The veal and eggplant sandwich ($4.89) at Mustachio (91 Front East, lower level, 416-368-5241) is famous, according to an awning on the side of the St. Lawrence Market. And it should be. Folded into an Italian bun and topped with grilled peppers and onions, the tender veal cutlet is topped with several airy layers of deep-fried eggplant. Forget sides of incongruous leaf-lettuce salad in vinaigrette ordinaire and soggy spaghetti with pedestrian sauce. Even better, go for the multi-tiered eggplant on large triangles of focaccia ($4.25). Delish.
The downtown lunch posse can take Kubo DX's (234 Bay, 416-368-5826) $10 dim sum weekday buffet outside onto the terrace of the Wellington side of the TD Centre. Further west, Aunties & Uncles (200 Bathurst, 416-703-9378) has unveiled its backyard grotto, where high fences, wooden benches and a raised deck make for a secluded meat loaf al fresco. Nearby, Shanghai Cowgirl (538 Queen West, 416-203-6623) also does the secret patio thing out back under umbrellas.
Offbeat Parkdale taqueria El Paisano (1544 Queen West, 416-534-1218) gives in to local demand and now features Mexican brunch on the weekend. One of the only (if not the only) spots in town that makes its own tortillas on a hand press, El Paisano, with its bizarre room full of street signs, has doubled in size now that the backyard patio's open. Don't miss Huevos con Tortilla ($6.95), three scrambled eggs thick with ripped flatbread and sided with refried beans, salad, orange juice and coffee. Good deal.
zagat off track
Full of "random comments" from "local diners... quoted verbatim," the 2002/03 Toronto edition of the Zagat Survey ($14.95) is "laughably lame." Though it's been open two years this month, Susur (601 King West, 416-603-2205) -- certainly the most "critically lauded" eatery in town -- remains "unrated." And while Zagat gives Tempo (596 College, 416-531-2822 ) second-highest marks for its "chi-chi sushi," it's not included in any of the "Top Food" categories. Call me "appalled by ineptitude and irrelevance."