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Tuck into a radish salad in the intimate candlelit room at Ortolan.
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Pizzeria Libretto (left) on the Danforth. La Carnita has lots of room for Valentine’s Day customers.
930 Queen W, at Ossington, 647-352-2243, aokfoods.ca. The crew behind experimental Yours Truly deliciously dumb down the menu with a multiculti lineup that references Korea, Mexico and Greece. See it on starter-sized plates like sous-vide ssam-style pork lettuce wraps and Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku sautéed with pancetta and finished with Kewpie mayo and shaved bonito flakes. But steer clear of the Szechuan-pepper-laced ramen. Tonight's not the night for a numb tongue! Lunch Thursday to Sunday, Wednesday 11:30 am to 3 pm, dinner 5:30 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday. Licensed. Access: nine steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
928 Dundas W, at Gore Vale, 416-551-8854, theblackhoof.com. Now in its fifth year, Jennifer Agg's 40-seat snout-to-tail meatery has never been hotter. Sure, you have to like offal - and an awful lot of it - but the likes of beef tongue on brioche and miscellaneous pork-part tacos will convert even the most reluctant carnivore. And who else would have the audacity to turn foie gras into a Nutella-drizzled dessert? Thursday to Saturday 6 pm to 1 am, Sunday and Monday 6 to 11:30 pm. Closed Tuesday, Wednesday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
501 College, at Palmerston, 416-964-1555, lacarnita.com. If you still haven't been able to fight your way into Grand Electric, you might have better luck at this heavily hyped cantina. It's four times the size. Owner/chef Andrew Richmond's grab 'n' dash grub's in a similar if somewhat pricier vein as well, way south-of-the-border bites like wild Atlantic cod tacos and beef tongue tostadas. Even the desserts come with pork. Key lime popsicles coated with crushed graham crackers and chicharrón, anyone? Dinner Thursday to Saturday 5 to 11 pm, Sunday and Monday 5 to 10 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 5 to 11 pm. Brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
1330 Queen W, at Elm Grove, 416-627-3459, grandelectricbar.com. Though the new second-storey dining room that was to double its seating capacity has been temporarily put on hold, Ian McGrenaghan and ex-Black Hoof chef Colin Tooke's super-hot Parkdale taqueria just got that much easier to get into with the recent introduction of lunch. Same great food - braised beef cheek ‘n' avocado tacos, sinfully spicy fried chicken - same party vibe, much less hassle. Lunch daily 11:30 am to 4 pm, dinner Thursday to Sunday 5:30 pm to 1 am, Monday to Wednesday 5:30 pm to midnight. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
164 Ossington, at Foxley, 647-343-4698, hawkerbar.ca. The gang behind Poutini's bring Australian chef Alec Martin's contemporary spin on Singaporean street food to downtown's hippest of strips. While the spicing may be somewhat muted when compared to the original, it still induces meltdowns, especially his signature deep-fried whole sea bream in garlicky sweet 'n' sour sauce finished with "dice" fashioned from dragonfruit. Thursday and Friday 5 pm to close, Saturday and Sunday 11:45 am to close, Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to close. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
1211 Bloor W, at Margueretta, 647-348-4500, littledrunkbird.com. If a small, candlelit room, friendly attitude-free service and a carte that feels both rustic and avant-garde are your priorities, Damon Clements and Daniel Usher's 26-seat Bloordale bistro will tick all your boxes. We'll return for the galette de sarrasin and seared 'n' sliced blood-red Grace Meats flank steak with house-made harissa alone. Thursday to Saturday 5 to 10:30 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 5 to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday. Licensed. Access: slight bump at door, tight tables, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
550 Danforth, at Carlaw, 416-466-0400, 221 Ossington, at Dundas, 416-532-8000, pizzerialibretto.com. They may have slipped from pole postion in NOW's recent top-20 pizza survey, but these insanely popular pizzerias offer something most other parlours forget - attentive service and a romantic room built for lingering as long as there isn't a lineup. Our favourite thin-crusted pie? The brilliant combo of textbook San Marzano tomato sauce, house-made nduja sausage and DOP mozzarell' splashed with chili oil. Daily 11:30 am to 11 pm (Danforth); Thursday to Saturday noon to 11 pm, Sunday 4 to 11 pm; Monday to Wednesday noon to 11 pm (Ossington). Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement (Danforth); one step at door, washrooms in basement (Ossington). Rating: NNNNN
52 Wellington E, at Church, 647-351-4612, sukhothaifood.ca. No longer associated with Khao San Road, Jeff and Nuit Regular bounce back with their biggest - and glitziest - Thai trat yet. While the new room may look more like a King West nightclub than the funky hole-in-the-wall on Parliament where it all started, chef Nuit's carte is as incendiary as ever. Can't get your street-style noodles hot enough? Ask for everything "extra Thai spicy!" Thursday to Saturday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and 5 to 10 pm, Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and 5 to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: 10 stepss at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
720 Queen W, at Claremont, 416-504-0320, 57 Adelaide E, at Toronto, 416-203-3093; 106 Victoria, at Richmond E, 416-504-9998; 1095 Yonge, at Birch, 416-925-4020, terroni.com. Long before Libretto, Queen Margherita and Kensington's Via Mercanti, Cosimo Mammoliti's mini-chain of Italian trats set the bar for thin-crusted pizza in Toronto, the best his white C't Mang topped with great ribbons of smoked prosciutto, sliced pear, walnuts, Gorgonzola and a drizzle of honey. So what if he refuses to cut them or put cheese on your seafood spaghetti? Bring your own Parmigiano, capiche? Thursday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 11:30 pm, Sunday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 11 pm (Queen); Thursday to Saturday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 10 pm (Adelaide); Thursday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Friday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday 5 to 11 pm, Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 11 pm (Victoria); Thursday to Saturday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Sunday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 10 pm (Yonge). Closed Sunday (Adelaide, Victoria). Licensed. Access: barrier-free (Queen, Victoria, Yonge); two steps at door, washrooms in basement (Adelaide). Rating: NNNN
276 Augusta, at College, 416-961-7373, toritorestaurant.com. Since its launch eight years ago in the Market, Veronica Laudes's tapas bar has grown from a backwater bistro in no man's land into one of downtown's premier dining destinations. We blame the Andalusian chickpea stew strafed with spinach, the minty lamb meatballs and the paella del día. Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 11 pm, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 5:30 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: five steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN