A round-up of Toronto’s new restaurants from 2015

2015. It was a good year for Toronto foodies and restaurant entrepreneurs alike. Whether you’re looking for the most buzz-worthy new taco joint, what’s happening on the Parkdale strip, or which seasoned spot has enjoyed a recent makeover, we’ve got the goods. Check out some of the just-born and reinvented spots that have caught our interest this year.

Kanpai Snack Bar

252 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A 2L1

Kanpai Snack Bar brings a bustling cocktail house specializing in Tawainese street food to Cabbagetown. Wash down wok-fried chicken or saucy bao with Asian-inspired drinks like Ooh Long Island iced tea or a local craft beer at this wood-clad tavern. Sleek industrial lighting and communal tables create the casual, amber-hued vibe of the spot, perfect for a cocktail date or a happy-hour snack.

Barque Butcher Bar

287 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2M3

This hybrid project neighbours up to the original Barque Smokehouse, Toronto’s beloved BBQ restaurant on Roncesvalles Avenue. Offering patrons the best of both worlds (and as the name aptly points out), this spot is a butcher and high-end curated grocer by day, and cocktail and snack bar by night. Pick up everything from brisket to bottled bbq sauce to citrus smoked salmon at the butcher and café, or head over for a post-work bevvy and charcuterie board in the evening.

Mymy Chicken

394 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X4

The Annex has a new teppanyaki spot, and it’s generating quite a buzz. Ingredients come out on a sizzling iron griddle for a DIY approach to the famed Japanese grilling technique. The Supreme Beef and rice dish is a must-try, as is the guilty pleasure selection of desserts (which includes a roasted coffee tiramisu as well as a black sesame parfait). Plus, the sleek spot is oh-so-aesthetic, with modern white booth seating and bright architectural lighting.

Peter Pan Bistro

373 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A4

Toronto’s culinary elite are suckers for a local legacy, and when the newest iteration of the beloved Peter Pan bistro – housed in a decades-old ramshackle low-rise on Queen West – surfaced in early 2015, it garnered instant interest. What can you expect from the updated space and menu? The most unique tapestry-taxidermy hybrids you’ve ever seen (now that’s a phrase I bet you didn’t think you’d read today), an oh-so-romantic parlour interior, and British- and French-inspired dishes like devils on horseback (bacon-wrapped plums!), Welsh rarebit, and shellfish bouillabaisse.

Bar Raval

505 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5

From the masterminds of Bar Isabel comes this truly unique cocktail and tapas bar, just a hop-skip from College and Bathurst. The entirely wood-clad interior creates the feel of a whimsical tavern, while the cocktail menu brings such intriguingly titled options as the Scottish Hula Dancer (which is described as an intimate meeting between Count Negroni and Chet Baker in the tropics, and features Beefeater, Campari and coconut). Snack on traditional Spanish tapas for a gourmet post-work snack session or stop in during the day for some baked-in-house delicacies from the café (think donuts, croissants and crusty baguettes).

Old School Restaurant

800 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V1

This Dundas Street eatery joins the ranks of Toronto’s premium 24-hour dining spots, dealing in all-day breakfast, BBQ and other, in their own words, “genuine classics”. With everything from maple-drizzled French toast to pulled pork and waffles, OLD SCHOOL has quickly become the new destination for comfort food in Little Portugal. Dinner-minded? Guilty pleasure options abound at this edgy spot, from fried chicken with Sriracha mayo to blackstrap brisket and beans to a good ol’ bucket-o-shrimp.

Pennies Bar

127 Strachan Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2S7

Hungry around Trinity-Niagara? No problem. One of Toronto’s newest snack stops has been serving some of the most capital sliders and mini-sandwiches of the year. The Redneck taco features pulled pork and coleslaw on a corn griddlecake while the Buffalo fried chicken is garnished with pickled celery and blue cheese. If you’re thinking: my goodness that sounds like the tastiest post-bar snack I could possibly imagine, we’re way ahead of ya. Yes, Broncos is open late night, all week ;)

Playa Cabana Cocina Economica

141 Berkeley St, Toronto, ON M5A 2X1

The Playa Cabana group has launched its latest venture in east Corktown, and true to the restaurant group’s signature aesthetic, Cocina Economica boasts a colourful and eclectic vibe that feels fun and exciting as soon as you walk through the door. With a menu of classic Mexican fare composed of slow-cooked meats, rice and beans, authentic salsas, tacos and tostados, and of course, the now-legendary guacamole, this is decisively one of the east end’s new spots to get fed and get fed right. Wash the spicy selections down with classic boozy offerings like sangria and margaritas, or the made-in-house horchata.


455 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K4

This Drake and Susur Lee collaboration may well go down as the most buzzed-about pre-opening in Toronto restaurant history. The King West spot joins the ranks of the top chef’s other celebrated eateries Bent, Luckee, and Lee. In terms of interior, Fring’s is the definition of chic-meets-casual, with exposed brick and semi-circle booth seating for a cozy parlour-esque vibe. True to form, Lee delivers a menu that has us drooling on our keyboards: think mushroom and winter truffle pappardelle, southern spicy maple-fried chicken, and grilled octopus (served alongside black olive puree and smoked olive oil).

Annette Food Market

240, Annette St., Toronto, ON M6P 1R1

This Junction hotspot has been drawing the crowds since it opened in early 2015, slinging authentic thin-crust Neapolitan pizza and other updated Italian classics. This is the type of spot for a done-right Negroni, an excellent selection of Italian reds, a hip atmosphere, and a menu of curated classics (beef carpaccio with mushrooms, house-made ravioli and potato croquettes are just a few of the drool-inducers on offer). Hot tip: don’t skip the dessert menu, it is dazzling, and keep AFM in mind for Sunday brunch – the Caesar features a spicy pepperoncini and slice of prosciutto.

Byblos Downtown

11 Duncan St, Toronto, ON M5V 3M2

Byblos isn’t just the Entertainment District’s new Mediterranean restaurant du jour, it’s conquering Toronto as one of the most buzz-worthy restaurants of the year. The sprawling spot accomplishes a unique vibe that unites high-end dining with an intimate setting, perfect for a one-on-one dinner or large party alike. Warm up with small plates, get cozy with the spicy, duck-egg-accented shakshouka (a chunky tomato soup), or tuck in with the Spanish octopus, served alongside fingerling potatoes.

Our talented brewmasters are among the most beloved makers in the city, having carved out Toronto’s status as a destination for award-winning craft beer. Although the culture is home-grown and goes way back, post 2011, a slew of new spots have popped up across the city. Here are the stories behind both our famed microbreweries and innovative newcomers on the scene. [Photo credit: Celine Kim]
From second-storey terraces to canopy-covered courtyards, 2016 has been a good year for Toronto’s patio game. We’ve got the goods on the brand-new brewery on Roncesvalles and the Lakeshore’s most recent party-worthy spot. East to west, these resto-bar newcomers have created inspired outdoor spaces so you can start patio season off right. [Image credit: iStock.com/Sean Pavone] 
On Sunday May 1st 2016, the Artscape Wychwood Barns hosts TO’s largest festival for gluten-free foodies. With workshops led by gluten-free experts and over 65 food vendors to sample from, this event is a must-attend for wheat-sensitive Torontonians. From cupcakes to malt beer and cider tastings, the Gluten Free Garage is where to snack up and stock up this weekend. [Photo by Franco Deleo; courtesy of the Gluten Free Garage]
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