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Top 8 Local Foods to Try in Toronto

a view of a city at night

Toronto is the capital city of the Canadian province of Ontario and the most populous city in the country. Also referred to by locals as TDot, the city is considered the cultural and culinary capital of Canada and is one of the country’s most popular travel destinations, attracting over 40 million tourists annually. With its multicultural ethos, Toronto boasts a diverse and exciting dining scene that is definitely worth the trip.

Every city in the world has its own list of top local foods to try – and Toronto is no exception. From unique desserts to savory dishes and meats, there’s no shortage of must-try delicacies in the Canadian city. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or you’ve been multiple times, check out this list of top 8 local foods to try in Toronto (and where to get them). 

(Tip: Before you go check out the foodie scene in the city, look for a luggage storage locker where you can deposit your bulky items temporarily.)


a woman holding a plate of food

When you think of Canadian food, the first thing that comes to mind is poutine. Originally from the province of Quebec, it is the unofficial “national dish” of Canada and is a beloved delicacy in all parts of the country; there are even yearly celebrations of poutine being held across Canada. Poutine is essentially French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, though there are now many variations of the original recipe. 

Where to get it: While getting poutine is fairly easy in Toronto, one of the best places in the city to get this signature snack is at Smoke’s Poutinerie, which has six locations in downtown Toronto. 


Peameal Bacon Sandwich

Referred to everywhere else as Canadian bacon, peameal bacon is another classic local dish that you need to try when in Toronto. Unlike the bacon we all know and love, which is derived from pig’s belly, peameal bacon is made out of lean pork loin trimmed, brined, and rolled in cornmeal. The most common way to serve up this delicious meat is in a sandwich, which is comprised of homemade buns, generous amounts of grilled bacon, and tangy mustard.

Where to get it: Similar to poutine, a peameal bacon sandwich is easy to get around Toronto. However, undoubtedly the best place to sample this local delicacy is Carousel Bakery, located in the famous St. Lawrence Market. 



BeaverTails is a deep-fried dough, similar to a donut but without a hole, that is flattened and topped with a variety of ingredients, such as peanut butter, Nutella, chocolates, and more. Established in 1978, BeaverTails is actually a brand that was started by Graham Hooker; the pastry’s recipe has been passed down in Hooker’s family for generations.

Where to get it: Since opening its first store in Ottawa, BeaverTails has expanded to multiple locations across Canada. In Toronto, you can find BeaverTails along Queens Quay West in the Harbourfront neighborhood.

Nanaimo Bars

Named after the city of the same name in British Columbia, Nanaimo Bars are a no-bake delicacy that features three layers – a graham cracker crumb base, custard in the middle, and a thin layer of decadent chocolate on top. Often regarded as the most popular dessert in Canada, there is no definite timeline of how and when the bars first came about, although it is believed to have been around since the ‘50s. 

Where to get it: As a popular dessert, Nanaimo bars are served in a number of coffee shops and restaurants in Toronto. However, one of the best versions of this beloved treat can be bought at the Brick Street Bakery in Toronto’s Distillery District. The dessert is also fairly easy to make and you can find a reliable recipe at the Nanaimo city’s official website.



A traditional Canadian delicacy that dates back to the 1600s, the tourtière is a must-try when in Toronto. Originating in the province of Quebec, the tourtière is a savory and flaky pie that is filled with ground meat – typically veal, beef, pork, or game – and flavored with herbs and spices. While the pie is traditionally served during the holidays, it can be found in a lot of places year-round.

Where to get it: Although it is a traditional Québécois dish, there are a number of places in Toronto where you can get authentic-style tourtière. One of the best dining spots in the city to get this savory pie is at Bannock.


Caesar Cocktail

a bowl of food and a cup of coffee

The Caesar is a drink that was invented by restaurant manager Walter Chell in 1969 and has since become the national cocktail of Canada. Similar to the traditional Bloody Mary cocktail, the Caesar is typically made of vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and clamato juice. 

The drink is served with a salted rim and garnished with a celery stalk. Nowadays, almost all places that serve this iconic cocktail have upped their game with some over-the-top garnishes and toppings.

Where to get it: Nearly any bar and restaurant in Toronto have their own versions of the Caesar. Among the most popular spots to get this drink is at Hunter’s Landing; their version of the cocktail includes outlandish garnishes such as lobster tail, bacon, pickles, a pizza wedge, and more.


Split Pea Soup

Another French-Canadian classic, the split pea soup was invented by Canadian chef Marc Miron to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s travels. Upon researching the food that kept the explorers fed during that period, he discovered that they used dried peas and cured meats for their meals. This led to the invention of the split pea soup, which is made from peas, meat, and vegetables. 

Where to get it: If you’re looking to try some Canadian-style split pea soup in Toronto, head over to the United Bakers Dairy Restaurant in the North York district.


Montreal-style Bagels

Bagels are hardly a new thing; this breakfast staple can be found almost anywhere. However, when you’re visiting Canada, you should definitely try the famous Montreal-style bagels known all over the country. Compared to the more common New York-style bagel, the Montreal-style bagel is thinner, smaller, denser, and sweeter. 

Where to get it: There is no better place in Toronto to sample Montreal-style bagels than Nu Bügel on Augusta Ave, where you have a variety of bagels, including gluten-free options.



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