Moon Staff Blog
About this blog
The Moon Water Cooler is a place for Moon staffers to share what's new in their world. Check back often to hear about author events, book releases, travel trends, and maybe even some staff recommendations for what part of the world to explore next.
- Two Reasons This Week is Awesome: Earth Day and National Park Week
- The Glory, the Groundwork, and the Grind of Travel Writing
- Finding Pizza Nirvana in Nashville
- Guest Interview: Exploring Offbeat Mexico with Churpa Rogers
- Guest Interview: The People's Guide to Mexico Authors Carl Franz and Lorena Havens
- Guest Post: Top 10 Gifts for Road Trippers
- Hawaii Giveaway Winner Announced
- Win a Round-Trip Ticket to Hawaii from Moon and Hawaiian Airlines!
- Why Moving to Belize Isn’t as Hard as You’d Think
- From Dosas to Dumplings: My Eight Favorite Toronto Restaurants
- Guest Post: At Least We Have Pizza – The Cost of Living in Mexico vs. New York City
- Hawai'i: A Foodie Paradise — Part Two
- Hawai'i: A Foodie Paradise — Part One
- Exploring California via Road Trip with Moon California Road Trip
- Enjoying the Outdoors in the Black Hills of South Dakota
From Dosas to Dumplings: My Eight Favorite Toronto Restaurants
By Carolyn B. Heller
With Toronto’s thousands of restaurants, from modest noodle shops to wildly experimental bistros, choosing where to eat can be more complicated than naming your first child.
Here, then, is not a top 10 list, a best-buy list, or a top-spots-to-eat-pig-ears list. Instead, it’s a short selection of delicious dining rooms, where whatever your mood or your budget, you can always get a good meal.
Where to Hang Out
If I lived in Toronto, Enoteca Sociale, a sociable Italian wine bar in the city’s west end, would be one of my local haunts. Choose from a large selection of wines by the “taste” or the glass, the better to pair with the rustic Roman sharing plates, like a tomato panzanella (bread salad), or the homemade pastas, perhaps trecce with spicy octopus and sausage. Book ahead if you can; this piccolo place is always busy.
I’d also hang out at Gilead Café & Bistro, celeb chef Jamie Kennedy’s casual eatery near the Distillery District. I’d join the arty types and laptop-toters for coffee and pastries in the morning, or stop in later in the day for soups, salads, and mains like pork schnitzel with anchovy mignonette or Moroccan chickpea stew.
Where to Chow Down
Jiaozi, the steamed dumplings that you find all across northern China, are one of my comfort foods, so when I’m looking to chow down on hearty Chinese fare, I go home to Mother -- Mother's Dumplings, that is. I love watching the deft dumpling makers wrap up these puffy pillows of egg and chive, cabbage and tofu, or pork with pickled cabbage. Pair your jiaozi with spicy kimchi, tofu strip salad (bean curd dressed with peppers and cilantro), or other refreshing cold dishes.
In the Entertainment District, perpetually packed Khao San Road serves up big, bold Thai fare. Try the popular khao soi, noodles topped with chicken or beef, swimming in a coconut-lime-curry broth, or the chef’s special pad Thai, amped up with roasted peanuts, dried chilies, and fresh lime. Unfortunately, they’ve stopped taking reservations, so expect to wait, but line-ups tend to be shorter Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Tip: If you don’t eat meat, ask for the separate vegan menu.
Where to Dress Up
For a stylish Italian experience, I’d find my way to Buca, in a classy brick warehouse off King Street West. Start by sharing the fried smelts or a platter of house-cured salumi. Pastas, creative pizzas (like zucchini with shrimp), and heartier dishes, like grilled sea bream with olives and preserved lemon, or veal and ricotta meatballs, round out Chef Rob Gentile’s au courant menu.
When you can’t face one more molecular gastronomy experience or hipper-than-thou server, it’s time to dine at Epic, the gracious, white-tablecloth restaurant at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. The menu includes just enough contemporary touches -- a bit of foam here, a sous vide there -- to keep things interesting while still offering options for more conservative palates. Order whatever is local and in season, whether it's a salad of Ontario beets and pears, or Blue Mountain trout with red quinoa.
Where to Veg Out
Long before it was trendy to be vegan, Little India’s Udupi Palace was cooking up south Indian vegetarian and vegan fare. I like to come for their massive dosas, crisp pancakes stuffed with potatoes, onions, vegetables, or paneer (cheese).
Sometimes, you stumble on first-rate food in the most unlikely places. Behind the Bloor subway station, Camros Organic Eatery is a cheery cafeteria serving Persian-influenced vegetarian stews, rice dishes, and salads. The selection rotates, but you might find gheyme (a yellow lentil and potato stew flavored with limes and plums) or cabbage rolls stuffed with minty rice. If you’re a fan of leafy greens, it’s worth hunting down this spot just for the lemony fresh kale salad.
Do you have your own food favorites in Toronto? Please leave a comment and share the goodies!
Moon Ontario author Carolyn B. Heller loved eating her way around Canada’s most populous province while researching this new first-edition guidebook. After all, you can never sample too many Chinese dumplings, local cheeses, or butter tarts! Based in Vancouver, she’s an avid traveler and passionate food lover who has eaten on the streets, in fine restaurants, and everywhere in between on six continents. Follow Carolyn’s adventures at www.cbheller.com or on Twitter @CarolynBHeller.
Photo credit © Carolyn B. Heller