This is the restaurant you wish you owned. Unassuming and on a quiet strip of College street just west of Dovercourt, sits what we believe to be the best Italian food in the city. Come for the house-made pastas and enticing sharing plates. The bagna cauda is out of this world, while the cacio e pepe comes a close second. Did we mention the fantastically curated wine and cocktail list? Lots of southern Italian wines, skin-contact, and an amaro selection that will make you realize you actually love a digestif. Say no more and try to get a coveted spot at the Chef’s table for date night asap.
972 College Street
Reservations taken in advance and online
Bar Raval is the closest you will get to sunny Spain, outside of Spain. Serving delicious pintxos and tapas, this all-day bar is a magical undertaking. Pop in for coffee and authentic basque-style cheesecake mid-day, or spend a couple hours lingering around the immaculate bar eating some of the most delicious snack foods in the city. Our favourites include Stracciatella & Boquerones, pan con tomate or the hamburgesa. Strong cocktails and cava by the glass are great accompaniments and the late last call makes this a strong contender for a night cap.
505 College Street West.
If you’re not lucky enough to snag a reso at their sister restaurant Alo upstairs, Aloette is the best fallback option. A French- fusion diner style restaurant serving slightly upscale menu options. When you begin a meal with fresh cheese brioche and whipped yeasted butter, we’d say you’re on the right track. Delicious twists on classics like the wedge salad with puffed wild rice, or tuna tartare with green goddess and yuzu are bit hits. The aloette burger is our mainstay and the perfect precursor to a giant slice of lemon meringue pie. No reservations so best bet is to go early and snag a seat at the upstairs bar while you wait.
163 Spadina Avenue
Situated on the newly gentrified strip of Geary avenue sits a wholesale-maker of the freshest pasta you will eat in the city. What has now developed a cult following, opens its doors Tuesday through Friday, from noon until about 3 pm. The queue is often long and we suggest going slightly after the peak lunch hour to score a seat. The menu changes daily and is posted through Instagram stories- always two fresh pastas and some fresh vegetables (In the summer month’s they use produce from their garden out front). We especially love the cavatelli pugliese and cavatelli sugo which frequents the lunch menu. As well their homemade burrata, a delicious appetizer to lead you into the carb-coma that will ensue post lunch.
122 Geary Avenue
NEW HIDDEN GEM: DONNAS
This Bloordale neighbourhood gem from Momofuku alum is our new favourite all-day hangout- and we mean it, we could pretty much hang out here all day. Not only do they serve delicious coffee and pastries from the soon to open Emmer and Ash Bakery, the lunch menu has some pretty tasty snacks and salads (we especially love the Spanish tortilla, sausage roll or rye and chicken salad open-faced sandwich). If you’re making your way for dinner, you’re in for a real treat. Simple home-cooked dishes done exceptionally well like the crispy chicken thighs with English roast-styled potatoes and gravy, or the whole sole with butter! The French style salad with soft eggs and pickled green beans is also a standout. We almost forgot to mention the beautifully curated natural wine list! (finally!). This cozy, casual space is the perfect excuse to trek to the west end and hang out, well, all day.
827 Lansdowne Ave.
We couldn’t possibly only give you a couple places to try…
Best Sweets: Roselle Bakery
Best Pizza: Mattachioni
Best Go-to: Terroni
Best Night Cap: Paris Paris
Best Date spot: Chantecler
Best Special Occasion: Scaramouche Pasta Bar
Best Group Dinner: Superpoint Pizza
Best Mexican: El Rey
Best Dim Sum: Crown Princess
Best All-day Diner: White Lily
Best Coffee: The Rooster
Best Ramen: Santouka
Best Indian: Pukka
Best Hangover Food: Sugo
Best Middle Eastern: Tabule
Best Watering Hole: Burdock Brewery
Best Croissants: The Tempered Room