Five Toronto Restaurants That Locals Love

Check out one of these neighbourhood gems

To fully appreciate Toronto’s eclectic and multi-ethnic dining scene, venture away from your downtown hotel. In this city of vibrant and diverse ‘hoods the options are endless, but here are some of the best spots to dine like a local.

Pukka

In the Corso Italia on Saint Clair West, small-plates Indian restaurant Pukka serves up aromatic, contemporary dishes, plated with flair. They’re lighter than traditional Indian restaurant fare, which means more sampling and less post-meal bloating. The wine list is extensive, with many Canadian pairing options.

If you try just one thing: String Chaat—it’s a slaw-like appetizer composed of string-cut root vegetables, green apple, puffed rice, mint and coriander chutney and pomegranate seeds, among other flavourful ingredients.

Rock Lobster

Rock Lobster, in Leslieville, is a favourite place for East-enders to get their crustacean fix. Indoors, there’s a rustic casual vibe, with rough-hewn wooden tables, brick walls and an alarmingly giant lobster mural. When the weather’s fine, you can take your freshly shucked oysters or lobster roll outside to one of three patios.

If you try just one thing: Rock Lobster Caesar—it’s rimmed with the house steak spice and adorned with a succulent lobster’s tail.

Pizza Libretto 

On the Danforth, in Greektown, visit Pizza Libretto for wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza and the tastiest craft cocktails. The early-bird family crowd is replaced by a loud and lively young crowd—equally eager to tuck into blistered-crust pizzas and small plates—later in the evening.

If you try just one thing: Duck Confit Neapolitan Pizza—the richness of the confit is balanced out by crisp, fresh bosc pear.

Karelia Kitchen 

Bloordale dwellers head to Karelia Kitchen for a smorgasbord of goodies in an intimate and sunny space. This spot has its own smokehouse out back and a counter serving open-faced sandwiches, Nordic-style salads, and cakes, pastries and tarts up front.

If you try just one thing: Blood Orange Curd with Lingonberry Glaze Tart—a dish that perfectly harmonizes sweetness and tang in a velvety vehicle.

The Beet 

Way out west in the Junction, organic restaurant The Beet has glowing devotees—literally. The farm-to-table menu was created by chef-owners Michelle Vella and Heather Osler, who also happens to be a nutritionist and homeopathic doctor. Even babies can eat clean here, from a menu of fruit and veggie purees. Be prepared to get in line for Juice Happy Hour!

If you try just one thing: The Bison Burger—it comes on a kamut bun with crisp lettuce, juicy tomato and creamy house mayo.