The Food Trend Power Ranking is our semi-regular checkup on Toronto’s most pervasive food and restaurant trends. For our inaugural edition, we’ve selected 10 that we can’t seem to avoid. Disagree with our ranking, or think we’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments.
They don’t call it Hogtown for nothing. This year’s CNE (running now to Sept. 3) includes a bacon food booth with bacon funnel cakes, bacon-wrapped deep-fried Mars bars, and a version of the Bacon Explosion. Toronto’s first bacon festival was held recently in Leslieville, a neighbourhood that will soon be home to an all-bacon sandwich shop called Rashers.
2. Food trucks
The summer of the truck continues with the launch of Gourmet Gringos (Latin American) and The Food Dudes (from the catering company of the same name). Next month, curbside cuisine will be fêted at the AwesTruck awards (vote for your favourite truck here). Swiss Chalet has even got in on the trend with a fleet of fry trucks.
Taco truck El Gastronomo Vagabundo is on Eat St. every time you flip to the Food Network. Taco pop-up stand turned restaurant La Carnita scored a favourable review from The Globe and, to a lesser extent, The Star. The CNE is shilling both raw and Korean tacos.
4. Creative cocktails
King West’s new Weslodge Saloon has a cocktail menu as detailed as a perfume description, as in: “Delicate floral botanicals, clean citrus with lemongrass notes.” And up at Bloor and Avenue’s new Museum Tavern, Moses McIntee has created a top-notch drinks list (Apricot Bourbon Sour, Watermelon Collins).
The Burger’s Priest is set to open its third location (at King and Spadina), Hero Certified Burgers continues to expand (King and Bathurst will get an outpost soon), and Toronto’s Big Smoke Burger (formerly Craft Burger) is opening in New York.
Like burger joints, gourmet-pizza parlours are multiplying like rabbits—not that we’re complaining. Two of the newbies are Neapolitan-style Picea997 (Dupont at Delaware) and by-the-slice spot North of Brooklyn (Queen and Palmerston).
7. Donuts vs. cupcakes
The debate on whether donuts are the new cupcakes rages on two years after the question was first posed in 2010 (according to Google, anyway). The rivalry has even been the subject of some fairly in-depth analysis. The opening of Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken, Dough Toronto, and the soon-to-open Glory Hole Doughnuts as well as Le Dolce cupcake studio fuel the fight in this city.
Charcuterie remains a staple on many a new menu. Little Portugal’s just-opened Iberian restaurant Quinta does a bang-up charcuterie plate at lunch and dinner that includes pork terrine and duck-liver mousse.
Toronto’s first generation of pop-up restaurants are growing up: Rock Lobster Food Co. now has a food stall in Kensington, Fidel Gastro’s is filming a reality show, and La Carnita and Feel Good Guru have permanent addresses.
10. Vegetables are the new pork
There were whisperings that 2012 would be the year vegetables would revolt against their side-dish status and be given prominence as a main dish. While some new restaurants (Yours Truly, Redfish) listened up, meat dishes still rule.
Honourable mentions: Q Water, izakayas, reclaimed wood, new Korean, no reservations.
(Photograph by Lamantin.)