In the list they put together back in January, the editors at Epicurious named Toronto this year’s Food City. And as a native of the city (read: lived there for a year), I’ve decided to give a few reasons why I think it deserves the title.
First the reason why it was on the list: new restaurants. David Chang has three new spinoffs of his Manhattan-based tasting-menu restaurant Momofuku Ko – Shoto, Daisho, and Noodle Bar – which have really done much to raise the food status of the city. Chef Daniel Boulud also opened Café Boulud in the past year, a fine-dining restaurant/bar at the Four Seasons in Yorkville.
The markets: specifically Kensington and St. Lawrence, but mostly St. Lawrence since it’s the food market. The entire market takes up two buildings known as the North and South Markets. On Saturdays, there’s a weekly farmer’s market in the North building that features a wide selection of locally sourced meat and produce. The South Market has the restaurants, the market gallery, and tons of shops selling meat, baked goods and the like. Overall, there are more than 120 vendors. Fun Fact: It was named the World’s Best Food Market by National Geographic in 2012.
The neighborhoods: Ossington Street, Roncesvalles Village, Chinatown, Yonge and Finch. Toronto offers a lot in terms of diversity both in culture and in food. Depending on the part of the city you’re in, you can find any kind of cuisine from classic Canadian fare to Italian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and Jamaican among others. There are even Nigerian restaurants which, honestly, aren’t that common in many places.
The festivals: The summer really is festival season in the city. Cultural festivals are a good way to try different cuisines while experiencing a part of the cultures that make the city so diverse. If you’re ever in Toronto in the summer when these are on, try to attend at least one. A few suggestions – Taste of the Danforth (for Greek food), BrazilFest, Caribbean Carnival, AfroFest, Taste of Lawrence Festival, Ribfest, Hot & Spicy Food Festival, and the South Asian, Indian, and Tirgan Iranian Festivals.
There are more, of course, and this list is far from comprehensive. But when it comes to food, there is always something for everyone. You just have to know where to look.