Tandoori chicken, seen here with naan, is meaty and moist at Gautama.
Gautama 1416 Gerrard E, at Hiawatha, 416-469-4444, thesiddhartha.com Though the original was shuttered more than a year ago after a fire, Siddhartha rises from the ashes phoenix-like in fancier new digs a few blocks west. Not only is Sid's all-you-can-eat buffet as exemplary as ever, but it can now be enjoyed al fresco on the only licensed patio in Little India. Best: crisply fried samosas stuffed with potato, peas and mild peppers; saag paneer swirled with yogurt; biryani-style rice with garden peas and curry leaves; stir-fried cabbage with turmeric and mustard seeds; mashed eggplant and potato with chilies; aloo gobi with curiied cauliflower 'n' spuds; super-moist tandoori chicken legs and thighs while they last; rice pudding with fresh fruit. Complete buffet dinners for $25 per person (lunches $20), including tax, tip and a domestic lager. Average la carte main $10. Open daily for $10.99 lunch buffet 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, $13.99 dinner buffet 4 to 10:30 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
Ryoji 690 College, at Montrose, 416-533-8083, ryojiofcanada.com While they don't put tacos in their ramen, this Okinawa-based chain does the next best thing by offering a side of taco rice - sushi rice topped with salsa, iceberg lettuce and grated cheese - with its mein. Those put off by the austerity of some local soup kitchens will appreciate the downright swanky digs. Best: from the ramen lineup, lighter-than-usual shoyu dressed with pork belly chashu, spinach and scallion; milky tonkotsu with extra chashu and perfectly timed yolky eggs; vegetarian mushroom and seaweed broth with deep-fried garlic and pesto oil; tapas-style starters like tuna sashimi over starfruit and watercress salad in spicy chili vinaigrette; retro fried chicken with creamy KFC-style coleslaw; zucchini fritters dusted in garlic powder. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches $25), including tax, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $10. Open for lunch daily noon to 5 pm, dinner Sunday to Thursday 5 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 2 am. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
Grasslands 478 Queen W, at Denison, 416-504-5127, grasslands.to, @grasslandsto Urban Herbivore's Stephen Gardner relaunches Fressen as a stylish cocktail lounge and tapas bar that just happens to be vegan. Inventive and beautifully constructed plates along with snappy, informed service will make even hardcore carnivores true believers. Best: to start, gluten-free corn fritters and gently battered popcorn "chicken," both sided with basil-scented pineapple salsa; larger plates like seared polenta and meaty shiitake mushrooms with garlicky wilted spinach in Italian-style tomato sauce; rice-flour cannelloni stuffed with tofu "ricotta" and walnut pesto; veggie sliders on house-baked buns dressed with pickled red onion, arugula, smoky house ketchup and hot Dijon mustard and sided with twice-cooked rutabaga ‘n' parsnip frites; to finish, house-baked ginger snaps and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate cashew mousse. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and an organic lager. Average tapas $11. Open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday 5:30 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN