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13 new Toronto restaurants we're loving this winter

Indoor dining in Toronto is back, and we're making up for lost time with this round-up of Toronto's best new restaurants. 

The pandemmy has done Toronto restaurant workers dirty. Mandatory closures, constantly changing restrictions, inadequate financial support — it's been a real doozy. Despite the countless challenges and vacancy signs (we'll be mourning Crosley's and Skippa for a long time), restaurants have innovated, crushed the takeout and delivery game, and there are many new Toronto restaurants that have opened. 

Industry recovery won't happen overnight, but the opening of new Toronto restaurants is inspiring. This winter, we're putting on two pairs of pants and getting back out there to check out some of these amazing new Toronto restaurants — three restaurants in the past couple of months have opened on Dupont Street alone!

We'll gladly freeze our tails off on a heated patio, but, damn, are we pumped to dine indoors at one of these new Toronto restaurants and get our hands on a thick DAM sandwich from their bumping Oakwood Avenue shop. Catch us stuffing our faces full of stuffed ravioli from Pasta Forever's new storefront. And save a seat at disco brunch (coming soon) at Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! We'll promise not to embarrass the table with our dad-at-a-wedding dance moves... maybe. 

13 of Toronto's best new restaurants 

1. Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! 

461 King St. W.

Three things we want more of in 2022: Fajitas, margaritas (on tap) and sparkles. And Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! (yes, that's the full name — it's good luck) is making our disco dreams a reality. What started as a patio pop-up last summer is now a lively new cantina on King West bringing Southern American and Mexican-inspired flavours to sun-deprived city dwellers.

There's something deeply satisfying about tucking into a roast sunchoke tamale or grilled adobo chicken under the glittering light of a spinning disco ball. And if someone puts on an ABBA record from the vinyl listening wall, you'll have to physically remove us from the restaurant.

rabbitrabbitrabbit.ca

2. Osteria Du 

536 Queen St. W.

A plant-based Italian restaurant sounds alarming. No beef ragu? Sacrilege. However, we stand happily corrected thanks to Osteria Du’s heaping plates of house-made seasonal pasta and those gorgeous, gorgeous pizzas. Look, if you can make a meat-and-dairy-free ‘za actually taste good, you’re a hero. Their four-course prix fixe menu is affordable ($50 on weekdays) by T.O. standards and, in addition to cutting out meat, they’ve also eliminated tipping, adding an 18 per cent service fee instead.

osteriadu.ca

3. The Hartly 

619 King St. W.

Lately, dinner and a show means spilling on ourselves while watching true crime. So, we're thrilled The Harly is here to add a little more glam to our nights. Part restaurant, cocktail lounge and variety theatre, this spicy new spot is the place to be for after-work drinks and late-night fun, especially when the long table at the centre doubles as a runway. Snack on shareables like truffle tuna tostadas while being serenaded by live music and entertainment.

thehartly.com

4. Caked Coffee 

1651 Bloor St. W.

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Vegans and the lactose-intolerant rejoice, Caked Coffee has all your dairy-free dessert cravings. Opened by a husband-and-wife duo, this Bloor West bakeshop is a short walk from High Park and the perfect stop for a sweet, 100 per cent vegan treat (that’s free of refined sugar). If you’ve made espresso martinis a personality trait, go for their espresso cupcake that's filled with real espresso soaked into the rich chocolate cake.

cakedcoffee.ca

5. Bar St. Lo

26 Market St.

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St. Lawrence Market is an iconic landmark for both visiting and local foodies. Now, market-lovers can enjoy St. Lawrence on a plate. Located right on Market St., this intimate, brick-walled seasonal restaurant sources its ingredients right from the market.

The menu is constantly changing, but you can expect beautifully plated dishes of bright vegetables, daily catches and delicious bites like pork belly glazed with sweet miso. Music-lovers are in for a treat with their rotating list of artists — you might even catch a surprise performance from Daniel Caesar.

barstlo.com

6. MIMI Chinese

265 Davenport Rd.

Every so often, a really special restaurant in Toronto opens and totally shakes up the city’s culinary scene. MIMI Chinese is that kind of place. From the team behind the hugely successful Sunny’s Chinese pop-up, MIMI is like the more polished big sister, but the atmosphere isn't stuffy at all.

Slide into one of their plush velvet booths and you’ll find family-style regional Chinese food with a focus on the provinces of Guangdong, Sichuan and Hunan. The four-foot belt noodle doused in house chili oil (cut tableside by a waiter with gold-plated scissors) is a must-try.

mimichinese.com

7. La Nectarine

1588 Dupont St.

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Alert: Celeb chef David Adjey has returned to Canada to open up a gorgeous French bistro in the Junction. La Nectarine was just getting started when Omicron rained on the parade, but it's already made quite the name for itself. This will be Toronto's must-try spot of 2022.

The open, glowing restaurant has no walk-in fridge so ingredients are as fresh as they come. Expect French classics à la David: steak tartare with a petite quail egg, duck confit with pomme purée, and an exquisite crème brûlée. If you want a little oomph, the salmon is cured in-house and smoked under a glass dome. When it comes to the table, the dome is lifted to reveal a billow of smokey aromas and the best bite.  

lanectarine.com

8. DAM Sandwiches

363 Oakwood Ave.

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The latest addition to Oakwood Avenue started with only three menu items, but when you do something so well, why would you need more? Since opening late last year, they’ve added a few more damn good subs and buns to their roster. They sell out fast so check their IG for offerings like the 36-hour slow-cooked brisket sammy and the one-day-only pan-seared queso fresco cheese sandwich.

@dam_sandwiches

9. Clio

600 King St. W.

While our clubbing days may be a fading memory of sticky floors and sore feet, there is one club we would very much like to attend (and fill our faces at). Clio is a private social club in downtown Toronto, and both its members-only restaurant and lounge are v. sexy (so, we’ve heard). We creeped the menu and have our eyes on the temping "eye round" cut of Australian Wagyu beef kissed with a flame sear and served like razor-thin carpaccio.

cliotoronto.com

10. Loop Line Wine and Food

643 Dupont St.

Right next to Loop Line Lane in Seaton Village, you’ll find the cutest little wine bar from the owners of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Stratus Vineyards. This adorable spot doubles as a bottle shop and no-fuss drinking den where you can pull up a barstool and share simple small plates in between sips of organic and biodynamic vino. They’ve partnered with lots of local purveyors and makers, from dex(terity) lab's hand-thrown plateware to chewy baguettes from Blackbird Baking Co.

@looplinewine

11. Neon Tiger 

14 Dupont St.

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From the creative minds who brought us Korean snack bar OddSeoul on Ossington comes its ultraviolet sister spot at Dupont and Avenue Road. Neon Tiger bellies Oddseoul's pocket-shop space with its three stories and three patios (hello, 90-seat back patio). The food is pan-Asian tapas-style so except palm-sized beauties like curried veg tacos and bulgogi cheesesteak with sambal mayo.

neontiger.ca

12. Pasta Forever

1693 Dundas St. W.

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Two years ago, former Woodlot pasta chef Jess Maiorano started making pasta from scratch out of her Parkdale kitchen. Then, the chef would hop on her bike and deliver ricotta-stuffed ravioli and hand-rolled cavatelli to hungry, carb-craving Torontonians. Pasta Forever was born and it has grown from a pandemic side hustle into a successful business — now with its own storefront on Dundas West. 

Maiorano is known for creating unique pasta shapes which you can take home with you, along with sauces, puffy focaccia and other pantry items for the perfect pasta night at home. Right now Pasta Forever (the shop) is takeaway-only and will eventually serve weekly lunch. You can also order meal kits from the webshop every Tuesday for Thursday delivery.  

pastaforever.ca

13. The Haifa Room 

224 Ossington Ave.

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This corner of Ossington and Dundas has seen many iterations over the years, but we're most excited about The Haifa Room. Head to their takeaway window for lunchtime delights like grilled Sababa pita stuffed with falafel and a slew of other toppings, and Israeli sabich (a schnitzel-fried pita filled with crispy eggplant and tangy house-made amba sauce). For dinner, find bigger mains like boneless lamb shoulder with harissa tahini and sumac yogurt.

thehaifaroom.com

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