The Food Trend Power Ranking is our semi-regular, unscientific checkup on Toronto’s most pervasive food and restaurant trends.
1. Barbecue (up from No. 2)
Good news for barbecue lovers: Construction at chef Anthony Rose’s backyard grill resto Big Crow (located behind his Rose and Sons diner) is well underway. Also, new smokehouses Marky & Sparky’s and Roux (both in the Junction) are serving up the slow-cooked definition of barbecue. Oddly enough, so is Boston Pizza, which is promoting its baby back ribs with, no joke, these “rib stain camo” shirts, available for $15. (They actually sent us one in a men’s large if anyone wants it.)
2. Donuts (up from No. 3)
These little desserts are popping up at sit-down restaurants in refined incarnations. Woods has cinnamon-sugar donuts with warm chocolate sauce, and John & Sons Oyster House has a maple-cinnamon flavour. The Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens will start offering a “maple croissant donut” on Canada Day—not to be confused with the cronut (croissant-donut hybrid) that New Yorkers have been going bonkers over. Also: Tim Hortons and Jason Priestly need your help designing a new donut. That is a sentence we never thought we’d write.
3. Octopus (new!)
Hooray for diners not being squeamish over a mystical creature that can predict soccer game results. Recently, more octopi have been popping up on Toronto menus: Buster’s Sea Cove food truck has octopus tacos, Valdez does octopus ceviche, Bar Isabel will roast a whole one for $60, newly opened oyster shack Cool City Oyster char-broils theirs, and Oddseoul will sometimes even have live octopus on offer.
4. Bacon (unchanged)
The city’s annual bacon bonanza (known as The Ex) may still be a few months away, but rest assured, Barque has assumed the bacon duties for the Canada Day long weekend. The Roncy smokehouse will be taking part in Baconation at the Harbourfront Centre, with an elaborate bacon menu featuring sausages wrapped in bacon and chips with bacon salt and bacon salsa.
5. The Junction (New!)
Here’s a list of places to get food/booze that recently opened/will open soon in The Junction:
—Marky and Sparky’s (opened in May)
—Roux (opened in June)
—Magic Oven (opening late summer)
—Gourmeats (opening summer)
—Foodbenders (opened in June)
—Dundas Park Kitchen (opened in June)
—Amani Earls Coffee and Tea Bar (opened in May)
—Full Stop café (opened in June)
—Humble Beginnings (opened in April)
—Toronto Distillery Co. (opening soon)
—Cut the Cheese (opened in May)
—Sagra (opened in May)
6. Vegetables (up from No. 7)
Warmer temperatures mean Ontario crops be bloomin’ something tasty. Asparagus is going through a great run this spring—it’s on menus at Catch (to go with soft shell crab), Emma’s Country Kitchen (in a sweet potato and bacon chowder), La Carnita (shaved in a salad), Parts & Labour (with turbot crudo), Pizzeria Libretto (on a pizza), and Vertical (with pasta).
7. Tacos (down from No. 1)
Tacos: still awesome, but not taking the city by storm as much as last summer. Regardless, La Carnita is keeping the party going with its second annual art and taco show, Dos, at the Evergreen Brick Works on July 19. Even better news: this time, Chicago’s Big Star restaurant is also doing the food.
8. Food trucks (unchanged)
Trucks are rolling throughout the city: The lines at the Sony Centre have increased from last year and some new locations have even been added, like Sick Kids Hospital, David Pecaut Square, and Global Village Backpackers.
9. Fried chicken (new!)
Many iterations of this easy-to-please dish are showing up on the city’s menus: Acadia’s newly appointed chef de cuisine Dustin Gallagher serves his with waffles, kale, and spicy maple syrup. Porchetta & Co. recently started serving it as a weekly special with fixins like corn bread and a big cup of slaw (it’s amazing). A-OK fries theirs whole, while Momofuku is offering the large-format chicken meal for takeout over the long weekend. The Drake Hotel also introduced fried chicken to its menu under new head chef Ted Corrado. Plus, according to our recent Chef’s Guide To Toronto, one restaurant will do it as a special request. Sadly, Hopgood’s Foodliner is ending its wildly yummy Monday fried-chicken buckets this week.
10. Burgers (unchanged)
We’re still full from Burger Week and Burger Day, but that didn’t stop us (along with hundreds of other burger lovers) from ordering a California Classic at the new location of Burger’s Priest. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news: Slider Revolution has closed for good.
Honourable mentions: Poutine pizza goes mainstream; collards are the new kale.
Fallen off the power ranking: Tasting menus, New Korean, Queen and Spadina.
CORRECTION, JUNE 25: An earlier version of this story listed incorrect date information for the La Carnita Dos event. The story has been updated.