Lisa Marie owner/chef Matthew Basile shows off his famous deep fried cheeseburger with quail egg.
Lisa Marie 638 Queen W, at Palmerston, 647-748-6822, fidelgastro.ca, @fidelgastros From the marketing whiz behind the Fidel Gastro food truck and Rebel Without A Kitchen TV show comes this on-trend snacketeria named for Elvis Presley's daughter. Plates are fashionably small and quickly expedited - and if you don't like one, another will be along in a minute. Best: deep-fried pizza dressed with smoked duck breast and asparagus slaw; bun-free deep-fried cheeseburgers topped with runny quail eggs; hot Buffalo-style turkey wings; deli-style surf 'n' turf of house-cured pastrami with sardines and sour cream on latkes; the Cheese Thang - grilled havarti piled with lean pork belly and salsa; deconstructed eggplant parmigiana in a jar. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average tapas $7. Open for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday 6 pm to midnight, Thursday 6 pm to 2 am, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 2 am, Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Weekend brunch 11 am to 3 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
Bombay Chowpatty 1386 Gerrard E, at Woodfield, 416-405-8080 This blindingly bright take-away in Little India is the only resto in town where you can rent the latest Bollywood blockbuster on DVD and grab a samosa burger at the same time. But even though everything on the menu's vegetarian, it's quite possibly some of the least healthy food you could ever put in your body. Damn, is it good! Best: the eponymous burger, a regulation white-bread hamburger bun heaped with spicy chana masala and pan-fried potato patties; breakfast burrito-esque paneer kathi rolls stuffed with mildly curried cheese in grilled paratha flatbread; frozen masala fries explosively dressed with sweet 'n' sour tamarind sauce, hellishly-hot green chutney, chopped coriander, diced tomato and Spanish as well as a swirl of yogurt and a splash of ketchup straight from a bottle labeled Heinz. Complete meals for $10 per person, including tax, and a soft drink. Average main $5. Open 1:30 pm to 11 pm on weekdays, noon to midnight on weekends. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Valentina 61A Bellevue, at Nassau, 647-748-1828 The one-time Bellevue gets recast as a cozy Mexican cantina complete with exotic taco and potent tequilla lineup. And while there's limited counter seating and two tight tables for four indoors, the best are on the sunny patio out front. Best: to start, cactus salad with black beans, fresh corn and diced nopalitos in a vibrant lime 'n' chili vinaigrette; deep-fried corn tostadas dressed with shredded salt-cod and house-pickled jalapeños; ketchupy Shrimp Diabla with deep-fried potato wedges; the inescapable tacos, from pulled pork in smoky achiote oil finished with fiery pickled onions to braised rabbit in Aztec mole and cumin-kissed pork ‘n' veal with mild morita-chili salsa; to finish, beautifully plated dulce de leche cheesecake. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches/brunches $25), including tax, tip and a Caesar. Average main $10. Open Monday to Friday 11:30 am to midnight, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 1 am. Weekend brunch till 3 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washroom in basement. Rating: NNN