Dine and dash: Speedy sit-down lunch spots in Toronto's core

Toronto’s downtown core is home to plenty of sit-down eateries that are used to catering to the busy lunchtime crowd. If looking for a civilized meal in a hurry, pull up a chair at these speedy spots where you’ll be in and out in under an hour.

Bannock

1
401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4

You find approachable Canadian comfort food (duck poutine pizza, anyone?) in a casual setting at this Queen Street canteen. Try the bannock flatbread, an Aboriginal specialty, topped with house-smoked salmon, bacon or veggies. If you’re really pressed for time, the grab-and-go counter offers a variety of premade wraps, salads, sandwiches and prepared foods to take away.

Locale Mercatto

2
330 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 2S8

Throngs of hungry office works chow down on pizzas, pastas and authentic Italian antipasti at this bustling trattoria located at Bay and Adelaide. The rustic menu might feature old world recipes but the speedy staff take a downtown approach to service, which means you’ll always make it back in time for your two o’clock meeting.

America Restaurant

3
325 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 3C2

Time is money at this opulent downtown eatery located on the 31st floor of the Trump Hotel. The suit-and-tie clientele dine on an upscale menu of reimagined American classics like gourmet macaroni and cheese served with braised beef shin and the house made Wagyu beef burger topped with pimento cheese. The eye-popping interior features soaring ceilings and bold décor so you might want to take a moment to savour the elegant surroundings before you rush back to the office.

Montecito

4
299 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7

California meets Canadiana at this effortlessly elegant restaurant just steps away from the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Chef Jonathan Waxman works closely with local farmers and suppliers and sources seasonal produce, dairy, meat and fish to ensure food is fresh and sustainable. The lunchtime menu features a selection of soups, salads, pizzas and pastas as well as sophisticated meat and fish dishes that find their way from farm to table in a very prompt fashion.

The Gabardine

5
372 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 2W9

The downtown crowd can’t get enough of the elevated pub grub at this lunchtime haunt in the heart of the financial district. The menu offers refined comfort food classics like mac and cheese, chicken potpie and clubhouse sandwiches. If you want to make it a liquid lunch, sample an inventive libation from the drink list. The argyle cocktail — made with gin, Campari, lemon juice and cinnamon syrup — is sure to make the rest of your workday a little more bearable.

Hy's Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar

6
120 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1T1

Impress your clients without doing overtime at this iconic downtown steakhouse on Adelaide Street West. The lunch menu features an array of modern and classic options like baked French onion soup, ahi tuna tartare, and a New York steak sandwich. The classy interior boasts an elegant atmosphere that begs to be lingered in but don’t worry, the staff here are consummate professionals and are happy to accommodate your time restrictions.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen

7
104-85 Hanna Ave, Toronto, ON M6K 3S3

This airy dining room in Liberty Village hosts busy creative types from offices in the nearby industrial loft buildings. Check out the wallet-friendly weekday specials and the daily “Mildred’s Quickie” lunch special for a tasty meal delivered in a timely fashion. Bonus: there’s free Wi-Fi onsite if you need to make it a working lunch.

Modus Ristorante

8
145 King St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1J8

You can bank on prompt service and refined Italian dishes at this high-end restaurant in the financial district. The lunch menu lists an elegant array of pastas and meaty mains; try the honey and hazelnut crusted salmon or pan-seared scallops with maple-mustard glaze. With direct access from downtown’s underground PATH system, you won’t even have to bring your coat.

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