1636 Queen E, at Coxwell, 647-346-0617; 463 Queen W, at Cameron, 647-748-8108; 3397 Yonge, 416-488-3510, at Teddington Pk; 7887 Weston, at Hwy 7, 905-856-2662, theburgerspriest.com, thttp://twitter.com/burgerspriest
What goes together better than burgers and the beach? If you're not going to be grilling them yourself, here's the next best thing - the Double Double, two of the beefy patties layered with processed American cheese and served on an absorbent Wonder Bread bun. A religious experience of the culinary kind!
Order this: from the not-so-secret menu, the Tower of Babel - a Double Double cheeseburger topped with a deep-fried portobello veggie burger sandwiched between three grilled cheese sandwiches.
Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Thursday and Friday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday noon to 10:30 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Average main $9. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.
550 Bayview, at Pottery Rd, 416-901-8234, cafebelong.ca
The centrepiece of the Don Valley's bucolic Brick Works eco complex, Restaurant Makeover celebu-chef Brad Long's all-day bistro and adjacent take-away lets locally grown and naturally raised products be the star of the show. Don't do crowds? Show up any time other than Saturday's farmers' market and have the place virtually to yourself.
Order this: at dinner, Brussels sprouts salad tossed with blue cheese, braised garlic and salted pork-fat scrunchions followed by elk schnitzel over spaetzle and spicy micro-greens.
Lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30 am, dinner Sunday to Friday from 5 to 9 pm, Saturday 5 to 10 pm. Weekend brunch 10 am to 3 pm. Closed some holidays. Reservations accepted. Average main $29 dinner/ $18 lunch or brunch. Licensed. Access: barrier-free.
885 Dundas W, at Claremont, 416-703-0668, cafe668.com
The anti-Hoof? After the runaway success of their modest vegan hole-in-the-wall, Hon Quach and Ngoc Lam move what's become one of the best herbivore haunts in town into far fancier digs a few blocks west. While the name and innovative card remain the same, the bordering-on-chic room - floor-to-ceiling glass, off-white banquettes - signals that 668 has upped its game considerably.
Order this: the 668 salad - a vibrant julienne of English cucumber, carrot and celery dressed with deep-fried tofu, coriander leaf, crushed peanuts and toasted cashews in a sweet Sriracha vinaigrette - followed by an idiosyncratic ketchup-free take on pad thai tossed with carrot, peanuts, cabbage, sprouts ‘n' ‘shrooms.
Monday to Thursday 5 to 9 pm, Friday 5 to 10 pm and Saturday 3:30 to 10 pm, Sunday and holidays 3:30 to 9 pm. Reservations accepted. Average main $14. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.
Southeast corner King W, at Bay
If there's a threat of rain that day, Bridgette Pinder's terrific Caribbean food cart likely won't be there. But when the sun shines, she dishes up some of the tastiest eats in the core.
Order this: gently jerked and grilled boneless chicken breast dressed with two salads - crisp romaine, purple cabbage and carrot, the other sweet ripe mango and bell pepper strips in a spicy Thai vinaigrette - doused with both island-style barbecue and hot sauces and wrapped in a grilled whole wheat pita or dalpoori roti.
Monday to Friday 11 am to 2 pm-ish. Closed Saturday, Sunday, holidays. No reservations. Average main $8. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free.
Forced out of their original digs just north of St Clair due to condo conversion, the Aben family's greatly loved ice cream parlour resurfaces two blocks south with every knick-knack in place. Now three times the size and air-conditioned, the larger room means you won't have to line up outside in the sweltering heat ever again. Patio and parking, too!
Order this: Forest Hill homeboy Drake's favourite - two scoops of the Dream's own Gold Medal Ribbon chocolate and peanut butter ice cream in a house-made waffle cone.
Daily noon to midnight. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.
Ed's Real Scoop on Roncesvalles
First launched in the Beach back in 02, ice-meister Ed Francis's shop brings an expanded lineup of artisanal creams and gelati to the hip Roncey strip. While some rely on rich butter and cream, Ed's depend on all-natural ingredients and 100 per cent real and often organic fruit for flavour.
Order this: new flavours this season include boozy sangria sorbet and S'mores ice cream with burnt marshmallows, chunky Belgian chocolate and crumbled graham crackers.
Daily 11:30 am to 10:30 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free.
202 Dovercourt, at Argyle, 416-532-7397, juliescuban.com
A stellar Cuban cantina year round, this tucked-away trat on a sleepy west-side street really blooms come summer. As trees whisper overhead and candlelight reflects off wine glasses, affable hosts Jesus Baute and Sylvia Llewellyn offer a classic pre-Castro Havana card that's perfect for sharing à deux under a starry sky.
Order this: ropa vieja - slow-stewed flank steak in green-olive tomato sauce tossed with green peas and red pepper strips, sided with beans ‘n' rice.
Tuesday to Sunday from 5 pm. Bar till close. Closed Monday, holidays. Reservations accepted. Average main $18. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement.
Red Tea Box
696 Queen W, at Euclid, 416-203-8882
The secret café hidden away in a shabby-chic coach house behind this exquisite patisserie and chocolatier has to be one of the most exclusive restos in town. And romantic. Where else can you laze on a chaise while nibbling Pacific Rim exotica washed down with small-farm biodynamic teas in a setting worthy of a Brontë sisters novel?
Order this: the lunch bento box of seared salmon with avocado and pink pickled onions, ginger chicken salad with blue cheese and green beans, and lemongrass-scented brown jasmine rice.
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 am to 6 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. Closed Tuesday, holidays. No reservations. Average main $17. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor, four steps to terrace, and another four steps to coach house.
Subtitled "the hummus institute of North America," Ezra Braves's reconfigured coffee house and patio is downtown's first café dedicated to the humble chickpea dip. Show up early on the weekend or join the inevitable queue.
Order this: shareable hummus plates splashed with French olive oil infused with house-ground za'atar and topped with spicy minced beef, warm mixed olives or chopped hard-boiled egg, all served with warm pita.
Tuesday to Sunday 11:30 am to 6 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.
Part crispy ice cream cone and part French flapjack, Harajuku-style crepes look set to become as ubiquitous as ramen and tacos. And where better to find this multiculti street food than amidst the colourful chaos of Kensington Market? That is, if you manage to find Carson Leung and Christinn Hua's way-cute take-away. Hint: it's around the corner from Seven Lives and under the parking garage across from the George Brown condo. Order this: the Japanese Special Crepe with house-made green tea gelato, sliced strawberries, sweet adzuki beans, matcha sauce and whipped cream.
Sunday to Thursday 12:30 to 8:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 12:30 to 10 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms.