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The Best Food Courts in Toronto

April 22, 2012
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Food courts TorontoFood courts in Toronto have had a bit of a resurgence of late. From re-modeled downtown food courts like the Urban Eatery to street vendor style set-ups like 214 Augusta Avenue, there’s even more reason these days to be excited about your favourite lunch options all being in one place. The best food courts in Toronto distinguish themselves from the cookie-cutter mall variety with more interesting options than just a collection of Subways, Manchu Woks or McDonalds.

Not home to your typical fast food chains, these Toronto food courts provide proof that eating with a crowd of people in a communal space is actually something to look forward to.

Here’s a list of the best food courts in Toronto.

Pacific Mall
4300 Steeles Avenue East Markham
The undisputed king of Asian malls in the GTA, this shopping goliath in Markham actually features two separate food courts: the rather cramped older one, which offers many Cantonese dishes and even some dim sum delicacies, and the newer one ironically designed with an old-town China feel. Inside it offers a wide range of regional specialties such as Japanese cream puffs from Beard Papa’s, Yummie’s Hong Kong style egg waffles, bento boxes from Japanese Express, bubble tea, dumplings and fresh hand made noodles at Sun’s Kitchen.

Urban EateryUrban Eatery
220 Yonge Street, North side, lower level
This is the only food court on this list that has its own name – and for good reason. Newly redecorated and revamped, this Eaton Centre food court is a stellar example of the ultra-modern food court experience. With real cutlery, reusable dishes, Danish-designed furniture and the presence of lots of popular, small local-chains (Urban Herbivore, Big Smoke Burger, Amaya), this is a place that makes braving the check-out lines at H&M worth it.

MustachioSt Lawrence Market
91 Front Street East
Not your typical restaurant-chain-laden food court, the lower level of St. Lawrence market is awash with numerous independent merchants all eager to serve up a sampling of freshly prepared food. Best of the bunch are freshly made crepes from Crepe it Up, potato latkes and other Eastern-European delicacies from European Delight, massive sandwiches from Mustachio and raw food at Cruda Cafe.

Village by the GrangeVillage by the Grange
53 McCaul Street
Located directly across the street from OCAD and the AGO, this always bustling food court is home to a wide variety of eats that are easy on the wallet. At the top of my list is Manpuku, a self-described modern Japanese eatery, that serves up fresh takoyaki, five types of udon soup and Japanese curry. Also noteworthy are Karine’s for all day breakfast and other healthy eats, Mission burrito, Pita Village and Helena’s Magic Kitchen.

214 Augusta214 Augusta
While the traditional definition of a food court places it in a mall or some larger complex, the burgeoning food destination at 214 Augusta is quickly becoming an unavoidable Kensington Market pit stop. Mexican and South American street food rules the day here at vendors like Agave y Aguacate and Rebozos but not to be bypassed are Portuguese salt cod fritters at Avo and Macondo’s Colombian empanadas. Seating is almost non-existent save for a makeshift back patio during warmer months.

First Markham PlaceFirst Markham Place
3275 Hwy 7 East, Markham
Located within the bowels of one of Markham’s busiest Chinese malls, this food court offers a wide variety of Asian food offerings. There are numerous bubble tea shops, decent noodles at Malay Thai, large bowls of soup at Pho Ling’s and delicious Korean BBQ. The fact that Chinese seniors often use the open spot right in the middle of the food court to practice tai chi practically guarantees you free morningtime entertainment.

Metro Square MarkhamMetro Square
3636 Steeles Ave East, Markham
This small food court near Steeles and the 404 offers a small but diverse array of Asian food. Try the tasty Taiwanese pork chops (courtesy of Chin Yuan Pai Ku), sushi and bento boxes at Spicy Korea or cheap combo deals at New Fountain. Bonus points for the recent renovation although it’s still no Urban Eatery.

TD Centre Food CourtTD Centre
66 Wellington Street West
Arguably the most corporate food court to make this list, TD Centre (conveniently located within the PATH Network) manages to rise above the myriad of quick service destinations in the Financial District. Long time lunchers here will recall this as the first location of the now international Freshii (formerly Lettuce Eatery) chain. There are around 20 restaurant options, modern seating and decor (to pair well with that new suit) and a steady line-up for burritos courtesy of Freshwest Grill.

Downsview Merchants MarketDownsview Merchant’s Market
40 Carl Hall Rd, North York
Tucked away at the back of the Downsview Merchant’s Market, this sprawling food court is comprised solely of independent retailers eager to feed hungry shoppers with a smorgasbord of international cuisine. Where else can you eat Lebanese, French, Chinese and Caribbean food by just moving 6 feet to your right (or left)? Wash everything down with a sour sop with pineapple juice at Juicy Hut, the popular local juice stand.

Plaza LatinaPlaza Latina
9 Milvan Drive
This obscure spot near Finch and Weston Road is the very definition of a hidden gem. The main attraction at an otherwise ramshackle Latino mall, this food court is teaming with tasty eats from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and beyond. Pair regional specialties such as empanadas, pupusas and tacos with an Inca Kola but save some room for some churros for dessert.

Top photo by Natash M on Flickr


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