Fall has arrived with its crisp days full of sunshine, cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes and all things spooky. With the new season also comes a whole host of new restaurants in Toronto. Of course, every season comes with new restaurant openings, because in this city, they never stop.
The team behind Cry Baby Gallery — undoubtedly one of the best bars in the city — opened a new spot for midtowners to sip martinis in Rosedale. Chef Joe Friday has a new contender for the best burgers in the city. Hidden behind a beauty shop, Bar 404 joins the growing number of Toronto’s secret cocktail bars. And DaNico comes to us from Liberty Entertainment Group, who are behind some of the best restaurants in Toronto (Blue Blood, Don Alfonso 1890). With tons of new restaurants and bars opening in Toronto, it’s an exciting time for the city’s food scene.
Summer may be winding down, but our culinary exploits are ramping up. Now that we’re not too hot and sweaty to eat, we’ll be tracking down all of these new Toronto restaurants to dine at this fall.
14 new Toronto restaurants to try before everyone else
1. Le Tigre
1060 Yonge St.
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While it may be inspired by Mayfair’s best drinking dens, we would never describe Rosedale’s new martini bar, Le Tigre, as posh. A humid shade of pink coats the walls of this vibey spot above a piano shop, and a menacing jungle cat statue peeks out from behind a dense cluster of tropical plants. An impressive quartz bar makes a satisfying clink each time you put down a glass; rhythmic French electro sets an energetic mood.
Le Tigre is by Rob Granicolo and Stephen Gouzopoulos. They’re the same dudes behind Cry Baby Gallery, a bar that’s handedly won Toronto’s affections in recent years with its moody atmosphere and layered drinks that "razzle-dazzle." Both spots serve serious sippers, but don’t take themselves too seriously; if you feel like you’d have a tough time ordering Le Tigre’s Ashley Madison cocktail with a straight face, that’s pretty much the point.
Le Tigre’s menu is brimming with cheeky chortle-inducing titles (Señor Spielbergo should tickle the fancy of any fluent in The Simpson’s lore), along with an entire section of martinis. The dirty is a showstopper, with velvety, frozen Ketel One, French vermouth and a bowl of accoutrements (cerignola olives, caper berries and pickled onion); the lychee martini is soaked in Casamigos, then sweetened with lychee agave.
2. Bar 404
85 John St. Level 1
Like its namesake, a missing webpage, Bar 404 is hard to find. Your only clue is an inconspicuous green sign jutting out over the sidewalk at King and John Street. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon the faux beauty shop — luckier still, and the hidden door will swing open.
Bar 404 is a stunner: A magnificent, elevated circular bar lights up the otherwise dimly lit speakeasy while deep house beats vibrate out from invisible speakers. A motto to trust the Greek god of wine and festivities, Dionysus, is mounted on the wall. And we've never met a bar that smelled so good — they have a signature scent from the same company who perfumes places like the Apple Store.
Bar manager Ethan Kim mixes sumptuous concoctions from a cocktail menu divided into two sections: spirit-forward Midnight Serenades, and refreshing Tranquil Breezes. Score a booth and pair a tipple with Bar 404’s small bites, including truffle béchamel flatbread and spicy tandoori shrimp.
3. Miss Aida
413 Roncesvalles Ave.
After a year of slinging striploins on Queen West, J’s Steak Frites co-owners Jad Sfeir and Tara Tang have set their sights on Levantine cuisine with Miss Aida. Named after Sfeir’s mother, the restaurant is smack-dab in the middle of Roncesvalles Village. Share chef Mohamad Hazbawi’s charred eggplant, tucked under a blanket of tarator sauce and studded with pomegranate; the chargrilled chicken with pita; or the pièce de résistance, a honey-glazed halloumi slab smeared with fig jam.
100 Yonge St.
Yannick Bigourdan’s new French fine-dining establishment launched in the Financial District this summer. It’s a nostalgic opening for the prolific restaurateur; he’s originally from the South of France, and Lucie is named after his late grandmother. Chef de cuisine Arnold Bloquel trained alongside Michelin-star chefs in France. His table d’hôte menu boasts luxurious entrées like mi-cuit foie gras with smoked eel and cherry jelly, or main courses like dry-aged Canadian beef, carved table-side.
440 College St.
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Liberty Entertainment Group is on a roll. Last year, their crown jewel Don Alfonso 1890 received a Michelin star, along with the title of the Best Italian Restaurant in the World (outside of Italy). They’re continuing to shoot for the stars with DaNico, a 60-seat “Michelin-inspired” restaurant housed inside a former heritage bank building on College.
DaNico enlists Don Alfonso executive chef Daniele Corona for a $225, eight-course tasting menu, along with à la carte offerings. Delicately prepared dishes skew Italian, inspired by Corona’s time on the Amalfi coast. Each course is a one-two-punch of bold, creative presentation (think sturgeon caviar and langoustine tartare, nestled neatly inside a bright green parsley tart) and layered flavours (fresh wasabi, buffalo burrata and kama-toro tuna cuddle in a Sicilian cannoli).
The restaurant is gorgeous, too. An impressive, glowing wine cellar stretches 30 feet in the air, tucked into what was once the bank’s vault. There are cozy velvet booths, marble counters, Versace ceramics and sultry dark-wood finishes. Stunning pieces by Salvador Dali, Damien Hirst and Mr. Brainwash are additional eye-candy. A whimsical detail that’s a sneaky hidden touch: Point your phone camera at the enormous portraits on the wall, and hidden messages will appear.
6. Bar Notte
11 Church St.
We’re all for more wine bars in Toronto, and Yannick Bigourdan has delivered. Hot on the heels of opening Lucie this summer, Bigourdan has unveiled another new spot. Bar Notte is an Italian-inspired, casual-classy cocktail and vino drinking den in Old Toronto. Bar Notte borrows Amano Trattoria’s chef Michael Angeloni to take the culinary reins. Exciting news for night owls: Angeloni’s assaggini (small and large plates, as well as Roman-style pizzas) will be available until 2 a.m. for late night eats.
119 Yorkville Ave.
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Touching down in the former space of one of Toronto’s oldest, now-shuttered nightclubs, Paros is a taste of the Mediterranean in Yorkville. It’ll be easy to forget you haven’t just landed on the actual Aegean island with your first bite: Hamachi crudo, saganki cheese and tzatziki-slathered lamb and beef sliders are on the menu. The space itself is pure vacation vibes, with cream walls accentuated by eye-popping branches of bright pink flowers.
8. TABLE Fare + Social
81 Bay St.
This lively new community space aims to inject some fresh energy into Toronto’s downtown Financial District. TABLE Fare + Social is part dining destination, part meeting space and entertainment hub on the fourth floor of CIBC Square. Grab lunch, after-work drinks or dinner to-go at TABLE’s food stalls, including chef Joe Friday’s new venture Friday Burger Company. TABLE Fare + Social will also feature a year-round schedule of cooking classes, live music, pop-ups and more.
9. Friday Burger Company
2162 Danforth Ave. and 81 Bay Street, 4th Floor
If you’ve been trying to eat your way through all of Toronto’s top burgers (aren’t we all?), we’ve got a new one to add to the list. The co-owner and chef of Calii Love and Friday Roots, Joe Friday has embarked on his first solo venture with Friday Burger Company. The comfort food spot is built around chef Friday’s signature burger, which he spent two decades perfecting. Sink your teeth into his fresh, handmade smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches at the new standalone restaurant at Danforth and Woodbine, or inside the new TABLE Fare + Social food hall.
10. Osteria Rialto
1006a Bloor St. W.
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Osteria Rialto got a bit of a raw deal when it opened inside the Paradise building on Bloor Street West in late 2019. Now, the restaurant, helmed by chef Jesse Serratore, has shed its pandemic skin and come back even stronger, with a revitalized and tasty menu. Inspired by his southern Italian heritage, Serratore makes magic with simple, seasonal dishes which utilize Tuscan, Ligurian and Roman traditions, while using Canadian ingredients like Fogo Island cod.
1168 Queen St. W.
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It’s hard to pin down exactly what style of food you’ll find at Florette. For now, we’ll settle with calling it “great.” In one corner of the menu, a rigatoni looks dashing dressed in vodka sauce, with peperonata (sweet summer bell peppers). In another, heirloom tomatoes surf whipped labneh, drizzled with tomato-caramel vinaigrette. A strawberry rhubarb maceration gently coaxes Hokkaido scallops into becoming soft juice-bombs. Located smack-dab in between The Drake Hotel and The Gladstone, this stylish new pop-up-turned-restaurant continues the block’s penchant for artistic flair.
712 Queen St. W.
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Stroll by Barkat on Queen Street, and your heart might just flutter at the sight of their romantic ceiling of plush white flowers. Chef and owner Ravneet Jehar’s menu is a pretty picture, too: His beautifully presented Indian dishes fuse traditional recipes with contemporary approaches, like molecular gastronomy. You’ve got to try the famous Gol Gappe: deep-fried flour balls that arrive perched atop glasses of raw mango, spicy guava and meetha pani juice. Our eyes are on Barkat’s brunch, too — the avocado masala benny can get right into our bellies, expeditiously, thank you very much.
490 Queen St. W.
Duck through the hunter-green doorway off Queen West for Comma, a new Korean-fusion restaurant and bar. The speciality here is tteokbokki, or wheat niblets. Enjoy them in a traditional bowl of fish cakes, shredded scallions and gochujang; in a rosé sauce; with black bean paste; or many more options. Comma also has a beefy vegan menu that boasts three different types of plant-based bibimbap, two types of noodles and vegan kimchi. There’s even a kimchi caesar to wet your whistle, spiced with a dose of sriracha. We’ll opt for a tipple here, but if beer is more your style, options range from domestic classics to imports, like Tsingtao and Hoegaarden.
14. Chop Hop X Pantry
3204 Yonge St.
If we’re being honest, salads don’t usually get our blood pumping, but we do get excited for anything that chef Adrian Niman has his hands in. This fall, the founder of the Food Dudes is opening a second location of his salad spot Chop Hop at Yonge and Lawrence, and a third location at Yonge and Temperance. Choose from six different salads artfully crafted by Niman and add proteins like Korean shortrib, piri-piri chicken, cajun shrimp, yuzu pork belly or chipotle jackfruit. It sounds like we’ll be making friends with these salads.