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Toronto Food: 32 Food Things Only A Torontonian Would Understand

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TORONTO FOOD
32 food things only the people of Toronto would understand | LWA/Dann Tardif via Getty Images

We may be best known for our crack-smoking mayor and our constant complaints about the weather, but underneath all that snow and Rob Ford paparazzi, Toronto is and always will be the city of good food.

Whether you're trying out one of the latest foodie hot spots like Bar Isabel or the city's hidden gems tucked away in west-end plazas, food courts in Markham, Ont. or food trucks during summer festivals, the city has a long list of dishes to offer.

Recently, the New York Time's travel section lauded Toronto's food scene, with writer Francine Prose sampling from some of the city's most well-known multicultural neighbourhoods — from tofu stew in Koreatown to salmon in Little Poland. Even though Prose mentioned not hitting up smaller or newer ethnic communities outside of the downtown core because of time restrictions, we can only stress that all of GTA has a lot to offer.

And when our foodie cousins down south came up with this list of food things only New Yorkers would understand, we realized it's valuable to get insight on a city's food scene from the people who eat out and grocery shop there a lot.

While we couldn't possibly cover every single Toronto foodie secret, it's about time the city deserved a little more love. Here are 32 food-related things only the people of Toronto would understand and let us know, what would you add to this list?

  • The Giant Loblaws At The Former Maple Leaf Gardens Is Both Amazing And Overwhelming
    Either you love how this grocery store has every single item you didn't know you were looking for...or you're overwhelmed by the idea of an LCBO/Joe Fresh/grocery store/giant cheese wall in one location.
  • A Table At Grand Electric Isn't Always Worth The Wait
    Twitter/Katherine Flores
    Sure, the food is great, but you can find tons of equally tasty grub in close proximity if, say, it's -20 outside and there's a 2.5 hour wait. Which is 80 per cent of the time.
  • Everything At Lahore Tikka House Tastes Amazing
    Arti Patel
    Even if it feels incredibly wasteful eating off Styrofoam plates and using plastic utensils.
  • Our City's Cab Drivers Know More About Food Than We Do
    After a late night, you know your cab driver will have the names of the best spots to eat after hours — driving around the city around the clock leads to finding the tastiest 24-hour spots.
  • After A Clubbing Night, Burrito Boyz At 4 a.m. Is Always The Right Answer
    Twitter/FaHead
    If not, a nearby hot dog vendor or Smoke's poutine dish works as well.
  • You Know At Least One Person Who Has Attempted/Failed 15 Or 20 Chilis At Salad King
    Facebook/Salad King
    And you know at least one person who loves talking about how great (and even cheaper) the old Gould St. Salad King location was.
  • The Village By The Grange Food Court Is The Best Food Court In The City
    MeanBao/Facebook
    Located right across from the AGO and OCAD, you can find everything from sweet potato burritos to vegan noodle dishes to meaty-stuffed steamed baos.
  • Before You Try Any Restaurant In The City, You See If It Made BlogTO's 'Best Of List' First
    You also check out Yelp reviews and pictures just to be extra careful.
  • Good Hakka Food In Downtown Toronto Doesn't Exist
    For the real Indian-Chinese fusion deal, you go to Scarborough or Mississauga for the best manchurian balls, hakka fried noodles and every other greasy dish your stomach can handle. Some of the best Indian and Chinese food in general can also be found in 'Sauga and Scartown.
  • Our Street Meat Isn't The Best ... But We Won't Complain
    After all, they're basically the only consistent food trucks around.
  • You Will Wait In Line To Try Some New Disgusting Food Craze At CNE's Food Building
  • Watching People Wait In Line For Jack Astor's, Pickle Barrel Or Casey's Makes You Cringe
    Unless, of course, you want to meet 15 to 20 people for dinner.
  • Any Plaza In The GTA That Looks Sketchy Usually Has Really Good Food
    Google Maps
    There are a lot of hidden food gems in Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, Mississauga and other areas outside of the downtown core we don't like to brag about.
  • Not All Grocery Stores Are Created Equal
    Some have very little variety, long line-ups and you can never find a place to park your car. Others (we're looking at you, Fiesta Farms) make you forget you're grocery shopping at all.
  • You Will ALWAYS Recognize The Sound Of The Ice Cream Truck
    And ask for a half-vanilla-half-chocolate ice cream swirl.
  • Speaking Of Trucks, We Also Have Some Of Most Diverse Food Trucks In The Country
    Twitter/Suresh Doss
    And we're all pretty well agreed that we need drop the draconian laws that keep them confined to festivals and just let them FEED US.
  • Peameal Bacon Sandwiches At St. Lawrence Market Are The Best
    Instagram/lifeoutsidemycomfortzone
    THE BEST. And perhaps the best culinary symbol of our city.
  • You Know Exactly What Brand This Is And Where You Can Buy It
    Wikipedia
  • Brunch Sounds Like A Good Idea ...
    But getting a reservation or a table on busy weekends can get exhausting. (Image from The Black Hoof Cafe which shut down in 2011)
  • Bathurst Station Smells The Best ... And The Jamaican Patties On A Bun Make A Good Breakfast
    Twitter/Kat Chan
    Even at 7:30 a.m. during TTC rush hour.
  • You Love Explaining What Sushi Pizza Is To Other People
    And eating it as well.
  • During The Summertime, Every Neighbourhood Has A Street Festival
    And you go there just to eat the cheap food.
  • Speaking Of Which, Corn On The Cob At Any Festival Tastes Amazing
    With lime, chili, whatever, we'll eat it all!
  • In July, You Convince Your Friends To Go To Mississauga's RibFest
    Which might be the only time all year they go to Mississauga.
  • You Always Feel Like You're Doing Your Body A Huge Health Favour By Eating At Fresh
    Twitter/FreshRestaurants
    Your typical day: Yoga/working out, Fresh, bed.
  • We Celebrate Patio Season Far Too Soon
    Black Bull Tavern
    What's that? It's 8 degrees and sunny at the end of March? You know you won't be able to get a seat on a patio anywhere south of Bloor.
  • When Someone Asks You To Order Pizza ....
    You ask yourself if you have to add the '416' in front of 967-1111 as you sing the tune at the same time.
  • Though If You Want Something Fancy, Toronto Has A Variety Of Pizza Joints As Well
    Thin crust, gluten-free, carnivorous, what have you — we really won't complain about our pizza.
  • You Get Excited When Celebs Go To Toronto Restaurants
    Twitter
  • You Either Love Summerlicious And Winterlicious ... Or You Loudly Proclaim How You Boycott It
  • You're Always On The Hunt For Good Roti
    And basically, people will show allegiance to everything from Queen Street's Gandhi's roti (and the calories that come with it) to several other West Indian, Caribbean or Indian roti joints across the GTA.
  • You'll Never Run Out Of Ideas About Where To Eat
    Toronto has about 7,000 restaurants, according to Toronto Tourism and every single ethnic neighbourhood has at least one tasty dish to offer, so basically, if you can't find somewhere to eat, you aren't trying hard enough.
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