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Go on a Toronto culinary adventure with these 10+ foods worth traveling for.

Forget jetlag, layovers and passport rules: Food tourism in Toronto will make your taste buds travel the world.

Buzzing like the Big Apple and creative like La Belle Province, Toronto enjoys the best of both worlds and won’t let your appetite down. Rated one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is home to 2.5 million people from more than 200 distinct ethnic origins. With over 50% of its population born outside the country, it’s no surprise that the culinary scene is as diverse, colourful and stimulating as the city itself.

That you are new to the city, been living here for a while or just passing through, keeping-up with the latest trendy spots can be challenging. If you want to go beyond the tourists’ hot spots and get the latest insiders tips, this is for you! And best of all, the only passport you’ll need on this epicurean adventure is one for your taste buds! Jusep Sim, CEO (Chief Epicurean Officer) of Toronto food tour company Chopsticks+ Forks, shares ten of his favourite must-eats spots – those more popular with the locals than with the tourists – so you can eat your way through The6ix like a Torontonian.

1. The world in Kensington Market

If you know exactly what you’re in the mood for – a spectacular brunch, a dinner with a view or a courtyard café – Toronto’s food scene has the perfect culinary experience for you. But if you’re unsure of where to start, a gourmet food tour like Chopsticks + Forks’ will have you covered. My company offers an international food tour that will take you on a culinary adventure through eight countries from five continents in 2.5 hours. Taking place within Kensington Market, the city’s most diverse neighbourhood, TripAdvisor’s #1 Toronto food tour will make you taste, learn and discover the amazing diversity of the city’s global food scene. And starting this Spring, Chopsticks + Forks’ will be launching the Great Canadian Food Tour, a culinary experience that will establish – once and for all – what exactly is Canadian food!

2. Ferrero Rocher donuts in Parkdale

There are countless places to enjoy donuts in the city, but the handmade goodness of Glory Hole Doughnuts makes these the only ones you will crave for. Freshly baked every day, your sweet tooth will be in sugar-heaven with these beauties. The Ferrero Rocher donuts are topped with Nutella, roasted hazelnuts, and feuilletine – need we say more?

 

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3. Rapini Pizza Squares on King Street West

When the knowledge of generations of bakers is gathered in one place, it can only be good. ‘Forno Cultura’ literally means ‘the culture of the oven’, and is the name of a spot where a myriad of baked goods will leave you wondering ‘How much is too much?’… Capisce?

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4. Jamaican Beef Patties in Little Jamaica or Bloordale? You be the judge

Toronto is considered North America’s Jamaican patty capital and the debate is fierce on who should own the title of best patties in town. Though some vote for those at the Bathurst subway station, others swear by Randy’s, an institution nested in Little Jamaica since 1979. But we cannot ignore Georgina’s, the patty royalty behind the Caribbean Queen of Patties in Bloordale. Perfectly seasoned, these crimped pockets of beef are as iconic as they are delicious (and inexpensive!). Don’t forget to tell us who’s your favourite!

 

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5. Elk and seal meat north of Eglinton

If you’re in the mood for an epicurean adventure, we suggest Kūkŭm Kitchen, the only fine dining indigenous restaurant in town and probably the best bang-for-your-buck tasting menu in the city. Meaning ‘grand-mother’ in Cree, chef Joseph Shawana reinvents his family bannock recipe and shows-off his heritage with unique dishes including elk sous vide and his popular Arctic trio, composed of hot pink beet and maple cured salmon, seal tartare and cold smoked Artic char.

 

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6. Samosas in Little India

For some of the best ethnic cuisine in Toronto, head east past Greektown, to Little India. Gerrard Street East (between Coxwell and Greenwood Avenue) is lined with a slew of family owned and operated restaurants who cook-up a storm of time-tested family recipes. You will find a mix of eateries featuring delicacies from North and South India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, including tandoori chicken and rich masala dosai as well as many vegetarian and vegan options and daily buffets. My favourite spot is Lahore Tikka House, the neighbourhood landmark. You’ll be dazzled by the vibrant colours and aromas but most of all, the visit will make you want to add more stamps to your passport!

 

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7. Seafood in Little Portugal or the Junction

With a 4.6 score on Google and Tripadvisor, Bar Isabel is known to be one of the best places in the city to enjoy grilled octopus. The Spanish-influenced, creative plates & craft beers are a favourite for seafood lovers. But if you haven’t discovered Honest Weight, you might want to venture a few blocks west to the Junction. The indie fish counter and kitchen offers pristine seafood to take home or to enjoy on the spot. The everchanging menu makes it difficult to recommend one specific dish, as the selection is based on whatever seafood has been freshly procured.

 

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8. Underground cocktails in the Entertainment District

Though I am known to send all my out-of-town guests to Bar Chef, the city is filled with really impressive cocktail joints and is home to several ‘secret’ bars. Cloak Bar is a speakeasy hidden underneath another restaurant. Their cocktails are creative and you’ll fee like you’ve escaped the Prohibition Era in the 20s. At Sip Shuck Sip on the other hand, they’ll take you from your morning coffee to your late-night champagne flute.  But if you want a truly unique experience, you’ll need a password, and to get that, you’ll need to message us on Facebook… if you’re nice, we might share.

 

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9. Say cheese

In my opinion, cheese and charcuterie boards are a food group and though some prefer a more Italian offering (like the one proposed by Terroni on Queen St. West), others opt for the quintessential French plate (like the ones offered at Union on Ossington) or a more Mediterranean fare (such as Reyna’s in Yorkville). No matter where you go in the city, there is cheese to be eaten and saucissons to be devoured.  One of our go-to is Good Cheese in east Chinatown. Though the place may seem like an innocent cheese shop, it’s really a dangerous gateway to your favourite obsession and one of Toronto’s specialty dining experiences.

 

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10. ‘Buck-a-shuck’ Tuesdays in Parkdale

With their buck-a-shuck, buck-an-ounce of wine Tuesdays, Chantecler is the place to be. Whether you stop for oysters and some vino or stay for their tuna confit or steak tartare, one thing is sure, it will become one of your regular hang-outs. Opening later this Spring, the small 28-seat restaurant in Parkdale is launching a retail space just next to their restaurant that will also include a butcher shop.

 

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For more insiders’ tips or to share your favourite Toronto spots, follow Toronto’s #1 food tour Chopsticks and Forks on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chopsticksandforkstoronto/.