Le Petit Déjeuner
If you’ve never had a Belgian waffle made by an actual Belgian, this might be the place to do it. The Bruges-born chef Johan Maes’s carb grids are the perfect vessel for maple syrup, chantilly cream and fruit. Other items not to be overlooked: the eggs Benedict, smoked salmon omelet and croque madame, all served with a side of potato rosti and apple coleslaw in a casual setting with shiny green banquettes.
BTW: Get here before 11 a.m. to avoid the weekend brunch pileup.
Le Petit Déjeuner, 191 King St. E. Toronto, Ontario, M5A 1J5
I Deal Coffee
Grab a drink made from in-house beans, read a page from the Toronto Star, and pet a dog or two on the concrete patio at this beloved Kensington Market spot. It’s tucked away on a quieter strip off the pedestrian-packed Augusta Avenue, which means you can really dig into your book or get some work done. If you’re just stopping in, pick up some of their fresh roasted coffee beans to go and ask for them to be ground the way you like.
BTW: Fans of iced coffee will be happy to know there’s no diluting here: This joint believes in coffee ice cubes.
I Deal Coffee, 84 Nassau St. Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1M5
If you’ve got a friend who will make a stink about plastic table cloths, leave them at home. Besides, that means more har gow and chicken feet for you. Rol San is a staple all-day dim-sum spot in Chinatown. Round up a group (four or more people is ideal for tasting more items on the menu), and order the deep-fried taro puffs, leaf-wrapped sticky rice and fried squid tentacles.
BTW: Walk through the dining hall where you’ll find a less crowded (and newly renovated) backroom.
Rol San, 323 Spadina Ave. Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2E9
In some taquerias, you have to eat at least three tacos before you’re full. At the cash-only Seven Lives, you could call it quits after one thanks to the generous fillings (the deep-fried haddock taco is definitely a two-hand effort). However, you’ll need to push through so you can also order the signature Gobernador (house-smoked marlin, shrimp and cheese) and the pulpo a la Mexican (grilled octopus and crema) that are both deserving of your attention.
BTW: Get a friend to save one of the benches out front while you order; there’s not much seating inside.
Seven Lives, 69 Kensington Ave. Toronto, Ontario M5T 2K2
The most exciting thing to happen to cauliflower can be found at this Middle Eastern restaurant where chef Anthony Rose serves up a whole roasted cauliflower topped with a layer of tahini and pomegranate seeds. It’s easily one of the most photographed dishes on the menu. You’ll come for the cauliflower but stay for the next-level latkes and delightful salatim platter of dips, pickled vegetables, Israeli-style salads, smoky eggplant, olives and warm pita.
BTW: The portions are huge and meant to be shared.
Fat Pasha, 414 Dupont St. Toronto, Ontario M5R 1V9
Banh Mi Boys
Before the Chau brothers came on the scene, nobody was paying more than $3 for banh mi. Yet somehow, the Vietnamese trio behind this quick-serve joint have persuaded Torontonians to pay upward of $7.50 a pop. How? They’ve done away with traditional cold cuts in favor of spice-rubbed pork belly, marinated kalbi beef and duck confit while keeping the crispy baguette and carrot-and-daikon slaw. They’ve also got a variety of steamed baos and tacos that make for perfect seconds.
BTW: The Queen Street location is right beside Kekou, a gelato shop that serves up Asian-inspired floats and popsicles.
Banh Mi Boys, 392 Queen St. W. Toronto, Ontario M5V 2A9
What do you get when you combine Japanese whisky, rockabilly vibes and a vintage jukebox? You get this Dundas West drinking hole from owner Hideki Saito. The space is super-narrow, which makes it great for meeting strangers and getting into heated debates about the superiority of Yamazaki single malt. The beauty of this bar is the details: The taps are made from a recycled motorcycle gas tank, the Surf Champ pinball machine has a whiteboard beside it listing its highest scorers, and the vintage TV above the bar plays black-and-white films on a loop.
BTW: Bring quarters if you want to play songs on the jukebox.
Black Dice, 1574 Dundas St. W. Toronto, Ontario M6K 1T8
Eva’s Original Chimneys
The city went crazy for Hungarian chimney cakes when the delicious ice-cream-cone-like pastries made their debut in 2015. Now that Toronto’s collective blood sugar levels have come down, this homegrown dessert can be enjoyed without the lines. Inspired by the kurtoskalacs of Budapest, the recipe was developed with help from the owners’ grandmother for whom the shop is named. The cones are spun over a rotisserie grill until they’re golden brown, then they’re coated in sugar and filled with the soft serve and toppings of your choice.
BTW: Vegan soft-serve options are available, including soy vanilla and coconut whipped cream.
Eva’s Original Chimneys, 454 Bloor St. W. Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1X8