As a follow-up to our Part I, these must-visit restaurants and cafes, cherished by locals and adventurous foodies alike, showcase the creativity and passion that drive the city's gastronomic evolution. From cozy neighborhood cafes to eclectic fusion restaurants, prepare to delve deeper into the flavors that make Toronto a true culinary destination.

Distillery District: Historic Charm and Modern Cuisine

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

Nestled in the heart of Toronto's historic Distillery District, Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie offers an exquisite dining experience that combines the elegance of French cuisine with a modern twist. This charming bistro has become a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike, providing a delightful escape into the world of French gastronomy.

Photo credit: Esra

A culinary journey to France

The menu at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie is a testament to France's rich culinary traditions, brought to life with contemporary flair. The chefs at Cluny take pride in crafting dishes that not only honor classic French recipes but also incorporate innovative elements to surprise and delight diners.

Among the standout offerings is the Escargot de Bourgogne, featuring tender snails cooked in a fragrant garlic herb butter and served with crusty baguette slices for dipping. This quintessential French dish is a must-try for anyone looking to experience authentic flavours.

The Duck Confit is another highlight. Perfectly prepared with crispy skin and succulent meat that melts in your mouth, it is served with a side of pommes purée and seasonal vegetables. This dish exemplifies the balance and richness of traditional French cooking.

For seafood lovers, the Bouillabaisse offers a hearty and flavorful option. This classic Provençal fish stew is brimming with fresh seafood, including mussels, clams, shrimp, and fish, all simmered in a fragrant broth made from tomatoes, saffron, and aromatic herbs.

Ambiance: Chic and Inviting

The ambiance at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie is designed to transport guests to a Parisian bistro, with chic décor and warm lighting creating a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere. The interior features elegant touches like vintage mirrors, ornate chandeliers, and plush seating, all set against a backdrop of exposed brick walls that hint at the Distillery District's rich history.

Cluny provides the perfect setting whether you're enjoying a romantic dinner for two or a leisurely brunch with friends. The bistro's outdoor patio, open during the warmer months, offers a charming al fresco dining experience, allowing guests to soak in the vibrant surroundings of the Distillery District.

Practical tips

  • Reservations: Given its popularity, especially on weekends and evenings, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation to ensure a table.
  • Special Events: Cluny often hosts special events and themed dinners, so check their schedule for unique dining experiences.
  • Takeaway: If you're short on time, the boulangerie offers a selection of pastries, bread, and coffee to go, allowing you to enjoy Cluny's delights on the move.


Distillery District
35 Tank House Lane
Toronto, ON
M5A 3C4

Balzac's Coffee Roasters

For a caffeine fix, look no further than Balzac's Coffee Roasters in the Distillery District. This beloved local haunt has become synonymous with quality coffee and a cozy atmosphere. This charming café, housed in a historic building, offers an inviting retreat where you can enjoy expertly brewed coffee and a variety of delicious pastries, making it a favourite spot for both locals and visitors.

A blend of history and modernity

Balzac's Coffee Roasters is set in one of the Distillery District's beautifully restored historic buildings, adding a layer of old-world charm to your coffee experience. The interior retains many of its original architectural features, such as exposed brick walls and wooden beams, which blend seamlessly with modern, stylish furnishings. The result is a warm, welcoming space that feels both timeless and contemporary.

Coffee perfection

At the heart of Balzac's appeal is its commitment to exceptional coffee. The café sources high-quality beans worldwide, ensuring that each cup is rich, flavorful, and expertly brewed. The baristas at Balzac's are highly skilled, using precise techniques to bring out the best in every coffee.

Some standout options include:

  • Espresso: Perfectly balanced with a robust flavour and smooth finish, ideal for coffee purists.
  • Latte: Creamy and rich, with just the right amount of milk to complement the espresso.
  • Cold Brew: Refreshing and bold, a great choice for hot summer days.
  • Seasonal Specials: Balzac's frequently introduces seasonal drinks, such as pumpkin spice lattes in the fall or peppermint mochas in the winter, adding a festive touch to your coffee routine.

Delicious pastries and more

Complementing the excellent coffee is a delectable selection of pastries and baked goods. Each item is freshly made, offering a perfect pairing for your beverage. Popular choices include:

  • Croissants: Flaky, buttery, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
  • Muffins: Available in a variety of flavours, from classic blueberry to decadent chocolate chip.
  • Cookies: Large, chewy, and satisfying, ideal for a sweet treat.
  • Scones: Perfectly baked with a tender crumb, available in both sweet and savoury varieties.

In addition to pastries, Balzac's also offers light snacks and sandwiches, making it a convenient spot for a quick bite.

Community hub

Balzac's Coffee Roasters is more than just a café; it's a community hub that plays a significant role in the local culture. The café regularly hosts events such as book signings, live music, and art exhibitions, fostering a sense of community and providing a platform for local talent. This commitment to community engagement enhances the overall experience, making Balzac's a beloved part of the Distillery District.

Practical tips

  • Busy Times: Balzac's can get quite busy, especially on weekends and during events in the Distillery District. If you prefer a quieter visit, try coming during off-peak hours.
  • Gift Shop: The café also sells bags of their premium coffee beans, branded merchandise, and coffee-making equipment, perfect for gifts or to enjoy at home.
  • Free Wi-Fi: The café offers free Wi-Fi, making it an excellent spot for remote work or studying.


Distillery District
1 Trinity St
Toronto, ON
M5A 3C4

St. Lawrence Market: A culinary landmark

Carousel Bakery

A visit to Toronto wouldn't be complete without stopping by St. Lawrence Market, a food lover's paradise that has been serving the community since 1803. Carousel Bakery stands out as a beloved institution among the myriad of vendors offering culinary delights. Located inside the bustling market, Carousel Bakery has been delighting patrons with its delicious offerings for decades. It is particularly famous for one item: the iconic peameal bacon sandwich, often referred to as "Toronto's signature sandwich."

Photo credit:

The peameal bacon sandwich: A Toronto icon

The peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery is a culinary experience that every visitor to Toronto should try. This sandwich is a straightforward yet perfect combination of flavours that highlights the best of what the market has to offer. It features thick, juicy slices of peameal bacon, which is a type of Canadian back bacon rolled in cornmeal, grilled to perfection, and served on a soft, fresh bun. The simplicity of the sandwich allows the rich, savoury flavour of the peameal bacon to shine through, making it a satisfying and memorable meal.

History and tradition

Carousel Bakery, run by the hardworking and dedicated Sidaner family, has been a cornerstone of St. Lawrence Market for over 40 years. Over the years, the bakery has garnered numerous awards and accolades, solidifying its reputation as a must-visit destination within the market. The peameal bacon sandwich itself is steeped in Toronto's history, with peameal bacon being a staple of the city’s culinary heritage dating back to the late 19th century.

Beyond the peameal bacon sandwich

While the peameal bacon sandwich is undoubtedly the star attraction, Carousel Bakery offers a variety of other baked goods and sandwiches that are worth exploring. Their menu includes an array of freshly baked bread, rolls, and pastries, all made with the same attention to quality and taste.

  • Breakfast Sandwiches: Start your day with one of their hearty breakfast sandwiches, featuring a range of fillings from classic egg and cheese to more elaborate options with sausage or peameal bacon.
  • Pastries and Desserts: Treat yourself to their selection of sweet treats, including muffins, cookies, and the ever-popular butter tarts, a Canadian favourite.
  • Specialty Sandwiches: Besides the peameal bacon sandwich, Carousel Bakery offers other specialty sandwiches such as roast beef, turkey, and veggie options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

A market staple

Carousel Bakery is more than just a food vendor; it’s a vital part of the St. Lawrence Market community. The friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere make every visit a pleasant experience. The bakery’s location in the market’s South Building means it’s perfectly situated for a quick and satisfying meal while you explore the numerous other vendors offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and artisanal goods.

Practical tips

  • Timing: St. Lawrence Market can get very busy, especially on weekends and during the lunchtime rush. If you want to avoid long lines at Carousel Bakery, consider visiting earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.
  • Cash and Cards: While Carousel Bakery accepts both cash and cards, having some cash on hand can be helpful, especially if you plan to explore other vendors in the market.
  • To-Go or Dine-In: The peameal bacon sandwich is perfect for eating on the go, but if you prefer to sit and savour your meal, there are plenty of seating areas within the market where you can relax and enjoy your food.


St. Lawrence Market
93 Front St East
Toronto, ON
M5E 1C3

Buster's Sea Cove

Buster's Sea Cove at St. Lawrence Market is a seafood lover's paradise, offering a variety of fresh and delicious dishes that cater to a wide range of tastes.  Especially for seafood lovers, Buster's Sea Cove is a must-visit destination offering a fantastic selection of fresh seafood dishes. Known for its quality ingredients and expertly prepared dishes, Buster's Sea Cove has earned a reputation as one of Toronto's top spots for seafood. The bustling market setting enhances the overall dining experience, making it a beloved spot for both locals and visitors.

A seafood haven

Buster's Sea Cove specializes in a variety of seafood dishes that highlight the natural flavors and freshness of the ocean. The menu features a wide range of options, from classic seafood staples to more inventive creations, ensuring there's something to satisfy every palate.

Signature dishes

Among the many offerings at Buster's Sea Cove, a few signature dishes stand out as crowd favourites:

  • Lobster Roll: This dish is a quintessential East Coast delicacy, and Buster's version does not disappoint. Succulent chunks of fresh lobster meat are lightly dressed with mayo and lemon juice, then piled high on a buttery, toasted roll. The balance of flavours and textures makes this a must-try item.
  • Fish and Chips: A classic that never goes out of style, Buster's fish and chips are made with fresh, flaky fish coated in a light, crispy batter. Served with golden, perfectly fried chips and a side of tangy tartar sauce, this dish is a comforting favourite that delivers every time.
  • Grilled Calamari: Tender and flavorful, the grilled calamari is seasoned to perfection and served with a side of fresh lemon. It's a lighter option that still packs a punch of flavour, making it an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy seafood without the extra calories.

The market setting

The location of Buster's Sea Cove within the historic St. Lawrence Market adds a unique charm to the dining experience. The market's lively atmosphere, with its array of vendors and the hustle and bustle of shoppers, creates a vibrant backdrop for enjoying a meal. The communal seating area allows diners to sit back and soak in the market's energy while savouring their seafood.

Practical tips

  • Peak Times: St. Lawrence Market can get very busy, especially during weekends and lunchtime. To avoid long lines at Buster's Sea Cove, try visiting during off-peak hours, such as mid-morning or late afternoon.
  • Takeaway Options: If you're in a hurry or prefer to enjoy your meal elsewhere, Buster's Sea Cove offers convenient takeaway options. Grab your favourite dish and find a cozy spot in the market or nearby park to enjoy your food.
  • Freshness Guarantee: One of the key reasons for Buster's popularity is the freshness of its seafood. The market’s close proximity to suppliers ensures that the ingredients are as fresh as possible, contributing to the high quality of the dishes.


St. Lawrence Market
93 Front St East
Toronto, ON
M5E 1C3

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of this series!

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