Toronto Life - The Dish

The latest buzz on restaurants, chefs, bars, food shops and food events. Sign up for the Dish newsletter for weekly updates. Send tips to



The St. Clair West Guide: 19 need-to-know spots along the midtown strip

El Rincon

Hanging sombreros and mariachi beats accent the Morgado family’s authentic cuisine. The zingy guacamole flies out of the kitchen, while the underappreciated rich chocolate-tinged sauce of the mole poblano makes for a mouth-watering piece of chicken. The food here has become so popular, the Morgados may just open a second location in Toronto.

El Rincon, 653 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-656-1059

  • ChrisToronto

    I have plucked some amazing finds out of the floor-to-ceiling mess that is Javad’s including my amazing tiger-stripe, Kelly Wearstler-style lamps for $10 each:

  • brooklin99

    I’ve lived out of the province for the past 5 years. Use to live in the St. Clair West area. I’m happy to see that the area is thriving. Looking forward to trying some of the new restaurants.

  • DeeDee

    Love this spot!! Breakfast is always fun here (except when you have to wait in line!) Alex, one of the servers, is really attentive and makes the experience worthwhile!

  • shamj

    How can you miss Ferro and the Rushton? Were you limited to 19 or just covering the newer places?

  • Cri

    I second the post re: Ferro and The Rushton – two of the better restaurants along the St. Clair West strip. I highly recommend heading to either or BOTH – they’re right across the street from one another. The menus feature AMAZING food that is reasonably priced and during patio season, The Rushton is a great pick! :) just a fellow St. Clair West local

  • John Linas

    19 need-to-know places?? wow you just missed the top 2 with Ferro/Rushton-probably the 2 best places in that strip.

  • Jessica

    I agree that the Rushton shouldn’t have been left out. I’ve lived on the strip for about 10 years, and was really happy when this place ‘came to town’.

  • Kat

    The Rushton is fine, but has gotten a ton of attention over years because it was the only show in town. I’m glad to see some lesser-known and fantastic places get their 15 minutes.

  • Martine

    About the strange omissions, few people know that in most cases, there is a fee for inclusion. I have no personnal experience of Toronto Life but I know that most publications require membership fees and then more again to be included in any campaign. Those “campaigns” are presented as representing the entire spectrum of availability (i.e. the only restaurants/hotels etc.available in the area)while the reality is that the group promoted represents paying members only. This is true of nearly all “Best of” types of publications. As the best of…. are doing very well on their own and don’t need this type of publicity, they often don’t pay and therefore often don’t appear in such publications/articles etc.

    I’d be curious to know from some of the merchants on the strip if that was the case here. In any case this is certainly true of anything to do with the marketing arm of the City of Toronto & their various publications which are misleadingly title “Toronto City Guide” etc. Membership in this organisation is one of the most expensive in the world, last I checked. Things are not what they seem. People should know.

  • Toronto Life Editors

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments on this piece.

    There was absolutely no fee for inclusion in the St. Clair West Guide, and merchants are not required to buy membership in order to be mentioned. It is in no way a promotion or campaign; it is service journalism. This piece contains on-the-ground reporting and subjective opinions by a team of writers and editors who have simply picked their favourite spots in the neighbourhood. Paid content on both our web site and in the print magazine is, and always will be, clearly marked as an advertisement.

    Thanks again,
    Toronto Life Editors

  • ian

    Dear Editors,

    So what is your excuse for missing / ignoring two of the best spots? Bad service journalism? How does it help the reader to not mention some of the best places to go in a review like this? Help us understand. We know your listening.

  • Christina

    Whatever happened to Pain Perdu…. also excellent.

  • squirt

    Marline, I heard that there is a lot of politics in the resto biz in TO; summer/winterlicious are a fine example of the City’s idea of “promoting” an array of restos in TO when in fact, there is some unspoken membership involved there as well.

  • Lori

    We’ve lived in the St. Clair/Christie area for almost 4 years and it’s been thriving and we love it! It’s a great ecclectic mix of old world meets new world. We love our Italian neighbours who grow some serious veggies in their garden to the new trendy restaurants just steps away on St. Clair. Great eats, great shopping, great people! You can’t beat The Stockyards for smoked trout, pulled pork or one of their killer breakys and biscuits. The Rushton kicks it up for schwanky drinks and eye candy. Leah’s has delish desserts – especially love the meringue mushrooms and lemon tarts. Pain Perdu – forget about it. You just can’t resist the smell of butter and the perfectly flaky croissants, my fav? The chocolatine. World Class you can get half baked Greif’s bagels and finish them off at home. Ellington’s has live music and great coffee and treats. Noir is one of the most beautiful coffee/tea shops I’ve ever seen. Dona Luz has amazing Peruvian food. ..Sushi Sugar is especially genrerous with the fish and sake. Saverna is Indian comfort food at it’s best.I can go on and on…From junk yard fab finds, to trendy shopping, to killer eats – St. Clair west just can’t be beat!

  • Kate

    For those who live/hang out in the area – what’s the best place to just grab a drink?

  • Jeff316

    ^^ Legends

  • DF

    Vivid Pizzeria makes the best pies. by Italians.

  • Cheri

    Noir- fantabulous mochacinno and beef stew and friendly staff… I can’t believe all those idiots going to Starbucks a few doors down… give your businesses to places like Noir who do a better job and NEED community support.

    Ferro – phenomenal pizza… awesome calamari polenta dish, HUGE portion sizes, amazing decor, friendly service a really fun restaurant

    The Rushton – mmm steak frites to die for

    and one all of you have missed…

    Vanipha Lanna for the most amazing Laos/Thai food in the city… amazing food

  • Shu

    It’s not on St. Clair but should be checked out nonetheless Gems Bar on Alberta and Ossington.

  • Lara

    I second the comments about Noir and Vanipha Lanna! Noir has amazing coffee and treats in a relaxed Asian-inspired lounge with exquisite finishes. Vanipha Lanna easily has the freshest tasting Thai and Loatian food in the mid/downtown TO area (at least in my opinion). Both are worth the trip.

  • Ryan

    Late comment but I still live on the st. clair strip, and as time goes on it is slowly coming back to life after the tracks. I’d like to say to those who are so obsessed with the Rushton/Ferro dynasty… get over it, the service at both is terrible and as a member of the community I choose not to support either. Its time more new business opens up and provides competition which any thriving neighborhood needs in order to grow and sustain its worth.

  • leslie

    Did anyone else happen to mention that Filippo’s has been closed for more than six months now? I wonder not only at the exclusion of some (Acquiolina comes to mind), but at the inclusion of a place that no longer exists.

  • Larry Cooper

    Anybody know what happened to Filippo’s Restaurant at 744 St. Clair Avenue West?

    The place has been in business and thriving since 1988.

    I’m gone a few months and the place has vanished.

    The place was always busy, so what happened?

  • danielle

    To respond to the person who asked – unfortunately quite some time ago – where to go for a drink along the St. Clair strip, De Soto’s is terrific. They pride themselves on a solid draught and local beer menu, and have two great patios to choose from. In its early days it was a Now magazine NNNN-rated bistro, but the St. Clair ROW construction debacle almost killed them. To survive, they decided to make it a more casual destination for locals, and I think the neighbourhood is all the better for it.

  • stclairdude

    why are we only talking about restaurants? Our family just had appointments at the St Claie Eye Clinic. What a place!! We told them how happy we are they joined the neighbourhood. Staff was wonderful. Eye doc very thorough. Toronto Life should truly reflect a neighbourhood and mention services also…either way though, I love this website.

  • Malton

    OMG You missed so many interesting places. Let’s start at Cafe Nero for coffee and lunch, Zemra for drinks and great appetizers. Cruising through the deadzone between Oakwood and Dufferin (Toronto Life editors – how about a piece on why there are so many empty stores in the deadzone on St. Clair?) to DeSotos, my friends swear by it at least twice a week. On to Novocento, gorgeous little cafe for expresso and gelato with a great patio, off to La Bruschetta & Frank’s pizza. You completely missed Marcello’s? Packed every night. Then you must finish at La Paloma for the best gelato in the city.

  • Jeff

    we also went to St Clair Eye Clinic. great to have something that is not a restaurant/dollarstore/bar in the neighbourhood

    cool office!

  • teedot

    @ Kate…decent and popular bars are definitely lacking. Thursdays @ Dave’s (730 StClair) is pretty decent. Atlas One and Rushton are both nice spots for post-dinner drinks but would never be open until last call. Check out a new spot up on Oakwood called The Independent.

  • Stavro

    Some good places mentioned but you should travel further west for others, there are many good bakeries butchers and barbers towards Old Weston Road.

    Try Sandro for an excellent shave and cut, at St Clair and Laughton ( he spent years in Yorkville prior to coming Westward). Dels baby beef has an eclectic range of meats and cheeses and have butchers on staff with real skill. The list goes on and in from traditional pho to Mitchies jerk chicken ( across from Sandros barber shop)

    The point is that there are quality shops to be seen further west, the area is transforming before our eyes.

  • Jesse Brown

    This is a great spotlight, but you missed out on one of the best attractions. Naka Ima Movement Arts at 1643 Dufferin Street. Martial Arts Yoga and more… this place is awesome.

  • Steph

    I agree with Malton that a lot was missed geographically. There is so much more to St. Clair past Oakwood!! I live at St. Clair and Dufferin and love it! It’s articles like this that don’t really help to promote this part of St.Clair, but for the people who live south and north of Dufferin, some places are still very very busy! Malton hit all the right spots, but my personal fav is Sofra Grill! I’m there like at least twice a week and the falafel and shwarma are the best!! My roommate went to the Big Slice b/c the line at Marcello’s was too long, and was very surprised! She really enjoyed it and recommended it to me. The Sunnyside Grill opened up, and its a great alternative to BOOM! I enjoy Boom, but I’m an east coast girl who craves a good simple, semi-greasy breakfast and their pan fries are done on the grill, not fried! Pink on Lauder has great baked goods and I have finally found the best hairdresser in the city at St.Clair and Dufferin, and the price can’t be beat! There is open store fronts for sure, but they have been renovated and I think there is so much potential to make all of St. Clair West the best strip north of Bloor! I think some of the open store fronts past Oakwood would do well with a great independant book store, its a great community that’s for sure!

  • Kris

    I’m going to be visiting the St. Clair West/Bathurst area for the first time and would love to hear from some locals as to where the best place to grab a latte is. Cheers :)

  • Kris Dorken

    That would be wonderful to mention the services here as well. We’re the Chiropractic office right above the Eye Clinic and love this neighborhood. Wonder if a lot of condos will soon be filling up St. Clair though…

  • Janelle

    I am sorry but where is Asada Mexican Grill? Only the best Mexican in the city. Additionally, Gypsy and Caravan are tops for vintage. Oh and Frank’s Pizza!