The best new restaurants to check out in Toronto this spring

Between trendy newcomers and new projects from famous Toronto chefs, 2017 has been a good year for the local restaurant scene. We’ve got the goods on everything from the newest it-spot for wood-fired pizza to buzzworthy fine vegan dining. [Photo credit: Rick O'brien]

The best new restaurants to check out in Toronto this spring

Superpoint, SP184 and Superpoint Express

There’s a brand new heavy-hitter on Toronto’s thin-crust pizza scene, from Jonathon Poon of Queen Street cocktail hub Bar Fancy. Superpoint’s intimate dine-in location on Ossington Ave opened at the tail end of 2016, along with the “secret” cocktail bar around back, SP184.

Following the substantial foodie response at the new joint, the pizzeria launched Superpoint Express this year, a takeout location in Parkdale on Dunn Ave. While they offer ‘Hero’ sandwiches like meatball with smoked scamorza cheese and marinated eggplant, the real standout is the pizza. Veggie-lovers have lots of indulgent options, like the Shrooms pizza, made with mushroom cream, cremini mushrooms, mozza, arugula and sesame seeds. Classic pie lovers might instead opt for one of the more traditional options with a modern spin – the soppressata pizza is accented with ricotta and artichoke, while the anchovy is paired with mozza, Grano Padano cheese and parsley.

Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery

Torontonians had enough to celebrate when this famed west coast brewery opened shop in Liberty Village – and then they teamed up with Oliver & Bonacini to create a sprawling brewpub perfect for hungry brewery-goers looking for an inspired space to sit down for brunch, lunch or dinner. The central fixture of the space is the square wraparound bar, accented by plush bar stools and colourful geometric tiles – but there’s plenty of booth seating and communal tables, too. As for the menu, may we suggest the jerk chicken or baby back rib platter, served with coleslaw and potato salad? Oh, and if you’re a brunch lover, be sure to sample the Scotch egg! Wash it all down with one of Big Rock’s seasonal or long-standing craft brews.

La Banane

Chef Brandon Olson caught the eye of foodies in town and abroad when he launched his colourful designer chocolate brand CXBO, so it’s no wonder his new Ossington concept restaurant is one of 2017’s most buzzworthy eateries so far. Taking over the old The Saint Tavern space, it’s all about high-class French fare at La Banane, which has the feel of a low-lit Parisienne parlour, complete with leather banquets and sultry-meets-tropical wallpaper. Menu standouts include the duck breast and charred endive, sea bass en croute (wrapped in pastry), a seafood tower with raw scallops, gulf shrimp and lobster. For dessert, the Ziggy Stardust disco chocolate egg is gaining infamy on Instagram, and the hand-rolled chocolates inside of it aren’t too bad either.

Grey Gardens

Jen Agg launched her new Kensington Market eatery in February, a dreamy restaurant and wine bar on Augusta Avenue. Agg teamed up with Momofuku chef Mitch Bates, designing a menu that highlights small plates (think: smoked mackerel, ricotta dumplings and black truffle ravioli), with some heftier options like duck and sauerkraut, and oxtail and Dungeness crab. An uber-thorough wine list and rare selection of ciders make it easy to linger long into the night – and the inspired pastelle interior (complete with a wraparound bar, open kitchen and a very selfie-worthy bathroom) doesn’t hurt either.

Otto’s Bierhalle

Trays of wurst, potato salad and sauerkraut, and some of the freshest international beer imports around? Don’t mind if we do. This new Parkdale haunt from the glorious minds behind Kensington’s Otto’s Berlin Döner brings more of Berlin’s culinary scene to the 6. Open 5 pm to midnight every night, the spot also hosts weekend brunch and a late-night menu that they serve until 2 am. Bring a date and split the smorgasbord-esque feasts like the Oktoberfest, which comes with four kinds of sausage, fries, slaw and house pickles. Or tuck in for a schnitzel on a pretzel bun, or the drool-worthy spatz and cheese (a German spin on mac and cheese, made with egg noodles). As for the libations, there are tempting cocktails on offer, but the standout is the beer menu, which hosts everything from dark ales to sours. Oh, and be sure to check out the bathroom-meets-nightclub while you’re there (hint: press the big button).

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More things to do this spring in Toronto

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Pinky’s Ca Phe

You may feel like you’ve stumbled off Clinton Street and into a dive bar in Saigon when you enter Pinky’s Ca Phe. The new offering from Leemo Han of Hanmoto and OddSeoul has Toronto foodies talking with its modern Vietnamese fare and hip-meets-hole-in-the-wall vibes. A BBQ on the back patio provides drool-worthy charred chicken and squid (the latter of which tops the substantial mango and papaya salad). Wash it all down with some tropical cocktails featuring the likes of lychee and Thai basil.

Oretta

King West has scored a sprawling new resto-bar for after-work wine and fresh pasta, and the interior is one of the strip’s best. Think: pastele and gold wall treatments, high ceilings with architectural lighting and a circular wraparound bar with colourful, plush seating scattered all around. Seriously, this is a ridiculously inspired space for a quick work lunch. The café portion offers ready-made baked goods and savoury options, and hot-to-go espresso drinks. Sit-down menu standouts include the swordfish carpaccio, served with pomegranate, radish and black olives, the Agnello pizza (fior di latte cheese, lamb sausage, gorgonzola and green onion), and the fish torcetti pasta, featuring bay scallops.

Awai

Vegan eats have fully arrived in TO and chef Nathan Isberg of the much buzzed about, but now defunct Atlantic restaurant on Dundas Street, is leading the charge in the category of fine dining. Isberg popularized a unique PWYC approach to his high-end seafood fare, but his new Bloor West Village vegan restaurant features an a la carte menu and a well-curated wine list. Wood-fired Spanish flatbreads with accroutements like wild mushrooms or shishito peppers are a lovely starter. Heavier dishes include artichoke ravioli, plant-based paella and Israeli cous cous. Dessert? We recommend the steamed carrot cake with white chocolate.

Lake Inez

Quickly grabbing a reputation as one of Toronto’s most inspired interiors of 2017, this Little India gem brings a host of dynamic Asian flavours to the east end. Think Japanese deviled eggs and a Sawdust Twin Pines IIPA, honey garlic adobo wings with a Red Line Clutch APA, seafood stew with shishito pepper and chicharrón, and pan-seared duck with Filipino-style congee. Soak in the space that hosts a quaint cabin meets New York parlour restaurant – complete with a large rounded banquet by the front window, perfect for a large party. A stunning tiled mural provides the backdrop to the space, with plenty of bar and table seating.

Brothers

Tucked in an intimate space above Bay Station, Brothers Food and Wine offers upgraded classic American fare, with a Mediterranean spin. While the menu (both food and wine) changes often, you can be sure that fish and red meat will be a central fixture – from grilled fennel and sole to whole roasted hogs. Wine-lovers – this spot is a must-try in Toronto for its impeccably curated seasonal selections. The 30-seat space, cozy but elegant, make the perfect backdrop to enjoy a glass (or two!).

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