All posts by Crave Stev

Top 5 Patios for Summer 2018

Toronto patios have unrolled, and you’re thinking about enjoying your favourite beverage on one of them.

There is a lot to consider when searching for your perfect outdoor spot. Understanding what contributes to your perfect patio, is kind of like defining your perfect mate.

This is what we consider: Sun and shade, decor and view, food and drink, prices and location, street noise and music.

Top 5 spots to enjoy patio season:

5. Assembly111 Richmond St. W.

Tucked away in between downtown office towers, this new patio comes complete with DJ beats, on trend decor (Bay Street suits included) and best of all… a booze trailer slinging whatever corporate drink brand you like.

4. Allen’s143 Danforth Ave.

best patio Danforth Ave

As you mull the long beer list, the gorgeous century-old willow will cast its calming shade over you on this chill patio.

3. Gusto 101101 Portland St.

gusto patio king street

Tucked above the hustle and bustle of King Street West, this (of course bustling) Italian restaurant offers a remarkable food and wine menu at affordable prices. The 90-seat rooftop patio boasts wine at $1/oz. Share a fresh ricotta and spinach “spinaci” pizza ($18), order whatever size glass of wine you’re feeling, sit back, and enjoy summer’s beautiful people.

2. Bandit Brewery, 2125 Dundas St. W.

bandit brewery dundas street

Enjoy a wide variety of fresh onsite brewed beer ($10 for a flight of 4 samples) on one of this brew pub’s communal tables. Once your inhibitions relax, say hi to your neighbours and order the beer battered, salty and mouthgasmic deep fried cheese curds ($9).

1. Amsterdam Brewhouse245 Queens Quay W.

Experience cottage country in the city at “The Brewhouse”. Sip fresh craft beer and watch the yachts roll by- right on Lake Ontario.

Which Toronto patio is your favourite?

Best Toronto Happy Hours

Top 10 Happy Hour Bars in Toronto

Happy hour in Toronto is precarious, and with the rising cost of living- precious.

After years of banning them, the government allows reduced drink prices during certain times of day, as long as it’s not called “happy hour”.

So whether it’s “social club hour,” “appy hour,” “zinc and drink,” or has no name at all, you can still find a happy hour- wait don’t call it that!

With all these different names and lack of advertising, it can be hard to find happiness…

Top 10 spots for cheap after-work drinks:

10. AFT: 686 Queen Street E, 647-346-1541

Aft bar Queen East Happy Hour

You will feel like you’re having casual drinks in a friend’s backyard at this laid-back Leslieville/Riverside spot. Before 6pm Monday-Friday, enjoy a 16 oz glass of Sapporo, PBR or Wellington for $5.25. Tip: Ask about their smoked BBQ.

9. The Citizen: 522 King Street W, 416-703-2800

Happy Hour King Street West

This King West spot is loud and fun. Tuesday to Friday 5-7pm enjoy $5 drinks: 20 oz pints (Heineken, Creemore, Banquet, Murphy’s Stout, Newcastle, Belgian Moon), Strongbow cider, house wine or bar rail mixed drinks. Hit the patio for an even livelier scene.

8. Northwood: 815 Bloor Street, 416-846-8324

This bar carefully curates a rotating menu of local craft beers that are all $2 off from 5-7pm everyday. Keeping up with new releases from Collective Arts, Junction and Beau’s will make you a regular.

7. Prohibition Gastro House: 696 Queen Street E, 416-406-2669

Happy Hour Bars Queen Street East

There’s something for all your friends during “Hooch Hour”: Even premium liquors like Glenlivet and Grey Goose get “the hooch” treatment along with 18oz pints (Beau’s, Pilsner Urquell, Stiegl, Creemore) and 6 oz wine pours for just $5.09 at this Lesieville spot from 5-7pm daily.

6. Pearl Diver: 100 Adelaide Street E, 416-366-7827

Toronto happy hour

Weekdays 3-6pm get a featured pint of beer (usually Wellington) for $5 and 12 oysters for $18. The seafood tower (pictured) is half price ($30) on Tuesdays 6-10pm.

5. Liberty Commons: 42 Liberty Street,  416-304-9403

Liberty Villlage Bars Toronto

Located inside the Big Rock Brewing complex, this laid back gastropub offer you a 14 oz glass of Big Rock Lager for just $3.50 or an Old Fashioned for $7 every single day 5-7pm.

4. Luma: 2nd Floor, 330 King Street W, 647-288-4715

King Street Happy Hour

This swanky restaurant on the second floor of the TIFF Lightbox offers 6 different styles of manhattans, at just $6 each you might want to try them all- Monday to Friday 4-9pm.

3. Baro: 485 King Street W, 416-363-8388

Toronto King West Restaurants Best

On the second floor of this King West hot spot between 5-7pm you will find “Fiesta Hour”: $5 snacks such as beef and tuna hand rolls can be paired with a $5 glass of wine or $20 sangria pitcher.

2. Home of the Brave: 589 King Street W, 416-366-2736

Toronto's #1 bar

Voted Toronto’s favourite bar, this King West hot spot offers you a $5 12oz mug of beer or a $9 old fashioned weekdays 5-7pm. Eye candy is free;)

1. Bar Neon: 1226 Bloor Street, 647-748-6366

The undeniably cool atmosphere of this Bloordale neighborhood spot offers buck-a-shuck and $5.50 16 oz craft beer pours everyday 5-7pm. The backyard patio has a laid back vibe perfect after a long workday.

Quoted prices do not include tax. Happy hours are known to change or disappear, not a bad idea to call ahead.

toronto food festival fun

Toronto’s Food Truck Event of the Year is Now Free!

Raise your fork- Food Truck Festival Ontario has a new downtown location and free admission!

ftfo 2017

You will enjoy summer’s final weekend with friends on the grassy Sherbourne Common. Savour the direct view of Lake Ontario and exclusive $6 menu items from the city’s favourite food trucks, as they compete for your vote in their quest to win the Golden Fork Trophy.

Some of the mouthgasmic tastes you can look forward to:

best Toronto food truck

Peking Duck Poutine by Me.N.U

beset food truck eats

Avocado Fries by Untamed Chef

toronto ice cream truck

Build your own ice cream creation by Bake 350

toronto churros

Dulce de Leche Churros by Cha Cha Churros

Want to live like a Foodstar for the day? Checkout their VIP pass.

How to Become a Food Festival Master

Every summer weekend Toronto hosts some sort of food festival.

Numerous vendors gather for a day of yum, offering you a lot of options. Really enticing options that range a variety of tastes that you may not have the chance to try for a long long time, maybe ever!

FOMO is inevitable. Even seasoned foodies with stretchy pants have failed to capture all the tastes at Toronto’s top food festivals. But with your team foodie fun in tow, maybe, just maybe… YOU CAN.

6 steps to becoming a food festival master:

1. Assemble team foodie.

It is desirable you trust the tastes of each team member. Will they make a winning choice when faced with an extensive menu? Is it possible they could have a snaccident?

2. Plan your attack.

With so many options, your team needs a plan. Which vendors will you target first? Second? Third? Will there be themed rounds- Asian? Sweet? Savoury? Vegan? Your options are usually endless, have fun with it!

toronto food festival fun

3. Divide.

Each team member goes on their own mission to find their assigned dish- Go!

4. Conquer.

With a dish successfully secured. Resist the temptation to taste your catch on the walk back to your team.

5. Re-group.

Talk about your dishes, take pictures of your dishes, share your dishes- you’re team foodie fun!

6. More (and more) food.

Repeat steps 3-5 until you’ve conquered all the offerings the festival has to offer!

WARNING: After round 4 it is common to lose a team member to a food coma. Deal with this by slapping them lightly on the belly.

Tag your team foodie fun below!

Toronto Happy Hour Guide- Summer 2017

So whether it’s “social club hour,” “appy hour,” “zinc and drink,” or has no name at all, you can still find a happy hour- Wait don’t call it that!

With all these different names and lack of advertising, it can be hard to find happiness for an hour…

Top spots to enjoy cheap after-work drinks:

 1. AFT: 686 Queen Street E, 647-346-1541

Happy Hour TorontoYou will feel like you’re having casual drinks in a friend’s backyard at this laid-back Leslieville/Riverside spot. Before 6pm Monday-Friday, you can have a pint of Mill Street, Sapporo, Okanagan Spring or Wellington for $5.25. Tip: Ask about their smoked BBQ.

2. No One Writes to the Colonel: 460 College Street, 416-551-7647

happy hour bar Toronto

This low key cocktail bar became not so low key after people (U of T students) found out about their 2-for-1 cocktails between 5-7pm everyday. Top choices: Mojito or Tequila Sunrise.

3. The Citizen: 522 King Street W, 416-703-2800

king west happy hour TorontoThis King West spot is loud and fun. Tuesday to Friday 5-7pm enjoy $4 drinks: Draught (Rickard’s, Creemore, Banquet, Murphy’s Stout, Newcastle, Belgian Moon), Strongbow, house wine or bar rail mixed drinks. Hit the patio for an even livelier scene.

4. Prohibition Gastro House: 696 Queen Street E, 416-406-2669

Prohibition bar happy hourThere’s something for all your friends during “Hooch Hour”. Even premium liquor like Glenmorangie Scotch gets “the hooch” treatment at this Lesieville spot from 5-7pm daily. Just about every drink goes for just $5.09.

5. Pearl Diver: 100 Adelaide Street E, 416-366-7827

Toronto happy hourEvery weekday 3-6pm get a featured beer (usually Wellington) for $5 and 12 oysters for $18. The seafood tower (pictured) is half price ($30) on Tuesdays 6-9pm.

6. Northwood: 815 Bloor Street, 416-846-8324

Bloor Street Patio barThis bar carefully curates a rotating menu of local craft beers that are all $2 off from 5-7pm everyday. Keeping up with new releases from Collective Arts, Junction and Beaus will make you a regular.

7. Liberty Commons: 42 Liberty Street,  416-304-9403

Draft Beer Happy Hour Special at Liberty Commons

Big Rock Brewery Happy Hour Special at Liberty Commons

Located inside the Big Rock Brewing complex, this laid back gastropub offers a glass of Big Rock Lager for just $3.50 from weekdays 5-7pm. Stay for dinner and enjoy their beef brisket that’s aged for 30 days and smoked for 9 hours.

8. Tennessee Tavern1554 Queen Street W, 416-535-7777

Tennessee Tavern Happy Hour Specials

Pierogi Happy Hour Special at Tennessee Tavern

If you can make it to Parkdale between 4-6pm, enjoy a glass of pilsner for $4 and half price pierogies at this newly re-invented spot.

9. Home of the Brave: 589 King Street W, 416-366-2736

Draft Beer Happy Hour Special at Home of the Brave

Draft Beer Specials During Happy Hour at Home of the Brave

This King Street West hot spot offers $5 mugs of beers and $9 old fashions every day from 5-7pm. Sweet tip: Try their red velvet funnel cake:D

10. Bar Neon: 1226 Bloor Street, 647-748-6366

The undeniably cool atmosphere of this Bloordale neighborhood spot offers buck-a-shuck and $5 pints of craft beer everyday 5-7pm. The backyard patio has a laid back vibe perfect after a long workday.

11. Bar Begonia: 252 Dupont Street, 647-352-3337

bar begonia torontoMake your way to Dupont Street weekdays from 4-6pm to enjoy $6 Manhattans and Negronis on this bar’s raised patio.

12. Luma: 2nd Floor, 330 King Street W, 647-288-4715

This swanky restaurant on the second floor of the TIFF Lightbox offers classic liquor-forward cocktails from 4-9pm Monday to Friday. Choose from a selection of $6 martinis and manhattans.

13. Baro485 King Street W, 416-363-8388

Baro Food and Drink Happy Hour special

Tuna Roll Happy Hour Special at Baro

Walk up to the second floor of this King West hot spot between 5-7pm to experience “Fiesta Hour”: $5 snacks such as beef and tuna hand rolls can be paired with a daily drink special like $5 glasses of wine or $20 sangria pitchers.

Quoted prices do not include tax. Happy hours are known to change or disappear, not a bad idea to call ahead.

Top 5 Food Festivals for Summer 2017

It’s the season you’ve been waiting for.

But with so many festivals, how to best plan a successful festival season?

Top 5 Summer Food Festivals:

5. Waterfront Night Market: August 11-13, Hearn Generating Station.

t and t night marketExperience a full-on Asian outdoor night market at a new venue in the Port Lands. Try all the specialty Asian dishes you’re afraid to order at a restaurant, because you’re not sure what will arrive. All your senses will be stimulated (aromas of stinky tofu and rotting garbage included) as the food cooks before your eyes.

 

4. The Stop Night Market: June 13-14, 181 Sterling Road.

toronto foodie event 2017

For two days a year, a gravel parking lot turns into a weeknight food and drink wonderland. For $100, you get unlimited consumption from pop-ups like Oyster BoyEnoteca Sociale, Dailo, Henderson BreweryNorman Hardie and Georgian Bay Spirits. Book the next day off to nurse your food coma and hangover.

 

3. Taste of Toronto: June 15-18, Fort York.

taste toronto festival Taste doesn’t just gather the local restaurant community in one place for your eating pleasure, they offer classes and demonstrations for your inner chef. $23.50 gets you entry (no food included).

 

2. Taste of The Danforth: August 11-13, Danforth Ave.

taste of danforthClaiming to be Canada’s largest street festival, be prepared for an ocean of people and snaking lineups. Danforth Ave becomes a smoky lamb spit for three glutinous days.

 

1. Food Truck Festival Ontario: September 16-17, Sherbourne Common.

This now free festival gives you the ultimate foodie adventure: Divide, conquer and sample $6 menu items from Ontario’s best food trucks, then become a foodie judge. The truck with the most votes wins the coveted Golden Fork Trophy!

Which Summer Food Festival is Your Favourite?

Top 5 Patios for Summer 2017

The return of warm weather has Toronto unrolling its patios, and you’re thinking about enjoying your favourite beverage on one of them.

There is a lot to consider when searching for your perfect outdoor spot. Understanding what contributes to your perfect patio, is kind of like defining your perfect mate.

When visiting Toronto’s many patios, this is what we consider: Sun and shade, décor and view, food and drink, prices and location, street noise and music.

Top 5 spots to enjoy patio season

5. Allen’s, 143 Danforth Ave.

Allen's danforth patioThe gorgeous, century-old willow tree casts its calming shade as you enjoy Allen’s famous juicy burgers and mull the long beer list on this chill patio.

4. Bandit Brewery, 2125 Dundas Street West.

Enjoy a wide variety of fresh brewed onsite beer ($10 for a flight of 4 samples) on one of this brew pub’s communal tables. Once your inhibitions relax, order the beer battered, salty and mouthgasmic deep fried cheese curds.

3. El Catrin, 55 Mill Street.

distillery district restaurantThis immaculate patio tucked away in the middle of The Distillery District, is far from Toronto’s busiest streets. Overpriced, yes, but how else could they afford the fire pits and luxury chandeliers?

2. Gusto 101, 101 Portland Street.

Gusto King Street west patio Tucked above the hustle and bustle of King Street West, this (of course bustling) Italian restaurant offers a remarkable food and wine menu at affordable prices. The 90-seat patio boasts a retractable roof, Tuscan-style grill and wine at $1/oz. Share a margherita pizza ($15), order whatever size glass of wine you’re feeling, sit back, and enjoy summer’s beautiful people.

1. Amsterdam Brewhouse, 245 Queens Quay West.

Amsterdam Brewhouse Queens Quay patioAmsterdam Brewery offers cottage country in the city with their “Brewhouse”. Sip fresh craft beer and watch the yachts roll by- right on Lake Ontario.

Which Toronto patio is your favourite?

6 Gift Ideas for The Foodie

As connoisseurs of the interesting and the exceptional, the Toronto foodie is hard to impress and expectations are high.

Finding that perfect gift can be a daunting task.

Gifts you can buy right now for the foodie:

1. Craft Beer Guide. Every beer from every Ontario craft beer maker is rated on a five point scale to help the connoisseur navigate all that is Ontario beer, and discover some new gems.

beerguide

2. Herb Kit. Foodies dread the site of a generic dried spice rack. They want their herbs fresh! This kit grows Parsley, Thyme, Cilantro, Lemon Basil, Dill, Oregano, Marjoram, Chives, Savory, Garlic Chives, Mustard and Sage.

windowsill-herb-garden

3. Automatic Espresso. Nothing erks the foodie more than pre-packaged unfresh goods. With the push of a button, beans instantly grind, then brew for the freshest espresso possible. This assistant can also make a frothy cappuccino.

espress

4. Toronto Colouring Book. Featuring 14 hand drawn illustrations of Toronto institutions like Dutch Dreams, St Lawrence Market and Sam James Coffee, this gift will get the Toronto enthusiast away from their digital world.

CraveTO Colouring Book

5. Cider Variety Pack. If the foodie’s palate doesn’t accept Brickworks’ new peach and cherry flavours, they can fall back on the flagship 1904 made with Ontario apples.

brickpack

6. King Sized CubesToronto cocktail bars set one massive ice cube per glass. It decreases drink dilution, and will look cool in the foodie’s glass of merry cider. These silicone trays have six extra-large spots to create cubes no other home has.

Web_Portfolio_v3_2of4_Category-Item

What did you buy the foodie last year for Christmas? Let us know below.

su and bu toronto

Where to Find Award Winning Poke

Toronto’s first poke week sent foodies on a frenzied adventure discovering new downtown poke shops and sampling $5 bowls.

Poke fans voted

With just one vote to cast for their favourite bowl of the week, poke fans determined the Peoples Champion.

img_20161114_1444261This award winning salmon poke features avocado, mango, dragonfruit, cucumber, sesame seeds, fried rice balls and taro chips on rice

Secret ingredient

“Each bite was a reason for the next. The flavours and textures were a dance party in your mouth,” commented one Poke Week participant. The winning bowl had an ingredient not seen before at Toronto poke shops: Fried rice balls.
plate

The champ

SU&BU on John Street now has the “Golden Fin” designed by Toronto’s Crazy Plate Lady in their possession.

img_20161116_092038Sam Serruya owner of SU&BU with his award winning bowl of poke and the Golden Fin

Want to stay updated on everything Toronto Poke? Get a free Toronto Poke email subscription here.

su and bu

Poke Shops of Toronto

Poke is having its moment, and for good reason.

Immensely tasty, superbly healthy and beautifully presented, numerous poke-exclusive shops have opened downtown over the past five months.

Traditionally poke (pronounced po-kay) is made with raw fish, onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce over rice. Building on this basic recipe, Toronto shops add their own ingredient combinations to create remarkable presentations.

Poke shops downtown Toronto:

Big Tuna, 599 Bloor Street.

Big Tuna opened June 17, 2016 as Toronto’s first poke-exclusive shop, and is the only shop where you can enjoy a beer with your bowl.

anh tran big tunaBig Tuna owner Anh Tran offers up a poke bowl complete with taro chips at his 10 seat shop

 

Pokito, 420 Queen Street W.

Pokito benefits from having the expertise of owners from successful businesses of Chatime, Bake Code, and Me.n.u food truck.

pokitoThe “420” complete with tuna, salmon, ponzu lime sauce, sweet onion, cucumber, sesame seeds and guacamole is Pokito’s signature bowl

 

The Poke Box36 Toronto Street.

The Poke Box is square with plain white walls, no seating and lightning fast service.

poke in torontoHow fresh the fish is, makes or breaks poke. The Poke Box flew this tuna straight from Hawaii. 

 

Poke Guys, 112 Elizabeth Street.

Poke Guys is a hidden gem just off Dundas Street West. Not as busy and bigger than other shops, you can poke and chill.

poke guys
Hoki Poke, 946 Yonge Street.

Hoki Poke owners reinvented their sushi shop (The Signature Sushi) to become Toronto’s second poke shop.

hoki pokeThe potential colour and texture combinations of raw seafood, vegetables, fruits and sauces are endless- salmon bowl from Hoki Poke

 

Calii Love, 367 King Street W.

“Positive vibes” radiate throughout the space: Staff eagerly help you make the perfect menu selection while fun tunes blast in the background.

calii loveCalii Love has something the other shops don’t- it is spacious.

 

SU&BU, 106 John Street.

SU&BU launched as a stall in the Food Building at this year’s CNE to huge fan fare leading to their permanent location, with a second one in the works.

su and buToronto’s latest opening SU&BU also offers sushi burritos

Can you catch’em all?

Ever more poke-exclusive shops:

Rolltation, 207 Dundas Street West and 2291 Yonge Street

North Poke, 179 Baldwin Street

Lawai’a, 700 King Street West

Poke Wrap, 354 Yonge Street

Ono, 100 Western Battery Road