927 Queen W, at Strachan, 416-645-6707, inigofood.ca. Operating out of notorious bicycle thief Igor Kenk's former headquarters, ex-Torito chef Carlos Hernandez forgoes tapas for Portuguese-style churrasqueira roast chicken. No days-old rubbery rotisserie birds these! Instead, find plump free-range, naturally raised, grain-fed birds paired with gourmet low-sodium sides.
Best: remarkably moist whole, halved or quartered chickens ready to take home or eat in; seriously tender beef cheeks and seasonal root veggie stew; mains like dense venison meat loaf finished with apples and currants; sweet Moroccan lamb shank with chickpeas and dried apricots; vegan ratatouille with grilled Japanese eggplant, roasted tomato and zucchini over buttery brown basmati rice; sides of eggy Spanish tortillas; lightly dressed salads of squash with Puy lentils; al dente green beans and mini-potatoes à la niçoise.
Complete dinners for $15 per person (lunches $10), including tax and tip. Average main $7. Open Tuesday to Sunday noon to 7:30 pm. Closed Monday, some holidays. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
601 King W, at Portland, 416-504-7867, susur.com. The most important kitchen talent to emerge from Toronto in the last 25 years, Susur Lee shifts gears with his most accessible card yet. And though many of the dishes (his signature Singapore slaw, caramelized black cod) that made the top chef's international rep are still on board, the new focus is not only some of his best work to date but also the most wallet-friendly.
Best: crisp potato chips (!) tossed with garlic and parsley, paired with whipped chickpea hummus (!!) dressed with pickled red onion relish; deep-fried Hunan-style chicken wings; spicy Malaysian satay of grilled shrimp and pineapple; Peking scallion pancakes with persimmon foie gras jam, roast duck confit and bean-curd-skin crackling; upside-down pineapple raspberry pannacotta.
Complete tapas meals for $75 per person, including tax, tip and a sake. Average tapas $15. Open for dinner Monday to Saturday 5:30 to 11:30 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNNN
686 Queen E, at Broadview, 416-461-9663, lerossignolbistro.com. No longer Pop Bistro, this cozy 22-seat Riverside resto oozes Gallic sophistication, right down to the black-and-white photos of Parisian street scenes on the wall and Edith Piaf on the hi-fi. A moderately priced mainstream card of comfort food classics - escargots, anyone? - keeps the local bourgeouisie amused. Charming Old World service.
Best: starters like crostini of sautéed elephant mushrooms in brandied butter dressed with radish sprouts or rillette-style duck pâté on baguette; mains like wild boar chops in roasted garlic over saffron risotto; duck confit and smoky Toulouse sausages over navy bean cassoulet laced with lardons; to finish, apple ‘n' raisin bread pudding drizzled with caramel sauce and rose petals.
Complete dinners for $55 per person, including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $20. Open for dinner Sunday to Wednesday 5 to 10 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5 to 11 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, tight tables, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN