1 KAISEKI-SAKURA (556 Church, at Wellesley, 416-923-1010)
Toronto must have more sushi restaurants per capita than any other city in the world. Understandably, we've graduated beyond mediocre maki and tired teriyaki. Taking the next step, owner/chef Daisuke Izutsu 's offbeat bistro located in a nabe not known for food offers an upscale seasonal tasting menu. Derived from dishes served at a Buddhist tea ceremony, they're as remarkable to the eye as they are revelatory to the tongue. Warning: since each exquisite plate demands awestruck scrutiny, pack a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers for maximum appreciation.
2 SADO SUSHI (1116 Eglinton West, at Old Park, 416-783-8111)
It may look like yet another Sushi on Bloor rip, but this swanky Montreal-based supper club pushes sad ol' sushi into previously uncharted territory. Ignore the large lineup of pricey set combos and focus on owner/chef Sonny Nguyen 's avant-garde card of jaw-droppingly gorgeous specialties. After one bite of his astounding lobster roll with radicchio, you'll never settle for California rolls again.
3 TORITO (276 Augusta, at College, 647-436-5874)
Hip or hype? Though many have jumped on the small plates = big bucks bandwagon, this welcoming Kensington Market cantina gets the tapas concept correct. An inspired kitchen, appropriate Spanish wines by the glass and convivial service make this no-reservations room the next best thing to a weekend in Barthelona.
4 COCA (783 Queen West, at Manning, 416-703-0783)
Cousin to scenester Czehoski and open mere weeks, this relaxed room is already the hottest meal ticket around. Want proof? Susur Lee brushes past as we leave. Yes, the card might be tapas - house-cured charcuterie, flatbread pizzas layered with duck confit and roasted pear - but it's executed with considerable skill, the perfect accompaniment to a leisurely evening of wine and conversation.
5 WEEZIE'S (354 King East, at Power, 416-777-9339)
Who doesn't want to quit the rat race, go back to school to learn how to cook and open a cozy neighbourhood restaurant? Against all odds, Constance Guitard has succeeded with this adult-friendly east-side eatery. No DJs or tapas, just exceptionally competent continental cuisine delivered at budget-minded price points.
6 LE CAFÉ MICHI (1802 Pharmacy, at Sheppard E, 416-490-9688)
Every foodie dreams of making a culinary find in the middle of nowhere. This innocuous Japanese joint in a nondescript Scarborough plaza fits the bill, especially since the omakase chef is often co-owner Matsuhiro Kaji of the unparalleled Kaji Sushi on the Queensway. Closer to downtown, Sushi Marché 's (1105 Queen East, at Brooklyn, 416-463-0114) John Lee , who learned the ways of the knife under TV Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, offers first-rate sashimi and maki garnished with shiso leaf to go.
7 JAMIE KENNEDY AT THE GARDINER (111 Queen's Park, at Bloor, 416-362-1957)
Toronto's most eco-friendly executive chef returns triumphant to Yorkville. Conveniently located directly across the street from his old ROM stomping ground, this unnecessarily noisy room deserves the buzz, especially when everyone's raving about Kennedy's fabulous frites.
8 HIBISCUS (238 Augusta, at Nassau, 416-364-6183)
Live's Jennifer Italiano and Fressen's Stephen Gardiner are the cutting edge of Toronto's vegetarian scene, and this tiny Kensington take-away's Joseph Tam is their equal. A self-taught cook, he makes eating healthy both inexpensive and delicious. His $6 soup 'n' salad combo is the tastiest meal deal in the Market.
9 REBOZOS (126 Rogers, at Boon, 416-658-5001)
This out-of-the-way taqueria situated in owners Teresa Medina and Indalecio Marroquin 's living room delivers the most authentic Mexicana you can get this far north of the Rio Grande.
10 LESLIE JONES (1182 Queen East, at Rushbrooke, 416-463-5663)
It's worthwhile neighbourhood spots like this that have made Leslieville a desirable address. Straightforward, locally sourced and mostly organic grub, strong coffee and a room as comfy as an overstuffed sofa help, too. Other cool new neighbourhood spots include Poor John's Café (1610 Queen West, at Callender, 647-435-2688), Noon (1088 Bathurst, at Dupont, 647-436-0666) and Cool Hand 0f a Girl (2804 Dundas West, at Keele, 647-892-0271)
Who knew that the Black Metal Brunch served Sundays by chef Linda Dawson at punky Market dive Planet Kensington (1971/2 Baldwin, at Augusta, 416-341-0310) was one of the tastiest - if most deafening - in town? And how have we missed the splendid dim sum at Saigon Pearl (2A Kensington, at Dundas, 416-598-1573) all these years, in particular its addictive Chiu Chow dumplings?
Northern Chinese slash Brazilian buffet Unique Taste (414 Dundas West, at Beverley, now closed) managed to get the food of both lands spectacularly wrong. The name alone should have warned us we were in for a singular dining experience. No wonder it sank.
Most Intimidating Service
We all have bad days, but the chap who disdainfully greeted us at the door of swish Forest Hill boîte Sotto in the Village (425 Spadina Road, at Lonsdale, 416-322-8818) was clearly not enjoying his. Might we suggest he carry a flaming torch in future to warn the villagers of interlopers?
New east-side beanery F'Coffee (641 Queen East, at Hamilton) is also known as There's Always Time F'Coffee.