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Weekly Lunch Pick: hearty Korean takeout at downtown’s revamped ID Bulgogi

(Image: Andrew Brudz)

Don’t be fooled by the sign on the awning or the menu, both of which still refer to the space by its former moniker, Bob’s Bulgogi. The tiny Victoria Street Korean takeout joint has received a stylish makeover to go with its new name, ID Bulgogi, complete with matte black tiles from floor to ceiling, industrial lighting, Korean artifacts and, yes, shellacked barnwood tables. It seats about four, so the steady stream of downtowners mostly opt for takeout, which they squirrel back to their offices. 

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the sandwich and salad special at the new Sanagan’s Meat Locker

The peach-stuffed pork belly sandwich from Sanagan’s (Image: Renée Suen)

When Peter Sanagan announced he’d be moving his cult Kensington butcher shop down the street, he promised the new, bigger space would allow him to create “the amazingest new sandwich counter in the city.” Amazingness may be in eye of the beholder, but Sanagan’s tight sandwich list (all $7) thankfully veers away from boring cold cuts to include the bo ssammy (a Korean-style pulled pork with kimchee slaw and green onion mayo), roast beef from Durham’s Finest, classic roast chicken with crispy skin and our order, a peach-stuffed pork belly sandwich (the day’s special).

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Weekly Lunch Pick: Chinese comfort food at Spadina’s sleek One Hour Cafeteria

(Image: Andrew Brudz)

Already popular with nearby U of T students, Han Shao’s simple, modern One Hour Cafeteria (he’s a U of T Architecture grad himself) is a stylish and welcome change from the many run-down, run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants that populate Spadina. Most of the seating consists of low tables with hefty beanbag chairs (although there’s also more conventional chairs as well), and the décor has a refreshingly minimalist vibe. On the menu of Chinese comfort cuisine—handily divided into “small food” or “big food”—you’ll find appetizers like fried chicken wings, edamame and beef tendon, and mains including various meat and noodle combinations.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: a rib-sticking sandwich on a breezy patio at Museum Tavern

(Images: Renée Suen)

Outdoor lunch spots with a nice view are few and far between, which makes the newly opened Museum Tavern, looking onto the ROM Crystal, a welcome addition to this quickly changing stretch of Bloor Street. The menu, from executive chef Steven Gouzopoulos, features all-American classics given slight, thoughtful twists. 

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Weekly Lunch Pick, TIFF edition: one last taste of summer at Marben

For TIFF-goers in need of between-screening sustenance, Marben is within walking distance of TIFF central (i.e., the Bell Lightbox), but just far enough to provide for a quiet recharge away from the hubbub. The patio is especially quaint, and it’s the perfect setting to enjoy what’s left of the warm weather. Menu items are given a personal touch with the names of staff members and suppliers (see: John’s Burger, Zac’s PLT, and Maya’s Papaya Colada).

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the bokit combo at Kensington Market’s Le Ti Colibri

Weekly Lunch Pick: Le Ti Colibri

(Image: Renée Suen)

Although Kensington Market’s Le Ti Colibri caters mainly to takeout orders, those with a little more time can escape to the tiny restaurant’s quaint back patio, with its relaxed island vibe and zouk music. The meat-free, vegetarian- and pescatarian-friendly menu is a unique showcase for the bright flavours of the French Caribbean.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: a bowl of fresh orecchiette at King East’s Mangia and Bevi

The Commendatore (Image: Andrew Brudz)

Eat! Drink! They are oft-heard words around an Italian dinner table, and the inspiration for the comfortable and familiar Mangia and Bevi. A King East favourite hidden inside the Ontario Design Building, the restaurant has drawn steady lunchtime crowds, obeying the exhortations of its name, for over seven years. The friendly, chatty staff serve up creative salads, sandwiches on Ace Bakery breads and some of Toronto’s best lunchtime pizza.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the refreshing soba lunch special at Baldwin’s Konnichiwa

(Image: Renée Suen)

During the summer, diners flock to Baldwin Street for lunch on the many swelling patios under the shade of a wide, leafy canopy of trees. One of the best bets there is Konnichiwa, a quaint Japanese-owned and run restaurant that specializes in comfort foods made of rice and noodles.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: a vegetarian Italian lunch (with homegrown veggies) at Mela Café

(Images: Andrew Brudz)

Neapolitan chef Roberto Granata, who’s put in time in kitchens around Toronto and as far as Sydney and L.A., has been serving up Italian vegetarian favourites since 2005 at his airy Yorkville café. Located in Wanda’s Pie In The Sky’s old home (before it headed to Kensington) Mela opens out onto the street, with bistro tables for those who don’t need to scurry back to their office. A display case shows off the rotating daily creations, including pies, pastas, panini and salads, with about half of the veggies grown in Granata’s own garden in the Beach (in the summer at least).

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the heirloom tomato tartine at the newly renovated DT Bistro

(Image: Renée Suen)

This spring, Harbord Street’s DT Bistro reopened after nearly five months of renovations, unveiling a chic new dining room and a bright event space on the second floor. While best known for his pastries, chef Donald Duong offers an impressive selection of savoury options as well, ranging from a popular salad niçoise with seared ahi tuna to a Vietnamese coconut lamb curry. 

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Weekly Lunch Pick: a prime rib sandwich at Tavolino that won’t bust your gut

Too often, prime rib is the kind of sandwich that seemed like a good idea at the time but makes it nigh-impossible to stay awake for the rest of the workday. At Tavolino, not so much. The King West sandwich shop, which opened late last year, has already amassed a pretty devoted following among the various creative types who work on this sandwich-heavy strip (it’s right near Reggie’s, Cool Hand Luc, a Big Smoke Burger, The One That Got Away, a Subway location and more).

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the downhome chicken and crumpets at Lucien

Lucien’s chicken and crumpets (Image: Andrew Brudz)

For years, Lucien was known as one of downtown’s most elegant and fussiest fine-dining establishments. But owner Simon Bower recently recast the  restaurant as more casual and accessible (read: affordable). Part of the transformation includes a new lunch menu by chef Etienne Lemieux, formerly of Cowbell.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: The Lox and Guac from The Bellevue’s new lunch menu

(Image: Renée Suen)

The Bellevue provides a rare midday patio escape that’s not jam-packed by 12:05. Tucked in a quiet corner in Kensington Market, the quaint restaurant just launched its lunch service less than a month ago, and serves a small but tight menu with plates like fish tacos and an all-day breakfast.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: Filipino favourites at Kanto in Scadding Court’s Market 707

(Image: Andrew Brudz)

Market 707, part of the Scadding Court Community Centre, is a collection of vendors housed in retrofitted shipping containers at Dundas and Bathurst. At lunchtime, the once-gloomy intersection is now bustling with activity as curious passersby, Kensington shoppers and nurses and residents from nearby Toronto Western Hospital line up for a selection of international lunch options. While choices include camel burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, roti, pupusas, Korean dishes and Indian street food, the most buzz is around Kanto, an offshoot of event caterer Tita Flips.

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the aromatic pozole at Tacos El Asador

(Image: Renée Suen)

Although the city is currently in the grips of a full-blown taco mania, Tacos El Asador gives Torontonians reasons to celebrate Latin American cuisine that goes beyond its namesake dish. The popular Koreatown institution has been serving Salvadoran food for nearly two decades, and has a fiercely loyal following.

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