The most unique dining spots in Toronto offer truly evocative culinary experiences in immersive environments, all unmatched anywhere else in the city. Some are global innovators, and each of them will deliver you to an exciting new world of food. We tracked down nine of such establishments back in 2014, and now, we’ve got five more for you to escape to.
35 MOWAT AVE.
Toronto food, design, and technology group Future Food Studio is a creative and imaginative collective at the forefront of taste reinvention. Previously operating out of the Theatre Centre on Queen as a boozy cafeteria space, their molecular mixology bar BevLab and its not-so-liquid (you’ll find booze in solid and vapour states here, too) lunches and dinners has since developed into a workshop series based out of Future Food Studio’s space on Mowat Avenue, so that makes accessing its edible balloons and drinkable clouds a little more difficult, but it also makes for more educational experiences with bigger emphases on hands-on learning.
558 YONGE ST.
Sometimes it is enough to open your mouth only to bite into what you’re about to chew. With a staff of mostly deaf servers, at Yonge and Wellesley, Signs puts a welcome reversal on the social dynamics surrounding ability and serves a plate of perspective with its upscale pub grub, raising awareness around hearing limitations and educating guests by equipping them with an American Sign Language cheat book that helps them communicate their orders in an altogether casual but illuminating dining experience.
1479 DUNDAS ST. W
Magic is for muggles at this Dundas West potion house. Named after a certain dandy Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, the owners insist it’s only influenced by J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, and staff wear plainclothes, but goblets of fire and bubbling cauldrons abound at this tapas and cocktails bar, and you’re likely to catch an aspiring witch or wizard popping in and looking the part as they saddle up to the potions and elixirs wall. Just be prepared for a wait; there’s only seating for approx. 30 and there’s no spell to fit more in.
1585 DUNDAS ST. W
A well-established beacon of South American and world entertainment on Dundas West, Lula Lounge has been a hot spot for music and dancing for almost 15 years, but it’s often the food that gets people in the door. While Lula’s also a destination for Latin soul food seven nights a week, the most unique experience is available every Friday and Saturday night, when prix fixe menus are available as part of dinner and dancing packages, and on Sundays, when a lunch/brunch buffet is accompanied by live music and salsa lessons geared towards beginners.
6 GARAMOND CT.
At $200 a head for lunch (six courses) and $300 for dinner (eight courses) – both before drinks – even if it’s one of Toronto’s most expensive meals, at chef Masaki Hashimoto’s traditional kaiseki restaurant, guests find an authentic, unrepeatable Japanese experience. With no menus on hand, courses for each prix fixe meal are tuned to hyper seasonal standards and presented through a traditional lens, so each course (you might find red Kyoto carrots, fried conger pike, sweet line-caught porgy, or uni upon your visit) is an artful display of premium ingredients plated on a 400-year-old dish, and every stay closes with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
(Photo courtesy of Signs)