mate at El Almacen and more! The Pastry Crawl is $75 per person and makes for a great birthday get-together or bachelorette celebration.
For lunch, the options are endless in this city. For something a bit different, drop by the recently opened Eataly. This Italian brand has locations in cities across the globe like New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Paris to name a few, but the Toronto location, which opened in November 2019, is its first Canadian spot. Located in the Manulife Centre on Bloor Street, this 50,000 square foot establishment is an indoor marketplace that homes everything from an Italian-style cafe to a full-scale deli. Everything is fresh and you can rest assured you'll find any Italian ready-made food, like pizza or gelato, or ingredient, such as truffles and cheese, you are looking for.
Mix a learning experience with good eats by taking a lunch time cooking class at The Depanneur. This College Street community-driven space is modest in appearance, but bursting with social activity and delicious food. The space is not a restaurant, but an equipped kitchen that hosts various pop-up food events, workshops, private dinners and more–all with the goal of promoting and supporting Toronto’s rich and diverse culinary scene.
One of The Depanneur’s coolest initiatives is Newcomer Kitchen–a program that supports refugee women, mostly from Syria and other parts of the Middle East, by providing a space where they can come together and cook traditional meals. The prepared meals are sold online, with all proceeds going back to the cooks and their families. I was lucky enough to spend some time with two of the amazing women in the program, Nadima and Rahaf, who guided me through a class of making three different types of fatayer – a savoury pastry topped with cheese, meat or veggies – as well as baklava for dessert!
Kick off your evening with some pre-dinner drinks with a walking tour by Drink Toronto! Offering six unique tours exploring different aspects of Toronto’s booming cocktail, beer and wine scenes, this is a great way to learn about the city in a whole new way. I recommend the Underground Pedestrian Walkway (PATH) tour. A worthwhile splurge at $169 per person, this 2.5 hour tour takes you through Toronto’s incredible underground walkway system, called the PATH, that connects over 75 buildings and is home to over 1200 restaurants, shops, bars and more. Since this all takes place underground, it is the perfect tour for the cold winter season, rainy spring season or blistering hot summer. You'll stop at various eateries where you'll get to sip cocktails, wine and beer, munch on delicious food pairings and more.
For your sit down dinner, the options are endless. Return to the Fairmont Royal York, which is conveniently connected to the PATH, after your cocktail tour and dine at one of the on-site restaurants. Reign is the hotel's flagship eatery, offering classic Canadian and French fare like roasted duck, scallops, confit and more. Perfect if you're craving a rich, comforting meal.
If you're feeling for some high-quality Japanese delicacies, Benihana is the choice for you. One of over 100 Benihana locations worldwide, but the only location in Canada, this is your spot for beautifully crafted sushi, Japanese grilled steak, and deliciously fresh sashimi. The teppan chefs, who chop and prepare the food on the table right in front of you, are an added bonus to the restaurant's super cool vibe!
If you want to stay out on the town, I recommend Maison Selby. The Sherbourne Street establishment is an upscale French bistro located in the stunning 136-year-old C.H. Gooderham House and its intimate, romantic atmosphere makes it a great spot if you're accompanied by your sweetheart. The menu is full of traditional French delicacies like foie gras, coq au vin and ratatouille, but I especially recommend their onion soup and, for dessert, their to-die-for sticky toffee pudding with crème fraîche ice cream.
Niagara Wine Detour
If you have an extra day to spear, it’s totally worth it to squeeze in time to explore the Niagara region, which includes Niagara Falls and its neighbouring town Niagara-by-the-Lake. Less than a 2 hour drive from Downtown Toronto, if you beat the traffic, it’s easy to get to and totally worth it.
Start your day off in Niagara Falls with a morning ride on the Niagara Cruises Hornblower for a scenic, up-close tour of the famous falls or, for a more panoramic view, book a helicopter tour. After that, continue your day with some winery hopping in Niagara-on-the-Lake!
Trius Winery is a Niagara-on-the-Lake staple and is home to Canada’s largest underground sparkling wine cellar. Not only is the selection of wines top notch, but the aesthetic of the winery is a millenial’s dream with some of the cutest photo spots like a rose wall, hanging glass bubbles in the entrance of the sparkling wine cellar and more. This is more than a winery, it’s a full experience, so make sure to book a tour at the visitor centre when you drop by. If you're feeling hungry, the winery’s on-site restaurant is very impressive and offers a diverse menu of both food, like roasted duck and pastas, and of course great wine.
Another winery worth a visit is Stratus Vineyards. This spot is revolutionizing and modernizing the art of wine making with their commitment to sustainability and their low-waste practices. A unique feature of Stratus is that they are one of the few wineries in the world that are “pump-free.” This means that instead of moving the wine throughout the wine-making process by electric pumping, the wine is moved manually in tanks and barrels or moves through natural gravity flow. This not only reduces Stratus’ carbon footprint, but this slow, natural flow of the wine is also said to produce a higher quality product. Pick up a bottle of their deliciously sweet Red Icewine when you visit, it’s one of their best, in my opinion!
So, have you booked your tickets to Toronto yet? The city and all its wonderful eats are ready to welcome you.