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Five must-visit culinary neighbourhoods in Toronto

If you’ve never checked out these under the-radar destinations, it’s time to plan the most epic food crawl ever

If there’s one thing Torontonians are passionate about, it’s our diverse food scene. Hungry food lovers living in or visiting Toronto can travel the world by making their way through the city’s many restaurants and bars. But don’t stop at Little India, Chinatown or Little Italy. Here are five culinary neighbourhoods that deserve a little bit more love.


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Breakfast in Brazil

Start your day with tantalizing baked goods and coffee at Brazil Bakery and Pastry Limited, located at 1566 Dundas Street West, in the heart of Little Brazil. Brazilian cuisine draws from various cultures mirroring the diversity of the nation’s population, but the most prominent influence is Portuguese. Though the bakery has a few savoury treats, the sweet bites are really where it’s at. The pastel de natas, a Portuguese egg custard tart, at Brazil Bakery and Pastry have just the right level of sweetness with a beautifully flaky and crunchy crust. And if you can catch a fresh batch of their malasadas dois, large, spongy and lemony sugar-covered Portuguese doughnuts, you’re in for a treat. 


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Momos in Tibet

A magical strip in Toronto’s Parkdale community, Little Tibet is home to one of the largest Tibetan communities in North America and a high concentration of restaurants serving up classics like momo dumplings, amongst other fan favourites. The cuisine is deeply inspired by the Tibetan landscape and influenced by its neighbours in Nepal and India. 

With one of its three locations right in Little Tibet, a community favourite for the classic momo and its varieties is The Momo House. Generally filled with some type of meat, vegetables, or both, momos are traditionally steamed but can also be deep-fried or pan-fried and served up either in or alongside a dip, sauce or broth. Make sure to try the butter chicken momo if you can. If you’re curious to explore other types of Tibetan dishes, head to Tibet Kitchen, where friendly staff are more than happy to share the stories and history behind dishes. Note: the chili fries are a must-try.


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Injeras in Ethiopia

Despite the city’s reluctance to designate a strip of Danforth East as Little Ethiopia, there’s a thriving Ethiopian community around the Danforth and Monarch Park—and now it’s expanding to make its mark on a bit of Bloor West. Amongst the handful of popular bars and restaurants serving up Ethiopian classics is Lalibela, a community favourite for injera sharing platters. The beloved injera is a flatbread made of fermented teff, a nutty grain that also happens to be gluten-free. This generous spongy crepe-style bread is served up with your choice of vegetarian-only or meat and vegetable stews – like the very popular Goden Tib and is meant to be both utensil and side. 


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Rice bowls in Korea

Located along Bloor Street West between Christie and Bathurst, Koreatown is known for all of its Korean businesses and restaurants. The one constant at every Korean restaurant on the block is the numerous tasty banchan (side dishes) that come with any visit or order. Korean cuisine itself is packed with mouth watering flavours and spices, including but not limited to fermented bean pastes and pepper pastes (all hail gochujang). The unsung hero of K-town truly is Doo Roo Ae, a small family-owned establishment that serves up hit after hit. Aside from the popularly known Korean dishes, everyone needs to try their deopbap dishes, rice bowls that are topped with a spicy stir fry. The chicken and squid versions are standouts. Or, if you’re feeling like a stew and want to try something new, try their haemul jeongol, a spicy seafood hotpot.


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Pierogies and schnitzels in Poland

Roncesvalles is home to a large and incredibly welcoming Polish community. Rich in meat, a wide range of vegetables and spices, mushrooms and herbs, Polish cuisine is hearty and feels like Christmas in July. Located right in the heart of Roncesvalles Village, sometimes called Little Polska, Café Polonez is a family-run establishment serving the Polish community and lovers of Polish food, for about 40 years. Any local will tell you, a Café Polonez newbie’s best bet is one of their combination platters featuring cabbage rolls, pierogies, schnitzels the size of your face, chilled soups and many different salads.

as part of the Great Taste of Ontario Special Report