February 2, 2023

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Toronto Life’s most popular food stories of 2022

After what seemed like endless months of lockdowns and restrictions, we were finally able to safely—and joyously—enjoy our city’s fantastic culinary scene in 2022. We filled dining room seats again, celebrated the opening of exciting new restaurants, flocked to food festivals and even made it into the Michelin Guide. Here, our top 10 food stories of the year.


No. 10 : “I’m hand-picking each vendor.”: A Q&A with Suresh Doss about bringing Smorgasburg to Toronto

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s beloved food market (famous for incubating top culinary talent), launched its first international outpost this summer—in Toronto. With other US editions in New York, Jersey City, Los Angeles and Miami, the 11-year-old market didn’t bring in Americans to replicate its south-of-the-border success. Instead, it tapped local writer and food guide Suresh Doss to turn Smorgasburg into a distinctly Toronto affair. | By Caroline Aksich | June 6
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No. 9: Inside Superfresh, the new 4,000-square-foot Asian night market–inspired food hall in the Annex

This new Annex food hall brings all the fun of an outdoor night market inside. Its 4,000 square feet are filled with food and drink vendors, and every single booth is an Asian-owned or -led business. There are seven street-food spots, a full-service bar with cocktails on tap, a bodega stocked with snacks and a secret speakeasy. | By Renée Suen | May 24

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No. 8: “We came really close to selling the place”: Two Toronto restaurateurs on the struggle to open their dream Grey County restaurant

In October 2018, Teo Paul and Tyler Wilson—the team behind Ossington’s Union and Côte de Boeuf—bought a dilapidated tavern in the Grey County village of Kimberley. The dream was to open a new restaurant that would stretch their brand beyond Toronto’s city limits, with a new feel evocative of a European roadside tavern. But, with a pandemic just around the corner and a steep learning curve during the build, the project was so difficult that they almost sold it a week before opening. But open it did, and to ringing praise from both locals and the droves of Torontonians who make the drive up. Here’s how they pulled it off. | By Liza Agrba | March 14

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Photographs courtesy of SumiLicious
No. 7: “They have their secret. Now I have a secret too”: The story behind SumiLicious, the only Scarborough restaurant to receive a Michelin award

As the international spotlight (finally) shone down on Toronto’s food scene during a glitzy Michelin Guide reveal in September, one award recipient stood out from the rest: SumiLicious, a deli housed in a Scarborough strip mall, was the only one of the 30 acknowledged restaurants located outside of the city’s core. Owner Sumith Fernando picked up a Bib Gourmand award for his Montreal-style smoked meat and poutine. | By Joel Balsam | September 19

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Photo by E. Firatli
No. 6: Toronto’s 10 best sandwiches right now, according to a guy who calls himself Sammo Boi

By day, Dan Hawie is the director of marketing and A&R for a record label. By night—or at least over lunch and dinner—he’s Sammo Boi, an anthropomorphic loaf of bread in search of the city’s best sandwiches. While Hawie documents sandwich submissions from his friends and fans, he also does a lot of his own research, and out of the 500-plus sandwiches he’s posted to his account, he’s found some favourites along the way. | By Rebecca Fleming | March 8

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No. 5: “It’s not fair for your paycheque to be contingent on a stranger’s mood”: David Neinstein on his decision to go tip-free at Barque Smokehouse

Barque Smokehouse owner David Neinstein first started thinking that gratuities were gratuitous in 2019, after visiting one of no-tipping-trailblazer Danny Meyer’s restaurants in New York. He’s been talking it through with his staff and customers ever since, and in May, Barque Smokehouse did away with tipping and instituted a starting wage of $22.25 per hour for all staff. We caught up with Neinstein to chat about going tip-free and why it should be the norm. | By Caitlin Walsh Miller | June 15

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No. 4: “No matter how long you take, you can’t be prepared for something like this”: After six years and one pandemic, Matty Matheson’s Prime Seafood Palace is finally open

In 2016, Matty Matheson decided he wanted to open a restaurant that would embody his ideal of hospitality. Teaming up with former Canoe chef Coulson Armstrong, he designed a steakhouse menu that would treat ingredients with reverence and steer clear of complexity. Matheson’s plan was to open on his 36th birthday, in 2018, but as he says, “Life ain’t a straight line.” | By Liza Agrba | June 13

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No. 3: “I realized pretty quickly that we were going to have a problem”: A Q&A with the owner of the former, Soviet-themed Pravda Vodka House

In August 2020, Toronto lawyer-slash-entrepreneur Jasmine Daya bought Pravda Vodka House, the Soviet-themed bar on the edge of the Financial District that has been serving Stoli shots and Red Square cocktails since 2003. Things were starting to normalize after two years of pandemic-related disruptions—until late February, when she began to face a barrage of online harassment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. | By Courtney Shea | March 28

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No. 2: The restaurant industry is broken

The ills of the restaurant industry are what make it so famous—and so ripe for reality TV. Staff are overworked and underpaid, costs are soaring, kitchen culture is toxic, and burnout is rampant. We spent months in conversation with chefs, restaurateurs and other experts to find out how they would fix the industry. The suggestions we received included creating a restaurant liaison, geothermal vertical farming, a universal basic income and abolishing the kitchen brigade system. | By Liza Agrba | September 21

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No. 1: Toronto’s best new restaurants 2022

This year’s “Where to Eat Now” package was a celebration of the city’s new and remarkable dining spots. It’s a collection of successful sequels (or three-quels) from established operators cooking the Canadian or Italian or French fine-dining fare of their dreams; outstanding pandemic-born pop-ups that became bricks-and-mortar businesses; a flurry of new pizzerias, bakeries and snack-slinging bodegas; and a sudden surfeit of steak frites, superb sushi and comfort food classics to help us get through whatever comes next. | By Alex Baldinger, Rebecca Fleming and Liza Agrba | May 19

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