One of the best things about Toronto’s culinary scene is its diversity. You can, without ever leaving the confines of the city, eat pretty much any global cuisine you can think of.


Here are a few notes from local places with international flavours that we’ve been able to sample recently.


Turkey: Nevizade Kitchen + Bar

Inside the beautiful and cozy wood-finished former Wallace Gastropub sits an excellent but never showy midtown Turkish restaurant that I’m fond of visiting literally anytime I’m in the Yonge & Davisville area. I tend to visit mid-afternoon and enjoy the lull between meal rushes, sitting on my own in the nearly empty restaurant listening to a deeply pleasant 90s playlist and Turkish language news on the leftover pub TV screens. The service is slow but the vibe is welcoming as you’re served fresh bread with herbed oil to start. The chicken shish is a little bland but you can’t go wrong with the lamb sautée- a flavourful tomato sauce with rich cubes of fatty lamb and mushrooms, served with matchstick fried potatoes and dotted with thick yogurt. It’s pricey at $35 for the entrée but so worth it.


Netherlands/Indonesia: Little Sister Food Bar

The depth of flavour at this trendy Portland St gem is off the charts. Banging cocktails and mocktails (that pineapple mojito!) supplement the small plates family style fusion menu where for $300 between four people we ordered pretty much the whole menu. The menu has changed a bit since I visited so I’d feel bad recommending the crispiest brussel sprouts in the world in case they don’t have them when you go but it felt hard to go wrong if you don’t mind the price.


France: Nadège Patisserie

This high-end pastry shop has taken over Toronto, I think they’re up to six locations now? From the mainstay location near Trinity Bellwoods to the one I more often frequent in the Bloor-Annex area, the quality at Nadège is fairly consistently high and the service at the Annex location is friendly with lots of seating and a calm atmosphere. The prices are a little higher than the average cafe but not as high as you might expect from a patisserie. The signature macarons can sometimes be a bit bland and crumbly for my taste but the other pastries are incredibly good. The cheese croissant has surprisingly bold flavour to stand up to the exceptional caramel latte (the oat milk cardamom latte is less impactful) and the “Classy Affair” cake sports a delicious vanilla mousse with a delicate dark chocolate cover that’s to die for (the gold dust is precarious though as it’s nearly impossible to serve without leaving fingerprints on the fancy dessert). There’s no wifi, which explains the ample seating, but the staff is attentive and generous even if you stay for a long time, making it the perfect place for a coffee date or catch-up.


Italy: Vaticano

My husband and I were on the hunt for somewhere special to treat ourselves for Christmas dinner. Without a ton of places open, we chose this Yorkville staple because it hit the right mark of upscale without locking us in to an overpriced holiday prix fixe. We made the wrong call. Vaticano was incredibly overrated and ridiculously priced ($19 cocktails need to be far more elaborate than the ones on offer here). Charging for mediocre white bread is absurd, and a real shame because their sauces are the restaurant’s strength. I would have loved extra bread to sop up the lovely balsamic cream sauce adorning otherwise meh stuffed chicken. Similarly, the rosé sauce on the spinach & ricotta ravioli is beautiful but the pasta itself is undercooked. The veal saltimbocca is somehow both over salted and under flavoured, served with the same dull roasted peppers that appear as a side on everything. The ambiance of the cozy basement restaurant is lovely, the service is fine, and it’s always nice to see an open kitchen but the food simply was not up to snuff for the price point. Also perhaps taking the Kevin Spacey photo off the wall wouldn’t hurt.


China: The Goof/Mother’s Dumplings

Two staples of Chinese food in Toronto. The Goof in the Beaches is the perfect place to take a picky eater because of the range of options including some more American-style offerings. The food at The Goof (or Garden Gate Restaurant as it’s technically called) is mostly just alright but the Szechuan Hunan Beef is fantastic. I’d skip the curry. Far more consistent but limited in its specialty is Mother’s Dumplings, the College & Spadina staple that makes for great takeout or sharing dinners. Hands down the best dumplings in the city.


Caribbean/Trinidad/Guyana/Hakka: Caribbean Paradise

A humble Newmarket hole in the wall, Caribbean Paradise is the perfect stopover if you’re looking for something fast, affordable, and flavourful. The service is friendly and the huge variety in the menu is a refreshing boost to the suburbs.


Japan: Spring Sushi

Located near the movie theatre in Dundas Square, the giant Spring Sushi seems like it won’t live up to its $40 price tag ($30 at lunch) but the quality is actually surprisingly high and there are a number of high value items available on the menu to very quickly add up to more than the price in all-you-can-eat value. Butterfish nigiri is my favourite item on most sushi menus so all-you-can-eat is a favourite treat because it never seems worth it to order that a la carte if you’re a big eater. The short ribs are also fantastic, as are the cheese wontons, and the open-concept dining room with its massive windows overlooking the square is very pleasant. The ipad ordering system, though occasionally slightly flawed in its execution, makes the awkwardness of all-you-can-eat ordering much more enjoyable.


India: Little India

My go-to on Queen West, the homey and ever-reliable Little India has a fantastic menu with lots of variety and occasional special offerings (there was a temporary dosa menu for awhile that was such a treat). Their fresh naan is the perfect hit between crispy and tender and their curries carry deep flavour that are all refreshingly distinct from one another. The service is always top notch and the price is reasonable. You absolutely must over-order, it’s mandatory.