The iconic Toronto restaurant duo recommend going off the beaten path for your day out on the town, where secluded trails and small restaurants yield simple pleasures.
Renowned for bringing the tastes of Northern Thailand to Toronto with a series of incredible restaurants, Chef Nuit Regular and Jeff Regular have a real yen for Toronto’s streets-less-travelled, particularly in the east end, where they live with their son and daughter. And because down-time is precious, favourite haunts are chosen for their optimum chill factor.
Start your day with a coffee date
“Because we work late nights, we’ll go on our dates in the morning,” Jeff says. Nuit favours Rooster Coffee House on Broadview Avenue, right in front of Riverdale Park. The Distillery Historic District is also a destination for their morning dates. “We’ll grab a coffee and sit in the courtyard,” Jeff says. “The Distillery atmosphere sort of transports you back in time, like you’re in a history book.”
Explore the trails and the shoreline
“On days off when the weather is nice, we’ll ride our bikes on the Lake Shore trails or down to Cherry Beach or Woodbine Beach,” Nuit says. The couple also frequent Taylor Creek Park in East York, often taking their bordoodle Ziggy along. He is a cross between a border collie and a poodle. “We’ve ridden Bike Share bikes before,” Jeff adds, “but we usually just throw our own into the back of the Jeep and head out somewhere.” And when they need it, The Cyclepath on Danforth Avenue is their friendly neighbourhood bike shop.
Keep it simple for lunch or brunch
“We like to explore all the different cuisines in Toronto,” Nuit says. “There’s such a diversity of the food culture here—Greek, Vietnamese, Italian—so much variety. It’s like ‘Where in the world do we want to eat today?’ We like places where the food is very simple and homey.”
French restaurant Maison Selby on Sherbourne Street is a favourite, located in what was once a beautiful mansion. “The staff is very friendly,” Nuit says. The Cajun- and Creole-style Upper Beaches Bourbon House also makes their list, as does family-run Egyptian restaurant Maha’s on Greenwood Avenue. Brunch spots tucked in the back of their minds include the authentic Dine & Dim Asian Cuisine on Gerrard Street East in Chinatown East and Figs Breakfast Lunch on Queen Street East at Parliament Street. “Wherever we go, we stick to places where the people are friendly and the service is great—that’s really important to us,” Jeff says.
“There’s such a diversity of the food culture here—Greek, Vietnamese, Italian—so much variety. It’s like ‘Where in the world do we want to eat today?’” — Chef Nuit
Get creative with the souvenirs
“There are so many cool, random things and vintage shops in Kensington Market,” Nuit says. “We took the Thai actor and martial artist Tony Jaa there when he visited Toronto. And he loved it!”
“Nearby, I like to visit AnimeXtreme on Spadina,” Jeff says, “where I go for Anime collectibles and toys, models and movies. And just up the street is Sonic Boom, where I buy vinyl for myself and for other people as gifts.” Live music is also a priority when time permits. “The open-air Budweiser Stage on Lake Shore Boulevard West is a great place to go when the weather is nice,” Jeff says. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing a concert at Massey Hall, since the unveiling of its renovation.”
Go with subdued seclusion at dinner
“Because we cook all the time, we don’t necessarily want to cook at home,” Nuit says. “But we want to go to places that feel like home, where the people are welcoming and smiling, and know us by name.” The first place that comes to mind is Edulis Restaurant on Niagara Street. “It’s like going to someone’s house for dinner,” Nuit says. Reservations at this ingredient-focused no-tipping restaurant are all pre-paid.
Nuit and Jeff are also champions of Grey Gardens on Augusta Avenue and the Azhar Kitchen & Bar on Ossington. “Again, there’s that experience of being transported to a different place,” Jeff says. “To the Eastern Mediterranean at Azhar, for Old World cuisine."
Make time for Thai food!
There is ample opportunity about town to sample the incredible Northern Thai food from this busy team, who run two locations of their restaurant PAI (one Downtown on Duncan Street and one uptown at Yonge and Eglinton streets), and three locations of Sukhothai, as well as Bloor Street East hotspot Sabai Sabai and the artful Kiin on Adelaide Street West.