The Classics

These well-loved restos, all open for more than 30 years, are iconic institutions for a reason – they’ve maintained a high level of culinary execution and service


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  • 1

    David Laurence

    The Senator

    249 Victoria, Toronto, Ontario

    You can’t have a classics list without the oldest restaurant in the city. The Senator’s super-cool fixtures date back to 1948, but there’s been a restaurant on this spot since 1860. The menu is the epitome of classic diner grub, and some of the breakfast dishes (the fluffy pancakes, fry-ups and omelettes) date back to 48. The prices have increased since then, but what other diner emphasizes organic ingredients from local suppliers like Cumbrae’s, Sheldon Creek Dairy and Dark City Coffee?

    Monday 7:30 am to 2:30 pm, Tuesday to Friday 7:30 am to 9 pm. Saturday brunch 8 am to 2:30 pm, dinner 4:30 pm to 9 pm Sunday brunch 8 am to 2:30 pm. @thesenatorto. 

  • 2

    Barberian’s

    7 Elm, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1H1

    If you’re after the full-on retro Mad Men dining experience, look no further. Opened in 1959, this family-owned restaurant offers a classic steak house menu, with steaks sold by the cut, appetizers like French onion soup and escargots, and baked Alaska for dessert. The cellar holds over 30,000 bottles, so Barbarian’s definitely has the right wine to go with dinner. Can’t afford to splurge? Check out the spinoff sandwich shop down the street at 15 Elm.

    Lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm dinner Monday to Friday 5 pm to midnight, Saturday and Sunday 4:30 pm to midnight. @barberiansto. 

  • 3

    Scaramouche

    1 Benvenuto, Toronto, Ontario M4V 2L1

    There’s really only one word for Scaramouche: stellar. The view of the city from atop the Iroquois shoreline, the food, the service, that famous coconut cream pie – Keith Froggett’s Scaramouche has been a destination for over 30 years and was the training ground for such Toronto greats as Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander. Filet mignon and white asparagus are joined by Oceanwise-certified fish on a menu both contemporary and rooted in tradition.

    Monday to Saturday from 5:30 pm.

  • 4

    Swatow

    309 Spadina, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2E6

    One of many bare-bones Chinese restaurants on Spadina (fluorescent lights, plastic tablecloths), Swatow -remains popular decade after decade because of late hours, huge portions and cheap prices. Noodles are a speciality, as are most beef dishes and General Tso’s Chicken. Fans dig the shrimp dumpling soup. Knowing Cantonese opens up a raft of dishes not on the regular menu.

    Daily 11 am to 2 am.

  • 5

    Joso’s

    202 Davenport, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1J2

    Now three generations strong, Joso’s has been a fixture in Yorkville since the late 60s. On a menu strongly anchored in the flavours of the Mediterranean, the focus is on such beautiful fresh fish as squid, clams, mussels and shrimp, plus dishes from southern Italy. Preparation is simple (often just oil and lemon), letting the flavours of the fish take centre stage. Look for celebrities from Mick Jagger to Drake.

    Lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm dinner Monday to Saturday from 5:30 pm.

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