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Toronto Waterfront Serves Up Culinary Treats with a Festive Vibe

An outing to Toronto’s waterfront has always felt like spending a day at a carnival. There’s always something to catch your eye and many displays of whimsy to keep you amused. Like any magical experience, food is key to the enjoyment.

On the shores of Lake Ontario, delicious culinary gems await for you to discover and devour. There are simply too many tasty treats in The Six to mention in this article but here are six I think you should definitely try this fall as you venture to Toronto’s beautiful and energizing waterfront district.

Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken

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What will you find at Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken? Lots of this yummy fare. (Photo courtesy of Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken)

When chef Chen Chen made his way from Tennessee to Toronto he knew it was only a matter of time before the flavours of his home state would find a place on the waterfront.

“I’ve been in downtown Toronto for about four years now, so I’m pretty familiar with the area,” says the owner of Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken (390 Queens Quay West).

Chen says his most popular dish is the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich ($11.50). It is southern comfort food emblematic of his cuisine, with a crispy southern buttermilk fried chicken served on a toasted brioche bun from Cheese Boutique and accompanied by coleslaw, pickles and creamy aioli.

Another dish to try is the Dirty South ($12), Chen’s take on poutine. His creation features crispy skin on fries, covered in house-made cheese sauce, bacon bits, and aioli.

The Goodman Pub & Kitchen

The food is excellent at the Goodman Pub & Kitchen, but it’s the restaurant’s patio you will fall in love with — particularly during these stressful days of 2020.

With charter boats moored at the dock to the east, Goodman Pub (207 Queens Quay West) is an ideal spot to enjoy the splendour of the Toronto waterfront. Relax at sunset, watch the planes taking off and landing at nearby Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and contemplate the day that’s past and the ones ahead of you.

The burgers, made with Ontario chuck, are a good option. The Straight Up ($17) comes with lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing. The Goodman Special ($22) is served with breaded portobello mushroom, green leaf lettuce, Sriracha lime aioli, cheese, bacon, tomato, and shoestring pickles.

The Cook’s Plate of the Day offers savings on favourite menu options as well as creations served only once per week. Check the menu for details.

Kinka Izakaya Harbourfront

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Savour Kinka Izakaya’s elegant creations, such as salmon oshizushi, at its Harbourfront location. (Photo courtesy of Kinka Izakaya)

Popular for its daily specials and extensive drink menu, Kinka Izakaya Harbourfront (110 Harbour Street, Unit 108A ) allows visitors an opportunity to experience an authentic Japanese dining experience. Meals can be paired with a selection of beers, premium sake, and Japanese-inspired cocktails.

“We never want our customers to get bored,” says general manager Riku Okubo.

Kinka Izakaya provides tapas-style dishes like Kakimayo with oysters baked with spinach, mushroom, garlic mayo, and cheese ($9.30), and Korean-style karaage with deep-fried chicken and garlic mayo ($9.90). “We put a lot of effort into ensuring we continue to ‘wow’ our regulars with exciting daily specials, while also always offering our timeless menu staples for visitors who have never had the Izakaya experience,” Okubo says.

Kinka Izakaya, which has other locations in Toronto and Montreal, offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

Harbour 60 Toronto

Located in the circa 1917 Toronto Harbour Commission building, Harbour 60 Toronto thrives with classic upscale cuisine served in a building teeming with history.

One of the best fine-dining options on the waterfront, the restaurant at 60 Harbour Street serves dishes that are delightfully supersized to perfection within an elegant dining space. Known for fabulous steaks, Harbour 60 features a 14-ounce filet mignon ($105) and also serves bone-in rib steak ($114). Another option is the Beverly Creek Farms Lamb Chops with a honey mustard and ginger rub ($75).

Seafood options are equally decadent and exceptional. For a special occasion, try the Seafood Tower with Atlantic lobster, king crab legs, jumbo black tiger shrimp, oysters, and tuna ($165).

Against the Grain Urban Tavern

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The patio at Against the Grain provides a relaxing atmosphere along the shore of Lake Ontario. (Photo courtesy of Against the Grain Urban Tavern)

If you are searching for an unforgettable location on the water to enjoy a cold drink and a good meal, Against the Grain (25 Dockside Drive) won’t disappoint.

With executive chef Nick Valin serving up delicious burgers ($14-$17) and wild mushroom flatbreads ($16), Against the Grain is a lovely spot to hang out with friends during the day. With dinner items including smoked Ontario pork ribs ($21) and proscuitto-wrapped salmon ($24) it’s also a lovely spot to end the day.

The food is delicious and you definitely want to enjoy your meal on the patio with a tasty drink. If you’re a fan of Caesars, you will adore the selection of cocktails at Against the Grain. Try the classic ($8.50), pork rind ($9.50) or pickled ($9.50) versions.

Impact Kitchen

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There is a wide selection of healthy cookies at Impact Kitchen, including the Paleo Power with almond butter, cranberries, and hemp hearts. (Rod Charles photo for Vacay.ca)

I know the word healthy is often associated with tasteless but that isn’t the case at Impact Kitchen. You will find the restaurant’s menu has a healthy dose of flavour. Prepared with local and organic ingredients, Impact Kitchen (88 Queens Quay West) is a smart choice for those who want to fill up and feel guilt-free before heading for the activities on and near Lake Ontario.

“We have something for every different dietary preference: vegan, vegetarian, paleo diets,” says customer service representative Natalia Indart. “This is Impact Kitchen’s fourth location and it’s just great here on the waterfront. We have a large patio and you can see people biking and running – there’s a great mix of people here.”

For $12.95, weekend brunch items include avocado smash, farmer’s skillet, and paleo waffles. For $14.95, guests can enjoy nutrient-dense power bowls including the Hero, featuring kale, roasted sweet potatoes, and sliced almonds.

A Tasty Outing on the Waterfront 

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The Goodman Pub is situated on Queens Quay next to scenic cruise ships that tour Lake Ontario from the foot of Toronto. (Adrian Brijbassi file photo for Vacay.ca)

Whether you are with family, fuelling up for a workout, enjoying a romantic moment, chilling out over a burger, or splurging on a steak, the Toronto waterfront has something for everyone. With so many delightful food choices, a visit to the waterfront is sure to conjure up plans for a return trip to try new tastes and revisit the favourites that left you the most satisfied.

Note: Vacay.ca has partnered with the Toronto Waterfront Business Improvement Association to create content that showcases the area and its local businesses. Check our previous article on “How to Enjoy a Fun-filled Day on the Waterfront“.

A MAP SHOWING THE RESTAURANTS IN THE ARTICLE

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Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.