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What Makes These New and Creative Toronto Restaurants So Good

An innovative mix of cultures stars in one of the world’s top culinary scenes.

The dining room at and/or, which serves modern Canadian cuisine and is one of Toronto’s newest restaurants.

The dining room at and/or, which serves modern Canadian cuisine and is one of Toronto’s newest restaurants.

Courtesy of and/or

Toronto has long had a diverse dining scene with tastes of South America, Asia, Africa, Indigenous cultures, the Caribbean, and Europe all available. Where the city’s restaurants truly shine is in the deliciously creative ways chefs blend the flavors and traditions of those global influences.

The fusion of ingredients and heritage helps define Toronto beyond its rich culture, art, and architecture for a world-renowned restaurant scene. Try these spots that meld different cooking styles and recipes from around the world (plus a few new places) to taste imaginative gastronomy at its finest on a trip here.

Toronto’s newest restaurants

The city’s new sensory- and music-rich hot spot, Rhapsody combines the energy of tunes with every dish and cocktail. Menus, created to harmonize with the musicality of the Japanese-Peruvian concept, include tapas, desserts, and cocktails. Think grilled tiger shrimp with spicy black garlic and honey and Peruvian-spiced beef empanadas served with house chimichurri. Cocktails feature ingredients like pisco, figs, coconut cordial, raspberries, and sesame oil.

A selection of Pacific Ocean-inspired dishes from the new restaurant Lulu Bar.

A selection of Pacific Ocean-inspired dishes from the new restaurant Lulu Bar.

Courtesy of Lulu Bar

Another newcomer to Toronto’s discerning dining scene is The Wellington Market Food Hall, due to open this year at The Well, a new residential and retail space. The Hall brings fresh, local produce, artisan fare, and a variety of casual dining options ranging from the comforting to the adventurous. One such restaurant, Lulu Bar serves dishes in homage to the Pacific Ocean and the places on its shores including Asia, Hawaii, California, and British Columbia.

For diners who can’t decide between top-grade steak or umami-rich sushi, Aera satisfies both. Helmed by one of Canada’s most highly revered chefs, Anthony Walsh, this restaurant on the 38th floor has a menu that “captures the essence of 21st Century American cuisine” with such options as spaghetti topped with lobster, rich and hearty prime ribeye, and an extensive raw bar.

Modern Canadian food gets the spotlight at Toronto’s new and/ore, led by chef Missy Hui. The multilevel destination has a surprise for diners who venture below to the underground space for a six-course tasting menu of seasonal ingredients. Aboveground, seasonal plates like oyster mushrooms with sesame, duck-filled hand pies, and smoky lamb ribs complement bold wines and classic cocktails.

New and soon-to-open restaurants featuring Asian cuisine include chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa’s Nobu Toronto at the highly anticipated Nobu Toronto Restaurant, Hotel and Residence, Mott 32, Muay Thai Restaurant, and the globally inspired Greta.

Courtesy of Frenchy Bar et Brasserie

Enjoy French cuisine at Frenchy Bar et Brasserie.

Courtesy of Frenchy Bar et Brasserie

If European fare is calling your name, savor fresh oysters and duck confit cassoulet at the new Frenchy Bar et Brasserie and explore a multicourse tasting menu filled with modern interpretations of classic Mediterranean dishes at the new Restaurant Azura. For a taste of west Asia and the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, order the fries tossed in Za’atar spice, rich falafel, and rice and black lentils seasoned with cinnamon and cumin and topped with truffle oil, toasted almonds, and caramelized onions at Mossop’s Social House in Hotel Victoria.

Innovative flavors and culinary fusion

Courtesy of Chotto Matte

A delectable piece of Peruvian-influenced nigiri from Chotto Matte

Courtesy of Chotto Matte

The latest additions to Toronto’s dining scene aren’t the only ones offering distinctive flavors and fresh eating experiences. The city’s established chefs are the foundation of this celebrated food city. A culinary remix is at the heart of Toronto’s personality and restaurants like Patois, where the Caribbean meets Asian soul food; Haam, which serves sushi and tacos; and Chotto Matte, combining Japanese precision and Peruvian flair, all experiment with blending the tastes of differing cultures together in mouthwatering ways.

What happens when a chef meshes the fiery spices of Jamaican dishes with the hearty soul of Italian cuisine? Kensington Market’s Rasta Pasta is a palate-stimulating experience combining traditional Jamaican recipes with Italian delights for dishes like a jerk chicken panini and oxtail simmered in a Dutch pot.

Traditional global restaurants are anything but ordinary in Toronto. The Mexican restaurant Quetzal in Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood hints at the Japanese-Hungarian influence of its executive chef Steven Molnar with every dish cooked over a 28-foot wood fire and spiced with Japanese ingredients.

Courtesy of Fonda Balam

Some of the tantalizing desserts served at Fonda Balam

Courtesy of Fonda Balam

A Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant, Fonda Balam’s Mexican cuisine draws heavily on the many trips that its founders Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo took to Guajardo’s hometown León, Guanajuato, and throughout México to sample street food. A group of AFAR editors and team members recently visited the countertop seating–only space and loved the authentic flavors in classic dishes like slow-cooked beef birria and shrimp cocktail with avocado in a spicy red sauce, along with the friendly service.

Along with art, history, performances, and museums honoring Toronto’s rich Indigenous culture, Tea-N-Bannock shares the past and present of Canada’s First Peoples in culturally authentic dishes including smoked bison or elk stew, bison steaks, wild-caught Atlantic char, traditional Three Sisters soup, and teas made with Ontario cedar and labrador, a plant favored by the Athabaskan First Nations and Inuit people.

The Antler Kitchen and Bar is a must for those seeking Canadian wild game. The menu includes seasonal, foraged ingredients from hunter and wild-game chef Michael Hunter with dishes ranging from rack of venison, bison steaks, and a maple-brined boar chop to hen-of-the-woods salad. Even desserts like the Ontario rhubarb tart topped with a spruce almond crumble feature local, foraged ingredients.

Adrak Yorkville, a Michelin-listed spot that the entire AFAR team enjoyed dining at earlier this year, highlights modern Indian cuisine with cultural favorites like a rich, spicy lamb curry. It also excels at plant-based dishes including khatte meethe baingan, which features baby aubergine in a sweet-sour sauce. Plus, its excellent, inventive cocktail menu and elegant dining room will have you reaching for your camera.

Flavorful vegetarian dining

For vegans and vegetarians, the culinary choices in Toronto are anything but bland or uninspired. Many in the vast landscape of food options happen to be vegan.

Living up to its name, Planta Restaurant makes plant-based dining a true pleasure. Drawing on the power of vegetables and fruit to nourish and inspire, Planta’s menu reads like a garden with dishes including ahi watermelon nigiri, udon in truffle mushroom cream, and a funghi salad with butternut squash and fried mushrooms.

Rosalinda Restaurant’s taco platter features palate-surprising meals such as jackfruit carnitas and mushroom birria. Plus, its macha (a smoky sesame salsa) tofu bowls with grilled pineapple are about as flavorful as it gets.

With all the flavor and pizzazz of steak restaurants without the meat, spots like Guerilla Burger take plant-based burgers to a new level of explosive taste. The Kung Fu Burger sizzles with kimchi, crispy jalapeños, sesame seeds, and sesame togarashi aioli. Or try the Jerk Beyond Meat burger with grilled pineapple, cheddar, jerk coleslaw, plantain chips, and jerk aioli. Plus, it comes with the Jerk Mac, made with macaroni, butternut cashew “cheeze” sauce, and jerk aioli.

Veggie D’Light surprises with its vegetable-forward Caribbean dishes, like a Caribbean soup featuring Jamaican yams, pumpkins, organic coconut milk, legumes of the day, and fresh herbs.

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