Snack on slow-smoked side pork ribs with red cabbage slaw and cowboy baked beans at Aft Kitchen & Bar.
AFT Kitchen & Bar
686 Queen E, at Broadview, 647-346-1541, aftbar.com, @aft_bar Taking its name from the acronym for "about fucking time," Paul Campbell's southern-fried bistro in the one-time Toucan Taco/Le Rossignol/Pop space delivers considerable 'cue on one of the loveliest backyard patios east of the Don Valley Parkway. Best: to start, smoked and briefly deep-fried chicken wings in the Buffalo style sided with a whack o' hand-cut fries; for the wayward vegetarian, deep-fried strips of panko-dusted portobello mushrooms with thyme aioli; mains like free-range half-chicken slathered with sweet Kansas City-style sauce sided with purple cabbage slaw and German potato salad; nicely barked and perfectly pink pork side ribs optionally mopped with sauce; weekend-only platters with peppercorn-crusted brisket, those meaty ribs and saucy chicken; cheddar-studded ground-brisket burgers on eggy Harbord Bakery buns. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and smoked habanero Caesar. Average main $18. Kitchen open daily 11 am to 1 am. Bar open 11 am to 2 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
Baby back ribs with burst tomato pesto are a treat at Big Crow.
176 Dupont, at St George, 647-748-3287, roseandsonsbigcrow.com, @roseandsons Ex-Drake chef Anthony Rose rebounds with a year-round backyard barbecue located behind his popular Rose and Son diner. Where else will you find picnic tables loaded with shareable church-social plates, Zeppelin on the turntable and the occasional passing freight train? Best: to start, chopped country-style salads of chickpeas, baby plum tomatoes, cubed English cuke and pitted black olives, all tossed with sheep-milk feta and crunchy dill pickle; retro Shrimp Louie salads with shredded iceberg, sliced avocado, hard-boiled egg and a handful of Quebecois cocktail shrimp in Thousand Island dressing; mains like uncut jerk chicken wings with grilled pineapple splashed with coriander hot sauce; smoked Cornish hen in garlicky pesto; whole grilled rabbits with buttery hot sauce; on the side, baby red potato salad with grilled cremini mushrooms; grilled corn salad with crumbly feta-like queso and crema fresca; to finish, profiterole-like s'mores ice cream sandwiches with fire-roasted marshmallows. Complete dinners for $50 per person (lunches $40), including tax, tip and a mai tai. Average main $18. Open daily 5 pm till close; Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, three steps to washroom. Rating: NNNN
1276 Queen E, at Alton, 647-748-3004, thehummingbird.ca, @hummingbirdTO Conveniently located directly across the street from the Leslieville Beer Store, Otis Creary's island-inspired bistro cum take-away breathes new life into tradition-bound Caribbean cuisine. Best: to start, saltfish and ackee bruschetta on house-baked bammy flatbread; aggressively spiced jerk chicken over local greens with sliced avocado, baby grape tomatoes and caramelized plantain croutons in thyme-scented balsamic vinaigrette; delicate dal puri rotis stuffed with callaloo, chickpeas and pumpkin squash; Friday and Saturday nights, jerk pork kebabs with sweet peppers and pineapple sided with grilled corn, roasted sweet potatoes or cornbread; at weekday lunch, $6 specials like jerk or Jamaican fried chicken with coleslaw and rice 'n' peas; for dessert, blueberry Sno-Cones. Complete dinners for $25 (lunches $15), including tax, tip and a beer. Open Monday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 9 pm; Thursday and Friday 11:30 am to 10 pm. Closed Sunday. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
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: from the buffet, 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 curried cauliflower 'n' spuds; super-moist tandoori chicken legs and thighs while they last; to finish, rice pudding, mango ice cream and fresh fruit; to drink, lime sodas. 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 noon to 3:30 pm; $13 dinner buffet 4 to 10:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
842 College, at Ossington, 416-901-7717, districtoven.com, @DistrictOvenTO The crew behind long-running Middle Eastern bistro 93 Harbord transform a ginormous Portuguese sports bar into a sexy chandelier-lit resto-lounge worthy of the slick King West strip. Best: from the large gas-burning oven that gives the resto its name, warm complimentary pits the size of soccer balls with za'atar-spiked olive oil; cracker-thin Lebanese pizza topped with fresh figs, halloumi cheese and mint leaves; juicy beef 'n' lamb kefta burgers garnished with arugula, fig jam and molten Brie, a basket of crisp Yukon Gold frites dusted with paprika and oregano on the side; duck legs à la tagine with apples 'n' apricots; baked cauliflower in sumac-scented chili oil over a creamy risotto of Israeli couscous; to finish, poached pears with sour-cherry reduction. Complete dinners for $55 per person, including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $20. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm; dinner daily 5 pm to close; late-night menu till midnight Thursday to Saturday; bar open till close. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
Head to Patria for Spanish octopus, potato and paprika drenched in olive oil.
480 King W, at Brant, 416-367-0505, patriatoronto.com, @PatriaTO Club kings Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji follow up their hip 'n' happening Weslodge with Patria, their tastiest collab yet. Executive chef Stuart Cameron's open kitchen sends out unusually authentic Spanish tapas while the cavernous room's cathedral ceiling guarantees the buzz only gets louder as the night progresses. Come back Sunday for one of the most non-brunchy brunches around. Best: to share, tissue-thin slices of 24-month-old Serrano ham; wedges of Valdeon blue cheese with quince jelly and grilled sour dough; creamy Manchego croquettes; blistered padrón peppers; Manchego-stuffed dates and guindilla peppers wrapped in fatty Iberico bacon; blood-red Iberico pork flank over piquillo pepper jam; deep-fried churros with caramel sauce; soft coffee ice cream sandwiches with olive marmalade; at brunch, sponge-cake muffins with olive-oil pudding; potato frittata with romesco sauce; braised cannellini beans 'n' chorizo; octopus terrine on flatbread splashed with aioli; wood-fired Spanish pizzas dressed with white anchovies, piquillo peppers and Manchego. Complete dinners for $60 per person (brunches $30), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average tapas $9. Open for brunch Sunday 10:30 am to 2:30 pm; dinner daily 5:30 to close. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Menu items and prices may have changed. Call restaurant for details.
With files from Steven Davey