The secret’s out about Toronto being a world-class food destination, with the accolades to prove it. Thirteen restaurants in Canada’s largest city received Michelin stars on September 13—surprisingly, they were the first stars anywhere in the country.
“With such diversity, with such quality, we definitely think that Toronto deserves a place on the world culinary map,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of Michelin Guides.
At an award ceremony at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works (complete with Canadian oysters, champagne, and hors d’oeuvres prepared by several nominated restaurants), Michelin named one two-star and 12 single-star establishments.
The tire company, which has been doing guides for more than 100 years, 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 under CAD$60. Michelin recommends 44 further Toronto restaurants in its online guide.
When Poullennec started 20 years ago, he says the brand worried about the quality of foods internationally and didn’t have enough inspectors willing to travel as much as necessary—this put cities like Toronto on the back burner. But restaurants have upped their game globally and Michelin is expanding. Now, Michelin Guides has given stars to Canada in addition to 3,200 restaurants in several cities across Asia, Europe, the United States, Brazil, and Dubai in the Middle East.
“We have been impressed by the number of homegrown talent,” Poullennec said. “Based on that we are pretty sure that there will be more to come.”
Which restaurants got Michelin stars?
Sushi Masaki Saito was the only restaurant awarded two Michelin stars.
Courtesy of Sushi Masaki Saito
Chef Masaki Saito took home the biggest honor with a two-star rating for his restaurant Sushi Masaki Saito, which does 18-course omakase menus for CAD$680. The chef was awarded the same number of stars in 2017 and 2018 for his New York City 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 big night, winning stars for two of his restaurants: Alo, a contemporary European restaurant done up in marble and featuring excellent wine pairings (Michelin named its sommelier Christopher Sealy Canada’s best sommelier of the year), and French bistro Alobar, a more cocktail-focused spot, serving dishes like chilled lobster with lime aioli since it opened in 2018.
Other notable restaurants include Quetzal, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Kensington Market with a 26-foot-long wood-burning grill; Osteria Giulia, an Italian eatery that also won Michelin’s Exceptional Cocktails Award; Enigma Yorkville, which does molecular food like smoked foie gras; and West End 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 the list of Toronto’s single Michelin stars.
Save money and eat well at Michelin’s 17 Bib Gourmands
Given that so many of the Michelin-starred spots will be hard to try—many have months-long reservation lists—travelers on a last-minute trip to Toronto may want to visit one of the 17 Bib Gourmand places.
Among the selections are popular local spots like Bar Raval, a pintxos bar with Gaudi-like decor, and Fat Pasha, serving hefty Middle Eastern dishes like roasted cauliflower with pomegranate and pine nuts. There’s also what might be considered cheap eats, like Chica’s Chicken, which does crispy Nashville-spiced chicken sandwiches bathed in buttermilk ranch, and SumiLicious, a smoked meat deli in a suburban strip mall.
In addition, plant-based Mexican restaurant La Bartola received a Bib Gourmand, as did the Ace, Alma, Campechano, Cherry Street BBQ, Enoteca Sociale, Favorites Thai BBQ, Fonda Balam, Grey Gardens, Indian Street Food Co, Puerto Bravo, R&D, and Wynona.
“The diversity is quite obvious and it is fairly reflected by 27 different types of cuisine and 74 total restaurants being part of this very first selection,” Poullennec said.
Canada won’t have to wait long for more Michelin stars, as the director said a guide for Vancouver will be released before the end of the year.