Dinner Saturday night, brunch Sunday morning.
797 College, at Shaw, 416-532-2222, barisabel.com, @barisabel797 Isabel? Bar Decibel, more like! Though ex-Black Hoof charcuterie king Grant van Gameren’s latest taverna looks like it stepped right out of the back streets of Barthelona, its acoustics recall the nearest bowling alley. A small price to pay for some of the most skilfully executed tapas around. Best: to start, devilled duck eggs dressed with shredded salt cod and morcilla blood sausage the mixed charcuterie platter – water-buffalo slinzega, pork jerky, hunter’s sausage and imported Iberico ham, say – with candied apple mostardo and warm sourdough sprinkled with sea salt southern-fried chicken over deep-fried eggplant drizzled in honey and chili flakes grilled hanger steak with blistered shishito peppers, grilled spring scallions in classic Romesco sauce on the side to finish, salted chocolate mousse splashed with buttery olive oil. Complete dinners for $55 per person, including, tax, tip and a glass of cava. Average tapa $11. Open for dinner Saturday 6 pm to 2 am. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
480 King W, at Brant, 416-367-0505, patriatoronto.com, @PatriaTO Club kings Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji follow up their hip ‘n’ happening Weslodge with Patria, their tastiest collab yet. Executive chef Stuart Cameron’s open kitchen sends out unusually authentic Spanish tapas while the cavernous room’s cathedral ceiling guarantees the buzz only gets louder as the night progresses. Come back Sunday for one of the most non-brunchy brunches around. Best: to share, tissue-thin slices of 24-month-old Serrano ham wedges of Valdeon blue cheese with quince jelly and grilled sour dough creamy Manchego croquettes blistered padrón peppers Manchego-stuffed dates and guindilla peppers wrapped in fatty Iberico bacon blood-red Iberico pork flank over piquillo pepper jam deep-fried churros with caramel sauce soft coffee ice cream sandwiches with olive marmalade at brunch, sponge-cake muffins with olive-oil pudding potato frittata with romesco sauce braised cannellini beans ‘n’ chorizo octopus terrine on flatbread splashed with aioli wood-fired Spanish pizzas dressed with white anchovies, piquillo peppers and Manchego. Complete dinners for $60 per person (brunches $30), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average tapas $9. Open for dinner Saturday 5:30 pm to close. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
550 Danforth, at Carlaw, 416-466-0400, pizzerialibretto.com, @PizzaLibretto Not only is the second outpost of downtown’s favourite pizza parlour twice as big as the original, but the Greektown annex takes reservations, something they’ve never done on Ossington. The pace is much more relaxed, too, with servers more interested in pleasing customers than in getting them in and out as quickly as possible. The most exciting thing to hit the Danforth since flaming cheese! Also: 221 Ossington, at Dundas W, 416-532-8000. Best: to start, carafes of house-carbonated water and baskets of chewy Thuet baguette dipped in fiery chili oil salads like organic greens in white balsamic vinaigrette tossed with halved fresh figs, bosc pear and raw blue cheese pastas like house-made ravioli stuffed with sweet Dungeness crab in dazzling sea urchin cream thin-crusted certified Neapolitan pies brushed with family-recipe San Marzano tomato sauce and dressed with crumbled Gorgonzola, roasted red pepper and see-through ribbons of speck (the Papa Luigi) smoky pork belly in sauce with bomba chili peppers and Ontario mozzarella di bufala to finish, goat cheese pannacotta with blood orange syrup and frozen grapes. Complete dinners for $40 per person (lunches $30), including tax, tip and a glass of vino. Average main $15. Open for dinner Saturday 5 pm to midnight. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement (Danforth) one step at door, washrooms in basement (Ossington). Rating: NNNNN
679 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-658-0652, churrasco.net At lesser churrasqueiras it’s almost impossible to tell how many days the scrawny fowl have been spinning on the spit. Not so at this much-loved Corso Italia chicken shack, where sheer volume and constant lineups guarantee the perfect bird. Best: whole spice-rubbed charcoal-grilled or rotisserie chickens doused with salty Portuguese piri-piri sauces that range from honeyed to hellfire on the side, roasted golden potato puffs, serviceable salads, crusty cornbread and eggy custard flan with three days’ notice, roasted suckling pig with three hours’, barbecued rabbit. Complete meals for $18 per person, including tax, tip and a soda. Average main $10. Open Sunday 10 am to 8 pm. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms. Rating: NNN
1471 Gerrard E, at Rhodes, 416-463-9777 Sister to Gautama down the block, this Subcontinental all-you-can-eat buffet is one of the tastiest in Little India. And the only one that doesn’t feature butter chicken. Likeable servers steer first-timers to the good stuff. Best: from the buffet, deep-fried veggie pakoras and samosas veggie szubji like saag paneer swirled with yogurt stir-fried cabbage with mustard seeds spicy eggplant with potatoes and green chilies paneer in sweet red tomato sauce à la butter chicken sweet ‘n’ sour Manchurian-style meatless kofta meatballs from the à la carte menu, fried lentil idly with fiery Sri Lankan-style sambar the tandoori platter with smoky paneer, cauliflower and tofu on a bed of raw cabbage and red onion. Complete dinners for $25 per person (lunches $20), including tax, tip and a lime soda. Average la carte $10. Open for $10.99 lunch buffet Sunday 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. Unlicensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
1120 College, at Dufferin, 647-352-7322 The Pomegranate and Sherzade’s Daniele Schrage and Ali Fashrashrafi bring Persian sophistication to one of the last ungentrified corners on the west side. An unusual menu, helpful service and massive portions lead to repeat visits. Forget dessert. The only thing you’ll need after dinner is a nap! Best: to start, Zeitoon Parvardeh, a vegetarian caviar-like spread thick with crushed walnuts, pomegranate paste and tangy green olives mains like Dizi Sangi, a humongous stew of lamb shank and chickpeas served two ways, first as strained broth then mashed on toasted barberry bread along with creamy yogurt, scallion and pickled eggplant Kolleh Pocheh, a curried soup strewn with sundry sheeps’ heads, hooves and tongues finished with pickled garlic, raw red onion and fresh lemon to drink, strong Turkish coffee. Complete lunches/brunches for $20 per person, including tax, tip and a steaming glass of chai. Open Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN