Despite having headquarters in Brooklyn, American cuisine isn’t normally seen as a major regional food culture (despite coast-to-coast media attention to places like New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia). Toronto’s culture is markedly different in this regard – in Toronto, food is an integral part of culture. You’ll find food trucks in downtown spots and restaurants serving delicate plates of French breads and crepes to the palates of Opec nightlife-goers – particularly University-RPAC urbanites. This means there’s a sweet spot to explore on the list below to satisfy your sweet tooth or there to satisfy your better-deserved need for sustenance.
Chanterelle Cheese Board, priced between $40-$45, available in Toronto. Photograph: Chanterelle Cheese Board
For the sweet tooth
Let Momofuku have the pork belly, who knows what else you’ll be needing. (Reserve a spot at Chanterelle, whose pizzas and pastas have had two Michelin stars on review after review.) Come with your artisanal stout for your brother, or do your best to not end up in the American dessert section if anyone is trying to buy the whole setup for your table. However, Toronto’s ridiculous vegan rabbit pie may just be the (not so) best vegan sausage pizza you’ll ever find. Have a sweet tooth and want a meaty snack at the same time? Break your finger on that sweet velvet-tiled rillettes (the one just before the chocolate one). But really, there’s no better dessert than Chanterelle’s chocolate cake. With directions on where to find the bakery’s soufflés from Toronto, we recommend returning the next time around.
Mandy Lahiri, at Glassybaby
Mandy Lahiri, of Glassybaby: ‘Blended ingredients means that flavours match better.’ Photograph: Sean Chericou
Like many of us who turn to Instagram for food inspiration, Toronto chef Molly Hartley became fascinated with the Japanese bakery mangarosu. The ingredients, of course, are key – how do you know that apricot mochi with shellfish glaze looks “amazeballs” online if you aren’t paying close attention? And you’ll want to try the mochi yourself if it’s on offer. “The mixes are super-blended, so the flavours match better,” says the head chef of the Rosebud restaurant, Glassybaby.
Where to eat
As proof that Toronto is one of the best vegetarian places to eat on Earth, Hartley stresses the quality of vegan food in Toronto. “Toronto has great places for people who can’t eat out, or want to have an ingredient-forward meal,” says Hartley. For example, Vanderpool’s, offering a half-chicken cooked in vegan lime dressing. And Splendido offers a value-priced, healthy menu in the trendy district of Little Italy.
Where to drink
“I’m a huge wine drinker,” says Hartley. While she raves about Eustache Wines, she also tells you about some of her favourites in town, like Williams Block, Château Laurier, Fontaine and Ebba House.
Where to shop
Chanterelle’s biscuits. Photograph: Chanterelle Cheese Board
More than cakes, cookies and syrups, or flowers and candles, Toronto’s culinary scene is rich in surprising taste combinations. Where else can you get macarons that have a flakey caramel crust (more like crisped apple) and goat cheese the size of a small pear? Add tarte tatin, and you have one of the best Thanksgiving desserts you’ll find anywhere in the world. Let your sweet tooth drive your foodie team crazy.