LIVING

Best New Restaurants Canada 2012: The Latest Hot Spots To Hit Up In Canada

12/24/2012 06:40 EST | Updated 03/25/2013 07:12 EDT
The Union

Much has been written this year of the push and pull between restaurant owners and restaurant patrons. How much of a voice should your average diner get in determining the quality of the place? How angry are chefs allowed to get at said diners when they feel wronged? And is it really worth going to jail over?

But when it comes down to it, what we're all showing is a serious interest in the food that's being prepared for us, and a developing sense of the kind of quality we expect when heading out for dinner. In a year when best of food lists have included everything from a country-wide search by Maclean's to a cheap eats discovery guide to a full-on food fight in response to the former, Canadians have their choice of classifications when it comes to going out to eat.

For an end-of-the-year look at restaurants in Canada, we were inspired by UrbanSpoon's list of the most popular spots to eat in the country. Working from that list, and taking recommendations from other peer-reviewed sites like Yelp and Chowhound, as well as local newspapers and national publications, we've compiled a pretty solid grouping of the best new restaurants that opened this year.

Check out the best new dining spots in Canada here. And as always, we know this list is in no way inclusive, so let us know all the amazing places we missed out on in the comments below — we'll add them in!:

Best New Restaurants In Canada For 2012

Restaurant: Three Boars

Location: Edmonton

Opened: April, 2012

Beloved by: Edmonton Journal, CBC, Yelp

Best description: "The atmosphere upstairs was completely reminiscent to me of my younger years in Seattle or a little dive bar in Portland, Oregon. I will definitely come back again and again! Great eats, great atmosphere, great service, great company! Does it get any better?" - Kristin K., via Yelp

Restaurant: Chantecler

Location: Toronto

Opened: March, 2012

Recommended by: Now Toronto, Yelp, UrbanSpoon

Best description: "Ah, Chantecler. Smells like marinated beef and seared fish and browning butter and somehow my grandmother's kitchen (do old stoves make a special smell?)." via Yelp

Restaurant: Odile

Location: Ottawa/Gatineau

Opened: May, 2012

Beloved by: Metro, local bloggers, TripAdvisor

Best description: "As my dish was being made with tender loving care just steps from me in the high heat of the kitchen, I sipped away on my refreshing sparkling lemon soda with a sour cherry reduction. ($3.25) Waiting for me at the bottom of the drink were 10 flavour-soaked cherries for the munch." - If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On

Restaurant: Café Sardine

Location: Montreal

Opened: February, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp, Montreal Mirror

Best description: "Here, you can gloriously eat donuts and pastries for breakfast, nibble sandwiches and savour premium coffee for lunch, and then luxuriate in the fine-dining atmosphere that envelopes the place as evening sneaks in." - Question de Gout

Restaurant: Osaka Hibachi

Location: Moncton

Opened: July, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, local bloggers

Best description: "A welcome addition to downtown Moncton. Gorgeous interior and very friendly wait staff. But the star of the show really is the food, which is head and shoulders above other Japanese restaurants in the city." - Johnny Fever, via UrbanSpoon

Restaurant: The Union

Location: Vancouver

Opened: January, 2012

Beloved by: Serious Eats, Yelp, local bloggers

Best description: "Picture yourself in a long communal table...sitting on a wooden bench, sipping a Southeast Asian cocktail, while eating a bowl of perfect Nasi Goreng, or Pad Thai. The music is just right, the atmosphere is friendly and energetic, and the space feels über modern (yet not the so-minimal-it's-cold modern, but rather a this-design-makes-me-feel-fuzzy-inside modern)." - Jorge A., via Yelp

Restaurant: Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus

Location: Edmonton

Opened: October, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon, local bloggers, CBC

Best description: "It is, in a word, meat-centric ... It's a really nice addition to the Edmonton restaurant scene. I'm very happy to have a good barbecue joint in the city." - Twyla Campbell, CBC

Restaurant: Ursa

Location: Toronto

Opened: January, 2012

Beloved by: EnRoute magazine, Yelp, UrbanSpoon

Best description: "The food is delish, the layout of every plate is almost playful. Instead of the food in one place it's laid out like the experience it should be." - James P, via UrbanSpoon

Restaurant: Sweet Life Dessert Co.

Location: Fredericton

Opened: June, 2012

Beloved by: Local bloggers

Best description: "The panini was really just a prelude. A foreword. A nicety I felt I owed the owners. I reached the counter and looked at the glass display of cupcakes, cake pops, squares, cheesecakes and began my order. I wanted an assortment. I wanted to sit there with a tray of desserts and eat it all until I had a mild sugar heart attack." - Fred Eats

Restaurant: Park

Location: Montreal

Opened: February, 2012

Beloved by: Chowhound, UrbanSpoon, Montreal Gazette

Best description: "And I kid you not when I say magic. Watch Park in action and witness a chef at the top of his game. From this kitchen emerges the most wondrous sushi, sashimi and all sorts of dishes produced in a style that’s part Japanese, part Korean, part French and part North American." - Lesley Chesterman, Montreal Gazette

Restaurant: Big Catch at Kingland Farmer's Market

Location: Calgary

Opened: June, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon

Best description: "For the price we paid I was worried this would be a run-of-the-mill experience comparable to Safeway and superstore. But WOW...probably the best take-out sushi I've had in this city. I stake my flimsy reputation on that statement." - Angelo T, via Yelp

Restaurant: Minami

Location: Vancouver

Opened: June, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp, OpenTable, UrbanSpoon

Best description: "Heaven in my mouth is the first line that comes to mind. With its Ningenmi philosophy- sincere, thoughtful, passionate- this place does not disappoint." - Sarah O, via Yelp

Restaurant: Hambar

Location: Montreal

Opened: April, 2012

Beloved by: TripAdvisor, Yelp, Question de Goût

Best description: "Every bite was a a treat. Each new item was a delicious surprise. Each minute in the place conveyed happiness and a great exploration ... I've been very stingy in giving five stars to any restaurant, but if I'm ever going to give one, this place rates it." - Paul B., Yelp

Restaurant: Piatto Pizzeria & Enoteca

Location: Halifax

Opened: June, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp, The Chronicle Herald

Best description: "The flour for the dough is Type 00, apparently very low in gluten, and the sauce is made exclusively with San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius ... I don’t know if it’s because of the volcanic soil, but the tomato sauce, which is made here every day, is amazing and figured heavily in two of our appetizers, prosciutto pacchi and polpette Italienne." - Bill Spurr, The Chronicle Herald

Restaurant: Momofuku Shoto

Location: Toronto

Opened: September, 2012

Beloved by: Toronto Life, Chowhound

Best description: "I can only surmise that having such a place on the Toronto culinary landscape will be a good thing, and as innovation tends to beget innovation we Toronto diners should all be winners." - Gourmandish, via Chowhound

Restaurant: Jam Cafe

Location: Victoria

Opened: May, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Best description: "I just tried Jam for the first time after hearing good things, and it completely delivered. Started off with a caesar, which was solid and garnished with pickled asparagus and a maple bacon strip, super delicious, wife and I ended up having three of those each. Love a place that enables socially acceptable morning drinking." - Moray66, via TripAdvisor

Restaurant: Truly Tasty

Location: Halifax

Opened: June, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp,

Best description: "The menu certainly isn’t extensive, but sometimes, I think simple is best. It usually means the kitchen has these dishes down right, and whatever you order will be good, and good on a consistent basis." - via Edible Legible

Restaurant: Cucina

Location: Calgary

Opened: October, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon, local bloggers

Best description: "An open kitchen fills half of the room and a floor-to-ceiling glass-fronted cooler displays meats and cheeses. A row of pull-taps gives coffee drinkers a choice of dairy for their drink and a display counter overflows with fresh baking." - John Gilchrist, Calgary Herald

Restaurant: Model Milk

Location: Calgary

Opened: October, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp, EnRoute

Best description: "Amazeballs. By far one the best meals I have had out in Calgary. We tried a bit of everything but the standouts were rabbit & grits, green bean salad with pickled cantaloupe and the pig. In fact the rabbit was so good I actually cancelled my main and had another order of it." - Denise M., via Yelp

Restaurant: Fable

Location: Vancouver

Opened: May, 2012

Beloved by: UrbanSpoon, Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail

Best description: "One would think [chef Trevor Bird is] careless and indiscreet but having eaten his food, I think it’s the flip side of confidence. His lovely, pleasing food rescues him and speaks eloquently for him. It’s cleanly edited, presented without insecure hoopla and well orchestrated flavours play out harmoniously." - Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun

Restaurant: SuzyQ

Location: Ottawa

Opened: May, 2012

Beloved by: Yelp, The Chronicle Herald, UrbanSpoon

Best description: "Inside Suzy’s, the floors are on a tilt. Doughnuts are made by hand in the hot back kitchen, and dropped into an enormous vat of oil. The day’s flavours are written on a chalkboard wall — caramel de sel, lemon raspberry, toasted coconut." - Jennifer Ditchburn, CP