Hello foodies! Welcome to the food tour of Toronto – or at least the food places I sampled whilst checking out this huge city! Before hitting up Canada, my Canadian friends all told me that to qualify as a true Canadian I had to experience Poutine and Tim Horton’s…so let’s start there shall we?
Poutine – is a Canadian fast food dish consisting of chips (french fries), cheese curds and gravy…sounds appetising huh? Well chips and gravy is a staple of Scotland so my friend sourced a restaurant where you could create your own poutine, so you can add as many toppings to make your perfect dish! Poutineville ( 296 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 2M7, Canada) are the Poutine specialists my friend chose for this rite of passage and I was delighted to see a full customisation menu awaiting at the table! Everything from the type of the potato the chips would be cut from, to various kinds of meat (if you’re into that) lots of veggies, eggs and of course what type of gravy everything would be drenched in! All the sauces were veggie friendly, except the Tomato Meat Sauce – for obvious reasons and also if you’re not one for alcohol in your meals, avoid the red wine sauce too! After making my choices, I was presented with a large dish (I ordered the small!) piled high with everything I asked for! Armed with a fork, my friend and I did not speak to each other until there were two very clean plates and satisfied groans. Even though Poutine sounds strange I definitely would recommend this dish to anyone wanting the full Canadian experience!
Stage 2 of evolving into a Canadian is to get something from Tim Hortons. You’ll see these cafes everywhere, it’s like what Starbucks is for America is what Tim Hortons or Timmys is for Canada but not as expensive! For just over $2 you can get a delicious hot drink, mine always being hot chocolate and there is a range of doughnuts, muffins and hot food too! Having lived in California for 4 month prior, it was a struggle any time I had a hot chocolate because America really doesn’t know how to do chocolate. So it was a relief to taste smooth, sweet hot chocolate from Timmys! Thank you Canada! I found the donughts to be pretty standard, however the Nutella filled ones are worth a bite or two!
In my previous Toronto posts, I’ve listed a few places worth checking out and now here are the food places to almost match up for those areas too!
Pho Hung – If you’re into Vietnamese food or would like to try it for the first time, hit up this family owned restaurant in Chinatown! Whilst you’re here you might even spot a couple of celebrities enjoying the restaurant’s famous pho! I’ve heard Sara and Tegan have dined here too (Everything is Awesome~~~~) However if you’re a non meat eater/only eat halal then unfortunately the pho here and at many Viet places are usually made with beef broth so I couldn’t have the famous dish but I still had a lot of options to choose from! I came here a couple of times, because I hit up Spadina street a lot, so I tried the shrimp curry and a fried noodle dish which was exactly that. Crisply fried noodles with veggies, I hadn’t encountered this type of dish before but I would go for round 2 for sure! If you come here you will leave satisfied at the quality of the food and at the very generous portion sizes so maybe bring a friend or five! Want to check out this place for yourself? Here’s the address: 350 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2G4, Canada
Now if you have room after that delicious meal or simply want to hit up one of the city’s most divine ice cream places then Sweet Jesus (106 John St, Toronto, ON M5H 1X9, Canada) is the spot for you! You’ll find this small sweet space easily by the enormous line of people at any time of the day, all waiting to get in on the amazing soft serve ice cream! So even if you’re unsure about whether you want to wait in line, get in line, even though people get served quickly there are always more people joining up. So queue and think! I got Bangin’ Brownie – because I’m addicted to chocolate and my friend got the Raspberry Red Velvet. If you’ve read about why I only get ice cream in cups now, check out my Vancouver food post! This ice cream I would recommend in a cup because not only is it huuuge but soft serve ice cream melts quickly and it’s piled high with toppings so do yourself a favour and get the cup! Now it’s very rare for me not to finish anything I order but I only managed half of this monster ice cream before I called it quits but when it’s hot in Toronto – it’s hot. So a massive ice cream stop should definitely be on your to do list!
Just along the street from Sweet Jesus, is the huge Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square aka New City Hall (100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada). Whilst you enjoy the touristy hub you’ll also find a few food trucks parked up on the side of the street. Since I only eat halal meat, it’s often difficult to find food that I can eat especially at niche eateries like food trucks but Toronto told me not to worry! There was one food truck that was completely halal and the others all had at least one option that was halal friendly! So at 24 years old I had my first hot dog ever. Since it’s a dietary requirement I have I sometimes feel awkward explaining it or putting others through some inconvenience to find something we can all eat so what was special about Toronto is that a lot of the meat supplied is just halal. So even if there isn’t a sign for it chances are if you ask the meat will be halal and just knowing it was easily available just made me feel so welcomed in Toronto. So you might think it’s just a hot dog but to me it meant I could line up just the same as everyone and order anything I like. It’s having that freedom to do so that made it so special! Even at Canada’s Wonderland at some of the restaurants you can request almost anything you want to be made with halal meat!
For more chocolate…yes I may have a problem, the Nutella Cafe (22 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V, Canada) is perfect for the sugar rush of the day! This location is actually inside a grocery store so it might be hard to find but trust in the directions! When you see the cafe, you’ll notice shelves upon shelves of Nutella jars all lined up. Now for some, a great thing is to have a library full of books but for me I’ll take the Nutella jars for suuuure! Here they serves soft and fluffy crepes, hot drinks and pastries. For the crepes they have a range of fruit supplied from the grocer so you can convince yourself you’re having one of your five a day! I had the banana and chocolate crepe with hot chocolate of course. It was deliciously sweet but if I could go back I would change the drink to something else. As it was hard to enjoy the crepe and the hot chocolate because it was overwhelmingly sweet but separately they are sugary treats that you need to try!
A couple of other halal friendly food places are Popeyes and Nandos. For Popeyes all branches within the Ontario province are halal so everyone is free to enjoy the Louisiana style fried chicken! I also went here more times I am willing to admit all under the excuse that I’ll probably won’t be able to find the halal version of this fast food chicken heaven outside of Canada any time soon! As for Nandos, definitely call ahead to check if that particular branch is halal but the one I visited is halal, you can find it here: 939 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M4G 4H7, Canada. Nandos is Portuguese style peri peri chicken that’s grilled and spiced just how you like it! It’s super popular in the UK but there were noticeable differences in the Toronto branch, mainly the menu and the sizes of the chicken! However the style and taste were all there so I still enjoyed my meal!
If you’re going to be celebrating your birthday in Toronto or are just in need of seriously good cake then Demetres is the dessert cafe for you! There’s several locations in Toronto so just give it a Google and head to your nearest cafe! In here you’ll find cakes, pies, ice cream and lots more in all the flavours you’d ever want. Any guesses what I went for? Haha yes I got chocolate cake but come on it was my birthday! The portion sizes are huge – that seems to be theme in Canada – so make sure you aren’t full when you come here or you won’t be able to enjoy Demetres the way it deserves! The cafe has a cozy feeling with low lights, comfy seats and top that off with chunks of cake and good friends it’s a perfect way to celebrate your birthday or to finish off a perfect day out.
For my final recommendation I’m going to end with Fish and Chips! My friend did a great job of planning our eating adventure haha. For this we headed to Kingsway Fish & Chips (3060 Bloor Street W, Etobicoke, ON M8X 1C4, Canada) it’s literally across the street and around the corner from Royal York subway station. It’s a small, traditional fish and chip shop that reminded me of many places in Scotland. My friend actually brought me here because they used to serve IRN-BRU – Scotland’s national fizzy juice but apparently it’s illegal in Canada now because of the colour…their loss! Anyway it’s a favourite amongst the locals and it looked like many of had been coming for years as my friend and I were the youngest people there! The waiting staff are super friendly and make it easy to just order everything because the menu all looks great! My friend went with traditional fish and chips whereas I opted for Cajun spiced prawns and chips – just to change it up. Again, like everywhere else the portion sizes are massive but I have to say Kingsway Fish & Chips has to be one of the best places I’ve eaten in – ever!
Well this wraps up my Toronto section of my travels, I hope you got a good idea of what the city is like, what great activities there are to do and some of the best places to come and eat! Let me know what you liked about it and/or if you have any questions in the comments below. For my next destination it’ll be all about that California life! Hopefully I’ll see you there and thank you for taking a trip with A Scot, A Broad!