New year, new you, new food! While most of us spent the holidays huddled around the fire muttering about how we no longer believe in global warming, Toronto’s culinary champs were busy creating a brand new crop of restaurants for us to try! Given that 2013 was the year where it seemed like there was practically a new restaurant every other day, 2014 is already off on a similar path. To help make things easier for you, we’ve gathered up fourteen newly opened Toronto restaurants that you must try in 2014…
Agave y Aguacate
Agave y Aguacate is best known to Torontonians as a famed (and now defunct) Mexican food stall in Kensington Market which counted many notable foodies, such as Anthony Bourdain, among its fans. Chef Francisco Alejandri (who trained under Jamie Kennedy) has translated the idea into a Baldwin Village restaurant featuring his inventive takes on traditional Mexican cuisine along with cocktails with a Latin twist (think a Negroni with Mescal instead of Campari).
The Beech Tree
The Beech Tree is a new gastropub in the Beaches featuring a daily-changing menu with quality ingredients inspired by standard pub food. The restaurant’s Victorian vintage and antique decor feels incredibly homey and was started on a shoestring budget by first-time restaurateur Robert S. Maxwell, who formerly manned a stall at the Toronto Underground Market, and Chef Jamie Newman, formerly of Opus at Bloor and Avenue.
America is totally the new Mexico, at least in terms of Toronto food trends. Brooklyn Tavern in Leslieville has a casual menu inspired by all the best flavours from below the 49th parallel including seafood chowder, Brooklyn Brisket Burger, and an all-day breakfast with Huevos Rancheros. The wine menu is Ontario and VQA-focused, complemented by a number of house cocktails.
Carbon Bar continues the casual food trend of the last couple years with Latin American and Southern-inspired custom cocktails and unpretentious dishes that will have any red-blooded carnivore watering at the mouth. Between the entire section of the menu cooked in the wood fire pit, to down-home diet-busters like the Chicken Skins or Porcini ‘n Grits, you may want to loosen your belt buckle after this ride, cowboy.
Duke’s Refresher + Bar
Joining their sister SIR Corp restaurants Reds Midtown Tavern and Scaddabush in the Aura Condos at Yonge and Gerrard, Duke’s Refresher + Bar is all about bringing in the younger crowd. The atmosphere is casual with loud music, a long bar, and an upstairs party-room called the Nosebleed Lounge. In keeping with this, the food is very much bar snacks, sandwiches, and burgers. For $20, one can join the Einstein Club which gets you a discount on beer and a personalized suds stein every time you visit.
Gilead Wine Bar
Gilead Wine Bar in Corktown is the latest culinary confection from Canadian celebrity Chef Jamie Kennedy. Featuring a menu that is so simple and seasonal it almost hurts (FYI, that’s a great thing), this is Kennedy’s first return to his wine bar-style dinner service since 2010. The wine list is Ontario focused and expect cocktails like barrel-aged Manhattans and Negronis coming this February.
Tired of washing the meat sweats out of your clothes? There’s hope! Harvest Kitchen features international dishes with a heavy vegan and vegetarian twist, including Thai curries, a “meatless” meatball sub, and a Mexican-inspired taco salad. Our second favourite part? Wine on tap from 13th Street Wineries sold at 99 cents an ounce.
Our idea of the perfect way to warm up on a winter’s day always seems to involve either wine or ramen. Makes sense right? Ramen Isshin facilitates the latter with eight different types of ramen on their menu, including two vegetarian options. Beyond this, they also have a great selection of Japanese small plates like Crunchy Chicken Karaage and a variety of rice bowls.
Rock ‘n’ Horse
Yeehaw, another Southern and Texan bar-style restaurant opens in Toronto! Rock ‘n’ Horse has the full Texas-sized experience, including a mechanical bull, a DJ dance floor for hoedowns, and live music. You can lasso yourself some strong drinks and dishes ranging from bar snacks to Southern comfort food like hickory-smoked beef brisket, corn dogs, and chili.
The Roncy Public
Flair bartending champ James Cosgriffe’s outpost, The Roncy Public, brings Roncesvalles Village and High Park not only the amazing cocktails you’d expect from someone of his professional background, but also the kind of casual comfort you’d be craving while you’re sipping on your second or sixth drink (no judgment!). We’re talking crispy fried chicken, waffles, and Portobello fries. Cab fare to the gym not included.
Sip Wine Bar
Sip Wine Bar at Yonge and Eglinton combines the ideas of a chic, downtown watering hole with a menu built around authentic Neopolitan pizza. The result is an experience that is charming and intimate, refined without being pretentious. Can you really go wrong with wine and pizza?
Small Town Food Co.
Hailing all hipsters! Small Town Food Co. is the latest addition to Parkdale’s burgeoning small restaurant scene. The culinary lovechild of industry vets Steve McKeon (Wrongbar) and Cameron Hutton (The Drake Hotel), it features hometown comfort food dishes with an uptown polish. The price-point is totally accessible and there’s an amazing wine list created by celebrated sommelier Anton Potvin, along with a bevvy of custom cocktails.
The Union Social
The Union Social Eatery is the latest dining experience to join Mississauga’s ever-growing culinary scene. They boast, “Common food done uncommonly well,” on a menu that features comfort food from across the globe. They have everything from Korean-style tacos, flatbreads, and Bangkok Pad Thai, to Steak Frites, just to name a few. FYI, chances are you’re probably already craving pretty much everything on their menu.
Wind Up Bird
Wind Up Bird is a café, restaurant, and community space all in one! With cuisine locally sourced but inspired by international flavours, it has a variety of funky new takes on classics such as boeuf bourgignon with tongue instead of regular beef and a sausage pot-au-feu with lotus root. During the day, the space becomes open to the laptop crowd who wants to work after lunch with a latte. On the weekends and at night, they have a small stage where they host recitals, lectures, poetry readings, and cooking programs.
BONUS! Restaurants We Can’t Wait to Open in 2014
The highly-anticipated sister restaurant to Chef Robert Gentile’s wildly popular Buca, Bar Buca is expected to open within the next month at King Street West and Portland. Expect amazing cocktails and high-end bar bites in a space that is destined to be dope. We can hardly contain our excitement!
Rose City Kitchen
The latest project by Gourmet Bitches creative genius Shontelle Pinch, Rose City Kitchen hopes to shake up the new wave of burger bars on Queen West by offering sandwiches inspired by all the cultures of the Mediterranean. Your taste buds and your New Years resolutions will thank them.