The kitchen at Yorkville’s sleek new Indian restaurant uses exclusively house-blended spices in its lavish creations, like a chili, fenugreek and coriander-laden bhatti masala on a juicy, pan-seared whole lobster. Much of the cooking and baking is done in clay tandoor ovens, which rapidly fire everything from sesame-marinated prawns to chili-laced, garlic-speckled naan. 138 Avenue Rd., adrakyorkville.ca, @adrakyorkville.
Chinatown’s new spot for banh mi, vermicelli bowls and Vietnamese iced coffee is run by the Dinh family: Lily and her sons Steven and Ryan. Ask what’s in a dish and more often than not, you’ll get a classic family business response: “mom’s secret recipe.” Lower level of 81 Huron St., banhhaus.life, @banhhaus.life.
For those looking to get away to Barcelona, if only for a night, Ted Corrado’s new King West tapas bar isn’t your ticket. This is Toronto tapas: plates rooted in Spanish tradition but reworked with Ontario ingredients and a predilection for global flavours. 75 Portland St., 416-479-9779, barchicatoronto.com, @barchicatoronto.
Kensington’s favourite modern Filipino brunch spot has found a new home in Parkdale, sharing its space with Sari Not Sari, a nightclub that also acts as a social hub for the Filipinx community. Go on Saturday or Sunday mornings for chef Robbie Hojilla’s satisfying silog, plates piled high with spaghetti and tamarind-spiked caesars. 1566 Queen St. W., @bbs.bbs.bbs.bbs.bbs.
Since it opened in 2010, Beast has been synonymous with three things: brunch, nose-to-tail carnivorism and a more-is-more ethos. Last summer, rather than continue to ride the lockdown rollercoaster, owner Scott Vivian decided it was time to finally revamp the restaurant. After a 10-month reno, Beast is back—but this time, it’s a pizzeria. 96 Tecumseth St., 647-352-6000, thebeastrestaurant.com, @beast_pizza_to.
Better Half Bar
North of Brooklyn’s new east-end pizza parlour and craft beer hangout serves its familiar favourites—like their popular popular kale and double-smoked bacon—alongside locally made beer and wine. One notable addition to the lineup: chicken wings. 663 Greenwood Ave., northofbrooklyn.com,
1 Hotel Toronto’s swanky new restaurant is helmed by Olivier Le Calvez—a half-Mexican, half-French chef who has spent much of his life bouncing between Paris and Mexico City—it’s no surprise the kitchen is churning out cuisine without borders. 550 Wellington St. W., 416-601-3593, thecasamadera.com, @thecasamadera.
J’s Steak Frites
Husband-and-wife team Jad Sfeir and Tara Tang have brought a popular Parisian staple to Queen West: a restaurant that serves only one main dish. That main? Steak, of course, served with unlimited fries, salad and house-made bread. After dinner, servers roll out a trolley stacked with a selection of desserts, all made fresh daily by Tang, a Le Cordon Bleu–trained pastry chef. 1198 Queen St. W., jssteakfrites.square.site, @jssteakfrites.
The first Toronto outpost for Montreal’s sister-owned salad sensation with a cult-like following is a destination for decked-out greens and grains. Piled high in colourful, mismatched bowls, the cheerful medleys are as strong a pro-salad argument as has ever been made. 52 Ossington Ave., mandys.ca, @mandysalads.
No Pain Gimbap
Ann Kim, co-owner of Wallace-Emerson restaurant Donna’s, recently took over the kitchen inside Grape Crush, a wine bar and bottle shop at Dundas and Ossington. It’s here she turns out gimbap—Korean, sushi-like rolls—and other snacks, including dumplings. 1166 Dundas St. W. (inside Grape Crush), nopaingimbap.com, @nopain.gimbap.
Oroshi Fish Co.
The city’s super-sleek new fish counter and sushi shop is tucked down a west-end laneway. The space was conceived primarily as a fish commissary, with a sushi bar as a little add-on. But then, the takeout business took off, thanks to the freshness of the wares and the culinary team’s focus on dry-aging. The result is among the butteriest, freshest-tasting, most flavourful sushi this side of the Pacific. 962 College St. (head down Bill Cameron Lane and look for the blue door), oroshifishco.com, @oroshi_fishco.
At his new Korean tasting menu restaurant, Actinolite alum Kwangtaek Lee applies all of the principles he learned at the renowned contemporary Canadian kitchen to his culinary heritage reimagining classic Korean flavour profiles, turning condiments into main events, and peppering it all with a dose of thoughtful modern technique. 276 Havelock St., @oroterestaurant.
Ration Food Lab
The Beverley Hotel’s new contemporary Canadian tasting menu restaurant is also a zero-waste one. Much of what chef Jef Edwards incorporates into the menu has been foraged with the help of experts; other produce is sourced from local farm partners. The rest of Ration’s pantry is created in the basement lab, where there’s a vertical farm for microgreens. 335 Queen St. W., rationbeverley.com, @ration.beverley.
At this fun French restaurant on Queen West, Chantecler alum Milo Beaubien-Wright strikes a balance between approachability and innovation with fresh, creative plates that showcase elements of classic French cuisine translated for a modern palate. This is upscale, inventive fare that—compressed pear and kohlrabi chips notwithstanding—doesn’t look down its nose at anybody. 1166 Queen St. W., @recetteonqueen.
Now you can find Tex-Mex at Hotel X. Food Dude Adrian Niman’s new restaurant there serves what he calls “refined North American, with an emphasis on Mexican flavours.” Some dishes, like chicken wings in an agave barbecue sauce, are more American comfort food with a Mexican flavour flourish. Others, like a citrus-cured hamachi tostada are more by-the-book south-of-the-border plates. Also: fajitas. 111 Princes’ Blvd., 2nd Floor, rosescocina.ca, @roses.cocina.
Slowhand Pizza Co.
This east-end pizzeria started as a pandemic-times pop-up, but the pies proved to be too popular and so the new brick-and-mortar location on Pape was born. Slowhand takes cues from Detroit’s deep-dish tradition and Sicily’s focaccia-like crusts, but ultimately lands in its own category. 99 Pape Ave., slowhandpizza.ambassador.ai, @slowhandpizza.
This new food hall in the Annex aims to bring the vibe of an outdoor night market indoors. It’s 4,000 square feet of food and drink, and every single booth is an Asian-owned or -led business. There are seven street-food vendors, a full-service bar with cocktails on tap, a bodega and a secret speakeasy serving soju, baiju and sake alongside drinking snacks. 384 Bloor St. W., 647-979-0384, superfresh.to, @superfresh.to.
When Bernhardt’s temporarily pivoted to takeout during the pandemic, its rotisserie-chicken menu shifted towards sandwiches and salads. The new offerings were so popular that Bernhardt’s owners decided to make a permanent home for them across the street. 209 Dovercourt Rd., vildastoronto.com, @vildastoronto.
When the Pig Came Home
A self-proclaimed “Toronto-style deli,” the new location of this Junction favourite draws lineups of devotees, all there for Ryan Gatner’s Montreal smoked meat, 13-hour-roasted porchetta or kicky jerk chicken. Almost everything on the menu is made using grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat from local farmers, then cured, seasoned or smoked in-house. 384 Keele St., whenthepigcamehome.ca, @when_the_pig_came_home.