The Best New Restaurants In Canada
Canadians like to eat (and eat well, at that). Just take a look at the sheer caliber of new restaurants that crop up every year, and you’ll find that ours is a culinary community with a voracious appetite for excellence and new perspective. From minimalist French bistros to charming Italian abodes, we searched the nation and came back with 15 outstanding new eateries that you need to visit now.
WRITTEN BY DAN CLAPSON, ROSS DIAS, CHRISTINA GONZALES, CHRIS METLER
Chef Victor Barry has been a busy man. Last year, he not only shuttered his prim and opulent Splendido to launch the decidedly unfussy Piano Piano — but just recently, across the street, he’s opened similarly casual Café Cancan in Cory Vitiello’s former Harbord Room, which makes for two sets of very big shoes to fill. Contemporary interpretations of French bistro classics dot the menu here, served in a room of bright pastels. Pair east coast cocktail oysters with a glass of sparkling champagne or rosé — yum! – CM
Coffee, cuisine, cocktails, and uncomplicated California cool. Situated in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood, La Palma is the airy eatery offering all-day dining to satisfy your appetite for all four — in a relaxed and refined atmosphere, no less. What else would you expect from Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchison, owners of culinary institution, Campagnolo? And like Campagnolo, La Palma’s dishes are Italian-based, but the emphasis is on a west coast vibe. This means wood-fired pizzas and fresh pastas to savour, with a medley of spirit-forward house libations to sip. The interior gets it, too — half art deco, half old Hollywood. – CM
A few blocks from the decommissioned Edmonton Airport field, you’ll find Café Linnea, a French-inspired eatery housed in a redbrick building on a quiet, tree-lined street with, frankly, not much around it. The unconventional neighbourhood strangely compliments the eatery’s interior, a minimalist retreat that features elbow chairs with lime green cushioning, floating bar shelving and pots of scattered greenery. At the table, the seasonal menu features (mostly) French bistro fare with ingredients that are farm-sourced locally. Bring the experience home by picking up a bottle of pickled mustard seeds or a loaf of sourdough on the way out. – RD
You can always tell a lot about the cultural health of a community by taking a look at its food and drink scene. In Edmonton’s case, it’s getting into tiptop shape thanks to a resurgence of standout restaurants and bars, Clementine being one of them. Located on Jasper Ave, the eatery is a cozy one wrapped in rich dark wood, leather banquettes, and soft lighting. It sets the stage for a menu that reflects the warm comfort that food often brings us, with dishes like the gochujang and duck stock broth with Moullard duck, or the seabream tartare. Just as important, they know how to make a damn good drink. Make sure to take full advantage of their cocktail program throughout your stay. You’ll be missing out if not. – RD
Granted, tasting menus aren’t for everyone. Between the daunting number of courses and the pressure to feel gastronomically enlightened, the experience can be an intimidating one for even the most seasoned of epicureans. But dining at Alder Room is less a seminar and more a journey for the taste buds to experience the wild bounty of ingredients nearby. The first tasting menu eatery in Edmonton, Alder Room is only open for one service where patrons purchase a seat at a communal bar where they can watch each course be expertly prepared and plated. Local ingredients are at the heart of this humble rstaurant, where you can expect to try everything from quail egg rolled in vegetable ash to salted jersey milk ice cream. – RD
Vancouver, British Columbia
Finally, an establishment that celebrates the Pacific Northwest in all its glory. Botanist, which opened on the second floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel earlier this year, is a culinary escape into the rich bounty of the surrounding flora and fauna. The décor is plush and inviting, littered with greenery and materials like whitewashed wood and limestone. The creations of executive chef Hector Laguna are the elaborate, and indicative of local, sustainable ingredients: tapioca and fermented vegetables dance around seared sablefish, green garlic panisse with herb-crusted lamb. The menu rotates with the season — the dishes always pay homage to the land. – CG
Vancouver, British Columbia
Québécois cuisine in Vancouver may be exactly what the west coast metropolis needs. The mecca of vegan, keto, and green juice has long called for a dose of decadent fare like those on offer at St. Lawrence. At the helm is Chef JC Poirier, a born-and-raised Quebec-er who wastes no time in getting to the good stuff with his offerings of duck ballotine, venison tourtiere and bison tongue — soul food. The space is as homey as the foodstuffs — deep blue paint, collections of frames, and metallic hanging wall ornaments. Stay for dessert: It’s sugar pie. Simple, but oh so satisfying. – CG
Suffice to say, Alta is bold — a new take on Alberta. A wine bar, yes, and a place for food Albertans are not usually accustomed to. No gargantuan platters of cooked cattle here, just the dainty, fermented, lightly-cooked, and delicately plated. It’s clear that chef and co-owner Ben Staley is trying to convey the exact opposite of excess — Alta is a minimalist’s digs. Blistered tomato, pickled grapes, cured egg yolk and basil make up a refreshing morsel. Mussels in beer vinegar and pine — heavier fare. But innovation is what every city and province needs. Alta may be Edmonton’s answer. – CG
Brandon Olson is no stranger to strong word of mouth. He’s worked at both The Black Hoof and Bar Isabel — arguably amongst Toronto’s most buzzworthy kitchens over the last decade. Forgive Olson for doing it again. Ever since opening the doors to La Banane (in partnership with King Street Food Company), coming by a table in the 80-seat restaurant has been slim pickings. However, between La Banane’s amplified, classic French offerings — that sea bass en croute, oh my — and an instantly Instagrammable dessert — the “Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg” — this should really come as zero surprise. – CM
Quebec City, Quebec
Taking traditional Italian dishes and infusing a dash of Québécois flare, Battuto isn’t just one of Canada’s best new restaurants — it’s easily among the hottest. Tell us, have you been able to land one of the trattoria’s scant 22 seats without making a reservation over a month in advance? Anyone? Smart new takes on Italian classics come whipped from scratch by owners Paul Croteau, Guillaume St-Pierre and Pascal Bussières, who effortlessly divide and conquer their respective responsibilities. One oversees the pasta and bread, the second in charge of sauces and salad dressings (and cooking), while the third pilots the wine list. – CM
Since opening six years ago, sophisticated diners in our nation’s capital have recognized Town as one of the most popular restaurants in, well… town. Enter: Citizen — Town’s cool, more casual neighbour. And like any good neighbour, Citizen knows how to make a lasting impression off the bat. From its Nordic aesthetic — where a marble bar and banquettes meet chevron wood panels and window space for fresh herbs — to a kitchen turning out bar snacks, small plates, featured sandwiches, and after-hours treats, you’ll immediately be left wondering just what took these guys so long to move in. – CM
With his extensive culinary resume and clever approach to a wide range of ingredients, chef JP Pedhirney offers up a line-up of dishes that span the globe. You can taste a little Italian in his fried garlic bread filled with cheese curds (think upgraded mozza sticks), a touch of France in the roasted cauliflower with bright espelette pepper mayo and crispy brioche and some of the Middle East in fresh cucumbers with smoked cashews and pink peppercorns on top of whipped feta. And patrons have taken a liking to the offerings – the Calgary resto remains just as busy approaching its one-year anniversary as it did on opening day. How’s that for a testament of talent? – DC
Sometimes, a restaurant opens up and straight out of the gate, feels just right. Operating out of one of Calgary’s most historic homes, Deane House inherits an undeniably charming atmosphere. It also helps that the passionate restaurateur behind Deane is a local food and sustainability advocate, Sal Howell, who runs the nationally-acclaimed River Cafe as well.
Chef Jamie Harling works wonders on his menus with all kinds of hyper-local ingredients (some of which are grown on property), but garners the most attention for his mastery of bread-making. Every meal begins with thick slices of the red fife sourdough bread with cultured butter and fleur de sel, a perfect foundation for what’s to follow.
The smoked red lentil hummus (a signature dish) topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled carrots and herbed feta, and served with house-made crackers, is a fulfilling homage to prairie-grown ingredients. Then there’s the meaty Haida Gwaii halibut in an umami-ridden dashi with smoked oyster mushrooms and brown buttered cauliflower. Oh, and don’t forget to order one of pastry chef Katelin Bland’s desserts, like her cold-pressed canola chiffon cake with rhubarb sorbet, meringue and lemon curd.
Don’t worry, we won’t judge if you’ve already started salivating. – DC
This elegantly designed French brasserie in the heart of 17th Avenue is a glorious example of taking something that’s old and making it new again successfully.
Finding well-prepared, classic French fare in Calgary is not so easily done. This restaurant rises to that hard-to-find challenge, offering dishes like mussels gratinee with tarragon butter and bread crumbs, baked escargot, lyonnaise salad with lardons, foie gras torchon, steak frites and more.
Now, don’t let its classic approach fool you, Royale boasts a creative libations program, too. Bar manager Mitch Vernaroli encourages you to go outside of the box. For example, the “Heavenly Hibiscus” made with cognac, vanilla liqueur, lemon, apple juice and hibiscus cordial is a sippable ode to a fading summer.
Finish off with a traditional and beautifully constructed tarte tatin because, well, is there any other way here at Royale? – DC
Simplicity is the game at Queen Street West’s Canis where no more than three core ingredients make their way onto the seasonal menu, with all plates meant to celebrate Canadian cuisine through local ingredients. In a similar vein, with clean lines and little more than wood, cement and leather, the dining space flaunts its raw, industrial vibe. Both, the space and the food feel unfinished, and that’s a timely compliment given the current pull of the ostentatious. – RD