Gourmet junk food Toca Bar 181 Wellington St. W., 416-585-2500
Done up in corporate neutrals and colonized by Seven Sisters partners, the Ritz-Carlton bar serves the kinds of cocktails that come with lotus root garnishes and elderflower infusions—and cost $16 each. Sounds steep until you factor in the freebies delivered with the drinks: sticky, maple-glazed bacon, pan-fried capers and corn nuts. It’s gourmet junk food that’s impossible to stop eating, which is okay because the bartender replenishes the supply without judgment.
Sampling plate 416 Snack Bar 181 Bathurst St., 416-364-9320
At this gastro–watering hole, where waifs and their newsboy-capped boyfriends meet over wine and microbrews, there’s a ridiculously cheap sampling plate called the Smörgasbord. The ever-changing selection, like house-cured pancetta, fresh figs, smoked trout, Niagara cheeses, peach jam and pickled green beans, is reliably excellent. $9 per person.
Oysters Biff’s Bistro 4 Front St. E., 416-860-0086
After work, the city’s power brokers pour into this French stalwart to blow off some steam with a bottle of Barolo. If you don’t have an expense account to abuse, oysters are the thing to order. Every evening after 5, the fresh half-shells are just $1 apiece. A half-dozen with an $8 glass of cava makes terrific cinq à sept.
By Andrew D’Cruz, Matthew Hague, Rachel Heinrichs, Emily Landau, David Lawrason, Jason McBride, Mark Pupo, Peter Saltsman and Courtney Shea. (Images: Ryan Szulc)