The downtown core’s best new takeout
Remember the days of the languid three-martini lunch? Neither do we. But the midday hunched-over-a-keyboard meal can be a thing of great pleasure now that these chef-run takeout spots are ruling the downtown scene
Porchetta and Co.
545 King St. W., 647-351-8844, porchettaco.com
Nick auf der Mauer’s new King West location means core lunchers can ditch their soggy brown-bag sandwiches for one of his wildly popular porchetta ones. We recommend the fully loaded option topped with parm, grainy mustard, hot sauce and truffle sauce. The fried chicken on a Thuet bun (a Thursday-to-Saturday special at the Dundas West flagship) is available every day downtown, as is poutine topped with crackling and gravy goosed with pork drippings. A side of garlicky rapini is as good as greens get.
Flock Rotisserie and Greens
330 Adelaide St. W., 647-483-5625, eatflock.com
Harbord Room chef Cory Vitiello doubled down on the healthy bowl craze for his first quick-service restaurant. The menu is brief: perfectly seasoned rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, sides and salads that he tarts up with trendy mix-ins like roasted cauliflower, wheat and goji berries, red quinoa and grated raw coconut. It’s satisfying lunch grub that won’t cause the dreaded afternoon blood-sugar crash.
155 University Ave., 416-551-0433; 545 King St. W., 647-352-1200, pizzerialibretto.com
Order takeout from Libretto’s University or King Street location for a piping-hot, wood-fired Neapolitan pie at your desk. The lunch prix fixe includes a salad (caprese or arugula), one of Rocco Agostino’s perfectly charred pizzas (margherita or marinara) and a wee dessert (the crisp biscotti are a more prudent choice than the gelato, unless you’re an eat-dessert-first kinda person). Available Monday to Friday until 5 p.m.
15 Elm St., 416-662-3546, @TLPSandwich
Barberian’s steak house was ahead of the trend when they opened their minimalist neighbouring lunch counter two summers ago in a former wine and meat-aging cellar (TLP stands for Three Little Pigs). There’s no porterhouse to go, but there is a steak sandwich topped with sautéed mushrooms, cubano peppers and caramelized onions, and doused with garlic butter. We recommend their wedge fries on the side for a cubicle-friendly version of steak frites.
4 Temperance St., 647-348-7000, littlefin.ca
This bright takeout spot hawks expertly prepped seafood dishes just like its fancy big brothers next door, the Chase and the Chase Fish and Oyster. The tangy seaweed salad is a nice side for calamari po’ boys, buttery lobster rolls, haddock and chips, and shrimp mac and cheese.
101 Peter St., 647-748-1924, @CarverSlow
Marben’s former executive chef Rob Bragagnolo just opened a new quick-service spot that turns every weekday lunch into a Sunday roast celebration. Herb-rubbed and slow-cooked meats (a rotating selection of beef short rib, chicken and porchetta) can be stuffed into a sandwich or, better yet, sliced thick and served with a baked potato. The sleek, high-ceilinged room, with its polished concrete floor and pine countertops, is open seven days a week.
Don’t want to wait in line?
Ritual (toronto.ritual.co) and Grabb (grabb.ca) are apps designed for time-crunched overachievers who squeeze lunch in between “synergistic” meetings. Order and pay at the office, and a live-update notification pings the progress of the order. Pickup happens at a designated spot, like a lunch HOV lane, by the restaurant’s till.