When the weekend rolls around, Toronto’s King West restaurants come to life. With everything from German to Asian cuisine all located within the same few city blocks, you’re spoiled for choice—and many come from much further afield to be part of this vibrant neighbourhood’s energy. Here are some of the best spots to try the international cuisine.
Spice Route is an expansive Asian retreat in the heart of bustling downtown. The wide-open interior has two levels of seating centred around a flashy bar, and there’s also an outdoor patio, a cozy lounge-y nook near the front, and a fully private dining space in the back. Walking in, you feel like you’ve entered a Buddhist sanctuary. Statues of the Buddha can be found in every nook and cranny, in fact, and the dimly lit interior keeps the space feeling calm, so you can maintain your zen even with the busy crowds. If you’re here just for a drink, you’ll want to check out the sake menu. The Wandering Poet is a good bet, but the pièce de résistance is the Demon Slayer. The restaurant offers a surprisingly diverse set of options from Indian curries to Thai noodles to Japanese sushi. Portions tend to be large, so they’re perfect for sharing.
Colette Grand Café
Tucked just off King Street West is a lovely Parisian gem called Colette. Café by day and fine-dining restaurant by night, Colette Grand Café is enchantingly French. For dinner, head all the way to the left of the restaurant, toward the sumptuous grey-blue velvet banquet seating and wonderful white arches dividing the space. Start off with the delightfully foamy French 75 sour cocktail and the yellowfin tuna carpaccio. The delicate carpaccio comes with the most divine (and probably the only) smoked cherry tomatoes you have ever tasted. Next, try the coffee-brined slow roasted duck breast—it’s served perfectly pink and juicy.
WVRST is the only place you should be going for sausage in the city. Designed like a true German beer hall, with long communal tables and stool seating, this local favourite eatery is always bustling. It’s ideal for larger groups of people, so feel free to invite all your friends. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the flavourful elk sausage with cumin and porcini, or a hearty Canadian creation: the bison with blueberry and maple. WVRST also serves up some excellent craft brews, including some local favourites.
Buca has been named the best restaurant in Toronto, and as soon as you take a seat at this exceptional Italian restaurant, you see why. They’re known for their artisanal fare, including house-cured meats—which you can see for yourself in the open curing room. Get cozy with the restaurant’s industrial-chic vibe and be prepared to feel both right at home and totally blown out of the water with their hearty menu and upscale takes on traditional Italian dishes. If you’re a pasta person, try the gnocchi al pomodoro crudo. The gnocchi is perfectly cooked—soft and slightly springy—in a rich sauce of fresh tomato, pesto, and fermented butter. Pizza lovers should order the pomodoro e tartufo, a divine combination of tomato, basil, burrata cheese, and beautiful slivers of fresh truffles.
Many King West restaurants are great spots for an international meal and some good people watching. Just be sure to book your dinner reservation well ahead of time, as the neighbourhood is an incredibly popular spot to spend a lively night in Toronto.