Toronto | The Diverse Culinary Scene
One of the best aspects of travel, no matter where you find yourself, is getting the opportunity to try new foods. Every country and every city have their own list of must-try foods – and Toronto is no exception. This is a city of many cultures, each of them adding their own flavors to Toronto’s diverse and exciting culinary scene. From food trucks and market stalls, to bar snacks and fine dining, there’s always something great to eat in the city. With that in mind, whether you live in Toronto, or you’re visiting for the first or fifth time, here are the must-try foods of Toronto.
Macarons from Nadège Patisserie
A rainbow of pastel-hued macarons awaits behind the glass counters of Nadège Patisserie (with several locations in the city), and while there are plenty of sweet treats to choose from here all worth sampling, the perfectly delicate macarons are pretty hard to resist and limiting yourself to just one is a lot harder than it looks. Flavours rotate, but you can expect some more unique offerings like cotton candy, rose or matcha green tea and raspberry amid more traditional offerings like chocolate, vanilla and salted caramel. Bonus: If you want to learn how to make your own sweet treats (including macarons), Nadège offers classes. The macaron class is two hours of hands-on fun in a small group setting.
Roti from Gandhi Roti
If you’re looking for a cheap, filling and decadent meal in the city, look no further than a roti from Gandhi Roti in Parkdale. This tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves up satisfying rotis with a wide variety of fillings. You should be able to find something to match your cravings, but some of the standouts here include the mutter paneer roti, stuffed to the brim with peas and chewy cubes of paneer cheese; the malai kofta roti and the simple but delicious spinach and potato roti.
Churros from Panchos Bakery
Anyone craving something sweet while in Toronto should consider making their way to one of the two locations of Panchos Bakery for a freshly fried churro (find them at Dufferin and Bloor and in Kensington Market). Here you’ll be treated to sticks of decadent deep-fried dough coated with cinnamon and sugar and then filled with a variety of fillings, from chocolate to caramel to jam. The chocolate is particularly delicious, but you can also get them plain.
Peameal bacon on a bun from Carousel Bakery
You can’t have a list of must-try food in Toronto without mentioning the peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery, which has been at the same location in St. Lawrence Market for over 30 years. This is a simple sandwich – a stack of grilled peameal bacon on a soft bun – but it’s popular and there are usually line ups at the counter every weekend when the long-standing market stall might sell over 2,600 sandwiches in one day on a busy weekend.
Roast cauliflower from Fat Pasha
Whether cauliflower is one of your mainstay vegetables or not, you’ve likely never had it the way Fat Pasha does it: roasted whole until perfectly charred and smothered in creamy tahini, skhug (a middle eastern hot sauce), pine nuts, tangy pomegranate seeds and salty halloumi. It’s almost too pretty eat when it comes to the table – but you should definitely eat it.
Bagels from St Urbain Bagel
Bagels aren’t hard to come by in Toronto, but if you’re in the mood for one, in particular a chewy Montreal-style bagel, then you need to order one (or a dozen) from St. Urbain. Boiled and the baked in a hot wood-burning oven, bagels here are dense enough to hold up to a thick layer of cream cheese, but soft enough on the inside to create the ideal bite, especially when toasted.
Khao soi from Pai Northern Thai Kitchen
Creamy, flavourful and fun to eat, the khao soi from Pai Northern Kitchen is often described as better than what people recall getting in Thailand. Fresh egg noodles swim in a golden curry that gets topped with crispy noodles, coriander, green onions and your choice of braised beef, shrimp, chicken breast or chicken drumsticks. Whether you’ve been to Northern Thailand or not, feel like you’ve been transported with this uber-flavourful dish.
Margherita pizza from North of Brooklyn
You could probably debate for days (or months) about where to get the best margherita pizza in Toronto, but the pies from this place (with three locations) are hard to beat. Everything is scratch-made using local ingredients and the result is a crispy (never soggy) crust with just the right amount of chew and a sauce that delivers the right amount of acidity against the creamy mozzarella. If you’re really hungry, get an order of garlic knots, made from leftover dough and smothered in garlic butter.
Signature Singapore Slaw from Lee
There’s salad – and then there’s the epic Signature Singapore Slaw from Lee. Made with a whopping 19 ingredients, this towering salad is crunchy and offers the perfect balance of flavours and textures. The admittedly beautiful salad contains everything from daikon and pickled red onion, to cucumber, toasted sesame seeds and fried shallots.
Pho from Pho Tien Thanh
Located on the restaurant-filled Ossington strip, Pho Tien Thanh was serving up steaming bowls of pho way before the huge wave of current area bars and restaurants moved in. The aromatic, ultra-comforting dish isn’t the only place you can get pho in the city, but the unassuming, no-frills joint does a consistent job of it, something you can tell by the deep flavor of the broth and near-constant stream of happy customers.