During the height of the pandemic, many Toronto restaurants were forced to come up with creative concepts to secure business and pay their rent. Some started in-house delivery models. Others ran their businesses out of ghost kitchens. And some began sharing spaces with other business owners, adjusting their operating hours and running two concepts out of one shared space. Here are five Toronto restaurants whose menu items transform from day to night!
An all-day cocktail and tapas bar, Simpl Things runs two very different concepts under one roof. During the day, guests can enjoy Italian comfort food, under the direction of chef Cody Wilkes. The menu, which is available from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., includes dishes such as duck dumplings in brodo, squash ravioli, croquettes, salads and sandwiches. There’s also a brunch menu available Saturday and Sunday from 20 a.m. until 5 p.m. By nighttime, Italian pastas are swapped for Taiwanese rice noodles and other Thai street eats, helmed by chef Betty Chia. The menu is available from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. and is divided into snacks and plates. Light bites include kung pao cauliflower bao and spicy chilled silken tofu, while heavier entrees include steamed monkfish with crispy bean sauce, or the black garlic pepper rib eye steak. Simpl Things can be found at 269 Dunn Ave.
Favorites Thai BBQ
Those familiar with Ossington Ave. know that the strip is no stranger to an eclectic roster of cafes, boutiques and restaurants, and 141 Ossington Ave. is no different. During the day, it’s the address of Sam James Coffee Bar, a staple for a good cup of brew in the city since 2009. Here, international roasted beans are all the rage, and those looking for a quick cup can choose from a wide range, ground fresh to order. But by 4 p.m., the coffee shop closes and is replaced by an entirely different venture. Owned by chef Jonathan Poon, Favorites Thai BBQ opens at 6 p.m. in the same spot. Paired with an impressive wine list, this spot is home to all of your Thai favourites (pardon the pun), including jungle curry with smoked chicken and Thai basil, as well as more elevated eats like Yellowtail tuna ceviche, AAA tenderloin Thai tartare, and more!
OMG Cafe & Tapas
Run by chefs Hondina Silva and Ana Gonçalves, OMG Cafe & Tapas is a Brazilian coffee house located at 755 Dovercourt Rd. Drawing from Brazilian and Portuguese flavours, their all-day cafe menu includes a range of espresso-based drinks, sweet treats like traditional cheese ice cream with guava syrup or cookies and muffins, and salads, pastas, sandwiches and pizzas. The cafe is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Starting at 8 p.m., guests can enjoy an entirely different tapas menu, with shareable snacks like truffle and parm fries, an antipasto spread (olives, prosciutto, jam, nuts and assorted cheeses), bruschetta, and a Mediterranean dip spread.
Uncle Betty’s Diner
All-day breakfast hotspot Uncle Betty’s Diner has opened a new concept come nighttime: Jane & Dick’s Bistro. Located at 2590 Yonge St., the diner closes at 3 p.m. and reopens at 4 p.m. to introduce a series of elevated menu concepts. Eggs benedict and towering stacks of pancakes with whipped blueberry mascarpone are swapped for swankier bites like the shareable fondue (available in Emmental and and Gruyere or Brie and Blue Cheese), tapas like fried chicken or cauliflower bites, and mains that include a classic steak frites, fish and chips, and grilled chicken. Of course, remnants of Uncle Betty’s famous grilled cheese have also snuck back into the menu at Jane & Dick’s: found under the tapas section, this version includes gruyere, cheddar, and caramelized onions.
Those craving Southern Italian comfort food head to 7Numbers in the evenings for Mama Rosa’s stuffed mozzarella meatballs or the cutlets soaked in sugo (sauce). But during the day, 7Numbers is also the go-to spot for those looking for a fine cut of meat or other various household provisions. Located at the back of the restaurant, Stock-In-Trade sells grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork, but also store-made sausages, heritage eggs, premium butter, vegetables, and ready-to-eat meals. Those looking for a quick bite to eat can also enjoy the daytime sandwich menu, which changes daily. All sandwiches are $10 and include options like porchetta, 24-hour red wine braised beef, or heirloom tomato and fior di latte.