Tired of the same old places to eat and drink in Toronto? We scouted out some new digs to sip and sup in “the 6ix.” For your eating pleasure, check out these four new buzz-worthy restaurants and bars in Toronto.
Assembly Chef’s Hall
Our first stop is Assembly Chef’s Hall, a new 18,000 square foot food emporium in Toronto and “Canada’s first chef-driven community market.” Located in the Financial District, it’s a one-stop-shop for culinary creations by 17 of Toronto’s top chefs, all under one roof (including Top Chef Canada alumni Vittorio Colacitti and Chopped Canada host Brad Smith). Inside, there’s a smorgasbord of international flavours to sample: from Mediterranean mezzes and charcuterie at Reyna to Thai style street food at Little Khao to Neapolitan-style pizza at The Good Son.
We wandered the hall, scoping out all the latest and greatest foodie finds. Bulldog Coffee, once a staple cafe in the Gay Village that shuttered years ago, has been rebirthed in this hall, and there’s also a wealth of vegetarian, vegan, and health conscious food stalls like Hibiscus (hello vegan ice cream!), Nutbar, and Mira Mira. What’s particularly special about this food hall is the quality of the food is incredible, thanks to the TLC put in by the chefs.
The patio opened in June 2018, and it’s a perfect place to unwind after a busy day at the office during the warmer months. Surrounded by glistening skyscrapers, enjoy Tromba Margaritas on tap or rose slushees in the summer, served from a repurposed truck that has been converted into an outdoor bar.
Petty Cash Social House
Confession time: I used to hate Toronto’s Entertainment District. Back in the day, it was oversaturated with tourist trap restaurants that fed theatre-goers and “bro”-filled clubs that dripped with toxic masculinity.
But the neighbourhood is gradually changing, with a few honest restaurants and bars popping up that are geared towards locals. Enter Petty Cash Social House, a new casual restobar at Adelaide and Portland that just opened in August 2018 and is quickly becoming a hot hangout.
On my first visit, I could see why. The menu of “fresh and familiar” food entices hungry hordes onto the packed outdoor patio and the colourful lounge. The “fresh” section is full of plant-based, wholesome dishes, like the Ahi Tuna Poke-eh, a BBQ mushroom taco, homemade hummus and veggies, and other dips and salads. For those seek dirty and delicious dishes, there’s the “familiar” section – a selection of tasty pub grub that’ll help nurse a hangover, like popcorn chicken, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, and a broccoli grilled cheese melt.
For a light and delicious snack, try the shareable “Seven Layers of Heaven” – a big bowl of mango salsa, cream cheese, cheddar, black bean, guac, chillies and scallions that’s best enjoyed with corn chips.
Petty Cash has got your boozy beverages covered: cocktails include everything from an Old Fashioned to sangria to slushed rose, as well as a selection of wine and beer. Here’s some good news to start your week: on Mondays, it’s $1 beer and $1 wings
BTW, the impressive interior is something to see. The drinking den is decorated with vintage pieces that gives it a 1950s vibe, and the walls are adorned with 2400 cassette tapes, neon signs, and cool and weird murals by local artists.
A great bar should have three things: atmosphere, identity, and a skilled drink maker behind the brass. Founder, a Dundas West cocktail and snack bar delivers on all three and takes it one step further with inventive cocktails and a nuanced food program. Designed and created to entice Toronto’s creative class, this space provides the dark, moody décor and sensual lighting that make good conversation inevitable. Co-owner, bartender, and Hercule Poirot impersonator, Brad Grubbins, has crafted a Wonka-esque, cocktail menu that’s big on foams, citric acid, and something called cucumber air which can be found floating atop the confounding-ly delectable The Great Balloon Ride.
In the kitchen, Chef Kendall Collingridge expresses Founder’s identity as a Toronto-centric, Toronto-inspired bar by doing the most Toronto-y thing of all: mixing foods and flavours from around the world and reinventing them through a Hog Town lens. Dishes like the Lake Erie Smelts turn tacos inside out by using dredged fillets as succulent, pliable taco shells packed with bundles of crunchy cabbage and fresh Thai flavours. For political discussions, the larger Green Curry Fried Chicken fills the belly, warms the soul, and prevents regrettable, hangry outbursts during spirited discourse.
Roncesvalles newcomer, The Commoner is that surrogate but with a twist: she’s edgy, she makes a mean cocktail, and though she loves you, she ain’t your mama. Here, upscale pub fare is reimaged for modern city-dwellers who want to eat Buffalo Cauliflower, wear lipstick, and watch a Jay’s game all at the same time in a stylishly appointed space.
Like any good fantasy-mom, this gastropub takes a homemade approach by making their sauces, juices, and buns in-house every day. This is DIY effort is what makes their Bourbonade, a blend of mint-infused Bulleit and pink lemonade, so dangerously delicious.
Inspired by Polish and German food, the dinner menu stands ready to satisfy a range of emotionally-charged cravings with everything from Chicken Schnitzel to Portobello Burgers, to Kale Salad, and even Tuna Ceviche. Weekend brunch now served here on the regular.