Toronto’s best gourmet grocers
Our go-to spots where grocery shopping doesn’t feel like a chore
Supermarkets have always filled an essential need. But at these specialty shops, the food-buying experience is next level, with meticulously curated small-batch products, house-made everything and, hey, maybe even a cocktail while you shop. Here, our go-to spots where grocery shopping doesn’t feel like a chore.
1. Summerhill Market
This Rosedale institution predates the supermarket era, when neighbourhood grocers were pillars of the community. More
than six decades later, Summerhill Market has expanded to include four stores (plus a flower boutique) across the city. Its flagship location on Summerhill Avenue remains a destination for anyone looking to level up the contents of their pantry, cater a celebration or make Sunday dinner in style. The vast assortment of prepared foods—from cold-poached salmon and Vietnamese pho to oven-ready chocolate-chip cookies and pain au lait buns—is a perennial strength. The curated selection of packaged goods showcases the best of Toronto’s homegrown brands, but stands apart with coveted imported finds (Fage Greek yogurt, Spindrift flavoured water) that are typically only available on a cross-border shopping run.
They’ve planned for seemingly every type of social event, with an entire “entertaining freezer” dedicated to crowd-pleasing dinners (chicken pot pie, beef bourguignon) and cottage weekend barbecue boxes filled with individually wrapped sausages, burgers and spatchcocked chickens from the deli counter’s top-shelf selection. And there’s no life event that can’t be made better with the Ultimate Comfort Food basket, a food-as-medicine assemblage of hearty heat-and-eat pies, soups and sides. It’s special-occasion shopping at its absolute finest. 446 Summerhill Ave., 416-921-2714; 1054 Mt. Pleasant Rd., 416-485-4471; 1014 Bathurst St., 416-350-1678; 484 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-941-2574, summerhillmarket.com
2. McEwan Fine Foods
While his head judge gig on Top Chef Canada might be his main claim to fame, chef Mark McEwan’s gourmet grocery store is also a damn fine place to stock your kitchen in style. There’s a strong assortment of products from various Toronto makers, but his Don Mills headquarters is a 20,000-plus-square-foot temple to the McEwan brand. Thanks to the on-site prep kitchen, it threatens to occupy every nook and cranny of your kitchen with restaurant-grade products, from popsicles and pickled carrots to house-made hollandaise and scoop-and-bake lemon-cranberry muffin mix. Prepared foods, like frozen mushroom Wellington, are standouts, and many are drawn from his restaurant’s menus—you’ll find take-home Roman-style slab pizzas à la Fabbrica, and, of course, grill-ready versions of his legendary Bymark burger, alongside produce, baked goods, deli delights and one of the city’s most outstanding hot tables. 38 Karl Fraser Rd., North York, 416-444-6262, and two other locations, mcewanfoods.com
Few surnames are as synonymous with gourmet food in this city as Pusateri. The flagship shop has been an anchor at Avenue and Lawrence for 35 years, stocking farmstand-quality short-season produce from morels to wild blueberries (a forte that dates back to its origins as a St. Clair West fruit and veg stall). There’s also all manner of bottled and tinned excellence, plus cheese, cakes and an endless display case of prepared foods, including gargantuan meatballs and, during peak grilling season, the Javelin, a 27-inch beef skewer made with top sirloin for only the most committed consumer. For shoppers with little ones in tow, bright-green “kid friendly” signs helpfully denote products that are simple and healthy for young eaters—a fitting frill for such a family-oriented grocer. 1539 Avenue Rd., 416-785-9124, and four other locations, pusateris.com
What more is there to say about this global destination for all things Italian? Despite the presence of many great grocers specializing in Italian products, Toronto embraced Eataly when it arrived at Bay and Bloor in 2019—for validating our status as an Eataly-worthy city as much as what it brought to the table. It was almost immediately packed with shoulder-to-shoulder shoppers eager to explore the space, station by station—a linear, movable feast of freshly made stracciatella, cannoli, ice-packed seafood and store-baked bread—until the pandemic changed what we think of as an ideal shopping experience. It’s a more relaxed environment these days, but the quality of the product remains, with an additional benefit: Eataly’s goods—truffle burrata, squid ink linguine, whole branzino—are now available for delivery. 55 Bloor St. W., 437-374-0250, eataly.ca
5. T&T Supermarket
There are T&T locations throughout the GTA, yet when the Cherry Street store was forced out by the Port Lands redevelopment project in early 2020, downtowners were deprived of easy access to the landmark Asian grocer. That’s been remedied by the market’s new College Street store on the northern edge of Kensington Market. The long lineups that marked the grand opening confirmed the unmet demand for live spot prawns, shabu-shabu, frozen fish balls, moon cakes and rare delicacies like golf-ball-sized Korean shine muscat grapes, which go for upwards of $65 per kilo. For those who work up an appetite while shopping, there’s a surfeit of grab-and-go sushi, sliced-to-order Cantonese barbecue and a bao station specializing in the braised-pork-belly-filled Taiwanese street snack. 297 College St., 416-413-1113, tntsupermarket.com
6. Stock T.C
What started as a conversation between two Queen West neighbours—Cosimo Mammoliti of Terroni and Sud Forno and Stephen Alexander of Cumbrae’s—has turned into this gourmet gold mine at Yonge and Eglinton. Housed in the historic Postal Station K building at Montgomery Square, Stock T.C (letters that, of course, stand for Terroni and Cumbrae’s) is a specialty shop that focuses on each of its namesake’s strengths. There’s a gorgeous butcher counter and dry-aging case; trays of sliced heritage prosciutto that identify the specific hams from which they were carved; imported cheeses galore; fresh pastas and sauces; a bumper crop of bomboloni; a smattering of clever frozen shortcuts (vac-packed slabs of osso buco and pucks of pasta sauce) to speed up mealtime; and a neat display of kitchen gadgetry with which to whip everything together. If you can’t wait, a takeout counter specializes in made-to-order sandwiches and salads, and there’s a gorgeous restaurant, the Stock Bar, one floor up. 2388 Yonge St., 416-489-1020, stocktc.com
7. Fiesta Farms
This indie Christie Pits grocer is a mainstay for urban-dwelling locavores (and legions of Toronto chefs) for its fierce devotion to local produce and the farmers who grow it. The heart of Fiesta Farms is the section that houses seasonal deep-cut fruits and vegetables—graffiti eggplants, zucchini blooms, every shade of green. It’s much more than a place to buy produce, though: it features one of the most thorough international aisles, broken down by country and region—like a casual stroll through the food shops in each of the city’s ethnic enclaves—alongside pantry staples (they have a great selection of fine salts), locally raised meat (much of it grass-fed) and a complementary suite of plant-based proteins. Such specialization is what sets Fiesta Farms apart, but shopping locally and independently doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to buy Kraft Dinner and Doritos at the same time—at Fiesta Farms, it’s okay to want both. 200 Christie St., 416-537-1235, fiestafarms.ca
8. Fresh City Farms
True to its name, Fresh City Farms started as a tiny CSA program in 2011, selling only what it grew at a farm in Downsview Park. Its earthy roots remain a decade later, along with its produce delivery business. But Fresh City has grown into a fully fledged gourmet hydra, adding sustainable butchery and artisan baking to its portfolio (by acquiring the Healthy Butcher and Mabel’s Bakery), and opening two flagship storefronts in prime areas—on Ossington and on Bay. They’re convenient pit stops for downtowners who want to stock up on locally grown greens along with, say, some grass-fed venison chops, or spelt sourdough loaves. There’s also a comprehensive lineup of Ontario-made dairy, cheese and pantry products, and prepared meals—both heat-and-serve entrées and handsomely layered sets of ready-to-cook ingredients packed into Mason jars like edible art. 111 Ossington Ave., 647-352-2489, 695 Bay St., 416-792-3939, freshcityfarms.com
Run by the same family since 1989, this Little Tehran market has grown from a small convenience store to a gleaming go-to for Middle Eastern specialties. Gone are the enormous mountains of dried barberries, raw pistachios and green almonds—thanks to Covid, they’re now all pre-packaged—but the shop is still a focal point for these and other delicacies, along with enormous slabs of barbari and sangak bread fresh from the oven. A halal butcher counter feeds the seemingly endless procession of grilled kebabs, and heat-and-eat rice dishes and stews—crispy tahchin, herb-packed ghormeh sabzi, the inimitable savoury-sweet fesenjan—make up one of the city’s best hot tables. There’s a bountiful selection of packaged teas and plenty of must-tries, like extra-potent Iranian tomato paste and pistachio-saffron ice cream. 6125 Yonge St., North York, 647-554-7777, khoraksupermarket.com
The pandemic pushed many restaurants to morph into grocery stores, but few have taken the upheaval in stride as well as David Mattachioni. He converted his Junction Triangle trattoria into a mercatto, and, early this year, added a location at Gerrard and Coxwell that functions as a full-on grocer and bottle shop. His house-label products include everything from granola and pancake mix to bottled negronis. One thing unites the two stores: wood-burning ovens that produce A-plus Neapolitan pizzas and out-of-this-world sourdough loaves that will rocket to the top of your shopping list—if not become the primary reason to go out in the first place. 1617 Dupont St., 416-519-1010, 1501 Gerrard St. E., 416-466-1111, mattachioni.com
These listings (and many more) appear in Toronto Life’s 100 Best Food Shops special issue, which is available on newsstands now. To purchase your own copy, click here.