Since opening in 2008, Caplansky's Deli has almost singlehandedly revived Toronto's Jewish deli scene, largely thanks to owner Zane Caplansky's unique take on smoked meat. But where does Zane go when he's in the mood for something different? Luckily, he was nice enough to share some of his favorite spots in Canada's chief city with us.
'Toronto' on Serious Eats
Go north for south-of-the-border cuisine. Toronto has enjoyed an explosion of both traditional and reinvented Mexican cuisine in recent years, resulting in a slew of quality tacos across the city.
Is there anything that can't be improved upon by being breaded and deep-fried? If such a food exists, I don't know about it. It was with that in mind, I'm sure, that Toronto hot dog joint Fancy Franks created the Frankie Goes to Buffalo ($7.25), a hot dog/Buffalo wing amalgam that features a deep-fried, panko-breaded wiener topped with Buffalo wing sauce, blue cheese dressing, carrots, celery, and "chicken bacon."
As the name implies, Banh Mi Boys is known primarily for their take on banh mi sandwiches. However, the best thing on the menu, surprisingly enough, is not a sandwich at all -- it's fries. Specifically, kimchi fries, a decadent creation that finds a healthy portion of French fries topped with pulled pork, mayo, green onions, and of course, kimchi.
The double-layer pizza is basically what would result from the union between a Margherita pizza and a calzone. It sounds overstuffed—and it kind of is—but in this case I suspect that's the point.
Torontonians (or anyone visiting our fair city) take note: Beast serves what has to be the city's most decadently gluttonous sandwich.
Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg and his brothers (Mark and Donnie) are opening their first burger restaurant in Canada, smack-dab in the middle of Toronto's entertainment district.
A Crookie is a mash-up between a croissant and an Oreo cookie. Is the treat from Toronto's Calfouti an innovation or monstrosity?
Ice cream sandwiches at BaketBots Baking are a chose-your-own culinary adventure. On my latest visit there were six cookies and 13 types of ice cream available.
The Stockyards' chef originally planned to grill burgers, but after reading about the smashing technique on AHT, he changed his plans and bought a 20-year-old griddle. It was a good call; these are some of the best burgers in Toronto.
The Pizza Grill at The Grilled Cheese in Kensington Market is a super-stacked sandwich that tastes remarkably like pizza.
Come and Get It is billed as a pop-up, but not one of those one night only operations—they'll be in their space on Spadina until the showroom for (what else?) a new condo building takes over. They've got an interesting concept: there are four basic items on the menu (chipotle beef short rib, Hawaiian pork belly, herbed green beans, and a chicken Caesar) that you can get in either sandwich, salad, or poutine form. All sandwiches are $8, and though I was initially tempted by the green bean with mint cucumber yogurt and hummus sandwich, an unusually chilly day steered me towards the Granny Smith's Chicken Caesar sandwich.
The Burger's Priest specializes in "American-style cheeseburgers" made from beef that's freshly ground in house, three times a day. The classic cheeseburger is solid, but it's The Priest that I'll be craving.
Hero Certified Burgers is Toronto's first premium burger chain, now with 28 locations. But, for all of the energy they spend extolling the merits of their beef, they've made one fatal mistake.
Sandwiches are made to order behind the counter at About Cheese, a tiny slice of a cheese boutique in the Village, which also stocks an admirable spread of tempting preserves, honey, and croissants. Thin slices of bread are layered with two-year aged cheddar, muenster cheese, and paper-thin slices of La Quercia prosciutto, then toasted up in a panini press.
Big Smoke Burger is doing one important thing right (using fresh, good quality beef), but that doesn't fix the fact that they do the most crucial thing wrong.
Though it's located in the Eaton Centre (and College Park), Richtree isn't your typical food court fare. Inside the "market restaurant" are several food stations where you can get everything from fruit and yogurt parfaits to roast chicken dinners, prepared salads, and some of the best muffins in the city. In my 10 plus years of downtown living, I tried nearly everything on offer at least once, but kept coming back for the focaccia pizza.
Allen's makes some of the biggest and best burgers in Toronto, made from Angus beef that's butchered, ground, and hand-formed on site.
For years, I wrote off New York Subway as not worth my time; that was easy to do if all you ever did was briefly glance inside. Luckily, a few years before I left Toronto, I tried several items at this curiously-named shop, which specializes in Indian-spiced burritos and satay sandwiches—not deli-style hoagies, as the name might suggest. The veggie burritos (particularly the cauliflower and bean) are great and cheap, but I have more love for the grilled chicken sandwiches, like the grilled chicken satay sub ($8.95).
Pizzeria Libretto was the first to bring Neapolitan-style pizza to Toronto, and now with two locations, they're busier than ever, with good reason.