Top 10 Restaurants of 2012 for Young Professionals

The year 2012 saw an invasion of restaurants in the city. Some 150 new joints opened up – that’s an average of about 13 per month, and three to four weekly – bringing the city’s restaurant quotient to an even higher level of near-absurdity. But we aren’t complaining… our waistlines, however… 

Our Top 10 new restaurants list may not have the same brevity as some you’ll see in rundowns from publications like Toronto Life or enRoute. But ours is the one you should bookmark, because ours encompasses the Top 10 new restaurants for the social YP…

Occupying an interesting spot on Richmond Street, JaBistro serves up insanely fresh sushi and some insanely interesting plates. The decor is simple yet energetic, as is the overall vibe. It’s loud. It’s boisterous. It’s perfect to start the weekend.

Patria and Weslodge
We could and indeed should separate these two, but considering they share owners, locations, and kitchen staff… to hell with it, we aren’t! Weslodge is the answer to the modern-day saloon. Replete with interesting takes on Wild West classics and prohibition-style cocktails. Patria, on the other hand, brings the sensibilities of authentic Spanish cuisine to the King West scene in high style.

Rock Lobster Food Co.
Where Watusi was laid to rest, Rock Lobster Food Co. was born. Well, born again, really. Chef Matt Petit took his pop-up lobster stand concept and found himself a permanent home on Ossington, filling the space with Canadiana queues, rockin’ beats, and some mighty fine crustaceans.

La Carnita
Another pop-up-cum-permanent-fixture, La Carnita bows out on the list thanks to its eclectic atmosphere – Celeb Chef Chuck Hughes even lauded the joint – cool cocktails, and, of course, fanciful tacos. 

Michael’s on Simcoe
YP gents take note: Michael’s on Simcoe is your new dare-to-impress date spot. The restaurant was borne from Michael Dabic, formerly of Harbour 60. Dude knows steak. Dude knows service. Dude knows decor. You’ll find all three, plus some amazingly inventive Italian dishes – the kitchen works double duty as half steakhouse, half Italian fine dining. 

Another steakhouse tour de force, Chef Rob Rossi’s resto is loud, trendy, hip, and you can get a whole pig for you and your brood. Similarly to others on this list, cocktails play a large part in creating the whole experience. But the bread and butter of Bestellen is the quality cuts of prime cow.

Momofuku Noodle Bar
Here’s the spot David Chang first opened just days before the other Momofukus took hold of the city. The great part about Noodle Bar is that you can dine in the Shangri-La without paying Shangri-La-style prices. Plus… everything’s pretty freaking awesome. So, you know, go. PS. Order one of the buns, you’ll thank us post-nosh. 

Origin Liberty Village
The Liberty Village outpost of Claudio Aprile’s Origin brand of restaurants (there’s a third coming at us Uptown in a few months) took over an old gun factory, bringing queues from its previous life to the ornamentation (we’re almost certain this is the only restaurant where gats double as chandeliers). The food is similar, with this one boasting more Latin influences including a tostada bar.

From the brother duo of the Sharkey-Pearce’s came URSA, a hip Queen West spot that boasts incredibly beautiful food that is incredibly delicious… and incredibly healthy? That’s right, with most dishes prepared in ways that maximize nutritional retention, URSA’s menu is great for that third date… if you catch our drift.

Gusto 101
Quite possibly the most-buzzed restaurant of the year – seriously, who hasn’t heard of or tried it – Gusto 101 makes the list thanks to its amazing decor (it was converted from an auto garage), choice dishes (rustic Italian priced well and simply prepared), sexy servers (seriously, are they all from Ford Models?), and happening vibe (everyone who’s anyone waits for a table).

Photo: Patria