AFTER DECADES OF NEGLECT, COMPACT MARKET STREET’S HERITAGE BUILDINGS WERE LOVINGLY RESTORED AND OFFICIALLY REOPENED LAST YEAR. THEY NOW COMPRISE A RESTAURANT ROW THAT CATERS TO ALMOST EVERY TASTE—JUST STEPS FROM THE FAMED ST. LAWRENCE MARKET.
1 Subterranean haunt Barsa Taberna is both supremely intimate and splashed with bold style: a feature wall of repurposed wine bottles lends colour to the bar area, while original stone columns and mosaic tiles adorn the dining room. Patrons snack on globally inspired tapas and pintxos—from patatas bravas to pineapple-glazed prawns—in between sips of sangria. 26 Market St., 647-341-3642; barsataberna.com
2 A sizeable menu of contemporary northern Indian dishes is showcased at Bindia, a family-run restaurant that does a brisk take-out business but also boasts a colourful dining room in which to enjoy the likes of samosas, butter chicken and a number of tandoori options. Don’t skip the naan; it’s among the city’s best. 16 Market St., 416-863-0000; bindia.ca
3 Tom Antonarakis knows seafood. He grew up on an island in Greece, and for much of the past decade has operated the St. Lawrence Market fish stall Buster’s Sea Cove. His sit-down spot, Market Street Catch, sources its fresh fixings direct from the landmark across the street (as do the rest of the strip’s eateries, whenever possible). Those ingredients are especially popular at lunch, in such offerings as fried shrimp sandwiches and lobster rolls. 14 Market St., 416-363-2020; marketstreetcatch.com
4 Eating healthily is as easy as one, two, three at Evolution Food Co., a quick-service spot for power-packed salads. Choose from eight ingredient bases, then add greens or grains, and top it off with protein like Ontario chicken, portobello mushrooms or Atlantic salmon. House-made smoothies and cold-pressed juices—not to mention Greek yogurt—are especially refreshing on warm days. 12 Market St., 416-214-1234; evolutionfoodco.ca
5 The Market Street location of Balzac’s—a café mini-chain with four other Toronto locations—has fostered local loyalty with its artisan-roasted, fair-trade coffee and classy, Parisian-inspired ambience. Countertop cake stands showcase delectable treats like lemon tarts and croissants. Watch that you don’t drool too much. 10 Market St., 416-368-4949; balzacs.com
6 In contrast to its heritage building–housed neighbours, Pastizza stands out in a newly constructed space distinguished by a 30-foot-tall chandelier-cum-wine rack. Naturally, vino is highlighted here: a number of signature vintages are made specifically for the restaurant by California winery Thomas George Estates; they’re all easily paired with pastas (try the nonna-style lasagna) as well as thin-crust pizzas. 118 The Esplanade, 416-901-9113; pastizza.ca
GET THERE! Market Street is directly adjacent to the St. Lawrence Market in Old Town Toronto, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. From Union Station, walk east along Front Street for about 10 minutes. You can’t miss it!