I took off last Friday and this Tuesday and had access to a car, so my significant other and I decided to do a food tour of different places we had always wanted to go.
We started on Friday driving to Whitby to go to Buster Rhino's, after having read the threads on this board. We arrived around 1:30, and although there were always people coming and going, most people were doing take-out. We each ordered the special, which was a full rack of ribs, one side and a drink for $14.99. For my side, I got hush puppies (which, for those who don't know, are like deep fried corn balls). We both enjoyed our ribs a lot. I loved my hush puppies, which tasted great dipped in the BBQ sauce they make. However, the real treat was that the owner was walking around, table to table, asking anyone if they wanted a pickle - and the pickles were bright red. I asked him, "What are they?" but he wouldn't say until you tried them (he would say that they weren't hot). It ended up that they were another Southern speciality, Cherry Pickles. Apparently, in the South, they add Cherry KoolAid to the brine and then soak the pickles in it. It was just as strange tasting as it sounds. My partner didn't even finish his, but I enjoyed them enough to eat both. If you want a roadtrip, the drive to Whitby for ribs is fine (then you can go about 3 minutes and walk along the waterfront), but otherwise I wouldn't break my back to go there.
The next day was our walk along Leslieville. Lots of places to eat, all looked great, but I wasn't particularly hungry. We decided since it was a hot day to pick up some Ed's Real Scoop. For our sample, we tried the "Very Stout", which is Guinness Ice Cream. It tasted very strongly of beer, which may be refreshing if you like beer, but I didn't particularly like the taste. I ended up with Sweet Cream and the creamy Cherry gelato. I liked that you could get two flavours even though it was a kiddie sized cup. I thought the flavour was quite good and I would go back. My partner got a brownie flavour and the espresso flavour, he always enjoyed his although I didn't like his quite as much as my own. We walked down Queen to Greenwood, where we stopped at Chino Locos to get a burrito. Although the reviews were mixed on this board, increasingly becoming negative, we had a good time. The place is really small, but the servers and the owner are super friendly, so you don't mind sitting down to eat your burrito. Although I didn't get a burrito, my partner said his was good (very spicy), and we had no problems with them omitting the toppings we had asked to be left off. That being said, I did notice the guys making the burritos screwed up one or two of the other orders that came after us, so I believe what people have said about this being an issue. The owner told us he is opening up a full restaurant that seats 50 people by Hallowe'en, at Church and Wellsley, so they must be doing well. I will be interested to go to that location and see if there is a difference. I did think it was strange that they only had a tiny fridge of drinks, and the owner recommends you go to the convienence store next door to buy a drink.
That night, we met up with some friends and went to Volo for some drinks and supper. I had told them ahead of time that the food might be terrible -- after having experienced it myself, and having read about it on these boards. But one goes there for the amazing, extensive beer selection, not the food. However, all my companions loved their food. They had pasta dishes and my partner had the day's special, which was pork pie. I had the vegetarian sandwich and it was really not good at all, completely tasteless and almost all bread. However, the drinks were great, and the patio is nicely shaded and you can't smoke on the patio before 10, so you can eat your meal without getting smoke blown in your face.
The next day we went to Little India and went to Siddartha (the non-vegetarian buffet) for lunch. It was delicious. The naan was exceptional and we found the food to taste a lot lighter and fresher than the buffets we usually go to (and still love) in the downtown core. The only negative was that ladies' bathroom had a toilet that didn't flush at all, and things were backing up.
We also managed to go to Sidecar finally for drinks, at about 8:30 on Monday. The place was packed, and you could only get a table if you had a reservation, but we were happy to sit at the bar since we only wanted drinks. My partner had the Old Fashioned and liked it quite a bit, and I had the Painless Brazilian, which was delicious. They use egg whites to make a layer on the top of the drink that is like a strawberry meringue. I would definitely go back, and the bartender told us as we were leaving that "the food is even better than the drinks".
We also managed to drop by Mother's Dumplings and pick up some frozen dumplings to take home. Wow - that place smelled amazing right when you walk in. We picked up the vegetarian dumplings (25 frozen dumplings for $11) that had melon, tofu and vegetable noodle in them. We also got a bag of the pork and chives dumplings. They give you a huge bag of ice to keep the dumplings cold while you transport them home. Later that day, we used our rice cooker to steam them. They were absolutely delicious, the pork ones especially, they were filled with lots of meat and you could tell they were homemade and fresh. The vegetarian ones were really great too, although you couldn't really taste that they had melon in them at all (not sure what I thought they would taste like).
We did a lot of other site seeing, but the highlights of our weekend staycation was getting to eat all the great food Toronto has to offer.