There's something special happening in the Canadian food scene, with groundbreaking new restaurants popping up from coast to coast and redefining local cuisine.

EnRoute, Air Canada's in-flight magazine, rounded up Canada's top 10 restaurants opened in the past year in its 12th annual list released on Thursday, and this one will probably keep many critics quiet with picks from seven cities across Canada, compared with only three last year.

"I do really believe it's a special year for the list. It kind of comes down to that diversity," Ilana Weitzman, enRoute's editor-in-chief, said in an interview.

"You see everything from a Japanese-Italian wine bar mash-up in Calgary to a crazy new architecturally designed restaurant in the farthest reaches of Newfoundland. That’s really quite interesting."

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  • 10. Electric Mud, Toronto

    “Electric Mud is a twisted hymn to the American South.”

  • 9. The Acorn, Vancouver

    “That the food is meatless is almost beside the point unless you’re a foodie vegetarian who’s long hankered for a compromise-free night on the town.”

  • 8. Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu, Quebec City

    "One of the most convivial, playful, unabashedly fun dining experiences I’ve had anywhere in North America.”

  • 7. Maison Publique, Montreal

    “A mere 250 years after the Treaty of Paris, cooking Anglo food in Montreal is cool again.”

  • 6. Carino Japanese Bistro, Calgary

    "A Japanese-Italian wine bar that defies logic in the most wonderful ways.”

  • 5. Pidgin, Vancouver

    "The cuisine of Winnipeg-born Chef Ono, who ran restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong, draws from multiple languages."

  • 4. Supply and Demand, Ottawa

    "It’s not supposed to be this easy for a first-timer ... you notice all the little things that rookies Steve and Jennifer Wall are getting so right.”

  • 3. Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt’s Arm, Nfld. and Labrador

    “There’s a terrific survivalist spirit bursting out of Chef McDonald’s kitchen, where most everything is made from scratch.”

  • 2. Shoto, Toronto

    "A storybook of a tasting menu, with all the typical annoying bits – the repetition of ingredients, the showy caprice, the monotonous pacing – smartly edited out."

  • 1. Bar Isabel, Toronto

    "Looks, feels and tastes vaguely Castilian but does far more than ape a menu straight out of Madrid.”

  • <font size="5">NEXT: Maclean's 50 Best Restaurants In Canada</font>

  • Araxi

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://www.araxi.com">Araxi</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Whistler, British Columbia <strong>Notable?</strong> The first fine dining experience created in the ski resort town has become an institution over the past 20 years.

  • Charcut Roast House

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://www.charcut.com/">Charcut Roast House</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Calgary, Alberta <strong>Notable?</strong> Co-owned by Top Chef Canada Season One finalist Connie DeSousa, Charcut has been <a href="http://blogs.canoe.ca/scoundrels/general/charcut-and-mission-hill-a-match-made-in-foodie-heaven/">credited with being at the forefront</a> of Calgary's culinary reinvention.

  • La Bodega

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://labodegaregina.com">La Bodega</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Regina, Saskatchewan <strong>Notable?</strong> Besides being the sole restaurant from Saskatchewan on the list, La Bodega has made waves for its tapas-style dishes, three-level patio, and annual ice bar, created each November.

  • The Stockyards Smokehouse And Larder

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://www.thestockyards.ca">The Stockyards Smokehouse And Larder</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Toronto, Ontario <strong>Notable?</strong> A tiny fried chicken joint may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think "best restaurant," but The Stockyards has been praised for its meats by everyone from fanatical Yelp reviewers to celebrity chefs.

  • Maison Boulud

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://www.danielnyc.com/maisonboulud_montreal_en.html">Maison Boulud</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Montreal, Quebec <strong>Notable?</strong> For its celebrity chef, Daniel Boulud, of course, who will be opening another Canadian outpost in Toronto shortly. The Montreal restaurant, located in the Ritz Carlton, Boulud apparently chose Montreal for <a href="http://willtravelforfood.com/2012/06/13/maison-boulud-montreal/">being the "most European" of any North American city</a>.

  • Fid Resto

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://fidresto.ca/">Fid Resto</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Halifax, Nova Scotia <strong>Notable?</strong> <a href="http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/best-restaurant/BestOf?oid=1641568">Described as "stylish but casual</a>," this adamantly local restaurant is beloved by visitors and longtime citizens for its ever-changing menu, <a href="http://fidresto.ca/chronicle-herald-talks-up-fid-restos-nocturne-menu/">"Nocturne" installations</a> and great vibe.

  • Atlantica at the Beach House

    <strong>Restaurant</strong>: <a href="http://atthebeachhouse.ca">Atlantica at the Beach House</a> <strong>Where</strong>: Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Newfoundland <strong>Notable?</strong> Newfoundland is its own land in many ways, not the least of which in flavour. Atlantica has been named the best restaurant by En Route magazine in the past, thanks to Chef Stephen Vardy's focus on local ingredients, innovative dishes and a spectacular view that can't be found anywhere else in the country.

  • For the complete list of Maclean's "50 Best Restaurants in Canada," <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/19/canadas-best-restaurants/">visit the Maclean's website</a>.

  • <font size="5">NEXT: Vacay.ca's 50 Best Restaurants In Canada</font>

  • 20. Chives Canadian Bistro

    <a href="http://www.chives.ca/" target="_blank">Chives Canadian Bistro </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Halifax. N.S. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Spiced Nova Scotia lamb, duck charcuterie and Cape Breton snow crab

  • 19. Edulis, Toronto, Ontario

    <a href="http://edulisrestaurant.com/" target="_blank">Edulis</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Marinated black trumpets, rib steak and cheese plates!

  • 18. Chantecler

    <a href="http://www.restaurantchantecler.ca/" target="_blank">Chantecler</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Toronto, Ont. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Fish wraps, beef tartare and spicy popcorn chicken

  • 17. Muse

    <a href="http://www.muserestaurant.ca/" target="_blank">Muse</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Calgary, Alta <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Foie Gras Torchon, flat iron steak and the chocolate course

  • 16. Mono Cliffs Inn

    <a href="http://www.monocliffsinn.ca/" target="_blank">Mono Cliffs Inn</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Mono Centre, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Fallow deer, Australian lamb and seafood plates

  • 15. Toqué

    <a href="http://www.restaurant-toque.com/en/" target="_blank">Toqué</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Montreal, Que. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Razor clams, Atlantic halibut, strawberry soufflé

  • 14. Ruby Watchco

    <a href="http://rubywatchco.ca/" target="_blank">Ruby Watchco</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Toronto, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Canadian artisanal cheeses, shrimp cocktails, chef's specials

  • 13. Pastaga

    <a href="http://www.pastaga.ca/" target="_blank">Pastaga</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Montreal, Que. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Kenogami, plate of cakes and oysters

  • 12. Hawksworth

    <a href="http://www.hawksworthrestaurant.com/" target="_blank">Hawksworth</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Vancouver, B.C. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Octopus ceviche, tandoori grilled sturgeon and bacon wrapped rabbit loin

  • 11. Rouge

    <a href="http://www.rougecalgary.com/home" target="_blank">Rogue </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Calgary, Atla <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Seared Artic char, pasta of the day and Rouge Nanaimo bars

  • 10. Raymonds

    <a href="http://www.raymondsrestaurant.com/food.php" target="_blank"> Raymonds</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> St. John's, N.L. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Lobster salad, fresh hand crafted pastas and rack of lamb

  • 9. Canoe

    <a href="http://www.oliverbonacini.com/OurRestaurants/Canoe/Menus.aspx" target="_blank">Canoe</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Toronto, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Sustainable blue char, maple torched B.C. salmon and pressed black silkie chicken

  • 8. Les 400 Coups

    <a href="http://www.les400coups.ca/" target="_blank">Les 400 Coups </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Montreal, Que. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Black pudding croquette, wild seabass, homemade bresaola

  • 7. Model Milk

    <a href="http://www.modelmilk.ca/" target="_blank">Model Milk</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Calgary, Alta <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Wild pacific cod, duck confit and rabbit salad

  • 6. Acadia Restaurant & Bar

    <a href="http://www.acadiarestaurant.com/" target="_blank">Acadia Restaurant & Bar</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Toronto, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Quail ballotine, slow roasted pork loin, ricotta dumpling

  • 5. CHARCUT Roast House

    <a href="http://www.charcut.com/" target="_blank">CHARCUT Roast House</a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Calgary, Alta <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Spit-roasted spring creek prime rib sandwich, warm cookies and pig head mortadella and brassica mustard

  • 4. Atelier

    <a href="http://www.atelierrestaurant.ca/" target="_blank">Atelier </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Ottawa, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Sample menu for $110

  • 3. Vij's

    <a href="http://www.vijs.ca/" target="_blank">Vij's </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Vancouver, B.C. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Grilled coconut kale, braised beef and spicy goat

  • 2. Langdon Hall

    <a href="http://www.langdonhall.ca/viewpage.cfm?PageID=49" target="_blank">Langdon Hall Hotel & Spa </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Cambridge, Ont <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Nova Scotia lobster, lingonberry meringue and veal tartar

  • 1. Joe Beef

    <a href="http://www.joebeef.ca/" target="_blank">Joe Beef </a> <strong>LOCATION:</strong> Montreal, Que. <strong>LOOK OUT FOR:</strong> Foie gras double down, lobster spaghetti and pulled pork.

  • NEXT: The 20 Best Restaurants In The World

  • 20. Narisawa: Japan

    From S.Pellegrino's <a href="http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/">The World's 50 Best Restaurants</a> list

  • 19. Le Bernardin: New York

  • 18. Le Chateaubriand: France

  • 17. Pujol: Mexico

  • 16. L'Arpege: France

  • 15. Alinea: Chicago

  • 14. Astrid y Gastón: Peru

  • 13. The Ledbury: England

  • 12. Frantzén/Lindeberg: Sweden

  • 11. Per Se: New York

Weitzman noted that a couple of the restaurants' chefs — Murray McDonald from Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland and Makoto Ono from Pidgin in Vancouver — have also returned to Canada from cooking abroad, a welcome sign that talent is returning to energize and evolve the food scene here.

The expat theme also played out with the choice of EnRoute's food writer and restaurant critic for the list — Andrew Braithwaite, a Harvard-educated Canadian originally from Vancouver Island. Braithwaite has family all over the Canada, but lives in San Francisco.

"He’s not linked to any one culinary scene or market, so he doesn’t have as much bias as let’s say someone coming out of a single city, and that I find exciting. And it also puts him kind beyond the tentacles of any PR, so it creates a kind of independence," added Weitzman.

For the challenge of finding the best new restaurants, Braithwaite dined at all 35 establishments on the magazine's shortlist, which was curated with the help of an eclectic mix of panelists including other critics, food producers and Canadian personalities such as the fiery CBC "Dragon" and entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson.

All this eating was done in a breathtaking (and button-popping) span of just one month.

The magazine also named a People's Choice winner, Vij’s Railway Express, a Vancouver food truck inspired by an Indian rail carriage.

What do you think of the EnRoute's picks? How does it compare to broader lists of best restaurants in Canada by Vacay.ca, Maclean's and others?

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LOOK —Canada's 10 best new restaurants in Canada, according to enRoute:

1) Bar Isabel, Toronto: “looks, feels and tastes vaguely Castilian but does far more than ape a menu straight out of Madrid.”

2) Shoto, Toronto: “A storybook of a tasting menu, with all the typical annoying bits – the repetition of ingredients, the showy caprice, the monotonous pacing – smartly edited out.”

3) Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt’s Arm, Nfld. and Labrador: “There’s a terrific survivalist spirit bursting out of Chef McDonald’s kitchen, where most everything is made from scratch.”

4) Supply and Demand, Ottawa: “ It’s not supposed to be this easy for a first-timer ... you notice all the little things that rookies Steve and Jennifer Wall are getting so right.”

5) Pidgin, Vancouver: “The cuisine of Winnipeg-born Chef Ono, who ran restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong, draws from multiple languages.”

6) Carino Japanese Bistro, Calgary: “A Japanese-Italian wine bar that defies logic in the most wonderful ways.”

7) Maison Publique, Montreal: “A mere 250 years after the Treaty of Paris, cooking Anglo food in Montreal is cool
again.”

8) Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu, Quebec City: “One of the most convivial, playful, unabashedly fun dining experiences I’ve had anywhere in North America.”

9) The Acorn, Vancouver: “That the food is meatless is almost beside the point unless you’re a foodie vegetarian who’s long hankered for a compromise-free night on the town.”

10) Electric Mud, Toronto: “Electric Mud is a twisted hymn to the American South.”

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