Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America, only smaller than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. With it’s size it is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. But unlike many travel rivals, Toronto does not have a food problem. In fact, Toronto is a food heaven. Reason – presence of any cultural food cooked by actual first generation immigrants at a low price. There is absolutely no developed city in the world that has this many Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Eastern European, Italian, French and American restaurants operated by people who were actually born (and learnt how to cook) in those countries. So what are the major factors that make Toronto a Food Heaven?
Food Variety Everywhere
Another beautiful thing about Toronto’s food is that you will find a restaurant of each type in practically any area of the city. You don’t need to travel to Markham to eat Chinese or to Brampton to eat Indian. Whenever you are staying, just tell a hotel clerk what food you feel like that day and you will get plenty of recommendations within minutes from where you are. One explanation to this variety is that Canadians love to go out. It is estimated that average Canadian of any age, or family size, goes out on average twice a week. To go out this often, people need variety.
What to expect in terms of prices? Well, this is another beauty about Toronto. Price and quality not necessarily go hand in hand. Generally food quality is high everywhere due to very rigorous food inspection regulations. In Toronto a chef will never be able to bribe himself out of random inspection and one red tag can literally mean a career. Price varies based on interior of the restaurant really. In many cases it comes down to how much owners spent on renovations. If you care more for a friendly atmosphere that posh walls, an average dinner will cost you $15-20 per person not including alcohol. For this price you will be getting extra large size of meal, always. In Toronto everything is big, including restaurant entrees. You will be full for your $15 guaranteed.
In Toronto for the cost of food you will be also getting unlimited drinking water. Yes, tap water if free in Toronto, no matter how much you order. Tap water is absolutely clean and safe, in fact here, no one calls is tap water. We call it just “water”, and we don’t mean a bottle of mineral water like in Italy of UK. We literally mean normal drinking water. In many cases water will be even served with lemon and ice. In Chinese restaurants you can request green tea and it also will be served free of charge. Tea in addition to water, go ahead and ask for both! In many Japanese restaurants (warning, more common outside of downtown), you will also be getting a free miso soup. Whenever soup is not free, you can get it for $1 or $1.50 per bowl as in Japanese food, miso soup is not regarded a course, it is almost like a tea – a comforter. Freshly baked bread is common in European restaurants, also served free of charge.
Now, don’t you dare to complain about restaurant service in Toronto. Of course there are exceptions, but on the large scale comparing to 20 most visited cities in the world, Toronto restaurant service is superb. Reason – wait staff is compensated minimum wage salary ($10.25 per hour, quite high!) in addition to tips. Wait staff actually makes a very good money here, so they are generally very happy to have this job. Plus, as you will quickly find out, “Canadians are nice”. You will never see a grin on you waitress face, nor you will get a note on your bill complaining for low or no tip. Tips are not a must. If you leave none, you will still be thanked and welcomed back. Of course, I urge you to leave a tip, but I just wanted to make a point that you will be getting equally good service regardless.
Author of this article, Nancy Schneider, lives in Toronto. She writes about the city, world travel, shopping, fashion and tips for buying Kliik glasses online with free shipping to Toronto.