Carl Heinrich shows off his Crispy Egg Salad, one of the lunch stars at Marben.
488 Wellington West, at Portland, 416-979-1990, marbenrestaurant.com
Since shifting gears from an exclusive supper club aimed at the champagne crowd to the locavore equivalent of the Black Bull, Marben has quickly become a true downtown dining destination, especially now that its 40-seat wooden deck is in session.
Following hot on the heels of their monthly pig roasts - the next one's on May 30 - chef Carl Heinrich and charcuterier Ryan Donovan have just launched the Sausage League, a weekly Wednesday-evening event running through September that pits some of Toronto's top restaurants against each other in an ultimate knackwurst smackdown.
This coming week, C5's Ted Corrado takes on Marron Bistro's Eran Marom. A plate of each resto's sausage goes for 25 bucks, and reservations are essential for the dining room. Tables on the patio are first-come, first-serve, though, so if you hope to snag one, show up early. Lunch, say.
Black Hoof's Jennifer Agg and Grant van Gameren get set for summer.
2. BLACK HOOF
928 Dundas West, at Gore Vale, 416-551-8854, theblackhoof.com
While local foodies are drooling in anticipation of Jannifer Agg and Grant van Gameren's upcoming BHCO in the old Hoof Café across the street, the joint that started it all is just as jumping as ever. Luckily, the no-reserve resto almost doubles in size come patio season, so getting in is that much easier. When you do, opt for foie gras with rhubarb washed down with a Ghostly Negroni - gin, Aperol, Lillet and absinthe.
111 Queen East, at Mutual, 416-863-6006, georgeonqueen.com
Served in a gorgeous garden courtyard, chef Lorenzo Lesotto's signature $95 five-course tasting menus are even more delicious when eaten al fresco. Can't afford the price tag? At weekday lunch, $25 gets you any dish on the card - black Alaskan cod with mascarpone polenta, anyone? - plus a side.
4. HARBORD ROOM
89 Harbord, at Spadina, 416-962-8989, theharbordroom.com
Follow the Room's chef, Cory Vitiello, on Twitter (@ChefCoryV) for all the deets on his bi-weekly Sunday night prix fixe clambakes and one-off special dinners. Fancy the likes of boiled Atlantic lobster, grilled corn and soft-shell crab tacos in a secluded backyard?
96 Tecumseth, at Whitaker, 647-352-6000, thebeastrestaurant.com
Scott and Rachelle Vivian's Wednesday-through-Friday happy hour is easily the best outdoor meal deal in town. From 5 to 7 pm, tapas-sized versions of most of their snout-to-tail card - spot prawn po-boys, grilled duck hearts, hush puppies - will set you back all of $4, a glass of Ontario wine another fiver.