Having arrived in the past five years as one of North America’s top culinary destinations, Toronto surprises with inspired takes on nearly every cuisine. Luckily for the smart traveler, the best bites in the city are most often the best deals (especially when 1 Canadian Dollar equals 0.78 US Dollar). Here, five of our favorite stops on the way throughout your next Toronto foodie tour.
Junked Food Co.
This hybrid, and beautifully-themed gourmet junk food extravaganza is every late-night munchie fantasy come true. Playful fusions of popular junk food merge to create Instagram-ready creations including edible cookie dough served à la scoops of ice cream ($4.95 CAD or about $4 USD), waffle sandwiches filled with fried chicken or pulled pork ($8.95 CAD or $7 USD), or the most decadent mac and cheese burrito ($4.95 CAD). When at Junked Food, you go big and then you go home.
Upgrading from the confines of a vending cart that originated in 1997 to a full restaurant of her own, Irene Morales’ Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington Market is your one-stop shop for the best empanadas in Toronto. Keeping the menu simple, they have only four empanada options: chicken, beef, vegetable, and cheese. The mini-empanadas that are bite-sized run at a bargain for $1.50 CAD (just a little over $1 USD), while the traditional-sized stuffed pockets are $4.50 CAD (or just under $4 USD). Flavors abound in the chicken empanada, brimming with well-seasoned thigh meat, red pepper, black olives, and a hard-boiled egg inside.
Bahn Mi Boys
A start-up Vietnamese sandwich joint that has become a local sensation, Bahn Mi Boys now has four restaurants in and around Toronto. It’s no wonder the city has gone crazy over these sandwiches bursting with flavor, especially after sampling their signature five spice pork belly bahn mi ($6.50 CAD or about $5 USD). Texture is everything with their softer-than-a-pillow steamed boa sandwiches, where playable rice patties pocket delicious bites of braised beef, pulled pork, and fried chicken (hovering around $3.50 CAD or $2.75 USD). Opt for the fried chicken bao first and a side of renowned kimchi fries ($6.50 CAD or about $5 USD -- expensive but worth it) for a nice complement.
Korean fried chicken gone wild: Kaboom Chicken taps into the latest fried chicken craze, showing Canadians the proper way to fry a bird. Chicken comes piping hot out of the kitchen, fried to perfection, with the ideal ration of crisp and crunch. Smothered in their signature “Korean crack” sweet chili sauce, the chicken is dressed up in numerous dishes, whether it's on a Kaiser roll ($10 CAD or about $8 USD) or on a donut-like waffle ($12 CAD or about $10 USD).
Tortería San Cosme
Set in the heart of the Kensington Market district, Tortería San Cosme ranks among the best sandwiches we’ve eaten all year, and well worth the hype and the wait. This well-themed Mexican eatery is devoted only to torterías (bread-based sandwiches), with menu staples that include the Cubano (ham, pork, and bacon base - $9.95 CAD or about $8 USD), the Poblano (roasted chicken and mole - $9.95 CAD), and the Adobada (steak - $9.95 CAD).