Retro baked goods like this biscuit are must-eats at Emma’s Country Kitchen.
Emma's Country Kitchen
1108 St Clair W, at Northcliffe, 416-652-3662, emmascountrykitchen.com. Ex-Stockyards head cook Rachel Pellett and partner Heather Mee parlay a successful catering business into downtown's best new weekend brunch spot. The café's minimal weekday lineup's not too shabby either, most notably their exemplary retro baked goods and not-to-be-missed $1 bags of potato chips. Foodie fact: the site of the original Pusateri's, circa 1963. Best: to start, those fabulously flaky biscuits sided with blueberry-peach preserves and whipped honey butter; the same biscuits as eggs Benedict with house-smoked peameal, poached eggs and a hollandaise infused with whipped cream; the Hangover burger, a sage-spiked patty made of ground Beretta Farm's pork sausage dressed with local cheddar, house-cured bacon and a house-baked bun and sided with skinny thyme-flecked frites worthy of Jamie Kennedy; a breakfast poutine of said terrific frites topped with bacon, cheddar, hollandaise and two poached 'n' deep-fried eggs. Open daily 9 am to 4 pm. Closed holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
124 Ossington, at Argyle, 416-535-4586, bellwoodsbrewery.com. As you'd expect from the name, the focus at this bustling west-side pub is the artisanal suds they brew on the premises. Former Brockton sous Rob Julen puts a definite stamp on a short shareable carte that ventures beyond the predictable pickled eggs. Best: creamy-centred soft-boiled eggs dressed with house-pickled ramps; grilled izakaya-style duck hearts drizzled with charred jalapeño oil; platters of black Kalamata olives, pickled beets, buttery lima beans, spicy peanuts and whipped anise butter served with porous Woodlot sourdough made from leftover malt; barbecued Perth County pork banh mi on crusty buns dressed with pickled daikon and peanut sauce; purposefully stone-cold fried smoked chicken on fiery banana pepper hot sauce; to finish, seasonal berries tossed with crushed house-baked biscotti in heirloom beet gastrique. Complete meals for $35 per person, including tax, tip and a pint of house-brewed beer. Average main $9. Open Monday to Wednesday 5 to 11 pm, Thursday 5 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday 2 pm to midnight, Sunday and holidays 2 to 11 pm. Bar nightly till close. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
501 College, at Palmerston, 416-964-1555, lacarnita.com. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Grand Electric in Parkdale must be particularly chuffed. So what if both taquerias appropriated the formula - trendy tacos, hard liquor and harder tunes - from Big Star Tacos in Chicago? Smooth service and the lack of a lineup most nights make the somewhat higher prices that much easier to stomach. Best: owner chef Andrew Richmond's signature In Cod We Trust fish taco of battered wild Atlantic cod, pickled red cabbage and Granny Smith apple lashed with lime, crema fresca, tahini-like Voltron sauce; Pollo Frito with southern-style fried chicken in peanut mole sauce dressed with pickled napa cabbage and tomato salsa; charred corn on the cob slathered in crema fresca, lime and anejo cheese. Complete meals for $40 per person, including tax, tip and a pint of micro-suds. Average taco $5. Open Tuesday to Saturday 5 to 11 pm, Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN