Cuisine in Toronto
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The cuisine of Toronto reflects Toronto's size and multicultural diversity. Different ethnic neighbourhoods throughout the city focus on specific cuisines, such as authentic Chinese and Vietnamese found in the city's six Chinatowns, Korean in Koreatown, Greek on The Danforth, Italian cuisine in Little Italy and Corso Italia, and Indian in Little India. Numerous other world cuisines are available throughout the city, including Portuguese, Hungarian, Japanese, and Caribbean. Toronto's large Jewish population has also ensured a variety of Jewish restaurants and delis, with varying adherence to kosher rules. In addition to ethnic cuisines, Toronto is also home to many fine dining establishments and chain restaurants ranging from fast food to casual or upscale dining.
Neighbourhoods with prominent ethnic food
- Eglinton West – Caribbean food
- Roncesvalles – Polish cuisine
- Chinatown – Chinese and Vietnamese food
- Kensington Market – Latin American and others
- Little Italy and Corso Italia – Italian
- Gerrard India Bazaar and Rexdale – Indian and Pakistani
- Agincourt – Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, South Indian, Sri Lankan
- Koreatown – Korean
- Little Portugal/Rua Acores – Portuguese
- The Danforth – Greek, Turkish
- The Annex – Hungarian (historically)
- North York City Centre, Newtonbrook - Korean, Chinese, Iranian
Notable chefs from or based in Toronto:
A number of culinary festivals take place in Toronto each year. In addition, food tours in Toronto, like those offered by Tasty Tours Toronto or Culinary Adventure Co. are an increasingly popular way for locals and tourists to explore the food culture of the city
Toronto-based culinary events and festivals include:
- Charlie's Burgers is a Toronto-based series of private dining events established in 2009.
- Summerlicious and Winterlicious
- Taste of the Danforth
- Toronto Wing Festival
- Vegetarian Food Festival
Breweries and wineries
Toronto has a long history of beer brewing. Eugene O'Keefe, founder of O'Keefe Brewing Company, grew up in Toronto, to which his family had emigrated from Ireland in 1832. O'Keefe was the first to produce lager beer in Canada along with the traditional ale and porter. See also: Canadian beer.
The Toronto Beer Festival is an annual event that showcases local craft beers. There are several breweries in the city, many of which are microbreweries:
- Amsterdam Brewing Company
- Bellwoods Brewery
- Great Lakes Brewery
- Magnotta Brewery Limited
- Mill Street Brewery
- Steam Whistle Brewing
- Cool Beer Brewing Company
- The Granite Brewery
- Indie Alehouse
- Spearhead Brewery
- Kensington Brewing Company
- Black Oak Brewing Company
- Junction Craft Brewing
- Liberty Village Brewing Company
- Muddy York Brewing Company
- Left Field Brewery
- Halo Brewery
Toronto's surrounding region has many wineries. The Sante Wine Festival is an annual festival which features vintages, noted winemakers and celebrity chefs.
Toronto is not known for a diversity of foods from street vendors, however, there are numerous take-out restaurants. There are numerous food trucks around downtown Toronto, including in front of Toronto City Hall that sell french fries, hot dogs and pre-cooked sausages. Food trucks on the University of Toronto campus offer Chinese food. Along Dundas Street West, just east of Bathurst Street, a range of international street foods are sold from shipping containers converted to food stands. The stands are known collectively as Market 707. There are also several food trucks, serving food that is more specialized, that can be found at special events.
In the summer months, ice cream and pops are sold from vendors on bicycles while ice cream trucks ply the city streets. Frozen yogurt, although not found in street vendors, are popular and increasingly so, with many shops opening recently. The coffee culture in Toronto is also highly developed, with many independent cafes especially in areas like Queen West and Kensington Market.
- Toronto a la Cart
Until 2009, hot dogs and pre-cooked sausages were the only kind of street food allowed by law. The law sets extremely high requirements for street food vendors. However, there was an initiative to allow more varied and nutritious street food, which resulted in the introduction of Toronto a la Cart in 2009. Toronto a la Cart allowed vendors to sell halal foods such as kebab, falafel and shawarma. However, by 2010, Toronto a la Cart was deemed a failure by local politicians, due to the expenses to vendors from excessive red tape, and the program was discontinued.
Peameal bacon sandwich
Perhaps one of the most iconic and distinct Toronto offerings is the peameal bacon sandwich, normally on a Kaiser. Peameal bacon was originally developed by William Davies at the St. Lawrence Market. Some notable offerings of the sandwich are Paddington's Pump, Sausage King, and Carousel Bakery; coincidentally enough, all are located at St. Lawrence Market. Further east in Leslieville is Rashers, billed as North America's only bacon sandwich shop, recently opened and sells a peameal bacon sandwich that Toronto Life describes as "Toronto's iconic sandwich done right".
East Indian roti
Another distinct Toronto offering is the "East Indian Roti", a variation on the stuffed Roti from the West Indies. Owing to Toronto's considerable immigrant populations from both South Asia and the Caribbean, a hybrid dish has been developed, using South Asian bread and curries as stuffing, for the otherwise West Indian dish.
This type of pizza is available in certain restaurants in the Toronto area. It consists of thin-crust pizza brushed with garlic oil. Many of the restaurants that offer this type of pizza have a brush on the counter to allow customers to brush the garlic oil on their slice of pizzas themselves. This style of pizza was invented by Vietnamese immigrants who learned pizza-making from the former Italian owners that they worked for in Toronto. These immigrants were originally from the city of Hue in Vietnam, a city renown for its culinary heritage.
- Pablum, a pre-cooked cereal for infants, was developed at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in the 1930s.
- Sushi pizza, a hybrid of sushi and pizza invented in the early 1990s.
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- The Dominion Home Cookbook – A recipe book published in Toronto in 1868. Pages are available in PDF format.
- Toronto's Key Industry Clusters: Food & Beverage
- Taste T.O. – a website covering Toronto's food & drink scene.
- Dine Palace — Ultimate Restaurant Dining Guide – A website with full database about various cuisine restaurants in Toronto.