Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Daphne Thompson.
Souk Tabule ($$)
494 Front St. E; (416) 583-5914; souktabule.com; open M-Th 11am-9pm, F-Sa 11am-9:30pm, Su 11am-9pm
It was only a matter of time before the humble falafel joint got the lifestyle blogger treatment. A sunny Beirut-chic space near the Distillery District, Souk Tabule is just begging to end up on your Instagram feed. Order at the counter and take a seat. A waiter will quickly bring your photogenic plates of fried cauliflower, creamy hummus, or hefty falafel (baked or fried). The Phoenician fries, drenched in tahini and tossed with za’atar spice, are a perpetual crowd-pleaser, and a warm saj pita slathered with Nutella is one of the few fusion foods we can get behind. A Moroccan mint tea or maple matcha latte complete a table spread that will have the likes rolling in.
Small plates from $5 CAD, entrées from $12 CAD; vegan and vegetarian options available; Wi-Fi; wheelchair accessible
The Alley ($$)
5 St Joseph St.; (514) 588-7477; the-alley.ca; open daily noon-midnight
In the crowded bubble tea market that is downtown Toronto, no option really sucks. (Like a straw? Never mind.) But if your aesthetic taste skews more hipster than Hello Kitty, you might pop by The Alley’s newish location in the downtown core, a bustling exposed-brick spot that went all in on the deer motif. The drinks might be even prettier than the decor: the caramelly Brown Sugar Deerioca looks like a ying-yang sign in a cup, while the slushy Northern Lights layers bright teas into a sunset-colored gradient. While the menu is borderline indecipherable for the uninitiated, a patient staff is happy to point you in the right direction—the blueberry-inflected Royal No. 9 is a first-timer favorite.
Tea from $5 CAD; vegetarian options available; Wi-Fi; wheelchair accessible
Crêpes à GoGo ($)
750 Spadina Ave.; (416) 519-7046; crepesagogo.com; open Tu-Sa 8am-6pm, Su 9am-5pm
French food? In Ontario? Calm down, you. Crêpes à GoGo, a tiny takeout joint on a busy stretch of Spadina Ave. is brought to you by a genuine Parisian (if you’re lucky, you’ll catch her while she’s there). Here, you’ll find an affordable bilingual menu of fish and veggie crêpes, whipped up on the spot and served in a warm paper bag. Adventurous eaters should follow Chef Véronique’s suggestion to broach the wall between sweet and savory: a mozzarella and raspberry jam crêpe is, like Serena Williams and her super average husband, a surprising couple that actually works. Wash it down with the house special Limonana, a lemonade and mint concoction nauseatingly described as “a unique flavor to please and tease.”
Crêpes from $7 CAD; vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
Emporium Latino ($)
243 Augusta Ave.; (416) 351-9646; open M-Sa 9am-7pm, Su 9am-6pm
A law of nature: at no time of day is the pupusa—a griddled Salvadoran corn patty stuffed with gooey cheese, refried beans, and whatever else you’re into—an inappropriate choice. Fortunately, Kensington Market’s finest pupusa purveyor, Emporium Latino, is the kind of establishment you’ll feel good about frequenting three times a day. Head up the stairs of this unassuming grocery store-slash-restaurant and order a few (or a tamale, taco, or burrito, if you want to mix it up) at the counter. While you’re waiting (this place doesn’t rush quality), crack open a Jarritos and watch the lovely folks in the back prepare your order by hand. It’ll come on a Styrofoam tray, and you’ll wolf it down in the cramped, no-frills dining room downstairs. And repeat.
Pupusas and tamales from $3.25 CAD; vegetarian options available; not wheelchair accessible
GB Hand-Pulled Noodles ($$)
66 Edward St.; (647) 872-1336; open M-F 10:30am-9:30pm, Sa-Su 11:30am-9:30pm
We have no idea what GB stands for, either. Giant Bowls? Gradual Bloating? Great Bnoodles? All would be appropriate monikers for this unassuming noodle soup spot plopped incongruously near flashy Yonge-Dundas Square. Don’t be startled by the occasional loud THWACK sound—that’s the chef hand-pulling noodles (available in a variety of widths and shapes; we recommend going #thicc) behind you. Heaped into Lanzhou-style broths and topped with beef or veggies and a generous scoop of chili oil, they’re the best way to warm up in the winter or become uncomfortably sweaty in the summer. (Yes, we’ll stand by that.) Seating here is cramped but service is brisk, so tables turn over quickly. While prices aren’t quite Chinatown-low, a “small” size will easily suit a typical appetite.
Noodles from $9 CAD; vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
Greg’s Ice Cream ($)
750 Spadina Ave.; (416) 962-4734; open daily 10am-10pm
We know, your mom told you never to take ice cream from strangers—but Greg is a good guy, we swear. Sure, his stuff is a little ~alternative~: beyond the standard chocolate-and-vanilla fare, there’s also a Stout flavor, strongly infused with the dark beer, and a zingy Pear & Ginger. The magical Roasted Marshmallow, meanwhile, will stir up some latent childhood campfire memories you didn’t even know you had. For breakfast, try a scoop of “Cornflakes” on a waffle cone. Toppings are minimalist—homemade hot fudge, sprinkles, and chocolate chips—but this melty, inexplicably chewy ice cream easily stands alone. The local favorite has two locations in Toronto; the other is in the Distillery District.
Scoops from $4 CAD; vegetarian available; wheelchair accessible
Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, Daphne took the mid-morning train goin’ to the East Coast of the United States and Canada (fine, plus Chicago). She graduated Harvard in 2018 with a degree in Government, a law school acceptance letter, and an overwhelming sense of dread re: her all-too-fleeting youth, so she took off to the party capital of the Western hemisphere: Quebec City. The race against the cold, unfeeling march of time continued in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami, a wildly diverse array of cities united by not-boring weather and stupid-high rents. Along the way, Daphne sampled legit Canadian poutine (squeaky), smuggled her notebook into nightclubs (sneaky), and lived on cheap falafel pitas (tzatziki). The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native finished her spirit quest back in the Midwest, where the Windy City welcomed her nasally accent back with open arms. When she’s not writing aggressively alliterative articles for Let’s Go, Daphne probably can’t be found. Don’t even try it, Internet creeps!