With the impending US election, tensions are high and speculation is rampant, around the world, as to which of the (likely) candidates will be the next POTUS. For us neighbours to the north, the outcome in November may hold even more implications for the future. No, we’re not talking about the state of international relations or the suggested wall to be built between Canada and the USA. We’re talking about the many Americans who will apparently be fleeing, in droves, across the border. Since the most common phrase we as Canadians have heard from Americans is, “If so-and-so wins, we’ll be moving to Canada”, we’re anticipating the results this fall just as much as our US cousins. In fact, in one poll, 28% of respondents said they’d head to Canada if the candidate they vote for does not win. If you’re one of the many folks who are likely to do so, we’d like to pass on some important advice for when you’re here.
Sure we’ve got some decent healthcare, though you’ll be waiting longer than you’re used to, and yes we’re apparently incredibly polite so you’ll be hearing “sorry” a whole heck of a lot more. You’ll also have to get used to some of our lingo like, “eh”, which we use a lot less than most people think, and “pop”, instead of soda. There’s also “double-double”, a term used when ordering coffee with two creams and two sugars at our favourite coffee and donut shop, Tim Hortons. Don’t worry though, we’ve still got Starbucks aplenty!
But all this is eclipsed by a much more important fact. Canada has some of the most diverse and delicious restaurants you’ll ever find and with almost 6,000 miles from east coast to west coast, there’s a lot of places to go through to find the best. Rather than arrive and have to search for your next meal with belongings in hand, residency paperwork to fill out and an empty stomach, we’ve put together a list of some of the best restaurants in Canada that will satisfy any craving you have!
Check Out These Best Places to Eat in Canada & Come Hungry!
Fortunately for those moving to Canada from the US, we have three of the most livable cities in the world, according to 2015 rankings by The Economist. That means a great city to live in and some incredible food on a regular basis. So to make things easier for you we’ve partnered with Zipkick – an app dedicated to giving you authentic reviews from trusted sources like expert travellers, chefs and sommeliers – to give you a ‘taste’ of what you’ll find on the app and to offer you some of our top picks for restaurants in Canada, coast to coast.
If you’re looking for more great restaurant, bar and cafe recommendations from seasoned travellers and culinary experts, head over to Zipkick to learn more and download the app to see recommendations for great cities around the world!
Spring Sushi – Toronto, Ontario
Situated in the centre of one of Toronto’s busy districts, Yonge-Dundas Square, Spring Sushi is a great All-You-Can-Eat restaurants in the city. With views overlooking the square, and patio seating during the warmer months, you can enjoy an unlimited amount of Japanese or Thai cuisine simply by ordering on a touch-screen device. A modern, trendy atmosphere and great location makes this a good spot to catch a bit of sushi, though we recommend leaving visits to the weekdays where prices are more reasonable.
Boustan – Montreal, Quebec
Boustan is our choice for Lebanese food in all of Canada. Whether you’re craving a shawarma, falafel or kebab, Boustan’s got you covered with mouth-watering options. Keep in mind, their main plates are bursting with food so come hungry or opt for a smaller portion like a pita. We also loved their grape leaves which sit inconspicuously among the rest of the sides and dishes and with four locations around Quebec, you won’t have to settle in Montreal for a taste!
Minas Brazilian Steakhouse – Calgary, Alberta
In the province of Alberta, a place almost synonymous with beef for those of us in Canada, you’ll find one unique and meat-filled restaurant – Minas Brazilian Steakhouse. Think tender, seasoned cuts of BBQ meat, perfectly suited sides including a salad bar and then, best of all, think all-you-can-eat!! You’ll find some authentic Brazilian dishes and delicious BBQ meat galore in a city that already does meat right. Minas is great for groups or just a romantic night for a couple looking to try something different.
309 Dhaba Indian Restaurant of Excellence – Toronto, Ontario
Fine dining serving authentic Indian cuisine is something you’ll find almost at the heart of the city at 309 Dhaba. With an incredibly talented chef, you really can’t go wrong with any choice as the menus are an array of delicious dishes from all over India. Dietary restrictions or preferences are covered if you tell your waiter as the chef will prepare the food to your liking. The atmosphere is intimate, the food on point and the experience wonderful from start to finish. As the restaurant has very limited seating (we did say the atmosphere was intimate!) be sure to book ahead or take that into account.
Guu Izakaya – Vancouver, BC
Perhaps one of our favourite restaurants, Guu (or Kitanoya Guu) has several locations and offers a unique Japanese dining experience. From the moment you walk in you’ll be happily, and loudly, greeted by the staff. Yelling orders to each other and shouting random phrases we haven’t yet deciphered, the experience is unlike anything else you’ll find. Add to that small dishes of deliciousness cooked to perfection and you’ve got quite the restaurant to go for drinks and some food or a full on meal. Our favourite dishes are definitely the beef tongue, the takoyaki and the steak with garlic sauce, though you really can’t go wrong with any of their dishes!
Seaside Grill – Rexton, New Brunswick
Chances are, if you’re from big city USA you probably won’t be making your way to a place like Rexton, New Brunswick, but if you’re looking to settle in a small town with beautiful scenery or are making a scenic drive through the province, Seaside Grill is a place you have to try. We stopped here randomly while on a road trip through New Brunswick and found some of the best seafood we’ve ever had. Being on the east coast, seafood is a given but this small nondescript restaurant will have your eyes rolling back in appreciation. The small town vibe, fresh food and desserts and friendly service will have you considering a move nearby!
Milestones – Nationwide
Though a chain restaurant Milestones is, for us, a constant you’ll find when heading to many a province. A pretty consistent menu, great quality and service and an atmosphere that makes it perfect for anything from a romantic dinner to drinks and apps with friends, it is one of our go-to restaurants when we just don’t know where else to go! For us, their burger is a highlight and the food is so good all around that we can never decide whether we like the vegetarian or beef version better!
Fable Restaurant – Vancouver, BC
Exactly the type of restaurant you’d expect to see in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver, Fable Restaurant is a surprisingly affordable restaurant for the fresh, farm to table ingredients and wonderfully created menu items by chef Trevor Bird, a former contestant on Top Chef Canada. Though the atmosphere is laidback and casual, the food is anything but and you’ll find yourself on a pretty exquisite culinary journey whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner. The food is made from scratch, sourced locally and cooked with care. Be sure to note that this restaurant is a popular spot so reservations may be wise on weekends!
The Holy Grill – Calgary, Alberta
Though only open for breakfast and lunch, and only on weekdays, The Holy Grill is a recommended stop at least once while scouring the country for a place to call home. With two locations in Calgary, and a pretty impressive looking menu, you’ll have ample chance to test out a few for breakfast, brunch or lunch. We’d recommend trying a panini or a burger if you’re not looking for a breakfast dish!
Schwartz’s – Montreal, Quebec
There’s an age old question you’ll discover if you relocate to Montreal: Which restaurant offers the best Montreal smoked meat in the city. There are arguments online and in person, rants about different restaurants and dissections of different menus. One restaurant however, tends to always be in the mix and is, in our opinion, the place to get Montreal smoked meat. That place is Schwartz’s Deli. Since 1928, it has been serving up some ridiculously good smoked meat sandwiches with a side of dill pickle. Everytime we go to the city we have to eat here. If time is of the essence, we pop over to their takeout section next door and bring some with us for the road. The only caveat about eating here? The line can get long quick so get there early, especially on weekends!
Ramen Gojiro – Vancouver, BC
If you’re looking for a taste of Japan’s Ramen shops after moving north, Ramen Gojiro is the place to go. Here you’ll find the ramen reminiscent of the real thing – fresh noodles in a tasty broth, tender chashu pork and even karaage (deep fried shrimp, chicken or fish) cooked crisp! You may even hear the slurping that is customary at any ramen shop in Japan. Our tips? If you’re not a fan of bean sprouts, ask them to go easy, and if you are a fan of gyoza, this is a great place to get some!
Icehouse – Montreal, Quebec
One of the more unique restaurants we’ve dined at, Icehouse is a trendy, hipster-esque restaurant and experience. Southern style food predominates their menu with fried chicken, po-boys, lobster burritos and the like. Interestingly, the food is served, well, haphazardly and almost rudely as paper is placed over your table and the food is thrown across it. This is particularly the case for the bucket of chicken. You’ll find the pieces strewn over the covered table in an almost medieval display of dining. We love it. Add some of their homemade Bourbon lemonade and the meal is complete. With dining inside or outside, depending on the weather, and delicious food to enjoy, this is one of our favourite restaurants to go to in Montreal and if you find yourself moving to the city, you’ll probably want to make your way there sooner rather than later!
Noble Seafood Restaurant – Toronto, Ontario
We absolutely love dim sum. We eat it about as regularly as we do sushi… which means there usually isn’t a week that goes by that we aren’t chowing down on some kind of dumpling or bun, or a fried shrimp triangle. If you’ve ever been to Toronto’s Chinatown district, you’ll know there are tons of restaurants and many serve dim sum. How then do you choose between them to find the one offering the tastiest dim sum options? You let us tell you. Noble Seafood Restaurant may not have dim sum in the name, but they certainly know how to make it! If you’re moving to Toronto, or just visiting to scope it out, Noble is a must for any dim sum lover! A tip from us: though not a steamed or fried dim sum option, their General Tso chicken is out of this world.
Homestead Restaurant – Moncton, New Brunswick
This was our favourite breakfast spot in New Brunswick. The quaint, charming east-coast diner offers friendly service, a hearty breakfast (amongst other menu items) and homemade cakes and baked goods for dessert! If you’re headed for Moncton, or on your out way to explore more of the country, Homestead Restaurant is a great place to charge those batteries before you go! If you’re looking for an equally satisfying lunch or dinner, they also offer a great menu including some tasty fish cakes and some traditionally “east coast” dishes.
Ask For Luigi – Vancouver, BC
Italian food can be hit or miss, but in Ask For Luigi, a cozy restaurant in Vancouver serving fresh, handmade pasta you’ll find a list of standout dishes. Served family-style, the flavour profiles and combination of ingredients of the dishes offer a taste of Italy that will have you coming back for more. A go at their homemade ravioli wouldn’t be remiss and they even have gluten-free pasta, made in-house, upon request. As it is at a higher price point, dining as a group is the suggested way to go to share the dishes and the cost.
Salad King – Toronto, Ontario
We had trouble finding great Thai food outside of Thailand until we found Salad King! A great variety of authentic dishes with fresh ingredients had us temporarily transported back to the country. This is definitely our go-to Thai restaurant in Toronto and with vegetarian and vegan options, it’s a great choice for all dietary considerations. Our favourite dishes would definitely be the cashew nut chicken and the pineapple chicken! Since the space is usually pretty crowded, you can opt for delivery or take out if you’re looking for a quick meal.
The Lakeview – Toronto, Ontario
A remnant of traditional diners of the past, The Lakeview has been a part of Toronto’s culinary scene since 1932 and is now one of the few 24 hour diners you’ll find in the chaos of the city. If you’re just getting to the city, this may be a great stop to take a break from unpacking, or you may find yourself visiting in the early hours after delving into the city’s night scene. Whether you choose a classic diner meal, like breakfast or a club sandwich, or adventure to one of their unique menu items like cornflake chicken or the B.E.S.T (Bacon, mElted havarti, Spinach & Tomato) sandwich, you’re guaranteed to find something to satisfy your hunger.
Cacao 70 – Various Locations Ontario & Quebec
Think chocolate. Chocolate fondue, chocolate drinks, chocolate covered crepes. Cacao 70 is the place to go to get your choco-fix. With locations in Ontario and Quebec, you won’t have to worry about this restaurant being the deciding factor between the two when you decide to move to Canada. The tricky part will be deciding what to order with a variety of chocolate percentages (from 31% to 76%) and a ton of dish options using those chocolates. When we last went, there was a churro special that we just couldn’t pass up though the chocolate fondue and chocolate pizza are always tempting items!
L’Avenue – Montreal, Quebec
A thin narrow dining area, graffiti on the wall, and some of the most unique breakfast and lunch dishes. This is what you’ll find at L’Avenue in Montreal. French toast with peaches, granola and a peach reduction sauce and pancakes with cheddar cheese and bacon and an apple syrup are just some of the interesting meals you’ll be able to savour. Surprisingly, the flavour profiles of these ingredient combinations work beautifully. The only downside? Lineups form FAST and with limited seating, you’ll either want to get there before it opens or settle in for a wait.
Poutini’s House of Poutine – Toronto, Ontario
Of course, no list of Canadian restaurants would be complete without at least one reference to a great place to find poutine! Poutine is, essentially, the one dish everyone recognizes as Canadian. If you’ve yet to experience the sloppy, cheesy goodness, you’ll definitely have the opportunity when you move to Canada. Poutine, essentially french fries covered with cheese curds and then hot gravy (which effectively melts said cheese curds) originated in French Canada but quickly made its way around the country. Poutineries have popped up nationwide offering poutine varieties of all kinds but Poutini’s House of Poutine is arguably the best of those in Toronto with menu items like BBQ pulled pork poutine, roasted mushrooms and onions poutine and, because sometimes you’ve got to throw everything traditional into one, smoked meat poutine. Vegetarian or vegan? They also have gravy and cheese just for you. With two locations, you can take your pick but be sure to bring cash – it’s all they accept!
Download the Zipkick app for more restaurant, bar & cafe recommendations for some great cities worldwide and stay tuned for more cities & restaurant additions.
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