Toronto, a vibrant and diverse city, is a culinary melting pot with an impressive array of restaurants and cafes. Whether you're a foodie looking to explore the best local flavours or a visitor eager to experience the city's culinary scene, this guide will take you through some must-visit spots that capture the essence of Toronto's dining culture.

Kensington Market: Global flavours in one neighbourhood

Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos

Start your culinary adventure in Kensington Market, a bustling neighbourhood known for its eclectic food scene. Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos is a must-visit for taco enthusiasts. Famous for its Baja-style fish tacos, this spot serves up generous portions of fresh, flavorful seafood. The Gobernador taco, with smoked tuna and shrimp, is a local favourite.

Seven Lives specializes in Baja-style fish tacos, bringing the flavours of Mexico's Baja Peninsula to Toronto. Each taco is crafted with care, using fresh, high-quality ingredients that result in a burst of flavour with every bite. The star of the menu is undoubtedly the Baja Fish Taco, featuring crispy battered fish topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a drizzle of creamy sauce; all encased in a soft, warm tortilla.

The Gobernador Taco: A local favourite

Among the variety of tacos offered, the Gobernador taco is a standout and a local favourite. This taco is a delightful combination of smoked tuna and shrimp, cooked to perfection and layered with cheese, avocado, and a tangy sauce. The smoky, savoury flavour of the tuna blends seamlessly with the sweetness of the shrimp, creating a taco experience that is both unique and deeply satisfying.

More than just tacos

While tacos are the main attraction, Seven Lives also offers other seafood delights. Ceviche, a refreshing dish made with fresh fish marinated in citrus juices, is a perfect choice for those looking for something light and zesty. The menu also includes delicious options like shrimp and octopus cocktails, providing a taste of the ocean in every bite.

A vibrant atmosphere

The atmosphere at Seven Lives is as lively as the food is flavorful. The small, cozy space is often filled with the sounds of sizzling grills and the chatter of satisfied customers. The vibrant decor, featuring colourful murals and a laid-back vibe, adds to the overall experience, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a casual meal with friends.

Wanda's pie in the sky

For dessert, head to Wanda's Pie in the Sky, a charming bakery offering a delightful selection of pies, cakes, and pastries. Their strawberry rhubarb pie is a standout, and the cozy atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for a midday treat.

Practical tips:

  • Cash Only: Be prepared, as Seven Lives is a cash-only establishment. There are ATMs nearby if needed.
  • Crowds and Wait Times: Due to its popularity, the restaurant can get quite busy, especially during peak hours. However, the wait is well worth it for the mouthwatering tacos that await.
  • Takeout Option: If you prefer to enjoy your tacos on the go or in one of Kensington Market's many outdoor spaces, takeout is a convenient option.


72 Kensington Ave
Toronto, ON
M5T 2K2

Queen Street West: Trendy and tasty

Bar Isabel

Located on College Street near Queen West, Bar Isabel is a culinary gem that brings the flavours and spirit of Spain to the heart of Toronto. Renowned for its Spanish-inspired cuisine and vibrant atmosphere, Bar Isabel offers an unforgettable dining experience that combines traditional flavours with a modern twist.

From the moment you step into Bar Isabel, you're transported to a lively Spanish tavern. The warm, dim lighting, rustic wooden furnishings, and intricate tile work create an ambiance that is both cozy and sophisticated. This inviting atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for everything from casual dinners with friends to special celebrations.

Signature dishes

Bar Isabel's menu is a celebration of Spanish cuisine, featuring a variety of tapas and larger plates designed for sharing. Among the standout dishes is the Octopus a la Plancha. This dish features tender, grilled octopus served with smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. The octopus is perfectly cooked, with a slightly charred exterior that adds depth to its delicate flavour, making it a must-try for seafood lovers.

Another highlight is the Charcuterie Board, a feast for the senses that includes an array of cured meats, artisanal cheeses, olives, and house-made pickles. The board showcases a variety of textures and flavours, from the rich, buttery jamón ibérico to the sharp, tangy Manchego cheese. This dish is perfect for sharing and pairs beautifully with Bar Isabel's extensive selection of wines.

In addition to these signature dishes, Bar Isabel offers a wide range of other tapas and mains. The Patatas Bravas, crispy potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli, are a favourite among regulars. For those looking for heartier fare, the Whole Grilled Fish and Dry-Aged Ribeye provide satisfying options that highlight the restaurant's commitment to quality and flavour.

Exceptional beverage selection

Bar Isabel's beverage program is just as impressive as its food menu. The extensive wine list features carefully curated selections from Spain and beyond, with options for every palate and pairing preference. The knowledgeable staff always offers recommendations, ensuring you find the perfect match for your meal.

For cocktail enthusiasts, Bar Isabel offers an array of creative and classic cocktails. The Gin & Tonic menu, inspired by Spain's love affair with the G&T, features unique combinations of premium gins and artisanal tonics, each garnished with fresh botanicals. Additionally, the Old Fashioned and Negroni are expertly crafted, providing timeless options for those who appreciate a well-made drink.

Practical Tips

  • Reservations: Due to its popularity, reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends. Booking a table in advance ensures you can enjoy your meal without the wait.
  • Sharing Plates: The menu is designed for sharing, so bring friends or family to experience a wider variety of dishes.
  • Late-night dining: Bar Isabel stays open late, making it a perfect spot for a late-night meal or a final drink after an evening out.


797 College St
Toronto, ON
M6G 1C7

The Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel, situated in the heart of Queen Street West, is a multifaceted cultural hotspot that has become an iconic part of Toronto's vibrant scene. Known for its eclectic mix of art, music, and nightlife, the Drake is not just a place to stay but also a fantastic dining destination. With a commitment to creative cuisine and locally sourced ingredients, the Drake Hotel's dining experience is a highlight for both locals and visitors.

A cultural landmark

The Drake Hotel's influence extends far beyond its role as a boutique hotel. It serves as a cultural hub, hosting art exhibitions, live music performances, and community events that draw in a diverse crowd. The hotel's design reflects its artistic spirit, with a blend of modern and vintage elements that create a unique, welcoming atmosphere. This cultural richness is seamlessly integrated into its culinary offerings, making dining at the Drake a truly immersive experience.

Innovative cuisine

At the heart of the Drake Hotel's culinary appeal is its restaurant, known for serving a variety of innovative dishes that emphasize fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The menu is a testament to the hotel's commitment to quality and creativity, with each dish thoughtfully crafted to showcase the best of local produce and artisanal products.

One of the standout offerings is the Drake Burger, a signature dish featuring a juicy, perfectly seasoned beef patty topped with smoked bacon, aged cheddar, and the hotel's special sauce, all nestled in a soft brioche bun. Another popular choice is the Quinoa and Avocado Salad, a vibrant, nutrient-packed option that combines fresh greens, roasted vegetables, and a tangy citrus dressing.

Brunch at The Drake

Brunch at the Drake Hotel is an event in itself, drawing crowds who come to enjoy the delicious food and lively atmosphere. The brunch menu is diverse and inventive, catering to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences.

One of the highlights is the Eggs Benedict, which features perfectly poached eggs served on a toasted English muffin, topped with creamy hollandaise sauce and accompanied by smoked ham or smoked salmon. The Blueberry Scones are another favorite, freshly baked and served with clotted cream and house-made jam, offering a delightful balance of sweetness and texture.

The Drake Hotel is much more than a place to stay; it's a culinary destination that offers an exceptional dining experience in a dynamic and culturally rich setting. With its innovative dishes, focus on locally sourced ingredients, and vibrant atmosphere, dining at the Drake is an opportunity to enjoy the best of Toronto’s culinary scene. Whether you’re a guest at the hotel or a local looking for a great meal, the Drake Hotel promises a memorable and delicious experience.

Practical Tips

  • Reservations: Given its popularity, especially for brunch and dinner, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation to secure a table.
  • Events and Live Music: Check the Drake Hotel’s event calendar for live music performances and special events that can add an extra layer of enjoyment to your visit.
  • Seasonal Menus: The menu changes seasonally to reflect the best available ingredients, so there’s always something new to try.


1150 Queen St West
Toronto, ON
M6J 1J3

... stay tuned for Part II!

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