Local dishes in Toronto showcase a vibrant culinary scene whose flavours range from Italian to French to -- quite frankly-- the strange and unusual, which is why it's a foodie heaven. Most people who come here are looking for poutine, even though it originated in Quebec. You can find the best here, though. Other dishes like ketchup chips, Nanaimo, and even smoked meat sandwiches all define the flavour and style of Toronto's foodie scene.

    Those are just a few of the delectable and unusual flavours to find in Toronto, however. Explore some of the best local dishes in the city and try the famous food locals love to eat here.


    Peameal Bacon Sandwich

    Sample the original bacon on a Kaiser roll

    A peameal bacon sandwich must be tasted to be believed, and while many restaurants serve versions of it, there's only one that has the original: Carousel Bakery. This sandwich has won awards and is a favourite of celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Lines form at the counter every day as people flock to the St. Lawrence Market to sample the famous sandwich. In fact, it's so popular it's been featured on TV and in print media. Not too shabby for a few thick slices of bacon on a Kaiser bun.

    Lots of restaurants claim to have this sandwich, but Carousel has the original. Head for the market just 7 minutes from city centre to try it.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

    photo by Leventio (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Ketchup chips

    Experience an unusual local snack staple

    Ketchup chips are an iconic snack in Toronto, though you can get them in lots of places now, even your local supermarket, and they're just what they sound like. They're produced by Lay's and they are quite literally crisps with the flavour of ketchup. Toronto is one of the few places where you can get them on a regular basis in just about any supermarket. They've become a staple of local snackers here, and if you're looking to munch between meals, they're hard to beat.

    Never had a ketchup crisp? Now is the time. Just head to the nearest supermarket and pick up a bag!

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada


    Sushi pizza

    Eat a finger food of fried rice patty, fish, and soya

    Sushi pizza might be the most unique take on sushi you'll find, consisting of a fried rice patty topped with tuna, crab, or salmon; avocado, spicy mayo, and soy-wasabi. It's popular across Canada, but especially in Toronto, where it's believed that Japanese chef Kaoru Ohsada invented it for his restaurant Nami. It's said that the original was fried sushi rice topped with salmon and garnished with chopped onion and tobiko fish roe. Today, it's served with soya sauce and pickled ginger.

    You may have seen this one in poke restaurants across the border in the US, but you haven't experienced it like you can in Toronto. Head for Square Fish, Sushi Oyama, or Sushiyama for some of the best.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada


    Caesar cocktail

    Try a classic cocktail with a Toronto twist

    The Caesar cocktail is a crazy take on a bloody Mary and made from vodka, clam juice, tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, and a celery-salted rim. The Toronto version of this cocktail can be made with a wide range of spirits, and every bar puts its own creative spin on it, from fancy garnishes to international fusion twists. At Tabüle, you'll get it with harissa and served in a za'atar and sumac-rimmed glass. At Rodney's, you can get it with bourbon or scotch. Cherry Street garnishes it with a spiced rib.

    At Hunter's Landing, they take the garnishes to the next level with pizza, lobster tails, cheese, bacon, and pickles. The options are endless.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada


    Butter tarts

    Try an iconic walnut-based dessert tart

    Butter tarts became an iconic staple of Canadian cuisine, a simple combination of eggs, brown sugar, butter, walnuts, and vinegar in a flaky pastry crust. The earliest versions of the recipe date to 1915 and also added currants and raisins in the mix. Nobody knows exactly where the dish originated, though many claim it is a relation to pecan pie brought north from the United States. Others claim it's an evolution of Quebecois sugar pie. Still others claim it came all the way from Scotland and evolved from their border tarts.

    Regardless of where it came from, it's a must-try dessert. Head for Doo Doo's Bakery, Bonjour Brioche, or Wanda's Pie in the Sky to try one.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada



    Try the iconic chocolate square dessert

    Nanaimo bars are named after a city in British Columbia and are a local Toronto staple, with three layers of wafers, nuts, coconut, custard, and chocolate ganache. It's served at coffeehouses, bakeries, and sweets shops across Toronto. The earliest known version of this confection dates to a 1953 cookbook, and it has also been known as a London fog bar, Mabel's squares, chocolate squares, and chocolate slices.

    The Nanaimo bar is so iconic that in 2019, the Canada Post put it on a postage stamp along with other confections. It was even served during a 2016 US State Dinner when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the White House with President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada


    Smoked meat sandwiches

    Try a newer addition to the Toronto culinary landscape

    Smoked meat sandwiches are popular around Toronto, but the iconic meal is served up at Caplansky's Delicatessen in Little Italy, and their associated food lorry. In fact, Caplansky's started with the smoked meat sandwich, and even today it's a Toronto must-try whether you go have one in the sit-down deli or you grab one for some takeaway street food. When we say smoked meat, we're talking about hand-cured, spiced, steamed, and sliced beef briskets, and it all started in the owner's backyard.

    Smoked meat sandwiches are a relatively new addition to the culinary landscape here, having only appeared in 2007. Still, they have become an absolute must among local flavours.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada



    Try a staple Quebecois dish in Toronto

    Poutine is the iconic Canadian snack dish, and while it originally hails from Quebec, some of the best can be had in Toronto at the iconic restaurant, Smoke's Poutinerie. The basic form of poutine is made by topping coarse-cut French fries in thick, rich brown gravy and crumbling soft and creamy cheese curds on top. The gravy often contains vinegar for an extra tang. At Smoke's, you can add a wide variety of meats to the dish like pork and chicken. They even make a vegetarian version.

    While poutine may have originated in French Canada, it's made its way to Ontario in a big way. Don't leave Toronto without digging into a big plate.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada



    Try a French-Canadian spiced meat pie

    Tourtière is a spiced meat pie that's a traditional French-Canadian food prepared between Christmas and New Year's Eve but has become a part of Toronto's culinary landscape. This savoury, fragrant dish is so enticing it rarely stays on the menu for very long. It's traditionally made with pork, but variant versions with beef are also quite popular. In addition to the meat, the pie contains onions, potatoes, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice packed into a golden flaky pastry crust. It's the very definition of winter comfort food.

    If you're looking for an authentic Tourtière in Toronto, there's only one place to go: Le Papillon on Front. It's in the heart of city centre.

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada



    Hit the South Market for some schmear

    Bagels are a Montreal staple that have made their way to Toronto in a big way in every size and flavour, and some of the best can be found at the South Market. Everyone knows bagels; they've become a popular food all over the continent from Southern California and Florida to British Columbia and beyond. Montreal bagels are iconic, however, and these can be found at St Urbain Bagel. Whether you're going for a blueberry bagel with plain cream cheese or a deli sandwich on an everything bagel, they're baked fresh daily and are a delicious and filling food.

    For even more classic fun, combine your bagel with fresh soup. Whatever you do, don't forget to schmear (that's cream cheese).

    Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

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