The secret is out Toronto being a world-class dining destination, with the accolades to prove it. Thirteen restaurants in Canada’s largest city received Michelin stars on September 13 – amazingly, they were the first stars anywhere in the country.
“With such diversity, with such quality, we definitely believe Toronto deserves a place on the global culinary map,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.
At an awards ceremony at Toronto’s evergreen brick (along with Canadian oysters, champagne and hors d’oeuvres prepared by several nominated restaurants), Michelin named one establishment two stars and 12 establishments one star.
The tire company, which has been making guides for over 100 years, has also named 17 Bib Gourmands. These “great value” restaurants are places where you can eat a two-course meal and a glass of wine or dessert for less than $60 CAD. Michelin recommends 44 other Toronto restaurants in its online guide.
When Poullennec started 20 years ago, he says the brand was worried about food quality internationally and didn’t have enough inspectors willing to travel as much as needed, which put cities like Toronto on the back burner. But restaurants have upped their game globally, and Michelin is growing. Today, Michelin guides have awarded stars to Canada in addition to 3,200 restaurants in several cities in Asia, Europe, the United States, Brazil and Dubai in the Middle East.
“We were impressed by the amount of local talent,” Poullennec said. “Based on that, we’re pretty sure there will be more to come.”
Which restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars?
Chef Masaki Saito took the top honor with a two-star rating for his restaurant Sushi Masaki Saito, which offers 18-course omakase menus for CAD$680. The chef received the same number of stars in 2017 and 2018 for his New York restaurant Sushi Ginza Onodera before moving to Toronto in 2019.
“I love Toronto, I love Canada,” Saito told the crowd.
Chef Patrick Kriss also had a great evening, earning stars for two of his restaurants: Alo, a contemporary European restaurant all in marble and offering excellent food and wine pairings (Michelin named its sommelier Christopher Sealy best Canadian sommelier in year) and French bistro Alobar, a more cocktail-focused spot, serving dishes like chilled lobster with lime aioli since opening in 2018.
Other notable eateries include Quetzal, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Kensington Market with a 26-foot-long wood-burning grill; Osteria Giulia, an Italian restaurant that also won the Michelin award for exceptional cocktails; Enigma Yorkville, which makes molecular foods like smoked foie gras; and the West End’s seasonal restaurant Edulis (it won the Michelin Service Award for its team of husband-and-wife chefs Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth). Aburi Hana, Don Alfonso 1890, Frilu, Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto, Shoushin and Yukashi round out Toronto’s Michelin star list.
Save and eat well at Michelin’s 17 Bib Gourmands
Since it will be difficult to try many Michelin-starred places – many have booking lists that are months old – travelers on a last-minute trip to Toronto may want to visit one of the 17 places Bib Gourmand.
Selections include popular local spots like Bar Raval, a pintxo bar with Gaudi-style decor, and Fat Pasha, which serves hearty Middle Eastern fare like roasted cauliflower with pomegranate and vegetables. Pine nuts. There’s also what might be considered cheap fare, like Chica’s Chicken, which makes spicy crispy chicken sandwiches in Nashville bathed in buttermilk ranch, and SumiLicious, a smoked-meat deli in a downtown mall. suburb.
Additionally, vegan Mexican restaurant La Bartola received a Bib Gourmand, as did The Ace, Alma, Campechano, Cherry Street BBQ, Enoteca Sociale, Favorites Thai BBQ, Fonda Balam, Gray Gardens, Indian Street Food Co, Puerto Bravo, R&D , and Wynone.
“The diversity is quite evident and it’s quite reflected in the 27 different types of cuisine and 74 restaurants in total that are part of this very first selection,” Poullennec said.
Canada won’t have to wait long for more Michelin stars, as the director says a guide to Vancouver will be released before the end of the year.