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Cheese Boutique (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
The Cheese Boutique in Toronto's West End
Toronto is a city brimming with culture, passion, and personality. Also home to an emerging foodie scene, the city offers visitors some truly unique opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry. From a cozy seafood joint with a larger-than-life owner to a rotating restaurant 1,151 feet from the ground, here are just a few of the top foodie finds in Toronto. 


For the Seafood Lover – Starfish Oster Bed & Grill: The pride and joy of World Champion Oyster Shucker Patrick McMurray, this casual and cozy restaurant is a must-visit for all seafood lovers booking flights to Toronto. With a menu that changes daily to highlight the finest and freshest seafood in Canada, no two visits are going to be exactly alike. One thing is certain, however. If you’re lucky enough to chat with Patrick, you will learn something new about seafood.


It’s no exaggeration to say that McMurray wrote the book on oysters. In 2007, he published Consider the Oyster: A Shucker's Field Guide, an extensive look at the culture and history of the half-shell.  The way McMurray talks about oysters falls somewhere between master sommelier and proud father. His unbridled enthusiasm for oysters will have even the most reluctant of seafood eaters braving it out and trying some of the raw (and admittedly delicious) treats.



For the Cheese-Eaters –Cheese Boutique:  Located in Toronto’s West End, the Cheese Boutique is one of those places that must be seen to be believed. Carrying over 15,000 products, the store is packed to the gills with everything a chef could dream of. From a small but extensive produce selection to an entire room dedicated only to pasta, the boutique offers much more than its name suggests.


However, with the finest hand-selected cheeses in Toronto and an entire cave designated to the aging process, it is clear that cheese reigns supreme. Family owned and operated by the Pristine family for three generations, the Cheese Boutique has become one of the most trusted names in the Toronto foodie scene. The boutique supplies some of the city’s finest restaurants and has become a one-stop-shop for amateur and professional chefs from across Toronto.



For the High-Minded – 360 at CN Tower: The CN Tower is the centerpiece of the Toronto skyline. And as home to one of the city’s finest restaurants, it also serves as anchor to Toronto’s rising foodie scene. Under the direction of Executive Chef Peter George, 360 at CN Tower combines fresh local ingredients with one-of-a-kind views to create one of the most unique dining experiences anywhere in the world.


At 1,151 feet, the rotating restaurant is also home to the world’s highest wine cellar. A sky-high recreation of a typical underground cellar, the unique space is capable of holding 9,000 bottles at a time and boasts many regional wines from Canada. With an eye to the future, the restaurant recently began offering its extensive wine list on an iPad, allowing diners fast access to the most in-depth information to compliment expert pairing suggestions from a team of three sommeliers.   



For the Beer Drinkers – Steam Whistle Brewery:  Toronto visitors who enjoy a premium pilsner or just a heart-warming start-up story need to stop by the Steam Whistle Brewery. Founded by three fired employees from the Upper Canada Brewing Company back in 2000, the unlikely start-up has quickly become one of the most well-known names in Toronto.


Attracting over 100,000 visitors a year, the brewery has transformed Toronto's once-abandoned Roundhouse into a constant hub of activity. Want to learn more? Hop on a tour of the brewery. Charming and personable tour guides (many of whom have trained in improv comedy) perfectly exude the friendly and laid-back attitude that Steam Whistle’s founders set out to re-capture in the brewing industry. Within walking distance of the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower, the half-hour Steam Whistle Brewery Tour is a must for any beer lover in the city.



For the Starving Artists – FRANK: Located inside the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), FRANK combines food and culture unlike any other restaurant in the city. After a long day exploring the museum, visitors can head downstairs to enjoy dinner in this modern eatery designed by Frank Gehry. The casual chic décor is beautifully complimented by a contemporary work from American minimalist Frank Stella.


Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich offers a comfort-oriented menu focusing on ingredients raised from responsible and sustainable farming. Local products reign supreme here with a wide selection of Ontarian wines available and local seasonal ingredients gracing every page of the menu. During special events at the AGO, FRANK also offers a pre-fixe menu that compliments the work of featured artists.


Of course, no foodie experience in Toronto would be complete without a visit to the St. Lawrence Market. Check out our full write-up on St. Lawrence here

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