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Where to Eat Toronto

Taste of Toronto Returns to Fort York

NOW IN ITS SECOND YEAR, TASTE OF TORONTO BOASTS GOURMET FOOD, WINE AND CULINARY FUN IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

Taste of Toronto Fort York 2015

Chefs including Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich are returning for Taste of Toronto’s second year

JULY 2 TO 5 If there’s a recipe for presenting a successful food event, more than 20 worldwide Taste Festivals seem to have found it. Of course, tweaking a few ingredients can make for an even more flavourful mix. Thus Taste of Toronto has added a handful of new chefs to its sophomore attempt at wooing the city’s foodies. Manning Fort York‘s gourmet small-plates stations this year are the likes of chefs Jonathan Waxman and Matt Robertson from Montecito, Ted Corrado from the Drake Hotel and Adrian Niman from Rasa—not to mention returning toques like THR & Co. chef Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station. Michelin-starred chef Masaharu Morimoto will also be on hand to debut dishes from his new Toronto restaurant, opening later this year. Cooking classes, wine tastings and more encourage epicurean interactivity, while a marketplace boasts 60-plus vendors to savour. General admission $19 to $30 (additional cost for food).  —Craig Moy

• Taste of Toronto, Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Blvd.; tasteoftoronto.com
• Map and reviews

Summerlicious and More Prix-Fixe Menus in Toronto

THE RETURN OF SUMMERLICIOUS MEANS TORONTO DINERS CAN ONCE AGAIN SAVE ON SAMPLING THE MENUS AT TOP RESTAURANTS. BUT THE SEASONAL DINING DEAL ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO GET CULINARY BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

Summerlicious Toronto Prix Fixe Menus

From left: dessert at 360 restaurant; George executive chef Lorenzo Loseto; the Shore Club’s dining room

DEALS FOR MEALS
One of the city’s best loved dining programs is back—this year for an extra week to give Pan Am Games visitors a chance to enjoy the flavourful fun. From July 3 to 26, Summerlicious sees more than 200 restaurants offering prix-fixe lunch ($18 to $28) and dinner ($25 to $45) menus. Among the returning participants are Canoe, Momofuku Daisho and The Shore Club, while the likes of as Bestellen and District Oven are involved for the first time.

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Gourmet Barbecued Pies from Za Pizzeria

RECENT ANNEX ADDITION ZA PIZZERIA SPECIALIZES IN FRESH-MADE, BARBECUE-COOKED TAKE-OUT PIZZAS WITH GOURMET TOPPINGS

Za Pizzeria Toronto Annex

Za Pizzeria (photos: Craig Moy)

Toronto has no shortage of gourmet pizza parlours, but the options dwindle considerably if you’re pressed for time or just seeking a single slice. Enter Za Pizzeria. Or rather: you should enter Za Pizzeria. Recently opened by husband-and-wife team Jason and Lisa Costantini, the Annex-area joint does a brisk business in take-out pies cooked in custom-designed barbecue ovens, which impart a pleasant hint of wood smoke to the savoury thin-crust offerings. Jason spent more than a decade as a chef in the kitchens of Susur, Pizzeria Libretto and elsewhere, so it’s no surprise that made-to-order freshness is the, well, order of the day: all sauces, sautéed and caramelized veg, and sous vide-cooked meats are prepared in-house, and comprise pizzas ranging from a traditional margherita to unique and delicious options like the maple syrup-, bacon- and potato chip-topped “Oh Canada” and a pie with duck confit, roasted grapes and balsamic reduction. Smaller appetites are assured just-off-the-grill goodness: slices and half pizzas are guaranteed to sit for no more than 30 minutes.  —Craig Moy

• Za Pizzeria, 402 Bloor St. W., 416-345-9292; za-pizzeria.com

Quick Pick: 3 Church Street Restaurants That are Perfect for Pride Patrons

ATTENDING THIS MONTH’S PRIDE TORONTO FESTIVITIES? FUEL UP FOR THE FUN AT THESE CHURCH STREET RESTAURANTS

Church Street Restaurants Pride Toronto Dining

(Smith photo courtesy of Smith; The Keg photo courtesy of The Keg)

• At the south end of the Gaybourhood sits Guu Izakaya, a boisterous, cosmopolitan Japanese pub where you can down some takoyaki, karaage, deep-fried tofu and refreshingly affordable cocktails. 398 Church St., 416-977-0999; guu-izakaya.com

• Special-occasion diners, as well as those who simply enjoy a high-quality cut of meat, crowd the historic mansion location of the popular Keg steakhouse chain. Legend has it that at least one ghost haunts the Jarvis Street restaurant’s halls. 515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; kegsteakhouse.com

• Though spread across three floors, Smith manages to cultivate an appealingly intimate atmosphere—even during its very popular weekend brunch service. 553 Church St., 416-926-2501; 553church.com

—Craig Moy

Say Cheers to Craft Beer This Month in Toronto

THE CRAFT BEER SCENE IN TORONTO—AND ACROSS THE PROVINCE—CONTINUES TO EXPAND. CHECK OUT SOME OF THE TOP OFFERINGS DURING ONTARIO CRAFT BEER WEEK AND AT FINE BREWPUBS AND BARS AROUND TOWN.

Ontario Craft Beer Week

Session Toronto kicks off Ontario Craft Beer Week this weekend at Yonge-Dundas Square

BIG-TIME TASTING
Ontario Craft Beer Week returns for a sixth annual celebration of small-batch brews. Hundreds of events are scheduled from June 12 to 21 at venues throughout the province—pub crawls, brewmaster dinners, and tours of such facilities as Steam Whistle and Mill Street breweries are just a taste of the offerings. Visit ocbweek.ca for a full list of events and locations.

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Once Old, Peter Pan Bistro is New Again

A LONGTIME QUEEN WEST STAPLE, PETER PAN BISTRO HAS REOPENED WITH NEW OWNERS AND A FOCUSED BUT ADVENTUROUS MENU.

Peter Pan Bistro Toronto

(photo: Craig Moy)

For nearly four decades downtown diners relied on Peter Pan, a bistro that dished honest, though far from trendy fare at a busy corner of Queen Street. New owners and a major renovation have made the restaurant fashionable once again. Vintage fixtures have been restored and mingle with striking new decor elements like wall-mounted animal heads covered in carpet. On the table, chef Noah Goldberg’s ingredient-focused nose-to-tail offerings nod to finer-dining traditions while embracing a contemporary sense of culinary adventure: the daily menu could include the likes of duck pappardelle with mint peas, Welsh rarebit with Worcestershire caviar, and bath chaps (a type of pig cheeks) with celery, wood sorrel and lentils. —Craig Moy

• Peter Pan Bistro, 373 Queen St. W., 416-792-3838; peterpanbistro.ca
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Explore in Kensington Market

ARGUABLY DOWNTOWN TORONTO’S MOST DIVERSE AND VIBRANT ‘HOOD, KENSINGTON MARKET OVERFLOWS WITH GREAT LITTLE CAFÉS, ETHNIC EATERIES AND ECLECTIC BOUTIQUES. HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR CURRENT FAVOURITES.

Kensington Market Toronto Blackbird Baking

Blackbird Baking Co. in Kensington Market is one of the city’s finest bread boutiques (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Julian Finkle has been silkscreening t-shirts since before silk-screening t-shirts became cool. His unique designs are the stock-in-trade of Model Citizen, though the sartorial shop also carries other North American and European labels of quality. 279 Augusta Ave., 416-553-6632; modelcitizentoronto.com

2 Good Egg is Toronto foodies’ go-to boutique for all things culinary, with an expertly curated selection of cookbooks and mouth-watering magazines, plus unique kitchen accessories and food-related art. 267 Augusta Ave., 416-593-4663; goodegg.ca

3 A staple for health-conscious Kensington denizens, airy, family-run Hibiscus Café is well known for its gluten-free buckwheat crepes served with vegetarian or vegan fixings. On the go? The nutrient-packed salad bowl will give you hours of energy. 238 Augusta Ave., 416-364-6183; hibiscuscafe.ca

4 Some of the city’s best bread can be found daily at Blackbird Baking Co. Pick up a Toronto Sourdough baguette to fuel your further Kensington Market adventures. 172 Baldwin St., 416-546-2280; blackbirdbakingco.com

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Bar Raval: Toronto’s Hottest Snack Spot

CHEF GRANT VAN GAMEREN BRINGS SPANISH BAR BITES TO A STYLISH ALL-DAY SPACE ON COLLEGE STREET

Bar Raval Toronto

(photo: Craig Moy)

When you’re hot, you’re hot. Bar Isabel has been counted amongst Toronto’s best and most popular restaurants since its early-2013 debut. Two years later, the team behind that destination resto has introduced Bar Raval, already a hit with foodies, cocktail geeks, design aficionados—pretty much everyone. It’s easy to see why. Open morning to late-night, the eatery serves up an array of Spanish snacks—from breakfast pastries to premium canned seafood—to go with your cortado, Sazerac or sherry. Savour them at the Gaudi-esque bar: the curving piece of one-of-a-kind mahogany woodwork, which cost more than $200,000 to produce, is one of the city’s most distinctive seats. —Craig Moy

• Bar Raval, 505 College St.; thisisbarraval.com
Map and reviews

Quick Pick: 3 Original Healthy Restaurants in Toronto

SPRING IS A GREAT TIME TO START (OR CONTINUE) MAKING GOOD CHOICES, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DIET. THESE HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN TORONTO OBLIGE BY OFFERING DELICIOUS, GUILT-FREE MEALS

Healthy restaurants in toronto grasslands

Grasslands offers upscale vegetarian fare in a relaxed setting

• Nutrition-conscious Bay Streeters flock to Four, a PATH-level establishment that ensures all its dishes—some veg friendly, some for omnivores—are low on calories, but high on taste. 187 Bay St., 416-368-1444; fourtoronto.com

• Chef Stephen Gardner has made vegetarian fare truly gourmet at Grasslands. His always-intriguing carte boasts everything from a seasonal risotto to a charcuterie board with faux but flavourful takes on meat and cheese. 478 Queen St. W., 415-504-5127; grasslands.to

• Forget about the trends! Live Organic Food Bar has been serving a menu of vegan, gluten-free and (mostly) raw dishes for more than a decade. 264 Dupont St., 416-515-2002; livefoodbar.com

—Craig Moy

Flor de Sal Adds to the Local Flavour

WITHIN SIGHT OF CASA LOMA, FLOR DE SAL FEATURES MEDITERRANEAN FLAVOURS OF THE HIGHEST CALIBRE

Flor de Sal Toronto Sign

Toronto’s streets are lined with older buildings. When they’re purchased, change—whether mild or drastic—is inevitable. That’s certainly the case with what was once The Corner House. Late in 2014, the quaint neighbourhood restaurant just down the hill from Casa Loma was gutted and gussied up; it’s now Flor de Sal, an elegant two-storey space where Forest Hill’s moneyed denizens devour dishes prepared by chef Roberto Fracchioni. He’s ideal for the fine-dining room: an experienced and exacting toque whose cooking is modern yet without the pretentions of modernism. See for yourself by ordering a few of his seasonal Mediterranean-influenced offerings, or simply tuck in to some fresh oysters and a glass of wine at the ground-level bar.  —Craig Moy

• Flor de Sal, 501 Davenport Rd., 416-923-2604; flordesalrestaurant.com
Map and reviews

Quick Pick: 5 Restaurants Near the Rogers Centre

PEANUTS, CRACKER JACKS AND HOT DOGS ARE A BALLPARK TRADITION, BUT THEY DON’T NECESSARILY ADD UP TO A SATISFYING MEAL. HERE ARE 5 RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS NEAR THE ROGERS CENTRE—GREAT FOR BEFORE OR AFTER YOU TAKE IN A TORONTO BLUE JAYS GAME.

Where to eat near Rogers Centre O&B Canteen

The O&B Canteen is just one of the many great restaurants near the Rogers Centre

• A few blocks directly north of the stadium you’ll find the popular O&B Canteen, which boasts a sizable patio and a menu of fresh-market fare—plus many grab-and-go items if you’re in a hurry. 330 King St. W., 647-288-4710; oliverbonacini.com

• The downtown location of Milagro features zesty Mexican cooking and a vibrant ambience to match. Celebrating a Jays win on a balmy afternoon? You can’t go wrong with tacos and a refreshing margarita or two. 5 Mercer St., 416-850-2855; milagrorestaurant.com

• Contemporary, upscale Indian food at 259 Host makes for a winning alternative to traditional game-day meal. 259 Wellington St., 416-599-4678; 259host.com

• Wander west from Rogers Centre through the veil of condo towers and you’ll find new gourmet Italian spot Citta, which, in addition to its dinner service, offers an intriguingly rustic brunch on Saturdays. 92 Fort York Blvd., 416-623-9662; cittatoronto.com

• Or, march south to the harbourfront’s Amsterdam Brewhouse and talk balls-and-strikes over a few beers on the huge lakeside patio. 245 Queens Quay W., 416-540-1020; amsterdambrewhouse.com

—Craig Moy

25 Free Things to Do in Toronto with Kids

OUR ALL-SEASON GUIDE TO THE ABSOLUTE BEST LOW-COST AND FREE THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO WITH KIDS IN 2015.  BY CARA SMUSIAK

Free-Things-to-Do-in-Toronto-with-Kids-Header

Toronto is a fantastic city to explore with the whole family—especially as the weather starts to warm up. These 25 low-cost and free things to do in Toronto with kids offer many opportunities to get everyone outside, regardless of the season, though indoor activities abound, too, for days when the climate is uncooperative.

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