The wait is over! On Tuesday, Toronto became the first Canadian city to be featured in the Michelin Guide with 13 Toronto restaurants receiving the prestigious culinary accolade, and one spot even receiving two Michelin stars.
“Toronto shows it’s deserving of being the first Michelin Guide selection ever in the Great White North,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guides. “The diversity of selection reflects the cosmopolitan soul of this exciting city.”
The famed French restaurant Guide awards Michelin stars — either one, two, or three — to restaurants with exceptional cuisine and is considered a benchmark in gastronomy.
Without further ado, here are the 13 Toronto eateries that earned top honours from the Michelin Guide that include a smorgasbord of different cuisine types from Italian and Mexican to Japanese Kaiseki.
Toronto’s Michelin two-star restaurant
Sushi Masaki Saito (Japanese/Sushi cuisine)
For a one-of-a-kind dining experience, Yorkville’s Sushi Masaki Saito is the place to be. At the helm is chef Saito, who imports all his seafood from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. The restaurant’s ever-changing menu is composed of Edomae-style sushi that involves aging fresh fish and dates back to the early 19th century. Saito is no stranger to the Michelin Guide — in 2016 his New York City restaurant Sushi Ginza Onodera was awarded one star, and it received a second in 2018
Michelin’s Take: Only here will you find shirako boldly skewered and grilled over binchotan, and only here will you eat melting slabs of chutoro buried under a blizzard of white truffles. Fish comes exclusively from Japan, and for the nigiri, assistants are quick to bring him his prized rice from Niigata prefecture, warm and tinged with his special blend of vinegars, after every round. Laughter fills the air, thanks to Chef Masaki Saito and his jovial team, and for a few blissful hours, the world outside melts away.
Toronto’s Michelin one-star restaurants
Aburi Hana (Japanese/Kaiseki cuisine)
Not far from Yorkville Avenue you’ll find Aburi Hana, where exquisitely plated dishes and omotenashi-style hospitality await. Executive chef Ryusuke Nakagawa studied under two master chefs of Kyoto-style cuisine and presents a menu that’s guided by the Japanese culinary ethos of seasonality.
Michelin’s Take: Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa presents a modern take on the history-steeped Kyō-Kaiseki menu. His cooking is deeply personal and intricate but never overwrought. Each course outdoes the last. The maguro flower, a rose made from pieces of akami and chutoro, is stunning, and kurobuta kakuni, simmered pork belly over foie gras, is dazzling.
Alo (Contemporary cuisine)
One of the hottest names in Toronto’s food scene, it comes as no surprise that Patrick Kriss has not one but two restaurants on this list. Since opening in 2015, the contemporary French restaurant, Alo has been receiving accolades from foodies and critics alike. Located atop a Heritage building at Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, the menu is internationally inspired and celebrates the finest in seasonal ingredients.
Michelin’s Take: Everyone has a good time at Chef Patrick Kriss’s beloved Alo. The talented beverage team offers spot-on suggestions from the well-chosen wine list. The kitchen team seamlessly merges European and Asian sensibilities onto a single tasting menu with dishes like creamy Koshihikari risotto boosted with porcini emulsion or rack of lamb with Thai green curry.
Alobar Yorkville (French cuisine)
The second eatery on this list from Patrick Kriss, Alobar Yorkville is a cocktail bar and a full-fledged restaurant all rolled up into one. Offering raw items as well as fish and chops right off the grill, along with world-class wines and deliciously indulgent desserts.
Michelin’s Take: Seafood figures prominently, and, as one might expect from Chef Patrick Kriss and Chef de Cuisine Rebekah Bruce, product is first-rate and technique exemplary. From chilled lobster with lime aioli to rack of lamb with niçoise olive, the kitchen delivers a kind of refined approachability that suits all occasions. Desserts like mille-feuille with raspberry chantilly are show-stoppers.
Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto (Italian Cuisine)
Once named the best Italian restaurant in the world outside of Italy, Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto sits atop the Westin Harbour Castle with stunning views of Toronto’s harbour and the city’s skyline. Under the guidance of chef Ernesto Iaccarino, chef Daniele Corona showcases a cuisine that highlights the fresh flavours of the Amalfi coast, characterized by a modern Mediterranean flare and exceptional quality of ingredients.
Michelin’s Take: Chef Daniele Corona’s dishes echo the contemporary sophistication of the dining room. Eel gelato plated with a tangle of wild rose-scented tagliatelle, pulverized egg yolk and sturgeon caviar delivers a wonderful mix of flavors; tender and vibrant agnolotti are stuffed with Ontario lamb for a rich and meaty filling and doused in a decadent cheese sauce that packs a punch.
Enigma Yorkville (Contemporary cuisine)
With a philosophy of keeping flavours pure and clean and letting nature be the artist, chef Quinton Bennett works closely with local farmers and suppliers to source the best products available and serves a seasonal, evolving blind tasting menu at Enigma, an intimate modern-European fine dining restaurant located in Yorkville.
Michelin’s Take: Chef Quinton Bennett’s resume is as varied and glittering as the tile mosaics that stretch across the ceiling of this Yorkville looker. Using molecular techniques, he puts his worldly view on the plate, playing on diverse textures and surprising combinations like brassicas with smoked foie gras and dehydrated parmesan or tuna with sheets of beetroot and fermented daikon.
Edulis (Contemporary cuisine)
Featuring a seasonal and ever-changing menu that highlights the ingredients of the moment with a strong focus on seafood, vegetables and wild mushrooms, Edulis is a neighbourhood bistro on Niagara Street that celebrates the craft and tradition of cooking,
Michelin’s Take: The pride and passion of the husband-and-wife owners and their staff are undeniably evident throughout this spot. Settle in for a set, multicourse menu inspired by the Mediterranean. The kitchen eschews fluff, focusing instead on creating harmonious (and delicious) dishes. Freshly carved Spanish ham, cheese and dessert are available add-ons. The menu proudly hews to the season.
Frilu (Contemporary cuisine)
At Frilu, chef John-Vincent showcases the simplicity of nature using local seasonal ingredients, combined with intricate flavours that are brought by his Asian influences with dishes that showcase the landscape in Canada.
Michelin’s Take: There is a saying that we should dance like nobody’s watching. This adage feels true of Chef John-Vincent Troiano, who cooks to his own rhythm in Thornhill. Smoke, game and refined sauce-work figure prominently on what might be the only tasting menu for several kilometers. A tiny space packed with talent, the sparsely decorated nook leaves everything on the plate, with high-quality product from their own farm coupled with an intriguing Japanese element that feels natural.
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto (Japanese/Kaiseki cuisine)
Under the careful watch of master chef Masaki Hashimoto, Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto delivers a multicourse, Japanese fine dining experience to guests in an intimate environment with only three tables and a maximum capacity of eight guests.
Michelin’s Take: Chef Masaki Hashimoto’s traditional kaiseki eight-course menu showcases the seasons while celebrating Japanese ingredients. It’s all about focus over flash with a refined intricate style and attention to detail that borders on reverence. Shii-zakana is a signature dish composed of fried soba noodle-wrapped shrimp, but it’s the stunning radish crane that you’ll remember.
Osteria Giulia (Italian Cuisine)
Osteria Giulia is a dinner spot with a focus on Northern Italian cuisine. The restaurant is also home to over 300 bottles and a robust cocktail menu, while ambitious desserts like the millefoglie al pistachio are a playful delight.
Michelin’s Take: It seems nearly impossible to have a bad time at Chef Rob Rossi’s Italian stunner. Many Italian menus can look the same, Rossi narrows in on the seafood-rich traditions of Liguria. A deep Italian wine list and an especially talented cocktail program round out an experience that is as accomplished as it is hospitable.
Quetzal (Mexican cuisine)
Serving upscale Mexican cuisine and craft cocktails in a sleek, modern dining room, all cooked over a 28-foot wood fire, Quetzal is the brainchild of Grant van Gameren one of Canada’s best known chefs and restaurateurs.
Michelin’s Take: Almost everything on this tight menu passes through the kitchen’s 26-foot-long wood-burning grill that actively roars and smokes. At the end of the line is a single chef at the earthenware comal, who prepares tortillas from heirloom corn that is nixtmalized and ground in-house. Lamb barbacoa packed into griddled, blue masa tortillas and charred maitake mushrooms set in a crema poblana highlight the transformative magic of fire, while dry-aged amberjack aguachile flexes the kitchen’s delicate side.
Shoushin (Japanese/Kaiseki cuisine)
Opened in 2015 in Toronto’s Bedford Park neighbourhood, Shoushin is an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant that specializes in Edomae-style sushi and resembles the traditional high-end sushi restaurants found in Ginza, Tokyo.
Michelin’s Take: Jackie Lin leads the young team with care. The seasonal sushi omakase is especially delightful. Grilled cutlassfish, rarely seen on many menus, is served hot and flaky. Striped jackfish with a kiss of green onion is flavorful; golden eye snapper is nicely aged. From lean bluefin tuna with mountain yam and tart kohada to excellent baby seabream with lime, it’s hit after hit.
Yukashi (Japanese/Kaiseki cuisine)
At Yukashi, a fine-dining restaurant in mid-town Toronto, you can choose from either a four or nine-course set menu with sake pairing, and each course is prepared by hand right in front of you.
Michelin’s Take: Chef Daisuke Izutsu has cooked for royals, dignitaries, and you, if you’re one of the lucky 15 who has secured a seat at the intimate Yukashi. Firmly rooted in seasonality, this kaiseki-style menu is highly original and personal. The otsukuri, with slices of shima aji with yuzu zest, toro with pickled turnip and hay-smoked hamachi delicately arranged atop a white marble base, is a work of art.