Lavish, wait-listed, hidden or MICHELIN-recognized—these hard-to-get restaurant tables are for serious foodies and well worth the effort to book.
If you’re a diehard food lover, you may be familiar with the rush of snagging a hard-to-get reservation, savouring every morsel prepared by a world-renowned chef, or the high you get from sampling a tasting menu costing roughly the equivalent of one month’s rent. Or maybe it’s the thrill of the find that entices you: like when you sniff out a hidden gem beloved by local insiders.
Whether you’re visiting Toronto on an anniversary weekend trip, birthday weekend getaway or other celebration—or just want to go wild in one of the best foodie cities—we think you’ll find these exclusive dining experiences well worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get a seat at the table.
Here are 15 dining experiences that come with serious bragging rights. A few are budget-friendly, though most are worthy splurges.
Topping multiple best restaurant lists and helmed by chef Julie Hyde (who honed her skills at a couple of 3-Star MICHELIN restaurants), 20 Victoria in downtown Toronto only has 24 seats, making it a hot ticket.
The kitchen serves up a seven-course tasting menu and a lighter, four-course option on weeknights. Keep your eye on their Instagram for when reservations open for the next month, and be ready to book! (Already in town? Try your luck as a walk-in to dine à la carte at the bar).
Sushi Masaki Saito
If vacation calories don’t count, nor does the $680 per person tasting menu at Sushi Masaki Saito, right?
In any case, once you’re seated at one of this Yorkville restaurant’s six seats, tucking into the first bite of the exquisite omakase experience (prepared with ingredients arriving daily from Japan), any nagging thoughts of money will be replaced with foodie dreams come true. Did we mention it’s currently the city’s only restaurant awarded 2 MICHELIN Stars?
With only four seats at the chef’s table at Enoteca Sociale (awarded a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand), snap up a reservation if you can. This Toronto institution in Little Portugal is proof that simple is often the most delicious. Toronto foodies flock here for the lust-worthy cacio e pepe and bucatini all’ amatriciana.
360 The Restaurant
Not only are you rewarded with 360-degree views thanks to the restaurant completing a complete rotation every 72 minutes, 360 is famous for having the world’s highest wine cellar, as well as locally sourced ingredients and a unique Indigenous-cuisine prix-fixe menu option. The window seats are, of course, the best seats in the house. Get yours by reserving a VIP celebration package, such as Champagne and Oysters, ASAP.
Chances are high you’ll give Ten top marks. Located in Little Portugal, this 10-seat-only, MICHELIN-recommended restaurant serves a 10-course menu with dishes taking inspiration from cuisines around the world.
Although not strictly vegetarian, chef Julian Bentivegna’s vegetable-forward menu focuses heavily on seasonal produce—spring, for example, delivered asparagus with clotted cream, fermented lettuce, rhubarb reduction and dill oil.
Count yourself a member of an exclusive club if you are fortunate enough to dine on Chef Daisuke Izutsi’s fine Japanese cuisine by scoring one of 15 spots at Yukashi.
This Uptown one MICHELIN Star–awarded restaurant’s kaiseki menu dances from complex culinary works of art to simple dishes that spotlight choice, peak-season ingredients.
From runner-up on Top Chef Canada to opening critically acclaimed restaurants like Bestellen and Giulietta, Chef Rob Rossi is on a roll. His MICHELIN Star–recognized Osteria Giulia in tony Yorkville showcases Northern Italian fare such as vitello tonnato and lorighittas al mare, and has been one of the city’s hottest tickets ever since.
Be ready at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every other month to try your luck at scoring a reservation at Queen West’s Alo for the following two months. This one MICHELIN Star, contemporary French restaurant from chef Patrick Kriss has been the toughest reservation to snag in the city since opening in 2015.
Blind, multi-course tasting menus ($225 per person) are offered in the main dining room, while the adjoining bar room offers à la carte dishes and classic cocktails.
Watch the seemingly effortless motions of your delicious dinner come together seated at one of eight coveted spots at the chef’s table at Richmond Station in downtown Toronto. Be sure to opt for the Chef’s Menu–every two weeks, chef-owner Carl Heinrich (winner of season two of Top Chef Canada) curates a multi-course tasting menu that celebrates the freshest local ingredients the kitchen is most excited about.
The cozy (read tiny) Edulis manages to keep a low profile despite earning one MICHELIN Star. Tucked away on a primarily residential street just off trendy King Street West, the restaurant is run by husband-and-wife team Michael Caballo and Toney Nemet, who create seasonal menus focused on wild and foraged ingredients. All bookings are pre-paid with built-in gratuity, with spots opening mid-month for the following month.
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto
Ensconced in North York’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto features only three tables, making for an ultra-exclusive experience. Each stunning dish of the eight-course kaiseki, from the onjyaku-zen to the dessert, at this one MICHELIN Star restaurant is entirely prepared by Chef Hashimoto.
Plan for extra time to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony hosted in a separate room.
Also see: 5 Peak Luxury Japanese Restaurants
Don Alfonso 1890
One MICHELIN Star Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto also earned the title of the best Italian restaurant in the world outside of Italy in 2021. Blessed with phenomenal Lake Ontario views, the Waterfront restaurant features an Amalfi Coast-inspired menu. Try the cooked-to-perfection risotto, which will make you feel like you’ve escaped on a coastal Italian getaway.
In-the-know locals head through the green lightbox door at the back of Barber & Co. to Gift Shop, which is the best-kept secret amongst the city’s cocktail lovers.
This Ossington Village speakeasy has plenty to boast about, from its extensive whiskey list that includes very hard-to-find Japanese whiskeys and High Roller Babies (made with premium booze and ingredients and starting at $50 a cocktail) to their $1,500 W.T.F. Sazerac (their costly cocktail that is made with Rémy Martin Louis XIII fine cognac, Swiss absinth, sugar and barrel-aged Peychaud’s bitters).
Eating at this Kensington Market fave requires some sleuthing. The handwritten sign for Sunnys Chinese is displayed amongst garments in a clothing store. It will direct you to a hallway that leads to the non-descript restaurant door.
Once inside, you’ll discover a chill atmosphere, dim lighting and phenomenal regional Chinese dishes (including Sichuan, Hong Kong, Dongbei and Hakka) that you’ll be dreaming about for weeks afterwards: think mapo tofu and silver needle noodles with black mushrooms, scallion and soy sauce or dry-rubbed lamb ribs with long pepper.
If you happen to be in Parkdale and do NOT see a line snaking down the block from Pizzeria Badiali, go in and grab a slice, whether you’re hungry or not. A no-line moment at this New York-style pizza joint is like finding a unicorn, so take advantage if you can. Locals have been known to line up for two hours at this neighbourhood spot. Once you try their mushroom bianco or margherita, the hype will make perfect sense.