TasteToronto | Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

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Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

I don't need to be the one to tell you that 2020 was quite a year. Unfortunately, we all know that our beloved restaurants, bars and cafes suffered the brunt of it. With one too many closures to mention them all, we saw several Toronto institutions shutter their doors this year -- unable to keep up rent payments or negotiate with impossible landlords. Nothing is the same and this year, we have witnessed a major transformation in the Toronto food scene and the industry in general. From meal kits to pop-ups and the constant mantra delivered to owners to "pivot" and "adapt," -- this turbulent year has not been an easy one to navigate.

With a demand for comfort food and meals that are designed for takeaway, we have seen the success of several restaurants and shops that opened this year (believe it or not). So, as this end nears, we want to salute those who have managed to stay afloat, bow our heads for those who have lost their storefronts and commend those brave enough to open a new venture in the hardest 12 months the hospitality industry has ever faced.

Below is not an exhaustive list but we have compiled some of our favourite restaurants to open in 2020; whether it was prior to the March apocalyptic mayhem or in the midst of our "new normal," these new openings have all lent a slight glimmer of hope, that one day (hopefully not too far off), our industry will rebound.

1665 Dundas St W

Saint Island Pies

Saint Island Pies

This popular pop-up took over Wallflower's Dundas West restaurant permanently this past November and is doling out Detroit-style pies with a Filipino twist. Saint's owners, Chuck Ortiz and Sean Santos, are bringing creative pies to the neighbourhood and are another example of just how many pop-ups turned storefronts we have seen this year.

847 Brown's Line

Kettleman's Bagel Co.

Kettleman's Bagel Co.

Kettleman's Bagel Co. is an Ottawa-based chain that specializes in traditional Montreal bagels. Ever since their first store back in 1993, founder and Montreal native Craig Buckley has been committed to making the best bagels you can find, all while doing it the old-fashioned way. After 27 years of serving the Ottawa community, Craig has finally opened up his first Toronto location in Etobicoke. Everything is made fresh on-site, including their baked treats and proteins. The only things they don't make are the smoked salmon and Montreal smoked meat obtained directly from Montreal.

1071 Shaw St

Maison T

Maison T

Helmed by well-known Toronto chef Masayuki Tamaru and his wife, Carolina Avaria, comes Maison T, a cozy French bistro serving refined plates in the Annex. After years of experience and over a dozen restaurants under his belt, Tamaru is ready to open his own venture. Tamaru gets immense pleasure from giving other people memorable experiences from enjoying his dishes. You will find classic French bistro favourites like duck confit, endive salad, and braised short rib made using classic French cooking techniques on the menu. Maison T showcases chef Tamaru's years of professional experience and culinary finesse.

88 Dundas St E

Egg Club

Egg Club

Fluffy, rich eggs served sandwiched between Japanese milk bread is all I need to know when considering what spots deserve a notable mention for new 2020 restaurants. Located in Yonge-Dundas square, this tiny takeaway spot is a welcome addition to Toronto's roster of breakfast sandwiches. After two years of putting the name, concept and menu together, owners Jason, Tim and Jun have brought their business to life. To them, Egg Club isn’t viewed as a business but rather a start-up with the goal of bettering their customers’ daily life.

5 St Joseph St

Salvo

Salvo

Simple, high-quality and affordable Italian food is not always easy to come by in the city, so we are thankful for Salvo's arrival. Find plenty of pasta, pizzas and salads at this spot near Yonge and Wellesley.

33 Powerhouse St

Century Park Tavern

Century Park Tavern

Century Park Tavern, a haven for comfort food classics, officially opened October 16 in Davenport Village by business partners Jim Shelton and Paul Marshall, of fried chicken joint Love Chix. Century Park Tavern is winning over the neighbourhood with its creative menu and instant hits.

176 Bellwoods Ave

Lambo's Deli & Grocery

Lambo's Deli & Grocery

Deli sandwiches were undoubtedly a trend for the year, brimming with thinly shaved meats and stuffed into freshly baked loaves -- there is no better meal suited for on-the-go dining. With ridiculous wait times, a trendy convenient store turned takeaway shop and all in close proximity to Trinity Bellwoods Park, it is no wonder Lambo's was an instant hit.

1400 O'Connor Dr Unit 4 & 5

Slayer Burger

Slayer Burger

With an influx of burger joints making their way onto the scene this year (nothing screams comfort like meat and cheese) comes Slayer Burger. Slinging out indulgent and over-the-top creations, the demand for comfort is apparent in this opening.

10 Temperance St Fl 1

Planta Cocina

Planta Cocina

The pandemic had us all reevaluating what fare was best suited for takeout and patio dining and that was no exception for the Chase Hospitality Group. After retrofitting the old space that once housed The Chase Fish & Oyster (the lower-level, casual sister restaurant to The Chase) to a New Mexican vegan joint -- an extension of the Planta family -- the new spot welcomed a fresh start. Find plant-based tacos, tequila heavy cocktails and plenty of guacamole (as they like to quip).

1595 Bayview Ave

Bom-Bay Snack Bar

Bom-Bay Snack Bar

From celebrity chef and restaurateur Hemant Bhagwani comes another 2020 opening. Bom-Bay Snack Bar is introducing Torontonians to authentic, Bombay street food. This Irani-Indian snack bar is rooted in a long history dating back to the 19th century. Irani cafés were brought to Mumbai by Zoroastrian Irani immigrants escaping religious persecution. These cafés weren't only a place to enjoy food, but rather, they functioned as a social meeting place to connect with other Zoroastrian Irani refugees. Relish in an unfamiliar facet of Indian cuisine and find the likes of Parsi Akuri, a spiced scrambled egg, Bombay sandwiches, chaat, vada pau, and keema on the menu.

214 Augusta Ave

Birria Catrina

Birria Catrina

This tiny stall in Kensington Market specializes in birria, a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. This meat stew is traditionally made from goat meat but beef and mutton are also used. With limited options for birria in the city, it is nice to see a spot solely dedicated to it. Tacos filled with birria are ideal for dipping in a hearty bowl of birria consomé and must orders are the Gringa and Pizzadilla, crispy griddled tortillas filled with birria and cheese.

116 Atlantic Ave

Burger Drops

Burger Drops

Founded by chef Greg Bourolias, comes this insanely popular word-of-mouth pop-up that finally opened a brick-and-mortar location back in August. The Liberty Village locale has become another destination to get a coveted smash burger and the team remains serious when it comes to the composition of a perfect burger.

567 King St W

Tut's Egyptian Street Food

Tut's Egyptian Street Food

A unique offering to the sometimes saturated Toronto food scene comes this minimal and bright spot for Egyptian street food. Specializing in sandwiches filled with falafel, fried cauliflower, grilled chicken, beef sausage, kofta and pan-fried liver -- all baked on a house-made fluffy bun. An immediate hit that has resonated with Toronto patrons Tut's is the ideal to-go offering.

132 John St

Marked

Marked

Another sprawling addition to the buzzy Entertainment District comes this 10,000 square-foot South American restaurant and cocktail bar -- brought to you by the team behind Coffee Oysters Champagne. Even though the restaurant is definitely noteworthy because of its ambience and decor, the food is well-executed and adds to the landscape of South American fare in Toronto.

229 Carlton St

DOVA Restaurant

DOVA Restaurant

From chef Roberto Marotta (of popular Corktown establishment ARDO) comes an elegant and modern intersection of Sicilian and Mediterranean cuisines that highlights fresh, ethically-sourced and ingredient-forward dishes. Located in Cabbagetown, DOVA is a sophisticated neighbourhood spot equipped with a wine cellar, a beautiful indoor dining space and a lush back patio, tucked away in a hidden oasis.

210 Ossington Ave

Manita

Manita

From the team behind Grand Electric comes this Ossington strip cafe, restaurant, bar and bodega. On their chalkboard menu, find small plates from falafel, oxtail pappardelle, sandwiches, breakfast and a divine carrot cake.

131 Bloor St W 2nd Floor

Amal Toronto

Amal Toronto

We may not have been able to relish in the grandiose and elegant dining room of this new Midtown restaurant, but at least we can enjoy takeout from this spot specializing in Lebanese cuisine. From Beirut-born Executive Chef Rony Ghaleb and owned by Toronto nightclub giant and Lebanese Canadian Charles Khabouth, the venture merges both style and taste.

371 Old Kingston Rd

Mark's Pizzas

Mark's Pizzas

Pizza and burgers seem to be all we want to eat this year and with plenty of new pizza joints opening in 2020, Mark's Pizza was definitely a diamond in the rough. This operation located in a tiny storefront in Scarborough is named after head pizza maker, Mark Alousis. After a slew of pop-ups and frequenting the festival circuit, Alousis finally opened this past spring -- with astounding demand from patrons wanting to try Mark's pies.

294 Dundas St W

Tala

Tala

Another addition to Filipino restaurants in the city, this Downtown joint specializes in Kamayan feasts, a communal-style spread of various grilled meats and seafood, traditionally served on a banana leaf and typically eaten without utensils.

536 Queen St W

Pizzeria Du

Pizzeria Du

From the team behind Avelo Restaurant, this completely vegan pizza joint, which took over the space of Away Kitchen, was erected back in the spring. The venture is in honour of chef Dualco and replaced the grand opening of Vitalia, a plant-based Italian restaurant that the rest of the team didn't want to pursue without Dualco. Another welcome addition to the influx of high-end vegan dining options in the city.

597 College St

Pompette

Pompette

This refined and modern French restaurant and cocktail bar opened this summer in Little Italy with seasonal, no-fuss dishes rooted in French techniques. Find their "COVID Offer" on their website, which features a "Pomette At Home" offering, consisting of a 4-course meal.

Back lane entrance

Gianna's Patties and Pies

Gianna's Patties and Pies

Helmed by Toronto restaurateur and chef Grant van Gameren, Gianna's Patties and Pies opened back in the summer after van Gameren closed Tennessee Tavern following the realization that people were looking for comfort food in the time of a pandemic. The Parkdale spot is slinging Detroit-style pies and stacked patties, with an Italian-American flair.

296 Brunswick Ave

Aunty Lucy's Burgers

Aunty Lucy's Burgers

A welcome addition to black-owned businesses in the city, this popular burger joint operating out of the Annex Hotel comes from the 29-year-old entrepreneur Chieff Bosompra in collaboration with Adrian Forte of Dirty Bird Chicken and Waffles. Smash burgers are at the heart of the menu at Aunty Lucy's, offered up in single- or double-patty style and dressed with melted American cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and Lucy's special sauce.

308 Dundas St W

Dzo Viet Eatery

Dzo Viet Eatery

This shop for eclectic and creative Vietnamese dishes opened this summer in Baldwin Village, with the intent to introduce patrons to Vietnamese fare that goes beyond pho. Find tacos with Vietnamese flavours, poutine, hearty noodle soups and robust meat dishes.

823 Dundas St W

The Heartbreak Chef

The Heartbreak Chef

Beloved chef Jerome Robinson, more widely known as The Heartbreak Chef, opened up his first brick-and-mortar location back in March. The extremely popular caterer and important figure in Toronto's food scene is slinging his fried chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese and other comfort food favourites from his Dundas West shop.

76 Lippincott St

Happy Burger

Happy Burger

Popular pop-up turned brick-and-mortar location for Toronto's latest craze -- smash burgers. This takeout-only spot in Little Italy is from chef Chris Kalisperas who previously cooked at both Mamakas Taverna and Bar Koukla.

501 King St E

Gusto 501

Gusto 501

Another venture by the Gusto 54 Restaurant Group and the successor of popular King West Italian hotspot Gusto 101, comes this neighbourhood spot for Italian fare in Corktown. Find classic Gusto dishes like the Mafalde ai Funghi, as well as new additions like the Risotto Verde.

452 Kingston Rd

Boukan

Boukan

An outpost for delicious French-Creole street food, native to Haiti, made its way onto the Toronto food scene back in March. Helmed by chef Marc-elie Lissade, Boukan is a representation of the passionate crusade Lissade took to introduce the community to his food. Located in the Upper Beaches, Boukan also showcases a curated collection of pieces by local artists.

1279 Bloor Street West

Conzo's

Conzo's

A highly anticipated opening, the team behind beloved Italian-American spot Sugo opened Conzo's back in February. Dishing out wood-fired pizza, with no one particular influence to reference -- a hybrid of New York-, LA- and Detroit-style pizzas -- this Bloordale Village pizzeria became an instant favourite.

2901 Bayview Ave

Pōpa

Pōpa

Another venture by celebrity chef Hemant Bhagwani, this Burmese fusion restaurant opened back in February. You'll find influences from Indian, Portuguese and Chinese cuisines in Burmese food, which is reflected on the menu. With quite an expansive selection, you'll find things like lamb leg buns, Burmese fried rice, eggplant mash, sopa de laksa and mint chicken -- to name a few dishes.

1006a Bloor St W

Osteria Rialto and Bar Biltmore

Osteria Rialto and Bar Biltmore

This sophisticated Italian restaurant and bar opened back in February inside the complex that houses the Paradise Theatre -- an old Art Deco relic. You'll find fluffy focaccia, fresh pasta, elevated proteins and veg, served alongside citrusy cocktails and finished with creative desserts on the menu.

102 Yorkville Ave

Aburi Hana

Aburi Hana

This upscale Yorkville restaurant for contemporary Kyo-Kaiseki cuisine comes to you from the team behind Miku Toronto and TORA. The intimate dining room offers two seatings per night, featuring an immaculate 15-course meal. Aburi Hana did not let this year's restrictions hinder them; the restaurant quickly pivoted to takeout and delivery by offering a to-go friendly version of their refined Japanese dishes.

Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

Guides / Spots

10 months ago

Our Favourite Toronto Restaurants to Open in 2020

Robin Winship

Robin Winship

Instagram

I don't need to be the one to tell you that 2020 was quite a year. Unfortunately, we all know that our beloved restaurants, bars and cafes suffered the brunt of it. With one too many closures to mention them all, we saw several Toronto institutions shutter their doors this year -- unable to keep up rent payments or negotiate with impossible landlords. Nothing is the same and this year, we have witnessed a major transformation in the Toronto food scene and the industry in general. From meal kits to pop-ups and the constant mantra delivered to owners to "pivot" and "adapt," -- this turbulent year has not been an easy one to navigate.

With a demand for comfort food and meals that are designed for takeaway, we have seen the success of several restaurants and shops that opened this year (believe it or not). So, as this end nears, we want to salute those who have managed to stay afloat, bow our heads for those who have lost their storefronts and commend those brave enough to open a new venture in the hardest 12 months the hospitality industry has ever faced.

Below is not an exhaustive list but we have compiled some of our favourite restaurants to open in 2020; whether it was prior to the March apocalyptic mayhem or in the midst of our "new normal," these new openings have all lent a slight glimmer of hope, that one day (hopefully not too far off), our industry will rebound.

1665 Dundas St W

Saint Island Pies

Saint Island Pies

This popular pop-up took over Wallflower's Dundas West restaurant permanently this past November and is doling out Detroit-style pies with a Filipino twist. Saint's owners, Chuck Ortiz and Sean Santos, are bringing creative pies to the neighbourhood and are another example of just how many pop-ups turned storefronts we have seen this year.

847 Brown's Line

Kettleman's Bagel Co.

Kettleman's Bagel Co.

Kettleman's Bagel Co. is an Ottawa-based chain that specializes in traditional Montreal bagels. Ever since their first store back in 1993, founder and Montreal native Craig Buckley has been committed to making the best bagels you can find, all while doing it the old-fashioned way. After 27 years of serving the Ottawa community, Craig has finally opened up his first Toronto location in Etobicoke. Everything is made fresh on-site, including their baked treats and proteins. The only things they don't make are the smoked salmon and Montreal smoked meat obtained directly from Montreal.

1071 Shaw St

Maison T

Maison T

Helmed by well-known Toronto chef Masayuki Tamaru and his wife, Carolina Avaria, comes Maison T, a cozy French bistro serving refined plates in the Annex. After years of experience and over a dozen restaurants under his belt, Tamaru is ready to open his own venture. Tamaru gets immense pleasure from giving other people memorable experiences from enjoying his dishes. You will find classic French bistro favourites like duck confit, endive salad, and braised short rib made using classic French cooking techniques on the menu. Maison T showcases chef Tamaru's years of professional experience and culinary finesse.

88 Dundas St E

Egg Club

Egg Club

Fluffy, rich eggs served sandwiched between Japanese milk bread is all I need to know when considering what spots deserve a notable mention for new 2020 restaurants. Located in Yonge-Dundas square, this tiny takeaway spot is a welcome addition to Toronto's roster of breakfast sandwiches. After two years of putting the name, concept and menu together, owners Jason, Tim and Jun have brought their business to life. To them, Egg Club isn’t viewed as a business but rather a start-up with the goal of bettering their customers’ daily life.

176 Bellwoods Ave

Lambo's Deli & Grocery

Lambo's Deli & Grocery

Deli sandwiches were undoubtedly a trend for the year, brimming with thinly shaved meats and stuffed into freshly baked loaves -- there is no better meal suited for on-the-go dining. With ridiculous wait times, a trendy convenient store turned takeaway shop and all in close proximity to Trinity Bellwoods Park, it is no wonder Lambo's was an instant hit.

10 Temperance St Fl 1

Planta Cocina

Planta Cocina

The pandemic had us all reevaluating what fare was best suited for takeout and patio dining and that was no exception for the Chase Hospitality Group. After retrofitting the old space that once housed The Chase Fish & Oyster (the lower-level, casual sister restaurant to The Chase) to a New Mexican vegan joint -- an extension of the Planta family -- the new spot welcomed a fresh start. Find plant-based tacos, tequila heavy cocktails and plenty of guacamole (as they like to quip).

1595 Bayview Ave

Bom-Bay Snack Bar

Bom-Bay Snack Bar

From celebrity chef and restaurateur Hemant Bhagwani comes another 2020 opening. Bom-Bay Snack Bar is introducing Torontonians to authentic, Bombay street food. This Irani-Indian snack bar is rooted in a long history dating back to the 19th century. Irani cafés were brought to Mumbai by Zoroastrian Irani immigrants escaping religious persecution. These cafés weren't only a place to enjoy food, but rather, they functioned as a social meeting place to connect with other Zoroastrian Irani refugees. Relish in an unfamiliar facet of Indian cuisine and find the likes of Parsi Akuri, a spiced scrambled egg, Bombay sandwiches, chaat, vada pau, and keema on the menu.

214 Augusta Ave

Birria Catrina

Birria Catrina

This tiny stall in Kensington Market specializes in birria, a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. This meat stew is traditionally made from goat meat but beef and mutton are also used. With limited options for birria in the city, it is nice to see a spot solely dedicated to it. Tacos filled with birria are ideal for dipping in a hearty bowl of birria consomé and must orders are the Gringa and Pizzadilla, crispy griddled tortillas filled with birria and cheese.

116 Atlantic Ave

Burger Drops

Burger Drops

Founded by chef Greg Bourolias, comes this insanely popular word-of-mouth pop-up that finally opened a brick-and-mortar location back in August. The Liberty Village locale has become another destination to get a coveted smash burger and the team remains serious when it comes to the composition of a perfect burger.

567 King St W

Tut's Egyptian Street Food

Tut's Egyptian Street Food

A unique offering to the sometimes saturated Toronto food scene comes this minimal and bright spot for Egyptian street food. Specializing in sandwiches filled with falafel, fried cauliflower, grilled chicken, beef sausage, kofta and pan-fried liver -- all baked on a house-made fluffy bun. An immediate hit that has resonated with Toronto patrons Tut's is the ideal to-go offering.

132 John St

Marked

Marked

Another sprawling addition to the buzzy Entertainment District comes this 10,000 square-foot South American restaurant and cocktail bar -- brought to you by the team behind Coffee Oysters Champagne. Even though the restaurant is definitely noteworthy because of its ambience and decor, the food is well-executed and adds to the landscape of South American fare in Toronto.

229 Carlton St

DOVA Restaurant

DOVA Restaurant

From chef Roberto Marotta (of popular Corktown establishment ARDO) comes an elegant and modern intersection of Sicilian and Mediterranean cuisines that highlights fresh, ethically-sourced and ingredient-forward dishes. Located in Cabbagetown, DOVA is a sophisticated neighbourhood spot equipped with a wine cellar, a beautiful indoor dining space and a lush back patio, tucked away in a hidden oasis.

131 Bloor St W 2nd Floor

Amal Toronto

Amal Toronto

We may not have been able to relish in the grandiose and elegant dining room of this new Midtown restaurant, but at least we can enjoy takeout from this spot specializing in Lebanese cuisine. From Beirut-born Executive Chef Rony Ghaleb and owned by Toronto nightclub giant and Lebanese Canadian Charles Khabouth, the venture merges both style and taste.

371 Old Kingston Rd

Mark's Pizzas

Mark's Pizzas

Pizza and burgers seem to be all we want to eat this year and with plenty of new pizza joints opening in 2020, Mark's Pizza was definitely a diamond in the rough. This operation located in a tiny storefront in Scarborough is named after head pizza maker, Mark Alousis. After a slew of pop-ups and frequenting the festival circuit, Alousis finally opened this past spring -- with astounding demand from patrons wanting to try Mark's pies.

536 Queen St W

Pizzeria Du

Pizzeria Du

From the team behind Avelo Restaurant, this completely vegan pizza joint, which took over the space of Away Kitchen, was erected back in the spring. The venture is in honour of chef Dualco and replaced the grand opening of Vitalia, a plant-based Italian restaurant that the rest of the team didn't want to pursue without Dualco. Another welcome addition to the influx of high-end vegan dining options in the city.

Back lane entrance

Gianna's Patties and Pies

Gianna's Patties and Pies

Helmed by Toronto restaurateur and chef Grant van Gameren, Gianna's Patties and Pies opened back in the summer after van Gameren closed Tennessee Tavern following the realization that people were looking for comfort food in the time of a pandemic. The Parkdale spot is slinging Detroit-style pies and stacked patties, with an Italian-American flair.

296 Brunswick Ave

Aunty Lucy's Burgers

Aunty Lucy's Burgers

A welcome addition to black-owned businesses in the city, this popular burger joint operating out of the Annex Hotel comes from the 29-year-old entrepreneur Chieff Bosompra in collaboration with Adrian Forte of Dirty Bird Chicken and Waffles. Smash burgers are at the heart of the menu at Aunty Lucy's, offered up in single- or double-patty style and dressed with melted American cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and Lucy's special sauce.

823 Dundas St W

The Heartbreak Chef

The Heartbreak Chef

Beloved chef Jerome Robinson, more widely known as The Heartbreak Chef, opened up his first brick-and-mortar location back in March. The extremely popular caterer and important figure in Toronto's food scene is slinging his fried chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese and other comfort food favourites from his Dundas West shop.

452 Kingston Rd

Boukan

Boukan

An outpost for delicious French-Creole street food, native to Haiti, made its way onto the Toronto food scene back in March. Helmed by chef Marc-elie Lissade, Boukan is a representation of the passionate crusade Lissade took to introduce the community to his food. Located in the Upper Beaches, Boukan also showcases a curated collection of pieces by local artists.

2901 Bayview Ave

Pōpa

Pōpa

Another venture by celebrity chef Hemant Bhagwani, this Burmese fusion restaurant opened back in February. You'll find influences from Indian, Portuguese and Chinese cuisines in Burmese food, which is reflected on the menu. With quite an expansive selection, you'll find things like lamb leg buns, Burmese fried rice, eggplant mash, sopa de laksa and mint chicken -- to name a few dishes.

102 Yorkville Ave

Aburi Hana

Aburi Hana

This upscale Yorkville restaurant for contemporary Kyo-Kaiseki cuisine comes to you from the team behind Miku Toronto and TORA. The intimate dining room offers two seatings per night, featuring an immaculate 15-course meal. Aburi Hana did not let this year's restrictions hinder them; the restaurant quickly pivoted to takeout and delivery by offering a to-go friendly version of their refined Japanese dishes.