BEST FALAFEL

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BEST DIVE

PLANET KENS­ING­TON 1971/ 2 Bald­win, 416-341-0310 Who­ever thinks punk’s as dead as Sid Vi­cious’s post-Pis­tol solo ca­reer has never vis­ited this black leather ’n’ leop­ard print wreck room, where mid­dle-aged men with green mo­hawks party like it’s 1979. Across town, at the Dan­forth’s Eton Tav­ern, an­other bunch of retro hell­rais­ers gather ev­ery Satur­day af­ter­noon for its New­fie mati­nee to belt back straight-up screech, arm wres­tle and heckle the Down East coun­try combo.

BEST DONUT

CA­JUN COR­NER 920 Queen East, 416-703-4477 For­get Tim Hor­tons and kiss Krispy Kreme good­bye. The finest frit­ters in town aren’t found at a fast food fran­chise but at this east-side spe­cialty shop that of­fers New Or­leans-style beignets. Only avail­able on week­ends and sold by the dozen, these highly ad­dic­tive deep-fried nuggets will have you won­der­ing what hap­pened to the hole un­til your first bite. It’s on the in­side!

SYR­IANDIP­ITY 671 Queen West, 416-366-3633 Open a few months, this mod­ern Mid­dle Eastern take-away’s chick­pea pat­ties are the meati­est around. Akram’s in the Mar­ket ups the ante by us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of fava and soy beans in­stead, as well as wrap­ping its falafel in whole wheat pitas from Arz Bak­ery on Lawrence East, while Yonge Street’s Pita Break bakes its own dou­ble-thick­ness flavoured flat­breads.

BEST $5 LUNCH

MOTHER’S DUMPLINGS 79 Huron, 416-217-2008 This spot­less sub­ter­ranean Chi­nese café spe­cial­izes in de­li­cious house­made Chi­nese dumpling and noo­dle dishes that are as much a treat for the pock­et­book as for the taste buds, the most ex­pen­sive priced at $4.95. Run­ner-up: two $2.50 veg­gie dogs topped with sweet fried onions at Ernie’s hot dog cart at the top of Vic­to­ria out­side Ry­er­son.

BEST GREASY SPOON

THE STEM 354 Queen West, 416-593-0530 You can’t be­gin the day any bet­ter than with a leisurely plate of eggs over easy sided with home fries, toasted brown and a steam­ing cup of cof­fee, parked in the win­dow booth at this most quin­tes­sen­tial of Queen West eater­ies, sun stream­ing through the glass, morn­ing pa­per in hand. Now that ev­ery other spoon in town has mor­phed into a trendy trat, the Stem, in busi­ness for more than 50 years, de­serves a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque from the his­tor­i­cal board.

BEST GOURMET SU­PER­MAR­KET

CHEESE BOU­TIQUE 45 Ri­p­ley, 416-762-6292 Think Whole Foods is ex­pen­sive? This hard-to-find one-stop gro­cery in south Eto­bi­coke makes Pusateri’s look like Price Chop­per. As op­erettas play over the PA, lo­cals swarm the aisles of this two-storey space drink­ing espresso and fill­ing their bas­kets with pricey or­ganic pro­duce while staff hand out free sam­ples from the wine cel­lar and cheese-ag­ing vaults. A tour is of­fered, and celebrity chefs hold cook­ing demos in the trel­lis-laced atrium. Al­most makes four bucks for a tomato worth it.

BEST GRO­CERY STORE

PUSATERI FRUIT MAR­KET 497 Church, 416-923-2043 No, not Pusateri’s Fine Foods on Yorkville and Av­enue Road, but sec­ond cousin Joe’s im­mac­u­late fruit ’n’ veg stand in the heart of the gay vil­lage. For 40 years he’s been hit­ting the Food Ter­mi­nal daily to guar­an­tee the top pro­duce for his loyal cus­tomers. He also stocks his freezer cases with the likes of crab and ri­cotta ag­nolotti and his shelves with home­made ap­ple pie. Bonus: the Garage sand­wich em­po­rium has just set up shop in the rear of the premises.

BEST HOME DE­LIV­ERY

DAN­GER­OUS DAN’S 714 Queen East, 416-463-7310 It’s late. You and your drink­ing bud­dies have been hit­ting the Jäger­meis­ter when the munchies strike. Why set­tle for card­board pizza or sub­stan­dard chow mein when you can have one of Dan’s hu­mon­gous 8ounce ham­burg­ers de­liv­ered to your front door? Avail­able from noon to mid­night, Dan’s de­liv­ery zone takes in most of the east side and ex­tends across the DVP into Cab­bage­town, the Church Street vil­lage and the down­town core. For the bound­aries, check out www.dan­ger­ous­dans­diner.com.

BEST ICE CREAM

GREG’S 750 Spad­ina, 416-962-4734 Greg Ma­hon jokes that he cooks them over a camp­fire out back on sticks, but the roasted marsh­mal­lows in his most ac­claimed ice cream flavour are rea­son alone to cause year-round line­ups out the front door of his tiny An­nex par­lour. In the Beach, Ed’s Real Scoop uses Calle­baut choco­late to spec­tac­u­lar ef­fect, St. Clair’s La Paloma keeps it tra­di­tion­ally Ital­ian with gelato, and Finch East’s Soy-N-Joy car­ries a su­per line of ve­gan ice cream that could con­vince Elsie the Cow it’s dairy.

BEST IN­DIAN

DHABA 309 King West, 416-740-6622 Of the hun­dreds of Indo eater­ies scat­tered across the GTA, only this up­scale room on down­town’s touristy restau­rant row gets the mix of tra­di­tional tech­nique and con­tem­po­rary pol­ish ex­actly right. Though most are fa­mil­iar with its ter­rific daily lunch buf­fet, check out the nightly $30 four-course prix fixe to truly ex­pe­ri­ence owner/ chef P. K. Singh’s cook­ing at its most cre­ative.

BEST ITAL­IAN

THE BIG RAGU 1338 Lans­downe, 416-654-7248 Judg­ing by the sorry state of our Ital­ian restos, one would never guess that Toronto is the sec­ond-largest Ital­ian-speak­ing city in the uni­verse. Sure, La Br­uschetta and Mar­cello’s nail the south­ern fam­ily vibe, but only this trad trat gets it to a tee. Drip­ping can­dles in Chi­anti bot­tles? Check! Redand-white ging­ham on the ta­bles, old­school spaghetti and meat­balls on the menu, Louis Prima and Dean Martin on the sound sys­tem? All aboard! Though it might not be the most so­phis­ti­cated spot on the Corso Italia, there’s cer­tainly none more au­then­tic.

BEST JUICE BAR

THE BIG CAR­ROT 348 Dan­forth, 416-466-2129 Lo­cated on its own com­mon, Toronto’s first or­ganic source for juices fea­tures more than two dozen cleans­ing cock­tails and ve­gan shakes as well as a short card of eco­log­i­cally con­scious sal­ads, soups and sand­wiches. Queen East’s Pulp Kitchen is also wor­thy, of­fer­ing nearly 20 nour­ish­ing elixirs, in­clud­ing our fave, De­tox Dar­ling, a blood-pu­ri­fy­ing blend of or­ganic ap­ple, kale and lemon juices mixed with wheat­grass and milk this­tle.

BEST MEX­I­CAN

EL SOL 1448 Dan­forth, 416-405-8074 Though an over­abun­dance of Tex-Mex canti­nas serve bas­tardized grub to grin­gos who don’t know any bet­ter, Toronto has vir­tu­ally no au­then­tic Mex­i­can eater­ies. Of the few that as­pire, only El Sol’s Yolanda Paez’s charm­ing east-side spot comes close – spice-rich moles, chile re­lenos and dy­na­mite gua­camole. And, yes, her kitchen takes its time. El Sol should re­ally be called El Slo. If you want fast, there’s al­ways Taco Bell.

BEST MUF­FIN

UR­BAN HER­BI­VORE 64 Ox­ford, 416-927-1231 With apolo­gies to our Martha, Toronto’s most mag­nif­i­cent muf­fin isn’t found on Echo Beach. This ve­gan co-op headed by Fressen’s Stephen Gard­ner pro­duces the most po­tent pick-me-up in Kens­ing­ton since the Greeks stopped serv­ing “spe­cial” cof­fee. Packed with or­ganic fresh fruit – ridicu­lously ripe rasp­ber­ries, sunkissed pineap­ple – and more fi­bre than seems nec­es­sary, and priced at two bucks each, is there a bet­ter in­stant break­fast in town?

BEST NEW COCK­TAIL LOUNGE

DOKU 15 8 Col­bourne, 416-368-3658 De­spite the fact that it doesn’t of­fi­cially open un­til early De­cem­ber, this swanky wa­ter­ing hole just off the lobby of the im­pos­si­bly chic Cos­mopoli­tan Ho­tel has al­ready at­tracted Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters Kate Hud­son and Woody Har­rel­son to its low-key glam­orous digs. In the tall, nar­row, el­e­gantly min­i­mal space, a long, low ban­quette faces a bar that looks like it’s made of melt­ing choco­late. Lo­cal fash­ion­istas are al­ready in a tizzy over its im­mi­nent lineup of 15 sake-ti­nis, and pa­parazzi will ap­pre­ci­ate that ev­ery celebu­tante’s vis­i­ble from the street through the all-glass fa­cade.

BEST PA­TIO

UL­TRA 314 Queen West, 416-263-0330 The back­yard ter­race com­plete with wad­ing pool, ca­banas and mas­sage tech­ni­cians atWelling­ton West’s C Lounge may have hyped it into the head­lines this sum­mer as T.O.’s

hottest al fresco scene, but down­town’s most ex­clu­sive party took place on the roof of the old Bam­boo. Equipped with comfy white-on-white South Beach couches and bil­low­ing kaf­tanesque drapes, the deck couldn’t be more not-Queen West if it tried. Next sea­son, let’s hope Ul­tra ditches its ex­clu­sion­ary dress code. Who says Ber­muda shorts aren’t cool?

BEST PLACE TO EAT WITH YOUR HANDS

PHIL’S ORIG­I­NAL BBQ 838 Col­lege, 416-532-8161 Next to au­then­tic Mex­i­can food, the one thing Toron­to­ni­ans crave that they can’t get lo­cally is South­ern U.S.style bar­be­cue. Though many claim to ’cue the real thing, only Phil Ny­man’s west-side smoke­house gets it right: slow-cooked ribs, chicken, pork shoul­der and beef brisket that are as much fun to get all over your face as to eat.

BEST REA­SON TO CON­VERT TO VEG­E­TAR­I­AN­ISM

CAFE 668 668 Dun­das West, 416-703-0668 We’ve been fans of chef Ngoc Lam’s and part­ner Hon Quach’s mar­vel­lous South­east Asian veg­e­tar­ian café for so long now – four years and count­ing – that ev­ery time we re­turn it’s like com­ing home again. Their re­fresh­ingly com­plex card is com­fort­ing as well: vi­brant sal­ads loaded with shred­ded herbs and toasted nuts, deep-fried tofu mains served over crispy madeto-or­der noo­dles, and to fin­ish, lightly bat­tered ba­nanas in co­conut cream.

BEST ROTI

GANDHI 554 Queen West, 416-504-8155 Priced at $10.49, the but­ter chicken roti sold at this west-side East In­dian eatery is not only the tasti­est in town, but one of the most ex­pen­sive – and worth ev­ery penny, if only for the house-made wrap­pers cranked out on a pizza press. For Caribbean-style roti, none is more gen­er­ous than the sub­stan­tial 26ouncer served at St. Clair West’s House of Gospel, a dozen or so shrimp in a fab­u­lously flaky dahlpuri wrap­per.

BEST SALAD

SUNNY CAFÉ 322 Bloor West, 416-963-8624 Haven’t a clue what to feed a ve­gan din­ner guest? Tucked away in a cor­ner of an An­nex health food store, Toronto’s first and only or­ganic dairy-free take-away also of­fers down­town’s most ex­ten­sive health-con­scious salad bar. It fea­tures old stand­bys like mac­ro­bi­otic brown rice with steamed broc­coli and beets as well as gar­licky tomato tofu salad and Asian greens in sun­flower oil vinai­grette, all sold by the kilo.

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