Where to eat during Pride 2009

Where to eat during Pride 2009

The Gay Village is buzzing as it gets ready for Pride’s climax this weekend. As any yearly attendee knows, Church Street’s focus during the last weekend of June is on fun and drinking—not dining. For Torontonians and tourists looking for great food and respite from the crowds, here are our picks for where to eat during Pride 2009.

1. A New Day Has Come: brunch and lunch at Peartree
This homey brunch spot in Cabbagetown is close enough to the action without having to hear the drag queens’ morning rehearsals. Weekend brunch kicks off at 10 a.m., making this an excellent pre-parade destination. The eggs benedict dishes (classic, Florentine or Benjamin, $9), are among the joint’s most popular.
507 Parliament St. (at Aberdeen Ave.), 416-926-8190, peartree.sites.toronto.com.

2. We Be Burnin’: quick refuel at Bulldog Coffee
Skip the line at the Church Street Starbucks in favour of some quality espresso. Just south of the Pride chaos is this small café where the wisecracking staffers are known for their latte art. Specialties like The Bull Dog (a latte-cappuccino hybrid) are worth the extra walk. There’s also a selection of tempting baked goods behind the counter.
89 Granby St. (at Church St.), 416-606-2275, bulldogtoronto.com.

3. Careless Whispers: dinner for two at Grace
Take a break from the ubiquitous party anthems and visit the romantic Grace. It’s a trek but the soothing ambiance of the farmhouse-chic space, makes the detour well worth it. The small but enticing menu consists of hearty home favourites like steak and Guinness pot pie ($18), braised beef cheeks ($25) and a tagliatelle carbonara ($16). Afterwards, check out some late-night dessert spots.
503 College St. (at Palmerston Ave.), 416-944-8884, gracerestaurant.ca.

4. A Public Affair: group dinner at Pearl Harbourfront Restaurant
Those dining with friends and family should head to what locals call “The Pink Pearl” where there are plenty of big, round tables to accommodate everyone. Dim sum is offered in the afternoon (with a beautiful view of the lake), while traditional à la carte and set menus are available in the evening. On weekends, reservations are strongly encouraged.
207 Queens Quay W. (at York St.), 416-203-1233, pearlharbourfront.ca.

5. I’m Still Standing: 4 a.m. breakfast at Fran’s Restaurant
After an all-night session on the dance floor, it’s best to head to Fran’s, the 24-hour greasy spoon with two locations: one next to Massey Hall, the other across from the College subway station. There’s a big menu but the best deal is the all-day, big breakfast platter: sausage, eggs, bacon, toast and pancakes for $10.
20 College St. (at Yonge), 416-923-9867, and 200 Victoria St. (at Shuter St.), 416-304-0085, fransrestaurant.com.

6. One Night in Bangkok: cheap eats at Salad King
Generous bowls of authentic curries and stir-fried noodles are the main event at this popular, please-’em-all Thai resto. Dine in or take advantage of the rapid take-out.
335 Yonge St. (at Dundas St. W.), 416-971-7041. saladking.com.

7. Four Minutes: MBCo
In essence, this is a breakfast and lunch bar. Patrons line up, point to what they want and wait as it’s plated. An excellent spot for grabbing mobile meals on parade day.
100 Bloor St. W. (at Bellair St.), 416-961-6226. mbco.ca.

8. It’s Oh So Quiet: avoiding the crowds at Ethiopian House
Just far enough off Yonge Street to feel tucked away, this unassuming restaurant offers total immersion in Ethiopian cuisine.
4 Irwin Ave. (at Yonge), 416-923-5438. ethiopianhouse.com.

9. Turning Japanese: sashimi at Japango
A quick glance at the menu offers no hint that this Japanese restaurant stands shoulders above the glut of indistinguishable sushi joints in Toronto‚—but it does. Try the one-of-a-kind oyster shooter and taste the difference.
122 Elizabeth St. (at Dundas St. W.), 416-599-5557.

10. That’s Amore: when in Rome at Terroni Adelaide
Terroni brings its mod sensibility into the carved and coffered neo-classical chambers of the converted York County Courthouse, built in 1851. Reservations are rarely taken, but the pizza and pasta selection more than make up for any wait time.
57a Adelaide St. E. (at Toronto St.), 416-203-3093. terroni.ca.

11. In The Navy: Oysters at Starfish
While this spot is on the fringes of downtown’s culinary map, oyster lovers beat a path to its door.
100 Adelaide St. E. (at Jarvis St.), 416-366-7827, starfishoysterbed.com.

12. She Blinded Me With Science: Molecular gastronomy at Colborne Lane
The casual dining room denies Claudio Aprile’s food pomp and ceremony, though the sight of him pouring flavoured cream into liquid nitrogen to make fabulous ice cream tableside is a showstopper.
45 Colborne St. (at Church St.), 416-368-9009, colbornelane.com.

13. Glamorous Life: Yorkville break at Courtyard Café
Built in 1927 and fully rebuilt in ’99, the ancient-looking Windsor Arms serves up a dining experience (when not hosting upscale weddings) that rivals Toronto’s best. The ideal place to have tea after shopping at Holt’s.
18 St. Thomas St. (at Bloor St. W.), 416-971-9666, windsorarmshotel.com/dining.