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These are the best restaurants and bars on Ossington right now

Some say it's overrated, but this west end strip continues to shine. The best restaurants on Ossington are some of the coolest in the city. Here are our faves.

Best restaurants on Ossington | Outside of Mamakas

You've probably heard us mention Ossington's restaurants a few times by now. But the west end strip in the Trinity Bellwoods hood is iconic for a reason. What would Toronto be without Mamakas' barrel-aged feta brick? Or without the steak tartare from Union? The plant-based prosperity that is Fat Choi? We don't even want to think about a Toronto without these incredible Ossington restaurants. 

It's about time we rounded up the best bars and restaurants on Ossington. At only 3.5 km long, Ossington Avenue is small, but if you're in search of good food, you rarely need to go outside the 600 m stretch between Queen Street West and Dundas Street West (unless you go to Actinolite Restaurant, which you should).

Within these few blocks you'll find a brewery, wine bars and some of Toronto's best restaurants. Plus plenty of amazing bars for a great night out and a buzzing atmosphere unlike any other street in the city. From established bistros like Côte de Boeuf to new kids on the block like The Haifa Room, it's impossible not to have a good meal when there are so many amazing restaurants on Ossington. 

13 of the best restaurants and bars on Ossington right now

1. Actinolite Restaurant

971 Ossington Ave.

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Go beyond the strip (only a couple of blocks north, you’ll survive) to Actinolite Restaurant. Three nights a week, Actinolite lights up the unassuming corner of Hallam Street with excited diners eager to get their paws on a tasting menu unlike any other in the city. Here, dishes are inspired not by faraway lands, but by the near and often overlooked.

Many of the ingredients used in the multi-course tasting menu have been grown right in the restaurant's backyard garden (where you can also dine beside an open fire) or found foraging around the rural Ontario town of Actinolite where chef Justin Cournoyer is from.

The menu changes intentionally to reflect the best of what's in season and shines with Ontario gems: braised and roasted Kendal Hills chicken, smoked Georgian Bay Lake trout, house sourdough with yeast butter and aged Maple Dale Cheese cheddar. Home has never tasted so good.

actinoliterestaurant.com

2. The Haifa Room

224 Ossington Ave.

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The concrete and trash pandas of Toronto may be worlds away from the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, with its palm trees, manicured gardens and sandy beaches stretched along the Mediterranean coastline. But you can get a taste of its vibrant flavours and spices where Dundas meets Ossington.

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. 

On weekends, if you get a later reservation or walk-in, the restaurant is more like a nightclub with guest DJs, waiters sharing a dance and tables pushed together for sharing dishes and the occasional tequila shot.

thehaifaroom.com

3. Manita

210 Ossington Ave.

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Manita is the epitome of a neighbourhood café with its chalkboard menu, brick walls and rustic wood floors. Appearances aside, the food is darn good and bursting with fresh veg and local goods. Their fried egg breakfast sandwich on a house-made English muffin with oozing cheddar cheese, aioli, tangy hot sauce and braised tuscan kale is the kind of thing we would gladly get out of bed for.

manita.ca

4. Reposado Bar & Lounge

136 Ossington Ave.

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In our youth, tequila may have been synonymous with too many shots, but there’s much more to this complex spirit — and Reposado is just the place to rediscover it. Known for their very impressive, extensive tequila collection, Reposado’s list covers all the bases: blanco, reposado (duh), añejo, extra añejo and mezcal. Sample a selection with one of more than a dozen flight options. For something a little tamer, tequila is also the star of their cocktail menu. Sip on a margarita or paloma while you chomp tacos on their adorable back patio.

reposadobar.ca

5. Côte de Boeuf

130 Ossington Ave.

This pocket shop may be small but it’s certainly mighty with some of the best dry-aged beef and cured meat in the city. Part bistro, part butcher, this tiny gem is an Ossington strip staple. Stop by and pick up delicate, house-cured bresaola and terrines to-go. Or, stay awhile, sipping on Burgundies at the zinc top bar while you chat with the lovely staff. The butcher's table is reservation-only, and it's a prime place to share chef Damien Cochez's dry-aged, perfectly marbled côte de boeuf.

cotedeboeuf.ca

6. Fat Choi

94 Ossington Ave.

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Three words: Plant-Based Prosperity. Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to late (OK, fine, 10 p.m.), Soos offers their separate, completely vegan, completely brilliant Fat Choi menu. Their Murtabak (a stuffed roti with garlic sauce and curry dip) is back, and it is legendary. The tossed slaw with over 20 ingredients is a vibrant melody of fresh vegetables and textures drizzled in a zingy yuzu plum dressing. 

fatchoito.com

7. Azhar Kitchen & Bar

96 Ossington Ave.

You can smell Azhar before you see it. The steam rising off oven-fresh, herbaceous Iranian-style flatbreads and puffed fermented potato pitas beckons you in, tempting you to dip them into pools of creamy hummus or baba ghanoush sweetened with date molasses.

Azhar invites you to leave the busy city behind and be transported into a world of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean colour, spices and spreads. It's the kind of place where you can shake off the week, sip Turkish coffee (simmered on hot sand in front of you) and stay forever.

Mains like the braised lamb don’t shy away from bold, aromatic seasoning. This glorious hunk of tender meat gets an Aleppo glaze for some heat — balanced by sour cherry — and sits on a bed of hummus and cumin yogurt so velvety you'll want it as a new face cream.

azhartoronto.com

8. Paris Paris

146 Ossington Ave.

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This unstuffy wine bar moved locations from Dundas West to a converted auto garage on Ossington last year, and it’s the ideal spot to post up any day of the week for funky vino and simple ingredients made into something special. Think grilled Argentine shrimp with briny, pickled mushrooms tossed in a rich garlic butter sauce; roasted Piri Piri half-chicken with crispy skin; and an entire plate of expertly fanned slices of charcuterie.

parisparis.ca

9. Bar Koukla 

88 Ossington Ave.

Dare you not to stop and stare at Bar Koukla’s glowing copper fixtures, sparkling terrazzo countertop and curtains made out of repurposed fishing rope. From the outside window, it’s one of Toronto’s most beautifully designed spaces, and it’s even better inside. Expect small sharing plates of Aegean-inspired dishes like baked feta wrapped in phyllo and topped with pomegranate; grilled lamb ribs with creamy tzatziki; and chewy sesame bread with whipped honey butter.

mamakas.ca/bar-koukla

10. Mamakas 

80 Ossington Ave.

Mamakas, one of Toronto's best restaurants, continues to blow us away with their refined yet approachable homestyle cooking and not-in-your-face coastal atmosphere. At this Ossington hideaway (right next door to sister spot, Bar Koukla), the Mediterranean summer is endless. The cuisine expertly balances the teachings of past generations while embracing modern touches for some truly remarkable dishes from land and sea.

The roast chicken hits different here. After bathing in a brine of citrus and Greek mountain tea, it's oven-roasted until golden and immaculate. And you haven’t really tasted feta until you’ve tried their barrel-aged brick.

mamakas.ca

11. Union

72 Ossington Ave.

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Inspired by classic Parisian bistros, Union offers weekly, farm-fresh menus full of seasonal twists on French familiars like a habanero steak tartare with a selection of local mustards and butter pickles — it might just be the city's best. After all these years, their brunch has still got it and we would line up any day for that potato rosti.

union72.ca

12. Foxley

207 Ossington Ave.

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You know what they say — never judge a book by its cover, or, in this case, a restaurant by its façade. Foxley may be giving British pub on the outside, but that’s far from what you’ll find on the inside. The cozy bistro’s exposed brick walls lined with art set the mood for sipping wine well into the evening.

Skip the cocktails at this spot and instead dive into their list of unique wines available by the glass or bottle. Peckish? Pair your vino with pan-Asian small plates like spicy crispy shrimp, fried general tao chicken wings and ceviche (they have three different kinds!). For a real treat, snag a spot on their secret back patio — it’s one of the cutest on the strip

foxleybistro.com

13. Bellwoods Brew Pub 

124 Ossington Ave.

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The patio at Bellwood's Brewery is the place to be as soon as the warm weather hits. Soaking up the sun with one of their brews in hand (Jelly King to be precise) and snacking on assorted cheese and flawless fries is what our Sunday afternoon dreams are made of.

bellwoodsbrewery.com

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