Can't snag a table at a MICHELIN-Star or Bib Gourmand restaurant? Treat your palate to these excellent Plan Bs instead.
Toronto's 74 newly minted MICHELIN Guide-recognized restaurants boast the city's most-wanted seatings. Thirteen have earned MICHELIN stars, 17 Bib Gourmand recognition and 44 have received Recommended status—and it can be as difficult to snag a table at any of them as it is to find tickets to OVO Fest.
But don’t panic: Toronto is not starving for great eats. Try these six alternatives any time you're hankering for a world-class meal.
Miku Toronto may not have a MICHELIN star like Aburi Hana, but they’re owned by the same restaurant group and both restaurants incorporate flame-searing into some of the menu, imbuing the dishes with smokiness and umami (aburi actually translates into flame-seared).
Your first bite of this Waterfront darling’s salmon oshi sushi—which features pressed B.C. wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño and Miku sauce—will be life-changing.
Beach Hill Smokehouse
If all the smoky goodness has sold out at Bib Gourmand-status Cherry St. Bar-B-Que, try scoring some deliciously smoked carne at Beach Hill Smokehouse. They've got three locations (in Bloor West Village, Danforth/Greektown and Upper Beaches) serving up authentic Texas BBQ.
We recommend getting each of their meats: Angus beef brisket, pork ribs, smoked chicken, hand-crafted sausages and turkey, so you don't have to make any difficult decisions.
El Rey Mezcal Bar
While Grant van Gameren’s MICHELIN-starred Quetzal features a wood-fired, upscale Mexican menu, his casual Kensington Market joint El Rey Mezcal Bar serves tacos (including everything al pastor and roasted cauliflower) and dishes such as pozole rojo and birria quesadillas… all of which can be enjoyed with mezcal from its robust mezcal menu.
Dave’s Hot Chicken
If you can’t get to the Junction for some Nashville hot chicken at MICHELIN Bib Gourmand-listed Chica’s Chicken, get your fix at any of the three Toronto locations (Davisville, Leslieville and Parkdale) of fast-casual Dave’s Hot Chicken.
This cult-fave chain started as a pop-up in an East Hollywood parking lot in 2017 and has been serving up tenders and sliders with your choice of heat level (from no spice to reaper) at its northern outposts since 2021.
Chef Anthony Rose’s Fat Pasha is a cozy Annex hot spot, even more so since gaining MICHELIN Bib Gourmand status.
If you're hankering for Middle Eastern fare and are unlucky snagging a table here, hit up Parallel in the industrial strip of Geary Avenue north of Midtown. Here, they mill their own sesame butter that’s used in their four types of hummus alongside dishes such as savoury vegetarian knafeh and lamb shank in a pomegranate molasses glaze.
When you've got a craving for Thai, it simply can't be denied. But you can often expect a long line at Favorites Thai (the Ossington Village restaurant that made the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand list) and Pai (on the Recommended edit). So grab takeout—or one of the few seats—at Thai Nyyom in Westside's up-and-coming Junction Triangle instead.
Less is more here, where the menu comprises three mains: chicken rice, khao soi and one daily special (such as tom yum shrimp noodles), all with vegetarian alts. Take one flavour-packed bite, and you'll agree that more choices aren't always better.