FOOD AND DRINK
Toronto Eats: Where to Eat on King West
The centre of Toronto’s creative industry and the fastest growing neighbourhood in the city, King West Village buzzes morning, noon, and night. The dining options are seemingly endless. Here are five places you must check out.
At this warm, fragrant subterranean bakery, espresso-sipping construction workers mingle with besuited bankers grabbing a box of biscotti on the way to work. It’s hard not to go slack-jawed at the counter showcasing Andrea Mastrandria’s rustic Italian pastries. The stunning array offers depth and originality, eliciting, “Hey, I’ve never seen that before!” from the most traveled bakery hounds. For the breakfast of champions, try a cheesy, flakey cornetto sandwiching sweet, juicy tomato. At lunch, grab any of the hefty panini layered with Italian goodies on house-baked focaccia or crusty bread. And for dessert, the signature two-bite chocolate olive cake is a must.
609 King St. W., 416-603-8305
The casual, more affordable, no-reservation spinoff of the highly acclaimed Buca around the corner captures the relaxed vibe of Italy’s best cafes and aperitivo bars. You could eat three meals a day here and never get bored. Quieter in the mornings, it’s the perfect spot for an early meeting over cappuccinos and delightful pistachio doughnuts. You’ll also want to stop in for a post-work Negroni and share the ciccheti platter, a tower of little snacks that includes a Lilliputian tripe sandwich so delicious, it will convert the biggest naysayers to this off cut. On weekends, it’s one of the top brunch tables in town.
75 Portland St., 416-599-2822
Le Sélect Bistro
To experience this bistro at its bustling best, book a table at lunch and break bread with top web designers, ad execs and Globe and Mail reporters from across the street. Said bread is gratis baguette brought warm enough to melt unconscionable smears of butter. Chef Alberto Ponzo’s menu is resolutely French with well-executed classics including an excellent bison tartare, sharp with shallots and capers, served with a golden haystack of herbed frites. The affordable, user-friendly wine list is supplemented by a smart selection of beers on tap. No matter how busy it gets, the fast kitchen and sharp servers will get you to your 2 o’clock on time.
432 Wellington St. W., 416-596-6405
Tucked away off King Street in the ground floor of a luxury condo, this lively taberna is arguably Toronto’s best Spanish restaurant. If you’re traveling solo, grab a seat at the tapas bar, sip a nutty oloroso, and watch the beautiful people stream in. But to do chef Stuart Cameron’s menu justice, it’s best to hit this place with a group. Start with plump bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gooey Mahon cheese and pickled chilies. From the wood-fired oven, the seafood paella is extraordinary, a loving marriage of perfectly cooked shellfish and plump saffron-scented Bomba rice. As you scrape away at the coveted crusty layer (socarat) at the bottom, you realize that rice doesn’t get much better than this.
478 King St. W., 416-367-0505
When you bite into any of David Castellan’s exquisite confections, it’s impossible not to sigh heavily and forget about all that ails. One of the top chocolate shops in North America, the King West location – the original is in the Distillery District – offers a prime perch at the window to watch the world stroll by. Enjoy the view with a small cup of intensely rich Mayan hot chocolate spiced with ginger, orange and chili, or, in summer, a scoop of the deepest, darkest chocolate gelato imaginable. For a unique gift to take home, buy one (or all) of his Microbatch bean-to-bars for the most complex, mind-blowing chocolate you’ve ever had.
443 King St. W., 416-599-7662
(This article was originally published on Aug 2, 2016)