Dirty Food Eatery

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Dirty Food Eatery is a name worth explaining. While the connotation around the word “dirty” could conjure up visions of pestilence and filth when paired with “food” it invokes simple, down home, taste first dishes that prefer pretty delicious over pretty looking.

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After a year of getting their feet wet catering weddings and corporate events Leslie Wilks and Jonathan Iskiw have brought their little eatery to the storefront; opening a new brunch and breakfast hot spot in the junction. Bright and simple lines in their decor help relax a bustling crowd enjoying salads, sandwiches and egg-centric offerings.

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Everything that can be made in house is; from the cured meats, pickled vegetables and pillowy pierogis. Typical brunch fare dominates the menu but small touches from Chef Iskiw’s fine dining background brings each dish to a higher level.

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Double brined friend chicken is juicy yet enveloped in a crisp, deep fried batter and highlighted with a jalapeno syrup. Vinegary collards greens on the Egg’s Jenny (named after Wilks’ sister) cuts through the hollandaise like butter.

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With the areas’ neighbourhoods rebuilding and regentrifying a simple yet flavour forward brunch spot is a welcoming site. Both Wilks and Iskiw believe “dirty” is both a good and delicious idea while being uncomplicated and hope their restaurant continues to express those important basics.

Dirty Food Eatery
3070 Dundas Street West
416-855-3393

Cherry Street BBQ

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The Portlands just got smokier and in a very good way.

For those who don’t know, pit smoking bbq involves cooking meat over a wood burning pit or grill at a constant temperature for a long time. Low and slow. Those familiar with the technique and taste can rejoice in the opening of Cherry St BBQ.

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With the burgeoning Canary District a few blocks away its location among manufacturing plants, circus tents and axe throwing warehouses isn’t really that much of a brow furrower.  In fact with its rather remote-to-suburbia location it allows the patio and it’s live music or DJ to pump long and loud while the constant smoke from its “pits” leaves the teary eyes to its masters and maybe an alley cat or two.

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Walk into the restaurant and order your food from a butcher paper list of meats and sides then wander to the bar for a drink. Beer is a given but cocktails will surprise. Grab one of the many seats in this a bright and woody space or if you come at the right time you may even score a seat on the patio while enjoying the views of the “six”.

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It is not the decor or neighbourhood ambience that brings you back to Cherry Street. Forever learning from BBQ masters around the continent, Pit master Lawrence Lapiante has created a simple yet effective menu in educating the city on proper southern BBQ. Whether it is the salt and pepper brisket,  sweet and sour pulled pork or finger sticky ribs each item on the menu is meticulously smoked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. A technique a lot harder than it looks.

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Sides change up seasonally and can include a gooey Mac and cheese, tart coleslaw and beans that have been brilliantly simmered underneath the fat dripping meat in the smoker. And in true Texas form each brisket is served with a slice of white bread, pickles, onions and jalapenos for the perfect impromptu sandwich.

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Take the time to visit this neighbourhood restaurant.  In an area slowly giving way to more places to eat and hang out Cherry Street BBQ is not only a beacon in a food desolate area but a mainstay for years to come.

Cherry Street BBQ

275 Cherry Street, Toronto

416-461-5111

Cutie Pie Cupcakes

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As a seven year veteran on the cupcake scene, Melanie Abdilla is no stranger to peoples love of desserts. With years of special orders, catering events and wedding season madness under her belt it is no surprise that a store front operation would be next on her list.

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Situated on pedestrian heavy Spadina Avenue, Abdilla has expanded her sweet empire to include hot and cold beverages as well as a showcase for her creative flavour combinations.

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Cupcakes come in bite sized cuties or full sized chubby while the whoopie pies (icing sandwiched between cake)mirror their more traditional cousins in flavours and colours.

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Not sure which taste is for you then splurge on a whoopie kebab.

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It’s the addition of hot and cold drinks that have really brought in the Instagram popular crowd. Greek-style, milk heavy espresso beverages and cold brewed teas help beat the heat alongside the photo popular Unicorn Latte.

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Soft Serve ice cream has rounded out the perfect summer crowd menu; unicorn flavour is also available, as well as steamy morning pick me up, the affogato, soft serve drizzled with a shot of espresso.

As the weather cools down expect even wilder things to come from the kitchens of Cutie Pie Cupcakes.

Cutie Pie Cupcakes

235 Spadina Ave, Toronto

416-992-2882

 

Levetto Chinatown

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“Franchise”  does not have to be a bad word in the restaurant scene. O&B and La Cubana have the concept down perfectly with each of their venues bringing a different menu and design. Le Carnita, and Burger Priest does franchising right by offering an outstanding product that everyone across the city is clamouring over.  And the newest member of a franchise, Levetto Chinatown is doing a bit of both.  Backed by a solid and delicious menu they have also branch out with their own stand alone signature dish, soon to be Instagram famous.

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With simple decor and excellent service, Levetto can concentrate on what it does best; flavour. Chef Shahir Massoud comes with an impressive background having worked with Mario Batali and Saveur magazine. With Levetto he has created a diverse yet compact menu of pastas, pizzas and more.

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Homemade pastas are decorated with light delicate sauces. Fresh, creamy cheeses and vibrant herbs showcase several different tomato based sauce making it hard to choose between each option. A perfect carbonara is made how it should be, without cream just egg, bacon and cheese.

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Romana-style pizzas are thin and crispy; akin to another no so fancy franchise’s deep dish style but without all the added grease.  Again each is topped with its own personality. Spicy, sweet, cheesy and pungent, each one needs to be tried before you can ever pick a favorite. And thanks to its diverse location Toronto now has a Peking duck pizza.

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Three sweet desserts are offered if you still have room for more. Massoud has brought a family favorite to the menu with a warm brown butter and semolina coconut cake that is a light and flakey option.

Each and every dish stands out on its own merit. Whatever location you visit you will get the same flavour, the same quality, the same pride Chef Massoud has brought to each recipe. And lucky for Torontians Levetto has given us another franchise to be excited about.

Levetto

six different location, check website for the one nearest you

Bandit Brewery

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In a city where it’s culinary knowledge in based on its segmented neighbourhoods, Roncesvalle is a slow but steady up and comer.  Still full of Eastern European bakeries and hipster coffee shops and bordering alongside family friendly High Park this growing community just got a bit cooler with the addition of Bandit Brewery.

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It was their love of beer that brought owners Stephane Dubois and Shehzad Hamza together and the appreciation of  classic German beer gardens that manifested into this bright and airy space. Located in an old mechanics shop they have kept the massive garage bay doors (that open onto the soon to be packed patio) and shop office (to be the future bottle shop).

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A central bar area is also their brewing space while communal picnic tables and open concept seating horseshoes around the high top bar seating.  The idea of a young family sharing a table with older professionals is not a far off idea and with the friendly, relaxed feel of the space, it is actually encouraged.

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The menu consists of sharing plates and small nibbles with a main entree thrown in for those who need more to sustain their beer drinking.

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Oven fresh pretzels are by far the best accompaniment to any number of their beers while the cheese board again encourage sharing.

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Their Kale salad rivals even the cities best known dishes  and the fried egg topped Ontario beef steak and potatoes is perfectly executed. All their dishes  from the onion jam on the cheese board to the sticky toffee pudding are made in house and thanks to their confidence in their Brew master many of the recipes include their beers in the ingredients list.

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While the food is fantastic it’s their beer that steals the show. Running the gamut from light lagers to IPA’s to smoky porters, Brew master Ben Morris has shown impeccable skill in his development of the Bandit beer menu.  Currently with 12 beers on tap (and growing) every beer lover will be able to find a style they can enjoy.

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Long gone are the drinking establishments that are dark, dank and intimidating.  Instead breweries are understanding that beer drinking is an “everyday” persons new preference.  Trying new beers and talking about them with the people a table over is not a strange thing anymore.  And with the perfect space, drinks and food the enthusiastic team behind Bandit Brewery has created a winner.

Bandit Brewery

2125 Dundas Street West

647-348-1002

Village Juicery

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As the first and only certified organic juice bar in the city, Village Juicery prides itself on focusing on high quality, nutritious products that are not only palate friendly but are truly beneficial to a person’s health.

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As a raw pressed juice company they rely on the experts on staff and a whole health philosophy that is as refreshing as their bright and airy stores.  When arriving in store you are greeted by a staff of certified nutritionalists who will help you choose the best products for your ailments, taste buds or lifestyle.

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A tasting bar allows you try before you buy and you are guided through the benefits of each and every juice or nut milk they sell.  Feeling a little “meh” ? There is a juice for that. Hormonal? They have just what you need. Lacking fibre and vegetables in your diet? There are many different juices to choose from. Each juice is perfected to be tasty and palatable as the staff know that if it tastes horrible no one is going to get on board.

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At the back of the shop the coolers are stocked with salads, breakfast jars, juices and nut milks.  While the supplies look scant near the end of the day it’s all part of their plan of keeping everything fresh  and reducing waste.  Juices and milks are generally pressed the night before and with an expiry date only a couple of days before disposable , any juices that are at the end of their shelf life are given out to the community to enjoy.

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Snacks line another shelf and consist of local vendors that produce small scale products.  One cracker company actual uses the pulp of the juicery’s pressing process for the base of their snacks.

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Everything is incredibly well thought out and staff is both knowledgeable and friendly.  Regulars are easily remembered and special orders are not an inconvenience. On site nutritional counselling is available as well as kinder, gentle cleanse option.

Village Juicery has several stores across Toronto as well as many health food places sell their products.  Check their website to find a location nearest you.  

El Jefe Port Credit

 

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Yes you can get great food outside the city.

If you have ventured east of the 427 you will know that little pockets of the GTA are defining themselves as culinary destination.  Jason Tsougios knew that when he opened Door Fifty Five in Port Credit and along with partners Jonathan Harvey and John Martino he continues to hold the commercial trappings at bay with the opening of El Jefe right across the street.

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Port Credit is a picturesque lakefront town that is slowing enveloping the diversity its neighboring super city has long held supreme over.  Aside from a few burrito joints, Mexican food hasn’t had proper representation outside The Six and with a massive 76 seats patio flanking a stunning graffiti alleyway, El Jefe feeds a niche never lacking customers.

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Inside the decor is strewn with sombrero’s, sugar skulls and neon lighting. What could potentially be theme overkill  is actually hip and trendy. Nothing is too overdone with just enough “kitsch” to placate families and snap for the city dwellers.

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A reasonable prized cocktail menu presents all your Mexican staples.  The margarita, sangria and mojito do not disappoint while the creative twist on several classics highlight the use of fresh ingredients and time honored techniques.

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All good Mexican feasts should be entertaining and the folks here don’t disappoint with options like Mexican roulette peppers (one of the four avocado stuffed peppers contain their super hot Death sauce) and guacamole prepared tableside.  Soft avocado, roasted peppers, citrus, garlic and cilantro are presented in a sturdy mortar and pestle and mashed to your preferred consistency.

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The kitchen has been tweaking their menu during a soft opening leading up the Cinco de Mayo and while some things have been omitted they are certainly not missed.

Salads, ceviche and empanadas are no surprise o and with 7 different fillings available the tacos are a popular choice.  Each has its own flavour combination that works perfectly together to create delicious mouthfuls of taste.  A heavy use of grilled or roasted tropical fruit is a wonderful surprise.

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For a more substantial dish you and your guests can tackle the 5 pound burrito or if sharing isn’t something you learned in grade school then the chicken chimichanga is just what you need. Deep fried but not at all greasy this chicken and cheese filled tortilla is nestled on a smoky three pepper tomatillo sauce and topped with mango pico de gallo and sour cream.

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You will want to end your meal on a sweet note.  While you only have a choice between two desserts either will be a great option.  You can stay true to your love of Mexican food by selecting the churros which honestly never disappoint or you can show you Canadian roots with the beavertail tacos.  Minty mascarpone cheese topped with fruit compote nestled in sugary sweet, warm beavertails.

You don’t need to fight the line ups or parking spot infrequency that comes with eating in Toronto every weekend.  Instead you can drive ten minutes down the road (by highway) or take the scenic lakeshore route and find an amazing meal just as Instagram worthy.

El Jefe

66 Lakeshore East

Mississauga, On

905-990-5200

 

Torta Takeover At Fonda Lolas

 

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Ernesto Rodriguez  loves showing Torontians what Mexican food is really about at Fonda Lola.  During his recent brunch launch he created dishes to showcase his love of his countries amazing cuisine and with his newest venture, a weekday lunch menu of Mexican tortas, he shares with diners food he can’t wait to have the minute he goes home. While Canadians may think of tacos and nachos as more lunch fare it is soft doughy bread filled with meats, vegetables and cheeses that truly encapsulate  the street style of a classic Mexican midday meal.

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Everyone enjoying a slow, savory lunch should start off with a Margarita or two. The Citrus Margarita is a taste bud tingling, hair raising tart affair with lime, lemon, orange and grapefruit juices mixed with tequila while the Rose Kombucha, is the above fruit juices combined with smoked horchata ( a nut milk), and rose kombucha. It literally tastes like a Creamsicle.

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If you need a quick nibble to go with your adult beverage before the tortas arrive appetizers include a handheld Caesar salad and outstanding tlacoyos. These masa tortillas are stuffed with refried beans and topped with cheese, avocado and salsa roja  and are so hearty you wouldn’t think they were meat free.

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It’s the tortas however that steal the show.  Using fresh bread from a Portuguese bakery down the road, Ernesto has developed a selection of  nine sandwiches that will satisfy all possible cravings from tofu to octopus to chicken, steak or egg. These four highlight the brilliance of the menu.

Pork shoulder is braised low and slow in peppers and citrus  for over 24 hours to then be the star of this Torta de cochinita Pibil.

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If you feel like a late breakfast sandwich the Torta de Candied bacon and egg is a perfect choice.  Jalapeno candied bacon gives a sweet and spicy burst while refried beans and avocado temper the heat.

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The chicken torta uses adobo sauce to provide juicy, mouth watering and tender meat while the rice, beans and avocado pull everything together.

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A Mexican twist on a classic steak and cheese sandwich includes the standard fried onions and peppers but takes it up a degree with Oaxaca cheese, avocado and beans.

All sandwiches come with a simply dressed green salad that is refreshing between hearty bites of your torta.

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And if you miraculously have room for dessert how can you go wrong with a plate of fresh sugary churros served with caramel whipped cream. A cheese flan and cheesecake are also available for your sweet tooth.

Lunch is currently being served Tues-Friday between 11:30 and 2:30 and is a perfect way to explore more authentic Mexican cuisine.  With two quick changes to the restuarant, the new brunch and lunch menus, Fonda Lola has shown that while the city continues its love affair with Mexican food keeping it authentic is what makes our passion realized.

Fonda Lola

942 Queen Street W.,

Toronto,Ontario

647-706-9105

 

The Tempered Room

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When you enter the front door of The Tempered Room on Queen Street you think you are walking into another hip and trendy coffee shop.  A large communal table at the front fills quickly with sleep deprived students, up and coming tech gurus or the next breakthrough in the art and design scene; generally a typical Parkdale sighting.

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Owner and Chef Bertrand Alépée ( Amuse-Bouche Bistro) however has created a space far exceeding your typical French patisserie.  Wanting a space to handle his wholesale, catering, event planning and of course his talent in all things pastry business The Tempered Room was created to easily facilitate all of these ambitions.

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There is the patisserie side of things that of course sells coffee but also showcases Chef Alépée’s gorgeous sweet creations of éclairs, cakes, and other delectable treats while the savory side is celebrated with gourmet sandwiches, cornbread and fresh baguettes.  Drop by for a croque monsieur and Cafe Americano on your lunch break or if you are in hurry take a sandwich and dessert to go.

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Back of the house was developed with both their wholesale and catering operations in mind. Many of their treats are supplied to neighbouring restaurants and bars while off site catering for charity events and parties keep the after hours busy.

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Yet one of the most versatile things about The Tempered Room is that the building itself can easily be used for a wedding space or work party or family event.  Displays case are pushed back and transformed into a bar while tables are removed to provide 45 seating spaces or 75 standing in this gorgeous French industrial designed space.

If you are looking for a space for your next cocktail party visit The Tempered Room. If you are looking for a coffee and delicious bite to eat…well they have that too.

The Tempered Room

1374 Queen St, Toronto

416-546-4374

The Shameful Tiki

 

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While the history of Tiki in North America can vary depending which area of the continent you live in the idea is the same; an escape from the crazy hustle of everyday life. Made popular at the end of WWII Tiki relies on the Polynesian culture with a westernized twist.  Its enjoying a cocktail under a palm tree, relaxing to the sound of beach music and imaging the waves crashing on the shore with each sip.

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A resurgence of Tiki has begun in the last 15 years and Toronto’s own movement has been bolstered by the opening of three different Tiki Bars over the last 12 months. The Shameful Tiki in Parkdale owes its success from the passion of a true tiki acolyte.  Having already conquered Vancouver with the original location, owner Rod Moore has now graced Toronto with a bar as close to authentic as possible.

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Partnering with ex-Harbord Room bartender Alana Noduega, Moore has hand built a stunning bar full of Tiki nostalgia.  Staying on point, bamboo and wicker surround, masks and souvenirs fill every conceivable spot while palm and straw shadow the already dim lit space. There is a discovery at every turn.

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What may deter a busy neighbourhoods’ walk by traffic but is ultimately the essence of the bar is the blacked out windows and minimal signage.  Tiki is about escapism so Moore and Noduega try to keep the exposure to the outside to the smallest measure possible. It does however add to the bars mystery.

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If walking in and absorbing massive amount of Tiki decor doesn’t knock you off your feet then the cocktail menu will.  An extensive list of genuinely authentic tropical cocktails are coded for potency by a “number of barrel” systems. The stronger the beverage the more barrels besides it name. If your group feels industrious order one of the massive “bowls”. Entertainment value aside these easily lubricate 2-3 guests at a time.  Ask the expert bartender to tell you more about the drinks as each has an entertaining history right down to the garnishes used. And if the prices make you cringe be reminded that the amount of booze per drink makes them highly reasonable.

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The menu is geared towards a drinking crowd.  Share plates and snacks are available and flavours are studded with Polynesian flair. These Luau Sliders are punched up with slices of spam, pineapple and sweet BBQ sauce. Everything on the menu from drinks to eats encourage guests to relax, take it easy and enjoy the time in the bar.

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The Shameful Tiki is open seven nights a week  and with a semi regular rotation of live bands and future events the entertainment value  soars while staying true the Tiki way.

The Shameful Tiki

1378 Queen Street W, Toronto

Bar Hop Brew Co.

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Just around the corner from its flagship location on King Street, owners Robert Pingitore and James Macdonald have opened Barhop Brew Co; it’s massive, creative big sister.  Occupying three stories on Peter Street fringing of the club district, the same extensive list of craft beers remains the backbone of this successful franchise however the kitchen has evolved and the sheer size of the space has redefined the idea of pub dining.

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The first floor has seating for up to 72 people while providing USB ports and wall sockets for those needing both a literal and libational recharge. The centerpiece, as it should be, is the main bar offering a regularly rotation of 36 plus craft beers pulled from a stunning cast iron draft tower.  An ambitious selection of fine bourbons, whiskeys and scotch allows for a creative cocktail list while directly behind the bar a metal caged area is primed for onsite brewing and proofing.

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Opening a restaurant with so much real estate requires a lot of patience and foresight. Pingitore and MacDonald have kept things in check by finishing the remaining floors in steps; the 90 seat TV-free dining room is slated for late Winter/early Spring and a summer reveal of their 100 plus person rooftop patio.

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Further setting itself apart from the original the owners have brought in head chef Mark Cutara formally from Cowbell to elevate the food beyond typical gastropub fare. Offering snacks, salads, sandwiches, mains and shared mains Cutara shows why his knowledge of the whole animal, nose to tail movement is so valuable. Almost everything is made in house from his own pickles and beef pepperettes to the Pig’s Head nachoes, a customer favorite.

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Potato churros with Nori salt and lemon aioli and scotch olives, green olives encased in Italian sausage, pimento cheese and breaded are outstanding shareables and make sure you ask you server for a perfect pint to accompany them.  The menu is heavily curated to pair well with what’s on tap and their knowledgeable staff will set you up for a great experience.

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 With the burgeoning Craft beer scene expanding Torontonians taste buds Barhop Brew Co. is a perfect spot to supply adventurous brews and intoxicating eats.

 

Bar Hop Brew Co.

137 Peter St.

647-348-1137

 

Reforma 35

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Regulars of the previous occupants of 35 Baldwin Street, Agave y Aguacate will say the meat and bones of the place has relatively stayed the same.  Similar design concepts, brightly coloured walls and closely related logo. It is the heart of the place that’s is noticeably different with the arrival of Reforma 35.

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Keyvan Foroughi knows this space intimately having owned the former Agave.  It’s turquoise walls, bench seating, and creative art work are all part of his constant vision of recreating places he loves most in his travels through Mexico. Vibrant, social and relaxed places. When he partnered up with former co owner of Fonda Lola, Andres Marquez and brought in Chef Marcos Sanchez from Diwan the food and drink finally lined up with their equally shared vision.

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Creative and flavour filled dishes dominant a small menu of Mexican Street food. Expected dishes like enchiladas and guacamole and chips are available but the sheer love of great tasting  Mexican food can be found in abundance throughout the choices. The Cesar en Mano is a brilliant deconstructed take on the Caesar salad.  A create-your-own handheld salad “taco” with lettuce leaves, avocado dressed greens, cojita cheese, candied bacon and crispy pork rinds, it will have you talking about it for days.

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The rest of the menu continues down that creative line.  Tacos el gobernador is by far the best shrimp taco in the city. Simple citrusy grilled shrimp, cheese and pickled onions.  Taco Tuesdays offers up $2 Taco de Canasta, crispy shells filled with chicken or vegetables and all the prerequisite toppings. Beef lovers can happily indulge in salspicon de res, perfectly grilled steak with crispy leeks and a cilantro dressing.

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If you want to have a quiet relaxing lunch or dinner at Reforma 35 the dining room upstairs is ideal. However if you want the chance to socialize with the incredibly friendly staff and owners the bench seating on the main floor is where the fun begins.  Many of the dishes have a story behind them, from the Cesar and it’s Mexican and not Italian heritage or the history behind a shrimp taco with cheese.  Or if conversation falls short you can easily kill time watching one of the many talented bartenders sling out classic cocktails or delicious spins on some of your favorites.  The beet margarita is a huge hit with its earthy tones and laid back sweetness. Enjoy some dessert while sitting there. Either option of the Platanos Fritos (fried plantains) or the Flan de chocolate are decadent winners.

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One of the most important things the owners at Reforma 35 wanted to create was a restaurant that was about simple and delicious food.  A place where you can socialize, relax or enjoy the scene around. Simple and delicious is always successful and at Reforma 35 they have it perfected.

Reforma 35

35 Baldwin Street, Toronto

647-748-6448

Burdock

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With Toronto rapidly increasing its craft beer clout, you would think Burdock is just another brewery/gastro pub.  With newly opened Mascot Brewery, a April 2016 opening for Henderson Brewery and brewers like Lost Cause taking over taps across the city you may worry about an over saturation hops and barley. Fortunately for Burdock they have an ace up their sleeve.

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Let’s start with the basics. Burdock is first and foremost a brewery.  Relying on the experts of Brewery Operations Manager and Co-Owner Matt Park, this small space of gleaming silver tanks is putting out 9 to 10 creative, high quality beers.  Available at a few restaurants and by bottle in their small shop it is worth the trip to Bloordale just to try the creativeness of their beers. Sours, wheats, pale ales, you name it and they are doing something adventurous with the style.

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With the beer in expert hands it’s no surprise the restaurant is too.  A narrow space  that can seat up to 70, with a 8-10 person communal table,  the dim lighting is brightened with drop fixtures and mason jar centerpieces. Simple decor, fresh plants and refurbished mosaic tiles from the previous occupants allows guests to focus undistracted on the dishes coming from the kitchen.

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Helmed by Chef Jeremy Dennis (Woodlot, Chantecler), the menu is small but changes on an almost daily basis.  Example in point, the food I tried while visiting is probably not on the menu anymore. As a former Woodlot baker, Dennis has brought to Burdock the gorgeous fresh bread that makes his former work place famous as well as a creative edge that his new residency encourages wholly. His focuses on local, fresh ingredients caters to all food preferences.

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Despite the stellar beer and outstanding food Burdock could get lost in the Brewpub wilderness if not for their final piece of the puzzle. When Burdock took over the space from a former Portuguese chicken joint they split the space in half.  And through a door to the left of the dining room is a brand new, expertly custom built music hall. Booker’s Charlotte Cornfield and Adrian Underhill are also musicians who understand exactly what works in live venues and this acoustically isolated space is a performers dream. Currently booking around 5 shows a week up to 90 people can rock out while diners next door don’t hear a thing.

I will never be one to say there are too many craft brewpubs in city especially when creative menus and spaces continue to be the standard. And whether you go for the music, food or beer you should definitely check out Burdock

Burdock

1184 Bloor St West

416-546-4033

Bobbie Sue’s Mac & Cheese

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Occupying an unassuming corner on a stretch of Ossington Avenue that boasts the likes of The Foxley, Union, Rock Lobster and The Saint is a tiny wooden walk-up with shack-like proportions called Bobbie Sue’s. There are no tables or chairs here. Instead this wood covered window opens up and under the watchful (painted) eye of buildings’ bovine namesake everyone’s comfort food dreams are answered.

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Brother’s Frederic and Nicholas Laliberté,  and Fred’s wife Katie have an experienced history with all things carbohydrates, sauce and cheese as owners of another popular single subject restaurant Poutini’s . Getting to the heart of peoples stomachs is what they know best.  By using the tiny space attached to their sister restaurant Hawker Bar they not only have the convenience of location and storage overflow but a mutual love of all things gooey.

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Using Fred’s perfected béchamel base, this diminutive space boasts big flavours with a perfect variety of meat, veggie and cheese combinations as exuberant as the creators themselves. Nostalgic Camp Mac offers up out the much loved cut up hot dogs our mother’s used to make while the Carbonara fancies up your palate with high styling pancetta and egg yolk.

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Curry in a Hurry and the Blue Buffalo Chicken are easy choices for those wanting to spice up their lives while vegan’s can equally enjoy some cheesy goodness along with their carnivore friends.

This unique eclectic space works simply because it they keep their menu compact yet diverse.  For anyone having a craving for belly soothing comfort food Bobbie Sue’s is only a walk up away.

Bobbie Sue’s Mac & Cheese

162 Ossinton Avenue #3

Toronto Ontario

(647) 352-2762

Lamesa Filipino Restaurant

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Tuna Kinilaw

Toronto is a great city with a vast amount of culinary diversity. Almost every single ethnicity is represented in the arts, culture and cuisine from one end of the city to the other.  Veering away from designated “towns” like Little Italy, Koreatown or the Danforth it is not uncommon to find an Italian restaurant beside a Mexican cantina down the road from a German gastropub.

 Beet Maalat Salad

Beet Maalat Salad

At Lamesa Filipino Kitchen on Queen West, owner Les Sabilano and Chef Daniel Cancino introduce diners to the much misunderstood cuisine of tropical isles and family-centric gatherings.  With fresh perspective they create dishes that make Filipino food seem less scary to newcomers and brighten the palates of local transplants.

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan

The restaurant space is typical to most edge of Parkdale establishments. A large friendly communal table awaits diners as they first enter, battered wood with bench seating and a perfect people watching view of the street. The narrowness of the restaurant then draws the eye down past the “tiki” esque style bar and into a more intimate dining area with stunning stain glass ceiling fans, rich medium dark wood tones and crisp pale walls. Take some time to enjoy the artwork throughout the space (including the bathrooms), curated from up and coming Filipino creatives.  Then dive into the mind blowing menu.

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Don’t let the prettiness of the visually stunning cocktails fool you; each and everyone packs a punch. Anise flavoured dark rum, kalamansi (lime) juice and ginger beer resembles a perfect Dark and Stormy while the Boracay Beach takes you back to the sand and surf with flavours of dark rum, coconut rum, banana liqueur and house made peach liqueur.

Corned Beef Lumpias

Corned Beef Lumpias

Light dishes or snacks can start your meal off with citrusy Tuna Kinilaw, a tuna ceviche atop a coconut guacamole, Beet Maalat Salad; a tangy, salty salad of beets, white anchovy, salted egg and Thai basil or you can dig into a plate of crispy, corned beef lumpia with the requisite house made banana ketchup.

Talong Salad

Talong Salad

Cauliflower Ginataan

Cauliflower Ginataan

Vegetarians can dine happily along their omnivore friends with outstanding options like Talong Salad, a charred eggplant with adobo caponata, salted egg, frisee and crème fraiche or Cauliflower Ginatann; a four way dish the has cauliflower roasted, steamed, raw and pureed.

Beef Bulalo

Beef Bulalo

For those wanting a little more meat on their bones can’t go wrong with the comforting beef bulalo, a winter weather bowl of short ribs, root vegetables and bone marrow all in a gingery broth. Or those more adventurous souls can try the dinuguan, a plate of octopus, pork cheek, apple, maple puto, calamansi and pigs blood jus.

Ube Leche Flan

Ube Leche Flan

Brightly coloured desserts are perfect end to any meal and the Ube Leche Flan is a smooth treat with its vibrant Purple yam (ube) custard.

One of the best things about the city is the variety we offer our guests and residents. And because of that choice we can try cuisines we would never have a chance to in other cities.  Different doesn’t have to mean scary. Different can mean delicious.

Trinity Common

Trintiy Common Photo 1

Right in the heart of the madness that can be Kensington Market Trinity Common is a refreshing respite from dodging tourists, automobile drivers who didn’t quite know what they were getting into when they turn up Augusta  and the regulars who with elbows out and chins tucked get their fashionable grocery shopping done.

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While the oversized patio is perfect for navel gazing it’s the massive amount of real estate behind the doors that really brings the trifeca of food, booze and entertainment to life. Rough restoration-esque wood counters, exposed brick walls, metal fixtures and sleek furniture occupy a space able to house an incredible amount of people yet feel open and crowd less. It comes as no surprise given the “trinity” of Shepherds; Don, Mike and Lisa as well as friend Alan Walker already have their feet well planted in the success of franchise Big Fat Burrito.

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If you are going for the food Chef Liam Donato has got you covered.  With popular dishes like fried green tomatoes and these tuna, bay scallop and citrus ceviche tacos he keeps his menu seasonal and fresh.  The tacos alone are worth going for.

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The grilled peach and radish salad with frisee, pepitas and goat cheese proves the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables surrounding them in the market is a huge benefit.

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And for those who want a more substantial meal can easily get behind this double cheese burger with Chef Liam own love of the Big Mac showing through in the secret sauce, lettuce and pickle garnish. Or you can sink your teeth into some bbq ribs or smoked wings.

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If it’s the booze you are here for then you have your choice from an extensive cocktail list including classics ( the Old Fashioned) or original mixes like this refreshing bourbon Shades of Earl Grey.

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When beer is more your thing Trinity Common has a large selection of local Craft beers on tap (up to 20 currently) regularly rotated to give up and coming one-offs and special pours a chance to shine. Bottle and cans are also available but don’t get too attached.  Because of their support for all things craft the line up changes often meaning the great IPA you had yesterday may not be there tomorrow.

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To finish off the trinity with the entertainment portion of the restaurant bands have ample space and opportunity to rock out on their live stage designed to give musicians the chance to play a larger establishment with an eclectic local and touristy crowd.

Trinity Common is a much needed spot in a tourist heavy area of the city.  With bringing in great libations, delicious eats and notable sounds it will quickly become a whispering point amongst travellers and hot spot for locals.

Trinity Common

32 Augusta, Toronto 647-346-3030

Corks and Platters

Corks&Platter Photo 1

There are not many places around the city where you can pop in for a glass of wine or beer and a quick nibble without having to put your name on a list at the door or fight masses of hungry diners.  You can certainly upgrade your movie ticket to VIP status or press yourself uncomfortably into a sliver of a spot at the bar.  Or better yet just prepare it yourself at home. None of that helps if you just want to go out and be marginally sociable before or after a main event.

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Corks & Platters Wine Bar in The Beach is just what every neighbourhood needs.  Owned and curated by wine expert Krista Pollett guests can perch on a log stool or relax at one of three tables for two and sip on a local Niagara vintage and snack on any of the available custom meat, cheese or vegetable platters. It’s not a place where you linger over long drawn out courses or plan out a detailed bathroom renovation. Instead you have an inviting, comfortable space where you can try great wines, chat with Krista or meet a regular or two before heading out to your next stop.

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Pollett is the consummate hostess.  Ask for wine and food pairing recommendations and she will take you on a wondrous tasting journey with her knowledge and passion.  Firmly believing in and openly practising living local she always has a moment to introduce you to something new, talk about a great new cheese find or to discuss the importance of supporting local Ontario growers and farmers.

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Her well thought out wine list is solely small brand Niagara Wines not generally found in the LCBO and her platters comprise of edibles all produced in Ontario by small family owned farms. Even the beer selection, currently at 2 different brands available, are from small bottle-on-demand brewers or companies focusing on the same eating and drinking locally mentality.  While International wines may appear on special evenings in the future, guests can still trust in finding a superb sip from her collection.

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Nothing goes to waste in this small, cozy place.  From making her own beef jerky to using reclaimed wood and crafting the furniture by hand to repurposing her children’s artwork into the decor you get an immediate sense of home while enjoying a night out.  Whether you are on a date and heading to a show or want to unwind after a long day Cork & Platters is the perfect place to have a good time though not a long time.

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Cork’s & Platters

2220 Queen Street East

416-706-6668

The Pearl Diver

The Pearl Diver (11 of 18)

When a new restaurant appears to have taken over another in your neighbourhood you suspect new everything; owners, decor, food and ambience.  However when a new restaurant of similar style opens you question how new is it really? As is the case with The Pearl Diver on Adelaide East, a revamped version of owner Patrick McMurray’s Starfish. With some sweeping changes across the menu, style and interior space take the former fine dining oyster bar into a wider audience friendly local with craft beer and delicious eats

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Let’s not talk about what it was.  Instead let’s focus on what you can enjoy now. Light on the nautical, The Pearl Diver provides a relaxed space with church pew seating, bar rail stools and a back of the house dining space suitable for large groups that slightly resembles a fishwife’s kitchen but without the bait and tackle.

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Under the helm of Chefs Milosz “Tom” Malycha and Martin Zechel, land and seas lovers can easy dine together through a menu full of underwater fare and landlocked dishes.  Appetizers range from grilled Argentine shrimp on apples, fennel and Nordic greens, crispy fried calamari perfectly cooked that the dipping sauce is truly an after thought to salads topped with massive fried rounds of goat cheese and hazelnut dressing. The Chowder is seasonally themed with a light tomato base being this summers’ feature.

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Pescetarians can choose from entrees like fresh Mussels in a coconut, ginger broth or any number of whole fish dishes inclduing tandoori spiced salmon and pan-seared pickerel while their carnivore friends can feast on honey garlic ribs, or a thick juicy steak.

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If there is still room for more sweet toothers can pick one or more desserts from an incredibly ambitious dessert menu, curated and executed by local culinary students. Sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake, and panna cotta only just tip the iceberg of choice.

The Pearl Diver 23For those who enjoy a cocktail or two can be confident in quality with bartender Kevin Brauch stirring things up.  Well known as The Thirsty Traveller and from Iron Chef America, Brauch is forever experimenting with ice size, flavour combinations and garnish to make sure you get the best drink around.  And all with entertaining witty banter.

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As with any oyster bar the star of the show is front and center at the raw bar. Shuckers work none stop to provide the fresh displays of seafood that the restaurant has in hot demand thanks to specials like Zinc and Drink, a promotion with Wellington’s Brewery where a dozen featured oysters and a pint is only $20, or the towering Seafood Circus offered on Tuesday nights. And those with a competitive side should try out 100 (oysters) for $100 on Thursday nights, an event so popular a chalkboard post keeps track of local team successes.

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With a kitchen highly educated in what it does best, an entertaining bartender, attentive staff and casual decor, The Pearl Diver has created a restaurant that welcomes back it’s Starfish crowd with gentle changes while opening up the doors to hip and adventurous newcomers.

The Pearl Diver

100 Adelaide St E, Toronto,

416-366-7827

Bean And Baker Malt Shop

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Nestled on the corner of a busy intersection of Christie Pits bustling with bike lanes and city streets is a retro soda fountain malt shop straight out the 1950’s.  Imagined and realized by the husband and wife team of Liezel and Brennan Anderson once you take a step through the front door your senses are rewarded with old school decor, hip hopping fifties era rock ‘n’ roll and retro desserts and beverages to beguile your senses.

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For those who revere nostalgia the narrow diners’ cherry red counters and checkerboard tiled floor are a perfect backdrop for the charming soda jerk uniforms, complete with bow ties and hats. Even The Toronto Vintage Society have offer assistance to the Anderson’s at finding the most authentic items for their shop.

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Liezel, an accomplished pastry chef, delights in the creation of many of the restaurants decadent desserts, laboring long and hard to create the perfect butter tart or slice of cake or delectable hand pie. Each day only a certain number of hand pies are available, making them perfect to grab for the commute home or weekend bike ride.

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Maple Bacon Butter Tart

The Old School Lunch Pie is a sugary, teeth shattering example of self indulgence with graham cracker crust, strawberry jam, chocolate ganache and peanut butter, perfect for anyone who loves their desserts.

Bean And Baker (14 of 16)

Old School Lunch Pie

With limited seating and tranquil Bickford park right across the street the menu caters to quick drop ins and the to-go crowd.  It’s an ideal location for a first date where two straws are a popular as the shakes they go in but a quick exit can be accomplished if things get awkward.

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Quality is incredibly important to these first time shop owners.  Using the highest quality equipment they produce incredible sodas and shakes.  Brennan, a former barista and coffee expert has a keen sense of flavors and uses it to create outstanding homemade syrups for their soda (lemon Rickey, hibiscus, gramp’s ginger, root n’ cola, real orange, vanilla cream and cherry cola). Skillfully using spiral bar spoons the syrup is poured into a glass of the purest soda water they can create, preventing agitation of the ice. The result is a concentrated, refreshingly flavorful drink .

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And if you want to go a little crazy that same soda can be garnished with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream and proverbial cherry to be presented as the prettiest soda float around. And once the ice cream is slid carefully into the beverage, the need for the bottom plate becomes essential.

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Milkshakes or Malt shakes are by the far a popular choice at Bean and Baker.  After trying various ways to create the perfect malt flavor the final product is a thick, creamy froth of ice cream and milk.  Being considerate of their neighborhood and customers, a vegan and lactose free option is available allowing for whole families to enjoy these treats together. The stainless steel shake cup accompanies your glass so it can be topped up with every last drop of milk or malt shake made.

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If sweets are not your thing savory pies and sausage rolls are also available while Brennan, with his keen coffee sense has created a house blend of beans that produces a superb tasty coffee or latte.

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Nowhere else in Toronto can you get an experience of stepping back in time, to an easier life of soda fountains and milk shakes, Chuck Berry and shiny linoleum like that at Bean and Baker Malt Shop. With attentive staff and owners wanting to bring you the most authentic experience you will be begging for a shop like this in your neighborhood.  Until then Liezel and Brennan look forward to seeing you.

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Bean and Baker Malt Shop

326 Harbord Street, Toronto

416-536-SODA (7632)

 

 

Duggan’s Brewery

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If you are going to take a slow and steady approach to opening a new brew pub/restaurant you want Mike Duggan at the helm.  With a long history in brewing exceptional beers (Duggan was a founder of the Mill Street brand) and personal phone directory of just the perfect friends to have (Consulting Chef Rene Chauvin) this bare bones designed restaurant, shop and brewery has all the ingredients of success.

With a 155 seat capacity the space heavily relies on industrial chic touches of wood topped tables and lots of metal fixtures. An onsite store allows you to buy most of the beers available on tap including several like my favorite the Parkdale Bomber bottled in the highly popular growler.  Unisex bathrooms and a big screen television attract a diverse crowd of Parkdale regulars and out of town visitors.

Duggan

This simplistic approach is also evident in the kitchen.  Sous Chef Eric Snidal gave into the early requirement of the prerequisite tacos by offering a daily special when the restaurant first started out as merely a pop up and has since morphed the menu into an eclectic mix of bar favorites wings and ribs, and by listening to the largely vegan nieghborhood and creating stellar vegetarian dishes even carnivores would enjoy like this mixed grain salad with raspberries, pomegranate, and cucumber.

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Beer drinkers extraordinaire can enjoy standard snacks like candied bacon, chicken crackle and spicy crisp wings available as jerk, lemon pepper, cajun and hot ‘n’ honey.

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While the tacos are long gone from the original menu their replacement the chicken enchiladas are easily a favorite including all the flavors from the missed tacos and rolling them into a small, compact delicious bite of flavor.  With 40 day cured beef which Duggan’s believes is the best around beginning to take off on the menu, diners can snack away or stay for a meal all while enjoying some pints.  Regular additions and subtractions as the seasons change keeps the menu new and fresh.  And if someone at your table isn’t a beer fan, wine and spirits are readily available.

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With future plans including more interior decorating touches, a cool basement space and a rare Parkdale patio Duggan’s is slowly gaining traction as a must visit Brewery and Restaurant. And with smart leadership, a wealth of beer knowledge and a kitchen staff excited to experiment it will quickly become “regular’s” place to be.

Duggan’s Brewery

1346 Queen Street West

(416)588-1086

The Craft Brasserie and Grille

When owners Chris Pagonis and Dean Tzembelicos decided to open a brew pub modeled after the popular concept appreciated throughout major cities Stateside they may have bitten off more than they could chew.  With 120 different craft beer taps and a staggeringly massive restaurant space The Craft Brasserie and Grille could have been a daunting endeavor.  Yet by bringing in an incredibly educated and ambitious bar manager with Matt Sieradzki and a fresh, talented chef in Adrian Andaya the magnitude of this endeavor seemed mote. With the bustling and trendy neighborhood of Liberty Village trying to further set themselves apart from the rest, The Craft’s location in the sunken lower level of an 110 year old building and proximity to the exhibition GO station is golden.

The Craft Interior

As a Prud’homme Beer Sommelier Sieradzki brings a strong passion for community, relationships and of course great taste to every one of his choice pours.  By developing a frank and open discussion with all his vendors, by getting to know the people behind the beer he has brought a cacophony of brands and flavours for the masses to enjoy.  And while the idea of deciding which of the 120 beers to try can be tiresome, he has gradually passed on his education to his serving staff, making sure your drinking experience is first class. The beer menu is intelligently laid out; the whole spectrum of flavor is represented and easily discovered. And with flights of 4 five ounce glasses of beer being college-aged affordable (currently priced at $10.50) The Crafts’ goal of introducing people to new and incredible beers is a guaranteed.

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Of course great beer always tastes better with fantastic food.  With a menu full of small plates and shareable bites Chef Andaya wants guests to be able to try a multitude of beers along with a huge variety of delectable dishes for everyone at your table to taste. Gourmet burgers and sandwiches come solo however several creative and unbelievably delicious “fries” can be ordered and easily become a four person dish.  The Madras is a bowl overflowing with pakora battered fries, fontina cheese, a rich madras gravy and topped with a fried egg while the Asada fries are almost a meal in itself with strip of beef, chimichurri, jalapeno cheese, creme fraiche and caramelized onions.

The Craft Food2

Other shareables run the gamut from flatbreads, tacos, wings, ribs, and sliders to battered fish,popcorn chicken and lettuce wraps. Chef Andaya’s Filipino background comes out in the popular Lumpia Spring rolls; ground pork nicely seasoned, deep fried and served with a banana pepper ketchup. And for those guests who just want to have a pint or two after work without the crowd full entrees are also equally impressive and high on taste.

The Craft Food1

With a 50 seat patio weeks away and ideas of brunches and tasting events already turning the wheels of the future,The Craft Brasserie is a beer lovers mecca and a foodies dream.

The Craft Brasserie
101 Atlantic Avenue, Toronto
416-535-BEER

Triple B at Lisa Marie’s

Lisa Marie (1 of 7)

Tuesday evening doesn’t have to mean cheap night at the the movie theater anymore.

For those who enjoy a little daubing without the stress of multi-card repetitive strain injuries and lofty ideas that the next big pot is only one number away should head over to Queen Street West for some triple B; burgers, beer and bingo at Lisa Marie Restaurant.  This Parkdale gem, owned and operated by Matt Basile; the epically creative mastermind behind Toronto’s beloved food truck Fidel Gastro’s (and their dream inducing Pad Thai Fries) offers you every Tuesday a night of ungodly innovative burgers, cheap brews and 6 rip roaring rounds of low stakes bingo.

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For that night only Lisa Marie keeps it menu simple where a nightly special is unveiled, on top of an already stellar choice of burgers to devour.  Past burgers have included a triple stack with peameal bacon and a St. Patrick’s Day chimichurri sauced handful. The massive slab of meat I enjoyed recently was a bison burger with marrow butter aioli and crisp onions so juicy I could hardly get enough napkins to contain it. A couple of side dishes, like the aforementioned Pad Thai Fries and a couple desserts are all that’s needed to feed the regulars and frequent walk by’s that fill the restaurant each time Bingo night comes around.

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The Bingo itself is incredibly low brow, with single card rounds and tongue-in-cheek dollar store prizes.  Big Rock Brewery, the current in house sponsor offers up $5 pints and the occasional beer swag for the prize pool, while some nights the restaurant will collaborate with outside sponsors, like the people behind the new Beach Boys movie Love & Mercy or Big Gay Ice Cream who will sweeten the pot with some delicious treats, movie tickets or DVDs.  Despite the meager winnings, the atmosphere is still loud and ruthless helped along by a sassy resident DJ aka Bingo caller.

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If you want to spend your Tuesday night fighting the crowds to see the latest super hero movie go ahead. However if you want to do something just a bit different swing by Lisa Marie’s for an evening spend with like-minded and equally hip adults indulging in the Triple B.

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Lisa Marie’s

638  Queen  St.  West, Toronto

647.748.6822

www.fidelgastros.com/lisa-marie-main.html

The Good Son Restaurant

It is fair to say that my favorite street to dine on in Toronto is Queen. And not your typical downtown core of Queen St.  I love the strip of single lane, parking heavy, streetcar dodging road from Roncesvalles to Bathrust.  A thirty minute drive by car or a twenty minute hop on hop off transit ride. Within that span you can find anything your heart desires. South American at MATA, BBQ at Smoque N Bones, Tacos at Grand Electric, craft beer at Duggans, eclectic live music at the Cadillac Lounge, Hipster cool at The Gladstone, french sweets at Nadege, or deep fried goodness at Glory Hole donuts.

The Good Son

At a recent meet up of fellow Zomato virtuosos I discovered yet another gem in this favoured neighbourhood. The Good Son, from Chef Vittorio Colacitti is a throwback 1920’s speakeasy spread throughout an unthinkable amount of Parkdale real estate. Focusing on local, organic and seasonal ingredients the menu encourages guests to order multiple sharing-sized plates that run the gamut of cultures mirroring the vibe of the surrounding streets.  An open kitchen reveals a flaming wood fire oven that is guaranteed to bake up gorgeous disks of pizza while the brick walled bar and it’s drink Maestro, Moses McIntee easily serves up the freshest cocktail around.

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Once you can get past the vastness of the space and its stunning decor of leather quilted banquettes, alcoves of curiosities and walls adorned with portraits, photographs and with a flash to my childhood, dinner plates you are transported into a dining adventure of the highest proportion.  During my visit I was treated to a sample of the chefs tasting menu, an elaborate and lavish 8 course meal that as it unfolded competed with my adulation of the interior space.

The Good Son

After warming up from the winter chill with a Moses special Mulled wine cocktail and meeting my fellow diners Chef Vittorio held nothing back as he awed us with his talent.

A crispy potato wrapped jerk seasoned shrimp with a cool green mango salad.

The Good Son

My favorite dish of the evening a sumptuous pink snapper ceviche marinated in grapefruit, lime and cucumber serves with avocado and taro chips.  I could have easily eaten bowls of this. And bags of the chips.

The Good Son

Sweet potato soup with a thai curry base and garnished with lobster.  Huge succulent chunks of lobster that should garnish all my future dishes.

The Good Son

A perfectly cooked Digby Scallop seasoned with garam marsala. A crunchy sweet and sour jicama salad with Umeboshi and peanut held it’s own along the plump mullosk.

The Good Son

Dupuy lentils and anjou pear cradle a delicate sliver of fois gras that just melts on the tongue.

The Good Son

Highly addicting crispy, spicy Brussels Sprouts distract from the creamy pomme puree and fork tender prime rib but in an entirely delicious way.

The Good Son

In the first of two dessert course Pastry Chef Sat Sashtri delighted us with a simple poached pear in a Riesling Zabaione before completely over doing himself with a red velvet cake with chocolate mousse and torched meringue.  Incredibly decadent, over indulgent but a beautiful end to a stunning meal.

The Good Son

The Good Son

Everything about this restaurant exudes class.  From the beauteous decor, the enticing beverages and the provocative cuisine all details are carefully considered and presented in such a palatable manner that you feel like you are comfortable at home, or on a romantic date, or five star dining all in the same visit.  With a hand firmly on the pulse of the neighborhood The Good Son revels in its abilities and delights all their guests.

The Good Son
1096 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M6J 1H9
416.551.0589
info@thegoodsontoronto.com
 
*Disclaimer: I was invited by the Zomato group to experience this dining pleasure free of charge.  All opinions, at which I have many, are entirely my own.

Prenup Pub

Prenup Pub (2 of 12)

At first glance on their web page the impression you get of the Prenup Pub is one of post secondary schtick. A witty, yet profoundly long “agreement” explains the importance of drinking responsibly while also putting a bug in the ear of the reader about the other establishments under the same ownership. Located along the slightly frayed edge of the University of Toronto proper, this cozy two story European pub boast an exorbitant list of beers on and off tap.

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And while the students probably don’t need another popular watering hole, the Prenup Pub is a perfect place for the tired, over studied, slightly hungover to get away from sushi and ramen and fast food take out and enjoy hearty, creatively developed pub style meals. With a cozy interior gluttonous of space for large crowds, locals can nurse their too many late nights with a cold one pulled from the bar and a plate of homesick curing grub.

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European twists on Canadian Favorites are abundant across the menu from the German or Belgian Poutine to “sausage roll” like Braised Lamb in Phyllo.  Standard dishes like Pork Schnitzel and a Wurst salad of sausage, pickles, garlic, hers and mustard that is so full of unique flavor are so well delivered that it would not be hard to return multiple times in one week just to eat your way through the menu.

Waterzooi (Chicken Stew)

Waterzooi (Chicken Stew)

Wurst Salad

Wurst Salad

Pork Schnitzel

Pork Schnitzel

Braised Lamb in Phyllo

Braised Lamb in Phyllo

And if diners feel like sticking to the Saturday regulars ordering pizza will still impressed with it’s puff pastry crust.

Prenup Pizza

Prenup Pizza

Mussels

Mussels

 

Probably the best dish sampled was an instant brunch hangover cure of the Madame Monsieur Waffles.  Chimay ham, cheese, and an over hard fried egg top traditional Belgian waffles that is the perfect combination of sweet, savour and greasy. Served with frites it is sure to be the weekenders special.

Madame Monsieur Croque

Madame Monsieur Croque

If the norm is for restaurants to be a reflection of their neighbourhoods, Prenup Pub tosses that out the window and offers an experience of great food and boozy atmosphere.

Prenup Pub

191 College St
Toronto, ON M5T 1P9
Phone: 416.506 4040
 
*I was invited to taste the menu of this restaurant free of charge.  All opinions are completely my own.