Toronto’s top chefs reveal their go-to neighbourhood restaurants and all-time favourite dishes

Toronto’s top chefs reveal their go-to neighbourhood restaurants and all-time favourite dishes

We asked some of the 20 Toronto chefs and restaurateurs taking part in this year’s Tastemaker festival—happening May 10 to 12 at the Evergreen Brick Works—for their go-to neighbourhood restaurants and all-time favourite dishes. Here’s what they had to say. (Spoiler alert: Edulis is very popular.)

Carl Heinrich

Executive chef of Richmond Station

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Actinolite is a couple blocks from my house and it’s one of my favourite places to eat in Toronto. In my opinion, it’s the best expression of Canadian cuisine in Toronto, and every meal there is an adventure.


 

Charlotte Langley

Owner of Scout Canning

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

My favourite place to eat in my ’hood is Edulis. Every time I go—which is not that often—I feel like I am whisked away on a private culinary carpet ride. From the welcome you receive at the door, to the service to the wine, and of course, the food! It is a place where I feel very at home, and I’m excited to go every opportunity I get.


 

All-time favourite dish

Since the menu at Edulis changes often, I will share my favourite pick-up snack from Forno Cultura: the mortadella sandwich. I crave it on the regular and I often savour half at the cafe and half at home—sometimes even in the tub!


 

Nick Liu

Executive chef of DaiLo

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Skippa. Chef Ian Robinson has such a profound understanding of authentic Japanese cuisine and his innovative enhancements actually elevate something that is already almost perfect. I have such deep respect for traditional Japanese culinary methods and flavour profiles, and it really takes someone special to be able to pull off what Robinson has.


 

All-time favourite dish

The curry crab at Saigon Star in Richmond Hill. My favourite thing to eat in the world is crab and this place makes a killer curry crab. It’s densely packed with flavour and so gratifying to get to all that delicious meat after working for it and getting all messy. This crab makes my toes curl every single time.


 

Daniel Cancino

Executive chef of Mineral

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Brothers is my go-to neighbourhood spot because of their great wine selection, friendly service and amazing plates that can be shared—or not.


 

All-time favourite dish

The hakka brown wontons at DaiLo. They’re a made using a legacy recipe from chef Nick Liu’s grandmother, but enhanced with his own essence. It’s special dish to me because that’s what my food is all about at Mineral—taking nostalgic food and creating a new story by adding chapters from my own unique experiences.

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Thursday’s are for dumplings! 🥟 Did you know that @NinjaChef’s parents STILL make his grandmother’s recipe Hakka Wontons for the restaurant? Now THAT’S what we call a labour of LOVE… 🥢 Get them here tonight as part of your #SickAsianFood experience, or get them upstairs at @LoPan.TO as a #SickAsianSnacks pair to a great cocktail! 🍲 Either way, we’ve got everything you desire and something for everyone (even the pickiest of eaters) set up for dinner tonight! 📲 Book your seat by phone (647) 341-8882 or on @OpenTable or check the @Dinr.App for last minute cancelations. . · · 🗯 #Hakka #WonTon #NewAsianCuisine #Dumplings #Shrimp #Pork #FuckThatsDelicious #EatTO #BlogTO #Eeeeeeats #Eat #Food #FoodPorn #Tastemade #f52 #food52 #Yum #Narcity #POTD #FoodPhotoOfTheDay #Foodie #EatFamous #DailyHive #ChefLife #TrueCooks #Chefs

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Afrim Pristine

Owner of The Cheese Boutique

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

My favorite place to eat in my neighbourhood is La Palma. I especially love their salads and side dishes. The potatoes with dill pickles and mustard aïoli and the endive salad are two of my favourites. The vibe there is fun, casual and it’s always an excellent dining experience.


 

All-time favourite dish

That would be the lobio dip from Tennessee Tavern. It’s a bean and walnut dip with lots of dill and pomegranate seeds, and it’s served with fried pita. I grew up eating Eastern European food and this is something I crave weekly. It’s so satisfying.


 

Claudio Aprile

MasterChef Canada judge and founder of Orderfire

All-time favourite dish

I’m not a fan of cheese pizzas, so the Pizza Marinara at Terroni hits the spot for me. It’s clean and crisp with a few leaves of fresh basil. The Nizzarda is another classic, topped with arugula, anchovies, potatoes and hard-boiled egg. It’s a perfect meal—healthy and delicious. I’m a creature of habit, I always order those same two items.

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🍕 that tastes better than it looks

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Albert Ponzo

Executive chef of The Royal Hotel in Picton

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

There are so many great restaurants here in the County. One that I love in particular is Flame and Smith. Chef Hidde Zomer and the crew are creating delicious food cooked over fire that showcases the terroir of our region in a very comfortable, relaxed environment with great service.


 

All-time favourite dish

Any pizza at Mattachioni. David uses natural fermentation in all of his pies—he’s like the pizza whisperer.


 

Rob Rossi

Executive chef of Giulietta

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Bar Isabel. We are literally down the street. It’s open late and has all the good stuff.


 

All-time favourite dish

I don’t have a favourite at the moment but I do love going to Sud Forno for a slice of pizza, something sweet and an espresso.


 

Matt Demille

Owner and chef of EAT with Matt Demille in Prince Edward County

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

It’s so hard to pick just one! Royal Haveli for my Indian fix, the Carribean Jerk Spot for the goat roti—I get it at least once a week—and Capers for a smash burger that I love to smash.

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Tandoori Chicken..Fresh out of Clay Oven (Tandoor).

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Dustin Gallagher

Executive chef of 416 Snack Bar

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Right now, that would be Good Hombres. They make amazing tacos.


 

All-time favourite dish

I don’t really have a favourite dish, but I do love me a seafood tower at any restaurant—especially if it’s La Banane.


 

Michael Hunter

Executive chef of Antler

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

La Banane. Their seafood tower is to die for. It’s stacked with fresh seafood and it’s prepared so beautifully.


 

Alida Solomon

Executive chef and owner of Tutti Matti

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

I love my neighbourhood around King and Spadina. We have such a great mix of restaurants, but I love Bar Buca and Khao San Road.


 

All-time favourite dish

It’s a tie between the massaman curry at Khao San Road and the caponata cauliflower or short rib with lardo speducci at Bar Buca.


 

Ryan Campbell

Executive chef of Il Covo

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Buca Yorkville. The menu is ever-evolving; its clean, fresh, interesting and always soulful. Their pizza is fantastic—I love their dough. The toppings are always changing according to the seasons, so there’s always something new to try but on the same perfect dough.


 

Paula Navarrete

Executive chef of Momofuku Kōjin

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

I love Sakai Bar for its simple, great food, especially their trout and rice with cured egg yolk.


 

All-time favourite dish

The Sunday lunch at Edulis. Whatever is in season, it’s always incredible.

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Yaga

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Anna Chen

Executive chef of Alma

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

My favourite place to eat in Bloordale would be Vena’s Roti. The chicken roti is everything good all in one package!


 

All-time favourite dish

I love so many restaurants, but Montgomery’s is one of my favourites. All of Guy Rawlings’s food is always delicious, but I love his freshly baked mini Madeleines. They’re buttery and crunchy yet moist—and so mini. Yum!


 

Rob Bragagnolo

Executive chef of Labora

Favourite neighbourhood restaurant

Edulis is the only place that truly transports me back to Europe. They use great ingredients and have a deep understanding of what real French and Spanish cooking is. It’s the best kitchen in the city if not the country.


 

All-time favourite dish

The tortillas at Campechano have the most unreal texture because they make them to order.

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