Food & Drink

Toronto’s best family feasts right now

Barque’s decadent duck pancakes
Barque’s decadent duck pancakes Photograph by Ryan Szulc
Barque Smokehouse

299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700, David Neinstein’s Roncesvalles room resembles any number of west-end bistros: the walls are burnished brick, the bar is polished concrete and the tables are full of Roncey families. Behind the dining area, though, is a Southern Pride smoker, where Neinstein slow-cooks his meat over fruitwood. Sample the goods with the barbecue platter, or let your little ones build their own meals off the $10 Barque Bites for Kids menu.


The Maple Leaf Tavern
The Maple Leaf Tavern Photograph by Dave Gillespie
Maple Leaf Tavern

955 Gerrard St. E., 416-465-0955, The east end’s newest gathering spot, recently rescued from its decades-long stint as a sketchy dive bar with a $2-million makeover, has quickly become the new place for Riverdale locals to catch up over a pint or three—and between the patio, two dining rooms, a mammoth horseshoe-shaped bar and a basement lounge, there’s room for just about all of them. Chef Jesse Vallins (formerly of the Saint) helms the kitchen, sending out classic comfort-food dishes like lasagna, pork chops and an excellent striploin burger.


Uncle Betty’s Diner

2590 Yonge St., 416-483-2590, An uptown gem, this greasy spoon has all the hallmarks of a hipster hot spot (facial-hairy servers in Jays caps, chalkboard menu), but it’s also got a stack of high chairs, which makes it a perfect Sunday morning refuge for young families. They come for the eggs Benny on a house-made doughnut; the kids’ menu features classics like grilled cheese and French toast.


The Emerson

1279 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1717, This jovial Bloordale spot is the ultimate urban family restaurant: the space is large, the music is mercifully low, and the crowd is a mix of flannel-clad 30-somethings and toddlers. Cooks in the open kitchen sometimes sport pointy paper hats and bow ties while prepping the trendy bistro menu. Adults will savour the gloriously sloppy double cheeseburger, while the kids will insist on ordering a sundae that will have them running in circles.



Annette Food Market
Annette Food Market Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
Annette Food Market

240 Annette St., 647-792-6963, This 28-seat room in the Junction glows from its wood-burning oven, wafts garlic goodness, and buzzes with freshly mortgaged couples and soccer parents. It’s a tight space, but for bigger broods, there’s a private room with a harvest table that seats up to 14 people. The sharing menu is highly affordable. Stick to the house-made pastas, like the al dente porcini mushroom–pear ravioli in lickably rich sage brown butter, or the wood-fired pizzas, which arrive with blackened crusts that buckle under the weight of luxe toppings like sausage, sopressata, ’nduja and fior di latte (all on one gluttonous pie), the whole family will likely leave happy and full.

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