Over 75 Toronto restaurants are part of a new Canada-wide initiative called LocalLicious, in a push to motivate people to support local.
Restaurants like Avelo, Enoteca Sociale, Fresh, Insomnia, the Drake Hotel, Pukka and Queen Mother Cafe are part of the 10-day event kicking off on February 25. They’re raising money for local charities with every order.
Toronto restaurant owners are tapping into their resourcefulness now more than ever.
Ghost kitchens keep popping up (virtually) in direct response to the limits the pandemic restrictions place on brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Read on to discover what exciting new spots opened, as well as local favourites will be sorely missed. Here’s what opened and closed between February 16-23.
Toronto restaurants that closed
One of Toronto’s oldest Mexican restaurants, Fernando’s first location on Wellington opened in 1979. Through multiple iterations and name changes, the spot known for Tex-Mex and nachos made its way to the Danforth. New signage for an Italian restaurant called Trattoria di Parma is up on the facade at 785 Danforth.
New Toronto restaurants
This east-end fried chicken spot at 263 Coxwell has been a long time coming. The team behind Birdie’s first started serving their buttermilk fried chicken from their food truck, Fully Loaded TO, in 2015. From festivals to private events, they roamed the streets and have now finally rooted. They have a reduced menu as they work out the new business, including Nashville Hot fried chicken and OG fried chicken sandos, fried chicken banh mi, crispy french fries and their house-made “truck” sauce.
A new delivery-only concept from Miami-based chef Michael Lewis, Chikin launches February 26. Expect fried chicken, in a range of sandwiches, including a cauliflower “fried chicken” option. It’s available to order on all the regular apps, UberEats, Skip the Dishes and Door Dash. They’re boasting all-day delivery (9 am to 3 am) every day.
Chungchun Rice Dogs
This Korean street food restaurant is opening a fourth Toronto location in March in Scarborough. Their hot dogs are coated in rice flour, deep fried and topped with anything from ramen noodles to chocolate and sometimes stuffed with cheese.
Frankie’s Nashville Hot Chicken
Not one to miss out on the trend, chain restaurant Lone Star Texas Grill launched Frankie’s. It’s a concept inside of their restaurants devoted to all things fried chicken, strips and sandos and dips, and available for delivery and pick up. The nearest location to Toronto is in Etobicoke.
The worldwide ambassador of Hong Kong-style fruit desserts is opening a location in Scarborough. The new spot follows their first North American location in Markham, which opened in September.
This all-day breakfast concept is another delivery-only ghost kitchen from Michael Lewis. Like Chikin, they’re open 9 am-3 am to cater to late-night or early-morning cravings. The menu is all about eggs, with a sausage and cheese sandwich with fried egg, a soft scrambled egg sandwich with brie and avocado and waffle fries.
La Pecora’s pop-up at Twist Gallery on Queen West started earlier this month and every Saturday you can snag some handmade ravioli, spaghetti, bucatini and more.
Man V Fries
For owner William Bonhorst, fries are not an after-thought but should be front and centre. Man vs Fries opened nine locations in Canada (four in Toronto) on February 23. Fries topped with carne asada, guac, caramelized onions and more await. Curly or straight fries is the ultimate question.
West Side Beef
Love the experience of going into the butcher shop but trying to stay home and do your part to keep COVID at bay? West Side Beef is a virtual butcher that does deliveries on Friday. They work with local Ontario farms to get the freshest cuts.
House Scoops makes the gelato of your dreams. Seriously, they’ll make any flavour you can imagine. Launched by ex-Buca sous chef Mathew Cribari in December, House Scoops is made in small batches and doing custom orders.
Le Sélect Bistro was bought out by Allied Properties. An outpouring of love for the celebrated French restaurant followed after the owners announced on Instagram. Read our updated story about the restaurant’s uncertain future here.
Shook reopened in December after a kitchen fire shut them down in September 2019. They’re now launching a hummus club in March. You can subscribe and get different house-made hummuses delivered to your home each week of March.
Finally, Street Eats is expanding to Scarborough in April. Their first permanent market location is in Richmond Hill.