Santouka’s ramen always draws a crowd.
890 College, at Delaware, 416-733-3474, redfishresto.com. Fishbar vets David Friedman and Jamie Duran's cozy west-side bistro offers a civilized alternative to our too-often frenzied weekend ritual. Why, they even take reservations! Best: to start, $5 Caesars and mimosas followed by flaky house-baked scones spread with tart rhubarb and sweet plum preserves; gluten-free mains like sustainable Ocean Wise rainbow trout tartare with peppery arugula and crispy fish skin replacing traditional toast points; seared confit duck wings glazed in apple butter over eggy waffles; terrific octopus hash paired with poached runny eggs in textbook hollandaise; banana bread French toast with peanut butter mousse and maple syrup; on the side, local pickerel fish cakes; house-made breakfast sausage. Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a budget-priced cocktail. Average main $12. Open for brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Dinner Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
241 Spadina, at Grange, 647-351-1200, strada241.com. Known for such illustrious restos as Zoom, Luce and Rain, the brothers Rubino turn a beautifully restored 19th century warehouse in Chinatown into their most accessible trat yet. The neo-Neapolitan pizza's so good, it made #9 on NOW's recent Top 20. 2-4-1 Pizza this ain't! Best: main-sized salads of organic mesclun and bitter radicchio in evo; linguine in garlicky tomato sauce with longneck clams; nicely charred pies thin of centre and thick of crust, like the Nina with pesto oil, fior di latte, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and fresh celery leaves; the Allesandro with house ragu, shaved parmigiano, hot chilies and old-school meatballs; the Gianpaolo with sauce, mozzarella di bufala, sliced mushrooms, wilted arugula and wild boar cacciatore. Complete dinners for $40 per person (lunches $30), including tax, tip and a glass of vino. Average main $15. Open Sunday to Wednesday noon to 10 pm, Thursday to Saturday noon to midnight. Café weekdays from 7 am, weekends from 8 am. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
91 Dundas E, at Church, 647-748-1717, santouka.co.jp/en. Hogtown's infatuation with all things ramen continues apace at the local outlet of this Hokkaida-based franchise close to Yonge-Dundas Square. Although there's almost always a lineup, efficient servers get most customers in and out in 45 minutes. Don't do sodium? They'll lower the salt! Smallish portions and somewhat higher prices compared to the competition reduce the rating. Best: your choice of either milky salt-based shio, rich shoyu lashed with soy sauce or more mellow miso broth with al dente house-made noodles, cha shu pork, slivered scallion 'n' seaweed, a few strips of bamboo shoots and the thinnest slice of kamboko fish cake possible, the generally standard-equipment slow-cooked egg an additional buck-60; sides of fatty braised toroniku pork jowl; perfunctory ground pork gyoza dumplings. Complete meals for $20 per person, including tax, tip and a mug of green tea. Average main $12. Open daily 11 am to 11 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement, communal seating. Rating: NNN