We’ve always known that Toronto has some incredible restaurants, and now that the Michelin Guide to the city has officially arrived, we can take a moment to celebrate that (and perhaps book a few reservations!)
If you’re a longtime reader of Ultimate Ontario you’ll know that try to cover all angles of this province and ensure we’re not just putting eyes only on the province’s largest city. However, sometimes there’s news that comes out of Toronto that needs to be covered if we want to maintain the mantle of Ontario’s premiere source for travel info and news, and that’s the case here!
It was also the case not so long ago when we put out our remarkably popular first timer’s guide to TIFF.
We want to celebrate the restaurants in Toronto that were awarded a Michelin Star, while also acknowledging that there are many more restaurants in Toronto that didn’t receive this honour, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any less wonderful.
Generally speaking, we’ve got some sensational food and drink options in this province at large.
What Exactly is a Michelin Star, Anyway?
In short, it’s an award to honour outstanding cooking in different destinations. In terms of how they determine that, they note that they “take into account the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of flavours, the mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef as expressed in their cuisine and, just as importantly, consistency both over time and across the entire menu.”
One aspect of Michelin Stars that people may not know about is that you don’t receive a star for life. You need to continue to maintain a standard, and Michelin is diligent about reassessing existing restaurants. They also, of course, visit new restaurants to see if they’ve missed anything in a particular city. All that to say, we could see more restaurants added to the list moving forward.
In 2022, we had thirteen restaurants that received at least one Michelin star in Toronto. More specifically, 12 restaurants received one star and one restaurant in particular received two stars.
A restaurant can receive a maximum of three stars. As they note on their site, “two Michelin Stars are awarded when the personality and talent of the chef are really evident in their dishes; their food is refined and inspired. Three Michelin Stars is our highest award, given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession; their cooking is elevated to an art form and some of their dishes are destined to become classics.”
The Toronto Restaurants That Received A Michelin Star
The Restaurants in Toronto That Were Awarded One Michelin Star
Aburi Hana: A Japanese concept restaurant from the creators of Miku Toronto and TORA. This isn’t your average Japanese meal (obviously), and if you do manage to snag a reservation you’re looking at around 2.5 hours for your full experience to unfurl. It’s located in the Yorkville neighbourhood, and they aim to bring the Kyoto-style course menu, which is filled with ritual, to the streets of Toronto. It would appear they’ve very much succeeded.
Alo: You’ll find Alo in the downtown core, right around Queen and Spadina. You’ve probably noticed the heritage building that it sits atop before, and they describe themselves as offering “contemporary French cuisine.” That being said, they aren’t scared to play with international influences, and you’ll never eat a meal here without seeing seasonal ingredients being playfully incorporated.
Alobar Yorkville: Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood strikes again with another entry to the list. Their cocktail list is absolutely off-the-charts, and they have an outstanding wine cellar. They’re known for how they utilize raw ingredients, and their creative approach to fish and seafood. We’ve been here before, and you can clearly taste the fact that they’re using a charcoal grill.
Don Alfonso 1890: The Westin may be a touch dated (though we still love it, for the record), but Don Alfonso 1890, the restaurant atop the hotel, is as in vogue as ever. There were a lot of people who felt like the inclusion of Don Alfonso was a relative certainty, largely because they have a signature tasting menu that has been wowing people for a very long time. They don’t overthink things; it’s just great good, done perfectly.
Enigma Yorkville: Another restaurant from, you guessed, Yorkville. They work directly with local farmers and suppliers to literally source the best products and produce they can, and you can taste it. Chef Quinton is knowing for keeping the flavours pure and clean, and letting the food speak for itself. If you’re wondering, it can best be described as “modern European cuisine.”
Edulis: A cozy and quaint establishment just north of Fort York. When we think of Edulis, we think of how well they make use of seasonal wild mushrooms, but the same could really be said of all their vegetable sourcing, as well as the seafood they bring into the kitchen, then prepare with gusto to make a memorable meal. They do a Thursday, Friday and Saturday dinner, and a Sunday lunch.
Frilu: An open kitchen concept restaurant that calls Thornhill/Markham home. They can likely be best described as contemporary Canadian, but with some strong Asian undertones. They’re known for offering a very personal, interactive, and memorable experience to their guests. Trust us, they’re worth the drive, even if there’s traffic (not that Toronto is known for traffic or anything).
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto: They’re located in North York, not all that far from the Ontario Science Centre, actually. They want to bring the Kaiseki experience to Canada, which they personally describe as “as much of an art form as a style of cooking and food preparation. If you appreciate culinary delicacies, you’ll love kaiseki. Kaiseki menus offer a cornucopia of gastronomical treats, including tempura, cooked seasonal fish and vegetables, and genuine A5 Wagyu.” Where do we sign?
Osteria Giulia: Osteria is located on Avenue Road, not far from Davenport. This is cooking as entertainment in some ways, as the chef’s bar is located right in the heart of the action. A big part of the restaurant is the young and aspirational chef, Rob Rossi. He closed down a previous restaurant to take a shot at establishing his dream Italian eatery, and suffice to say, that decision has paid off in spades.
Quetzal: You’ll find Quetzal at College and Bathurst, not far from some of our favourite old haunts for a beverage (Sneaky Dees and Nirvana, for example). If you’re someone who thinks that Mexican food is one dimensional, you need to ditch Chipotle and make a reservation here immediately. Not to mention, all their food is cooked over a 28 foot wood fire. How awesome is that?
Shoushin: The restaurant themselves will tell you they think they have the best sushi in Toronto. They’ve made sushi their life’s work, and it’s wonderful to see them bestowed with a Michelin Star to validate that effort. Chef Jackie Lin has hit the mark with only his first restaurant that he founded back in 2015.
Yukashi: Do we have great Japenese cuisine in Toronto, or what? It’s going to be a lot harder to get a table now at this iconic Mount Pleasant restaurant. It’s fine Japanese cuisine from an executive chef (Daisuke Izutsu) who has been refining his craft for decades.
The Restaurants in Toronto That Were Awarded Two Michelin Stars
Sushi Masaki Saito: Being the only restaurant to make the cut for two stars, this may just be the most famous restaurant in Toronto nowadays. Chef Masaki Saito earned the distinction of Two Stars before when he was in New York (in 2017, 2018 respectively), and he’s as revered (and eccentric) as they come in the culinary world. For Sushi Masaki Saito it’s about “knowing how to select and prepare the fish, the rice, the vinegar and the wasabi, and their proportionality in each dish is a refined skill. Every cut from each selected blade, the proper thickness, the presentation and the overall impression, is a high art.” Good luck getting a reservation, my friends!
Christopher Mitchell is the Cofounder of Ultimate Ontario. He’s visited over 80 countries, and has lived on 4 continents, but now has his eyes set squarely on exploring this incredible province, and helping others do the same.