1 of 5
2 of 5
3 of 5
4 of 5
5 of 5
Was it really only 12 months ago that NOW declared 2012 the year of the taco? And not just any Taco Bell wannabe: the Korean taco, to be exact.
If they weren't starting lineups at the terrific Banh Mi Boys (392 Queen West, at Spadina, 416-363-0588, banhmiboys.com), they were causing foodie feeding frenzies at Swish by Han (38 Wellington East, at Leader Lane, 647-343-0268, swishbyhan.wordpress.com) and the now-defunct Jangbang on College. Why, Susur Lee himself jumped on board at Bent, albeit with shells of deep-fried taro stuffed with house-smoked cod and pickled mango salsa. And they're all gluten-free to boot!
Truly cutting-edge cantinas will take the taco one step further in the coming year by replacing their nasty carb-loaded shells with super-healthy lettuce leaves. Same fast 'n' easy finger food, three times the roughage. They're already popping up as ssam-style wraps stuffed with Korean barbecue beef at super-hot Chantecler (1320 Queen West, at Brock, 416-628-3586, restaurantchantecler.ca) and less hot Momofuku Daisho (190 University, at Adelaide West, 647-253-8000, momofuku.com/toronto/daisho) but, this being multiculti Hogtown, we'd push the envelope even further with Jamaican jerk chicken, Chinese barbecue pork and stewed Trini oxtail. And don't forget the DIY pickles!
Unjunky junk food
Even junk food is getting healthier. Look no further than Urban Herbivore (64 Oxford, at Augusta, 416-927-1231, and others, fressenrestaurant.com) and its gluten-free vegan Twinkie.
The next big nabes
Now that every last dive, soccer supporters' club and karaoke bar with an existing grandfather-clause liquor licence has been snapped up, we're always being asked what the next hottest nabe will be. We're betting on Chinatown. Not only is it close to all those downtown condos, but it's right next door to super-trendy Kensington Market, and there are lots of available spaces with lucrative liquor licences attached.
Same goes for non-Indian restos in Little India and what we're calling Jonesville, that three-block stretch of Gerrard just west of Jones centred around the new Projection Booth cinema.
On the west side, sleepy Baby Point - Jane and Annette - has also taken off with the kitschy Camp (244 Jane, at Horshaw, 647-346-2267) and the imminent second outpost of Queen Margherita Pizza.
Lunch over brunch
As much as we're fans of brunch - and have the 243 photos of eggs Benedict to prove it - Sunday lunch will be the big meal of the week. Note the spectacular noontime noshes at Edulis (169 Niagara, at Wellington West, 416-703-4222, edulisrestaurant.com) and the Grove (1214 Dundas West, at Grove, 416-588-2299, thegroveto.com).
Though he's been keeping a low profile of late at Enoteca Sociale (1288 Dundas West, at Coolmine, 416-534-1200, sociale.ca) after leaving the Black Hoof, watch for cold-cut king Grant van Gameren to make a considerable splash with Crown Cooks in the former Grappa at College and Shaw. Completing the connection, ex-Hoofer Brandon Olsen will act as chef de cuisine. Expect a mid-January launch.
Open and shut
Over in Parkdale, one-time Biff's executive chef and Canoe sous Basilio Pesce looks set to launch Porzia (1314 Queen West, at Elm Grove, 647-342-5776, porzia.ca) any day now, while the Herbivore's Stephen Gardiner has temporarily shuttered Fressen at Queen West and Augusta for a bit of a needed rethink.
The upcoming third Burger's Priest (1636 Queen East, at Coxwell, 647-346-0617, theburgerspriest.com) is still on the books, though where they ain't saying. Chinatown? But those busy Banh Mi Boys are definitely opening at Yonge and Gerrard in the lobby of the old Coronet grind-house come early spring.
Till then, fill up on ramen - the next big thing of 2010 - at the newly minted Kingyo (51B Winchester, at Parliament, 647-748-2121, kingyotoronto.ca) and Zakkushi (193 Carlton, at Ontario, 647-352-9455, zakkushi.com) in Cabbagetown and Ryoji (692 College, at Montrose, 416-893-7433) in the no-longer Vecchio Frak.
So last year
Reclaimed barnboard. We salute your commitment to the environment by reconfiguring 100-year-old planks ripped off an abandoned outbuilding in Coboconk into locavore wainscotting, but the back-to-the-land look was contrived back in the 60s the first time round. Steak 'n' Burger ring a bell? In its place, we predict a lot of plastic - think intergalactic sci-fi space pod.
Stick a fork in it
Cupcakes, gourmet burger chains other than the Priest, designer poutine, burritos.