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The 50 best restaurants in Canada

A selective and sometimes-surprising cross-country guide to where to eat out now


 

Photography: John Cullen

Making lists of the 50 best restaurants in Canada is a mug’s game; however much work and good sense goes into such things, they are seldom praised and always attacked—and gleefully.

 

With a view to diffusing that latter pleasure, we will come right out and admit that when rated exclusively on traditional merits, scored only on what they put on the plate and how they serve it, the restaurants included here may not be our absolute 50 best. There are good reasons for this. For one thing, focusing on our most technically flawless rooms would produce a dull list of largely fine-dining restaurants, almost all of them well-established rather than new, and located in our three major centres.

Our idea of the best is more interesting than that, and was defined by certain realities.

When a traveller is stranded and hungry in Saskatoon, for example, the best restaurant in the world is not in Paris anymore, but across the street. Within reason, we tried to accommodate that need for geographic inclusiveness.

Canadians in the market for a good meal in one of our major cities have never enjoyed so many varied, quality options in so many categories. So we strove to recognize the best of those different sorts of restaurants at which any given city excels, rather than give multiple options for the same sort of thing.

We aimed for a balance of old and new, cheap and pricey, casual and posh.

The only thing they all have in common is the promise of an all-but-assured good dining experience—described herein as objectively as possible by one of our experienced critics.

The list was compiled and the package overseen by Maclean’s food columnist and critic-at-large Jacob Richler, who was thinner in the spring. He also selected our category winners, based on a calendar year that, due to our fall publishing date, starts and ends at Canada Day.

John Cullen followed, camera in hand, on a two-month photographic odyssey that we think yielded a singular visual feast.

The list of 50 is below, but it’s only the start of what our correspondents discovered as they crossed the country. Richler and Cullen share their finds in a special, perfect-bound issue of Maclean’s that is now available on newsstands across Canada for $12.95.

And the winners are …

The best new restaurant in Canada

Photographs by Simon Hayter

Restaurant of the Year: Hawksworth (Vancouver)

Chef of the year

John Cullen

Chef of the Year: Normand Laprise (Toqué, Montreal)

New Restaurant of the Year: The Grove (Toronto)

With that, here’s our list of Canada’s 50 Best Restaurants:

BRITISH COLUMBIA

VANCOUVER

Bao Bei

Maenam

Araxi (Whistler)

Hawksworth

La Quercia

Cioppino’s

Blue Water Café

L’Abattoir

THE PRAIRIES

CALGARY

Charcut Roast House

The River Café

Cassis Bistro

Ox & Angela

Model Milk

EDMONTON

Corso 32

Tres Carnales

REGINA

La Bodega

WINNIPEG

Segovia

Pizzeria Gusto

ONTARIO

TORONTO

Campagnolo

Nota Bene

The Stockyards

Edulis

The Grove

Chantecler

Catch

Ici Bistro

Scaramouche

Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto

OTTAWA

Play Food & Wine

Sidedoor

QUEBEC

MONTREAL

Toqué!

Olive + Gourmando

Bouillon Bilk

Ferreira Café

Les 400 Coups

Kazu

Le Club Chasse et Pêche

Maison Boulud

Dominion Square Tavern

QUEBEC CITY

Laurie Raphaël

Le Clocher Penché

ATLANTIC CANADA

NEW BRUNSWICK

L’Idylle (Dieppe)

Tide & Boar Gastropub (Moncton)

The Blue Door (Fredericton)

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Lot 30 (Charlottetown)

NOVA SCOTIA

Fid Resto (Halifax)

The Bicycle Thief (Halifax)

Rum Runner Restaurant (Lunenberg)

NEWFOUNDLAND

Atlantica at the Beach House (Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s)

Raymonds (St. John’s)


 

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