Toronto is unquestionably one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with renowned restaurants offering stupendous views, and a plethora of cuisines most of us are unfamiliar with (but would love to taste!). With almost endless options for having a stellar meal every night of the week and competition reaching sky-high levels, architects have made their very best to provide you with a truly memorable dining experience, making sure their designs offer something way beyond great fare. Here are 10 of our favorite restaurants in Toronto with designs that are unique for their ambiance, setting, concept, or food! Enjoy:)
1. Pappas Grill (website)
Right where the heart of Greek Town on the Danforth beats, this off-the-wall restaurant brings you back to the old days when sitting around the wood-burning fireplace and relishing a good meal with your loved ones was all that mattered. The open veranda and the lovely patio with the lush garden, as well as the friendly, cozy interior with the red brick walls and the furniture that infuse a traditional Greek tavern feel, have well earned the place the Timeless Award Design. Also worth a visit for their delicious Mediterranean cuisine and meticulously prepared and served Greek dishes, all from the freshest ingredients in the market.
2. Rainforest Cafe (website)
Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood have really got dining to an upper level, offering that something special people were missing back then. Ever since, restauranteurs got the message that theme dining is a super attractive and appealing investment and bend over backwards to race against each other and see who the winner with the most bizarre design ever! Rainforest Cafe is one of the newest trends in theme dining that brings the fairy tale to every kid’s life (or the child inside us all!). Live parrots, moving elephants, special effects, such as lightning, thunderstorms, and actual rain, live tropical fish in gigantic tanks, snakes, apes, and many more are enough to intensify everybody’s appetite for some adventure.
3. BLD (36 Toronto St, Adelaide)
BLD (Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner), is a T-shaped restaurant located at street level at the edge of the Financial District. An 1874 office building houses the restaurant that features black, white, and red décor, amazing quartz tabletops, incredible crimson-hued glass partitions, and out-of-this-world black banquettes. Impressively, the room’s ambiance changes in the evening as it embraces a more jazzy vibe, setting the perfect foundations for a great and much promising night out.
4. 360 Restaurant (website)
A restaurant offering panoramic and breath-taking views of the city could not be excluded from our list! No wonder it is a top destination for locals and visitor alike. Reminding very little of the typical get-em-in-and-get-em-out tourist pitfall, 360 will give you a full 360 degrees kaleidoscope of the city (even up to the Niagara Falls on a clear day) in something more than an hour (72 mins), from a height of 351 m. What is pleasing is that the top view you get is underpinned by a classy and aristocratic ambiance and splendid menu, making 360 restaurant a must-go-to place in Toronto.
5. Osgoode Hall Restaurant (website)
If you are looking for old world ambiance and a bit of a fancy lunch, this is where you want to be. Housed in a grand 1840s building (nestles within the Court of Appeals), Osgood Hall is not only the haunt of the legal eagles, but also one of Toronto’s historic landmarks. Therefore, dining there, right next to judges donned in their robes as they review cases, and the overall ambiance takes you far away from the hustle of Queen Street and right into the heart of the law society’s library. Expect an unforgotten dining experience as you eat lunch in a wood-paneled grandeur of the Great Hall, with massive chandeliers, walls full of books, mezzanine gallery, and gorgeous stained glass windows. A fantastic hidden gem!
6. Auberge du Pommier (website)
Tucked away amongst the enormous buildings and skyscrapers of the business district in North York, this tiny French restaurant is so hunted down, and for a good reason. How could it not be anyway? It seems that Oliver & Bonacini have discovered the golden recipe for making successful businesses! Auberge du Pommier is an exquisite dining facility with delectable French cuisine, constructed around two woodcutters’ cottages, in an atmospheric space that smells of woodsmoke and enchants completely. A Toronto Winterlicious you can’t afford to pass by!
7. Bar Italia (website)
Surprisingly, although it has been more than a decade that the resto itself have fallen off the foodie map, Bar Italia is a beautiful representation of Italian cafe society with a winning bar from Toronto Life (“Best Bar Design”). It is a superb place for a cheerful lunch and group gatherings with lovely oval table sets and high bar stools that will undoubtedly please the ones watching in Little Italy!
8. Parts & Labour (website)
Owned by pals behind the Social and design firm Castor, Parts & Labour is an extremely offbeat restaurant that transforms landfill-bound discarded elements, such as fire extinguishers and burnt-out fluorescent tubes, into amazingly functional lighting fixtures. It is not a place for everyone though. You must appreciate the Parkdale vibe and be prepared to share tables, which is a welcoming change to some people (you never know who you will be meeting!). It is a pleasant change of pace and a place, where you can try new things!
9. Gallery Grill (website)
How would you feel if you were served in a Harry Potter’s Hogwarts-like dining hall? Gallery Grill has taken a step forward and pioneers with an intimate setting that matches perfectly the heart-stopping neo-gothic building it is located in. The University of Toronto campus has a unique place, where you can taste sumptuous brunches and lunches, overlooking the Great Hall, served in classic university china. While being there, don’t forget to try the innovative cocktail list that is in effect from Wednesday to Friday, after 7 p.m!
10. Volos (website)
Besides authentic Greek seafood cuisine, Volos is ideally suited for a romantic night dining experience, due to its incredibly tranquil atmosphere, with lots of candles and soothing colors used around the restaurant (for more incredibly romantic restaurants in Toronto, click here). However, this sleek restaurant, housed in the formerly home of Mediterra at the Bay St., is also excellent for business dinners. A quintessential Greek restaurant that will transport you to the Meditteranean, with its fresh and airy atmosphere, the sea-inspired décor, and Greek design elements, such as statues and ancient-style vases.