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Where to Eat Toronto

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
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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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You Are Here: Good Eats on Market Street

AFTER DECADES OF NEGLECT, COMPACT MARKET STREET’S HERITAGE BUILDINGS WERE LOVINGLY RESTORED AND OFFICIALLY REOPENED LAST YEAR. THEY NOW COMPRISE A RESTAURANT ROW THAT CATERS TO ALMOST EVERY TASTE—JUST STEPS FROM THE FAMED ST. LAWRENCE MARKET.

Market Street

Barsa Taberna’s varied tapas-style offerings (photo: Danielle Plancher)

1 Subterranean haunt Barsa Taberna is both supremely intimate and splashed with bold style: a feature wall of repurposed wine bottles lends colour to the bar area, while original stone columns and mosaic tiles adorn the dining room. Patrons snack on globally inspired tapas and pintxos—from patatas bravas to pineapple-glazed prawns—in between sips of sangria. 26 Market St., 647-341-3642; barsataberna.com

2 A sizeable menu of contemporary northern Indian dishes is showcased at Bindia, a family-run restaurant that does a brisk take-out business but also boasts a colourful dining room in which to enjoy the likes of samosas, butter chicken and a number of tandoori options. Don’t skip the naan; it’s among the city’s best. 16 Market St., 416-863-0000; bindia.ca

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Dandylion is a Sophisticated Oasis on Queen West

CHEF JAY CARTER’S DANDYLION RESTAURANT HAS BEEN LAUDED FOR ITS INTIMATE ATMOSPHERE AND FOCUSED, INGREDIENT-DRIVEN MENU

Dandylion Restaurant Toronto

Dandylion (photo: Craig Moy)

Somehow Jay Carter has managed to fly just below the radar. Though critically lauded, the longtime Susur Lee associate was unlikely to be the first name that came to mind when considering the city’s brightest culinary stars. That’s changing, thanks to the launch of chef Carter’s new venture, Dandylion. The restaurant is an oasis of maturity in a hipster enclave, offering a menu that’s highly focused (a meat, fish and vegetarian option is offered for each of the three courses) yet still quite varied: the kitchen draws on a panoply of culinary traditions and seasonal ingredients to produce sophisticated dishes that could include a medley of mushrooms, sous-vide eggs and savoury granola, or whitefish with carrot sauce and smoked paprika.  —Craig Moy

• Dandylion, 1198 Queen St. W.,647-464-9100; restaurantdandylion.com
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The Carbon Bar’s Filling Friday Lunch

DOWNTOWN BARBECUE-AND-BOOZE HAUNT THE CARBON BAR WANTS TO FILL YOU UP FOR FRIDAY LUNCH

The Carbon Bar Toronto Lunch

Barbecued mac ‘n’ cheese, hamachi ceviche and the rye-and-whisky “Northern Borealis” are among the offerings on the Carbon Bar’s lunch menu (photos: Craig Moy)

If the arrival of warm, sunny weather wasn’t already enough to have you wishing you were anywhere but the office, The Carbon Bar now offers another reason. Last week, the trendy barbecue-and-booze restaurant began inviting patrons to “mail it in” on Fridays by enjoying a leisurely lunch featuring its internationally inspired fare plus signature cocktails. Smaller appetites can graze on savoury starters including a roasted cauliflower and quinoa salad and perfect-for-summer hamachi ceviche with pineapple and coconut. For the proper long-lunch experience you’ll want to add a meaty main: a pit-fired turkey BLT, a cheeseburger with oak-smoked bacon, barbecued mac ‘n’ cheese, and more. Or rustle up a dining date to share in the midday version of The Carbon Bar’s famed pit master platter, which boasts buttermilk fried chicken, pork ribs, beef brisket, fries and other fixin’s.  —Craig Moy

• The Carbon Bar, 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000; thecarbonbar.ca
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Quick Pick: 3 New Hot Spots for Hot Dogs in Toronto

THOUGH STILL A STAPLE OF CURBSIDE CARTS AND STADIUM CONCESSION STANDS, HOT DOGS IN TORONTO ARE GROWING MORE GOURMET WITH THE ARRIVAL OF A PAIR OF NEW WIENER SHOPS, PLUS THE THIRD LOCATION OF THE CITY’S REIGNING TUBE STEAK CHAMPION.

Fancy Franks Hot Dogs in Toronto

Fancy Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs has found success by crafting its own wieners with an impressive variety of toppings. To celebrate the opening of its new Queen West outlet, the eatery has also added a menu of nine unique poutines. 453 Queen St. W., 647-347-3647; fancyfranks.com

• Originally a food truck, Let’s Be Frank serves Nathan’s Famous beef frankfurters in iterations like the panko-crusted, deep-fried and wasabi-mayo’d Katsu Dog and the chili-slathered Coney Dog. 2032 Queen St. E., 647-349-9328; shakesandfranks.com

• The Beach’s Shakes and Franks also boasts Nathan’s-branded offerings, not to mention a creative milkshake menu—try the Sappy Pig, with maple syrup and bacon. 460 Spadina Ave., 416-519-7256; lets-be-frank.ca

—Craig Moy

Curbside Cookbook Takes Street Food from Truck to Table

EL GASTRÓNOMO VAGABUNDO CHEF ADAM HYNAM-SMITH’S CURBSIDE COOKBOOK FEATURES INTERNATIONALLY INSPIRED RECIPES FROM ONTARIO’S PIONEERING GOURMET FOOD TRUCK

Curbside Cookbook Adam Hynam-Smith El Gastronomo Vagabundo Food Truck

Chef Adam Hynam-Smith’s Curbside cookbook features recipes he’s perfected on his El Gastrónomo Vagabundo food truck, as well as at pop-up events (photos: Whitecap Books)

Political and bureaucratic roadblocks have conspired to stifle a Toronto street-food scene that not long ago seemed ready to explode. But that shouldn’t stop you from sampling some delicious food truck eats. Just pick up a copy of Curbside: Modern Street Food from a Vagabond Chef, the debut cookbook by Adam Hynam-Smith, chef and co-owner of El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, generally acknowledged as Ontario’s first gourmet food truck. Though he’s now based in the Niagara region, Australian-born Hynam-Smith has also cooked in Morocco, France, England and Thailand: these global influences pervade his dishes, from crispy cod tacos with smoked pineapple and habanero to braised pork hock steamed buns to son-in-law eggs. (The book also includes a smattering of dishes by guest chefs who’ve inspired Hynam-Smith’s cooking.)

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Quick Pick: 3 Fish-Focused Lunch Counters

CHECK OUT THESE TORONTO LUNCH COUNTERS TO GET A QUICK (AND DELICIOUS) SEAFOOD FIX.

Seafood Fish Lunch Counter Market Street Catch Toronto

A few of the fresh ingredients available at Market Street Catch

Junction-area fishmonger and lunch counter Honest Weight offers unique options for your midday meal. Try the okonomiyaki, a Japanese fish pancake, or just choose a fish from the display case and get it grilled to order. 2766 Dundas St. W., 416-604-9992; honestweight.ca

A quick-service spot from the owners of acclaimed restaurant The Chase, Little Fin serves up a smattering of sandwiches on distinctive charcoal-coloured buns. Larger appetites can also get a half or whole lobster dinner. 4 Temperance St., 647-348-7000; littlefin.ca

No matter your craving—be it fried halibut, barbecued octopus, an oyster po’ boy or lobster poutine—the diverse menu at Market Street Catch is sure to have you salivating. 14 Market St., 647-391-8140; marketstreetcatch.com

—Craig Moy

Pearl Diver Proffers Delicious Jewels from the Deep

PATRICK MCMURRAY STILL KNOWS HOW TO SHUCK ‘EM AT PEARL DIVER, HIS REVAMPED, RENAMED RESTAURANT

Pearl Diver Restaurant Toronto

A few of the offerings at Pearl Diver (photo: Peter Moscone)

Depending on the species, the lifespan of a starfish can range between three and 35 years. Oyster expert Patrick McMurray’s Starfish restaurant lasted 13—certainly a healthy age. This past winter the downtown seafood spot was reborn as Pearl Diver, a significantly more casual venue for savouring the champion shucker’s global selection of shellfish and crustaceans, ranging from B.C., East Coast and European oysters to Atlantic lobster to gooseneck barnacles. The inclusiveness of the dining room extends further into the menu: diners seeking turf over surf are accommodated with meaty mains including rib-eye steak and bone-in pork chop with a concord grape reduction. Wash it all down with the owner’s unique Scrimshaw Oyster Stout, a dark beer brewed in part with P.E.I. Malpeque oysters.  —Craig Moy

• Pearl Diver, 100 Adelaide St. E., 416-366-7827; pearldiver.to
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You Are Here: Eat & Shop in Rosedale & Summerhill

ROSEDALE AND SUMMERHILL, AN ADJOINING PAIR OF TONY RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOODS JUST NORTH OF DOWNTOWN, ARE BISECTED BY YONGE STREET’S STRETCH OF LOW-KEY BUT UPSCALE BOUTIQUES, CAFÉS AND JUST-UNDER-THE-RADAR RESTAURANTS.

Rosedale Summerhill Toronto

Want Apothecary

1 The Monk’s Table offers sanctuary (though of a decidedly non-monastic variety) to seekers of harder-to-find European ales and hearty pub fare. 1276 Yonge St., 416-920-7037; themonkstable.com

2 A boutique, café and studio, Room 2046 is all the better for being hard to pin down: its design-savvy stock runs the gamut from stylish stationery and indie magazines to artisan skincare products and housewares. 1252 Yonge St., 647-348-2046; room2046.com

3 The antler-adorned logo of Love the Design offers some indication of the wares within: vintage and vintage-style furnishings and art that would be at home in any contemporary Canadian cabin (or, say, cabin-chic condo). 1226 Yonge St., 416-855-9991; lovethedesign.com

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Buca Yorkville is Toronto’s Hottest Seafood Spot

CHEF ROB GENTILE’S STAR CONTINUES TO RISE AT BUCA YORKVILLE, A SEAFOOD-CENTRIC OFFSHOOT OF KING WEST’S BUCA THAT’S ALREADY EARNING ACCOLADES AS TORONTO’S BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Buca Yorkville Toronto

Double-stuffed lobster-filled pasta at Buca Yorkville (photo: Renée Suen)

By now there’s hardly a Toronto diner that hasn’t heard of Buca, arguably the city’s best contemporary Italian dining room, or Bar Buca, its small plate–focused sibling. The brand’s dominance continues at recently opened Buca Osteria & Bar (or, as it’s colloquially known, Buca Yorkville). An instant hit in the heart of tony Yorkville, the refined yet energetic restaurant sees executive chef Rob Gentile stretching into seafood (his menu at the original Buca is more meat-centric) with such dishes as braised octopus with B.C. clams, double-stuffed lobster ravioli, and a whole raw branzino carved tableside. If you’re with a group, the daily crudo misto platter is a shareable stunner. Bonus: a front-of-house café space opens before lunchtime and offers indulgent pastries and espressos.  —Craig Moy

• Buca Osteria & Bar, 55 Scollard St., 416-962-2822; buca.ca
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