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Toronto - Top 10 Chowhound Picks


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Restaurants & Bars 13

Toronto - Top 10 Chowhound Picks

Alan Gardner | Mar 28, 2001 10:42 AM

I seem to be posting on fine and expensive restaurants, so thought I’d do a list of my ‘Top 10 Chowhound Restaurants’. Arbitrarily set a limit of $50US for two ($75 Cdn), all-in including taxes and tip, (most are much lower) and including a couple of glasses of wine/beers as appropriate. As my favourite depends on mood, I’ll list alphabetically. I encourage all others to put up their list too.

A mixture of Caribbean and Thai food. Wonderful outside dining area for warm days. Consistently serves the best Pad Thai in Toronto. Also serves Burgers for those Chowhounds who travel with the unconverted. BUT at night becomes a Reggae club (after 9:30) so there’s sometimes a cover charge. About $40 with beer. Location Queen St east of Spadina, north side. 15 minute walk from downtown.

My favourite lunch place. Serves gourmet Panini sandwiches, which I usually have warmed on their Panini Grill. Take-out or sit-down, the price is the same. Cappuccino is under $2. Around $20, more expensive with wine. Location Yonge south of St Clair, west side.

Café Pleiades
A neighbourhood Bistro-style place with a chef who used to work the fine cuisine circuit and now runs this small place (30 seats) with one waiter and one other kitchen helper. Continental with Greek touches in the evening, typical medium-fast food at lunch. The prix-fixe at $19.95 (two courses plus tea/coffee) is a bargain, but splurge for the asparagus appetizer (best preparation I’ve ever had). $75 including wine. Location Mount Pleasant south of Manor Road, east side (next to the cinema).

Harbord Fish & Chips
Toronto’s best fish and chips. Huge portions and almost tempura-like batter. Really a take-out, but has 4 stools inside and picnic tables outside. $20 including soft drinks (not licensed). Location Harbord west of Spadina, south side.

Jing Peking
Unbelievably low prices and open until 2 am. The menu is patchy (too many choices) but the Hot and Sour Soup is the best in town (I know I’ll get competition on that!). And another must is the sesame biscuit (it’s a northern dim sum item, but you can order it anytime). Make sure you ask for the sesame biscuit to come at the same time as the soup, and eat them together. I usually order the Moo-Shu pork here as they have 6 pancakes (other restaurants typically give you 4). Although I’m not an eggplant fan, others rave about their eggplant. If you’re down to your last $5 the hot and sour noodle soup here is nutritious, filling and tasty. Around $20 including beer! Location College east of Bathurst, north side.

My favourite Indian. Often line-ups, but usually moves quickly. Mildly offputting as owners appear to be Chinese, but they were born in India. Tandoori Grill, but many of the dishes are cooked in a cashew paste, which is a little different. Very respectable – tablecloths – and always crowded. Best Onion Bhajia in town too (share one order between two, it’s huge). Around $45 with beer. Location Bloor at Brunswick, north side.

Peter’s Chung King
All around the most versatile Chinese in town. Predominantly Szechuan, but all dishes are well prepared. For a first visit, stick with their specials, then experiment. Wonderful green beans. Kids (of all ages) love the crispy rice dishes. Definitely the venue for groups as there’s something for everyone. Even has tablecloths so Mum will feel comfortable. If it’s not the best on any dish (see Jing Peking), then it’s still in the top 5. Great choices include szechuan shredded beef, spiced chicken with peanuts, orange shrimp etc etc. $30-35 including beer. College just west of Spadina, south side.

Sri Lankan food at bargain prices. Excellent choice for vegetarians, but good selection for meat lovers too. Excellent dhosas. Go exotic with String Hoppers. More conventionally try the Thali. Décor is minimal. No tablecloths but all food is freshly prepared. Outside patio in summer. Lunch is a buffet. $20-25 with beer. Wellesley east of Parliament, south side.

Salad Garden
Quite simply a University (Ryerson) hang-out. Packed all the time. Great Thai food at bargain prices. Line-up to order and they cook it fresh and call your number. In and out in 30 mins (plus line-up time). Unless you are very brave don’t go above *** (they really ration their hotness stars). Orders include rice. Closest recommendation to downtown, being close to Eaton Centre. $20, including pop (small selection of beer). Although it has a Yonge St address, the entrance is around the corner on Gould (1 block north of Dundas, east of Yonge).

Thai Shan Inn
Noted for the worst décor in town – and that was after the repainting. Plastic table covers. You’ll probably have to share a table. Pretty good Thai food, but notable for the best Tom Yum Goong (Spicy shrimp/mushroom lemongrass soup) in town. Make a pretty good green mango salad too, although a little sweet for some, and always serve orange segments to finish up. Bargain priced for the quality, but dress very casual for this one. Or, even better, call and order the Tom Yum Goong as a take-out (large size essential, no delivery). $20-25. Located on Eglinton West a few blocks west of Dufferin (south side).

Also a limited-time offer #11 for those staying downtown. The Red Tomato wouldn’t normally qualify, but they have a special ‘off-peak’ menu that is nearly all appetizers. Think non-chinese dim-sum and you’ll get the idea. At these off-times the prices are cut around 30% and you can have a great meal for $50-60 depending on selection (3 appetizers per person is plenty). Location (in the theatre district) King St between John and Peter, south side. Offered late afternoon daily and mid-afternoon on Sunday.

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