2016 is coming to a wrap and we’re rounding up the best of the city! From restaurants to activities to the individuals that make Toronto what it is, here’s what you need to know for the New Year.
Toronto triumphed this year with more new restaurants than you can shake a salad fork at. While many were right on trend (Poke er’thing) some flew under the radar completely, unless you’re in the know (you do read our monthly round-ups, right?!). A fond look back at 2016 and it’s best new restaurants, from high-end wallet busters, to grab and go uber eats treats.
746 Queen St. West
The boys at Canis have some serious pedigree – classically trained chefs, and co-owners Tosh Agassiz and Jeff Kang, with FOH duties going to their other ex-Bosk coworker, Adam Ashukian. The menu is concise and clear, plates are like pretty packages and service is so on point you may never want to leave. Queen West scored when this darling spot opened in the summer.
4704 Yonge St
Yonge and Sheppard is slowly morphing into a foodie destination and the street-style Thai food coming out of EatBKK is paving the path uptown. Chef Kyle Panthep worked his way through some of the best hotel restaurants in Thailand before cooking in Japan for almost a decade. He marries traditional Thai food like Khao Soi and then mashes it with Canadian classics to create the aromatic Khao Soi Poutine. His food is somehow both completely authentic and yet also downright surprising.
Fidel Gastro’s – Six’n Kitch’n at the Air Canada Centre
40 Bay St
Food truck master and all-around good guy Matt Basile struck gold with the announcement that his uber popular street-style eats got drafted into ACC’s new Six’n Kitch’n food hall. Known for his glorious Pad Thai Fries, Matt’s addictive menu is a spinoff of his Fidel Gastro food truck, so even if the buds don’t pull off a win you can still expect a lot of Olés! coming out of section 120.
176 Yonge St
The storied department building got a major style injection when Saks took over, and the facelift was complete when Leña set up shop on the main floor, right at the corner of Yonge and Richmond. O&B is banking on this place to be the next Toronto hotspot, and with a vibrant Argentinian menu, they’re paying homage to not only Corporate Exec Chef Anthony Walsh’s mother-in-law, but also to kicking off a food trend instead of merely following one. Trendsetting in more ways than one, the morning coffee rush to late night eats and cocktails is inspiring more than just window watchers to drop by, it’s breathing life into Toronto’s main artery.
1118 Queen St. East
Owner Darlene Mitchell lived and loved the good life in Leslieville but new it was missing a certain je ne sais quoi…With her culinary background at French darlings Coquine and La Societe, she snagged the old Glas Wine Bar space and turned it into a jewel of a restaurant, almost like a love letter for Leslieville. Diners are treated to a sublime French menu and a carefully crafted wine menu to match. Date nights on the east end just became de rigueur.
176 Wicksteed Ave
Adam Skelly and Alison Hunt have been running a mean meat machine out of a Leaside warehouse since they opened in April. Calling it ‘Legit Texas Barbecue’ means briskets, pulled pork and ribs of course, but platters, with white bread, pickles and baked beans are all definitive nods to the Lonestar state.
1221 Bay St
Veganism hit new heights when Chase Hospitality Group opened Planta in the old Pangea space. While they prefer to call their upscale eatery ‘plant based’ as opposed to strictly vegan, Chef David Lee (ex Nota Bene) has no bones about offering a safe haven for those seeking a green leafy based diet, smugly (and wisely considering their waitlist) leaving meat lovers out in the cold.
Laylow Beer Bar and Eatery
1144 College St
Resurrecting the old Me and Mine restaurant on College was no small feat, but the guys behind Laylow were more than up to the task, pouring hard work, elbow grease and thousands of pennies into this dimly lit bar that also does double duty with an onsite brewery. Colin Weadick and Dan Boniferro manage front-of-house service and bartending duties while carnivore extraordinaire Chef Aidan J. Ferreira has serious chops in the kitchen, creating a menu that goes well with pulled pints, and notably, every ingredient on the menu features some beer component.
838 College St.
College Street is Toronto’s little Italy and home to Pray Tell, a stellar new sister restaurant to nearby Track and Field. Boozy cocktails fit right in on College Street, but it’s the snacks and small plates that’ll surprise you and keep you coming back. Don’t expect your typical cheese and meat boards here; everything is amped up. Expect big bold flavours and unabashedly creative mashups from Chef Sonia Mondino who refuses to play it safe. Italian, Asian, Greek, it’s all here, and it all works.
Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns
825 College St.
Ending on a sweet note, and somehow still on College Street, Amy Rosen, food journo extraordinaire, bucked her laptop for an apron and opened her own bakery, dedicated to serving up cinnamon buns, a recipe she spent years tweaking and perfecting before unleashing her sweet side to Toronto. The old adage of ‘do one thing and do it well’ could very well be her slogan.
Did we miss any of the best restaurants in Toronto of 2016? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.