The Dish (Yearly) Power Rankings: the 10 busiest, buzziest restaurants of 2013

The Dish (Yearly) Power Rankings: the 10 busiest, buzziest restaurants of 2013

We crunched the numbers on a year’s worth of Weekly Restaurant Power Rankings to separate the one-week wonders from the genuine hotspots. The result: a definitive list of the Toronto restaurants with the longest lineups, most effusive reviews, gushiest tweets and, of course, most jam-packed reservation books in 2013. (One caveat: our computations, while highly technical, gave the advantage to older restaurants that had more opportunities to earn buzz). Here, the top 10 most buzzy Toronto restaurants of the year.

1. Edulis
Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’s candlelit retreat accomplished the near-impossible: it stayed completely packed for an entire year and earned enthusiastic endorsements from the two most powerful women in food: former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl and domestic drill sergeant Martha Stewart.

2. Bar Isabel
Like the kid who wins all the awards at graduation, Grant van Gameren’s College Street tavern topped multiple best-restaurant lists. It also sparked the city’s obsession with tapas.

3. Shōtō
Momofuku’s 22-seat ode to the chef menu, our top-ranking best new restaurant for 2013, dazzled diners with its meticulous dishes—and inured them to the notion of dropping $300 for dinner.

4. Daishō
The Momofuku middle sibling lost its executive sous-chef, gained a new patio and became hunk-central during TIFF. It also ushered the phrase “large format” into everyday restaurant parlance.

5. Rose and Sons
Anthony Rose’s cramped greasy spoon turned Dupont into a legitimate brunch destination for never-north-of-Bloor downtowners, who lined up weekly for gooey patty melts and Dr. Pepper-glazed back bacon. Come summer, his backyard barbecue Big Crow became, if possible, even more popular.

6. Farmhouse Tavern
The Junction Triangle’s neighbourhood hang upped the ante with a new chef, a more ambitious menu and an adventurous meat-centric dinner series. Sunday morning brunch reservations regularly filled up so fast that servers began giving consolation muffins to unlucky would-be diners.

7. Electric Mud
The rough-and-tumble ‘cue shack from the owners of Grand Electric charmed choosy Parkdalers and proved its culinary mettle, all while appearing impossibly disinterested.

8. El Catrin
The fact that the barely five-month-old Distillery restaurant cracked our top ten is a testament to its huge popularity. Tourists and Torontonians alike have taken a shine to the Mexican restaurant’s flaky Baja tacos, summery cocktails and fully winterized patio.

9. Playa Cabana Cantina
The Junction’s Playa spinoff was so overwhelmingly successful that it convinced owner Dave Sidhu to expandtwice.

10. JaBistro
Chef Koji Tashiro wooed the Bay Street set with top-notch sushi, a steady flow of Sapporo and unconventional offerings like still-twitching lobster sashimi (Toronto Life restaurant critic Mark Pupo’s culinary analogy: “edible bubble wrap”).