The 50 best restaurants in Canada -

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:



Bao Bei


Araxi (Whistler)


La Quercia


Blue Water Café




Charcut Roast House

The River Café

Cassis Bistro

Ox & Angela

Model Milk


Corso 32

Tres Carnales


La Bodega



Pizzeria Gusto




Nota Bene

The Stockyards


The Grove



Ici Bistro


Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto


Play Food & Wine





Olive + Gourmando

Bouillon Bilk

Ferreira Café

Les 400 Coups


Le Club Chasse et Pêche

Maison Boulud

Dominion Square Tavern


Laurie Raphaël

Le Clocher Penché



L’Idylle (Dieppe)

Tide & Boar Gastropub (Moncton)

The Blue Door (Fredericton)


Lot 30 (Charlottetown)


Fid Resto (Halifax)

The Bicycle Thief (Halifax)

Rum Runner Restaurant (Lunenberg)


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

Raymonds (St. John’s)


The 50 best restaurants in Canada

  1. I like how Saskatoon is mentioned in the pre-amble yet no restaurants are listed. I guess we must just suck.

    • I was thinking the same thing…although I’m not sure why I’m surprised, considering that their mention of Saskatoon basically implied that the only reason you would have to eat there is if you’re stranded. Nice work Macleans.

      • Kelowna isn’t either and hundreds of other cities – so why does McLeans suck ???

  2. Ontario has about 7 million people but only restuarants in Toronto are mentioned where onlyt 2 million people live not counting the suburbs where people just bbq. Did the reporters not venture out to the many other cities and towns in that province..farce..

    • Your math is a bit off. Ontario actually has over 12 million people. I agree however that this list is an insult to the rest of Ontario outside of the city of Toronto (2.5 million).

    • Last time I checked, Ottawa was in Ontario. Let’s try not to hate Toronto just for the sake of it, but actually use our brains. Yes of course there are small gems all over the country. But, for the most part, outstanding restaurants are in big cities b/c of cosmopolitan clientel, volume of customers with disposable income, ease of accessing supplies, etc. Notwithstanding that the purpose of a list like this is likely to provide a list of restaurants that people might actually GO to. If there’s a wonderful place in Goderich Ontario or Salmon Arm BC: great. But the people of those towns already KNOW that b/c it’s going to be the only great restaurant for miles. What’s more useful to me is to know that if I’m travelling to Quebec City–frankly, much more likely than Souris PEI or, yes, Saskatoon–there’s a really wonderful restaurant worth trying. Also, I’ve been all over Ontario, and I can tell you, most towns smaller than 30 000 have a diner, a hotel bar, a few Tim Horton’s and maybe a Kelsey’s or an East Side Mario’s. Probably NOT what MacLeans has in mind…

      • touché

  3. Nice list. l’Abattoir is spelled well, like that. Not l’Abbatoir

  4. Clearly there is a regional bias. Also the definition of “best restaurant” is subjective. For instance, growing up in Montreal I went to Ben’s all the time. The service sucked and the food was so-so. But it was such a cultural icon, it was always packed. In Yellowknife, there is the famous Bullock’s Bistro. Again, the prices are high and the serivce is less than desirible, but it is always packed. But the food it pretty good :)

  5. As I expected, “Ontario” means Toronto, with a nod to Ottawa. The province has a population of about 13 million. Ottawa is under 1 million. Metro is over 2.5 million. But, hey – we all know those other 9.5 million are just peasants, am I right?

    • I am sure many Canadians in other cities and towns feel exactly as you do. I live in Montreal. So many very good restaurants (all price ranges) are not mentioned. Then where would I eat in Saskatoon or Sept-Iles or Gander??? I guess at a kind individual’s home …

  6. You are missing “Il Sogno” in Calgary.

  7. Great review of the top 50 restaurants in Canada with strong PR teams.

    • I happen to know that a few of the restaurants on this list are small businesses that could not afford a PR person, let alone an entire team, and wouldn’t hire one even if they could. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

      • What is wrong with hiring PR if you can afford it? You say this as if it’s some kind of snobbery rather than a sound business practice.

        • There’s nothing wrong with restaurants hiring PR – but there’s a shameful trend of restaurants putting more time into their twitter accounts and Facebook pages (let alone tv demos etc).. than their menu and wine lists. It’s too bad that Macleans buys into this rather than seeking out truly great places.

          • how ignorant you people are. A lot of these restaurants are owned by young people that have no money let alone hire a PR team. Don’t be ridiculous and understand how restaurants work before you comment.

    • Yes. The ones with strong PR teams… …and nothing else! You call those the “50 best”, Maclean’s?!

  8. I live in Toronto. This article is absolute crap.

    • Agreed. What an absolute joke, as much for the restaurants that were left off as the ones that made the list.

  9. This is a list of the best URBAN restaurants, not the best restaurants in Canada! One of our local eateries just was voted the best in BC; Atlas Cafe in Courtenay BC and another outstanding one, “Locals” specializes in local produce.

    • Atlas is awesome, so is its sister in Comox, the avenue.

    • Every restaurant today specializes in local produce

      • No they don’t.

  10. Hmm… the only good restaurants in Ontario are in Toronto and Ottawa AND NOWHERE ELSE??? This is ridiculous. What about Treadwell’s in St. Catharines? What are The Cook Shop in Windsor? What are the Mettawas in Kingsville? You should be ashamed.

  11. Unfortunately Cullen and Richler did not take the ferry to Vancouver Island or the smaller Islands when doing this piece. We live in a Foodie Paradise! There are so many holes-in-the-wall where top chefs have set up shop (often having burned out in the big city rat race). They are cooking what they want when they want. An example is the Harbour View Bistro in Union Bay, south of Courtenay. You have to make reservations 3 weeks ahead because there are only 4 tables and you are treated as honoured guests at their home for dinner. You can only imagine the food! It’s the best we’ve found but there are many such delightful experiences. Don’t tell anyone.

  12. Imagine with all the international delegates, politicians, and socialites in Ottawa they only name 2 restaurants. And all the fantastic fine dinning and winneries in Niagara not 1 restaurant made the list ! Absurd. I wonder how much these restaurants paid to be on this list

    • We visited Ottawa and there are wonderful restaurants all over the city. They didn’t try too hard did they?

  13. I like in Toronto and why would you say the article is crap, cause you can’t afford any of those restaurants….

    • I also live in Toronto. The list is crap not only because of the fact that they did not list any of the more notable fine dining establishments from such chefs as Peter Oliver, Michael Bonacini, Mark McEwan, David Chang or even the more popular establishments of 2011/2012 like Pizzeria Libretto, Burger’s Priest, Guu Izakaya. The only expensive restaurant on that list is Scaramouche so your efforts at insulting the plebes has no validity – you just come off as an obnoxious snob who spends all of their money on mid-level seedy joints. Why don’t you take your excess cash and actually eat or somewhere that you consider expensive, restaurants like Canoe, or Luma, or North 44, or even The Host if that isn’t too low-brow for your refined taste. Are you going to tell us that the bbq options at The Stockyards is too expensive for the common man? Buu, you are not a foodie, but a poser. I’m directing you to an accurate list put together by people who don’t work for a business magazine that really have no business writing about food – especially when stacking Vancouver up against Toronto – the clear winner is Toronto, you sheep.

      • Can’t believe there is so much negativity being dished out here. I’ve dined at several of these restaurants, and they are top notch. I’m not doubting there are a few restaurants that have been left off the list, but do you honestly believe that it’s a possibility to actually get any top fifty list bang on the money? No. Andrew, I’m not going to say you sound like a child, but I’m going to end this sentence right here.

        • If one got on a list using payola method, would you want to dine at such a place? Pas pour moi here in Montreal where we do have many great restaurants for every budget $ $$ $$$ $$$$+

          • However in $$$ and $$$$ some very good places are not on the list.

        • bang on the money is one thing, but being entirely innacurate is another. Gauge any Torontonian on the best restaurants in the city – I’m confident most will return with at least one of my aforementioned.

      • Anyone calling themselves a foodie is a sheep. “gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals…whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food, consumption, study, preparation and news.”

  14. I love how everyone’s complaining about the lack of Ontario mentions when people in the prairies got lumped in together. And of the three prairie provinces, it seems that they only really spent any time in Calgary. Segovia is fantastic, though…there is just so many great restaurants they’re missing.

  15. Selected 2 Winnipeg restaurants that are considered by locals as pretty average. The Macleans selections do have nice websites, though.

    • Suck one, rumblecat.

    • I think the Pizzeria Gusto and Segovia are better than average.

    • Maybe that is how they got on the list of 50 Best in Canada …

  16. The food critic is an offspring of Mordechai Richler – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Dude, you can do better than this, I’ve taken dumps in nicer restaurants that are on this list. #stickwithreviewsaboutuniversities

  17. This is the restaurant where you’ve been, you make me laugh……

  18. Ridiculous list. The best. What BS. How can you include the Stockyards in Toronto. And leaving off Acadia and Splendido. And I suppose the same ridiculousness apllies to the rest of the country. Where do you find people who compile these purported lists? Eh!

    • Yeah Montreal was crazy off…and to leave out Victor? Sucks.

  19. And you left out Kaji. OMG

    • Ha, yes thank you fladgate, Kaji is an obvious best in Canada.

  20. How about the long established Rae & Jerry,s Steakhouse in Winnipeg.

  21. It’s crappy reporting like this that makes me happy I don’t subscribe to Macleans anymore.

  22. How come Bob’s Beanery in Edmonton didn’t make the list?

    • Maybe because this place doesn’t exist?

  23. Pizzeria Gusto in Winnipeg? What???? Ok maybe it’s changed but I went there a year ago and the food wasn’t terrible but far from amazing. If you compare it to something like Buca or Enoteca Sociale in Toronto, it’s like a lunch time Italian hot plate place. Not trying to hate, Just can’t undertand.

  24. No restaurants from Vancouver Island on this list! Obviously this person has no idea of what fine dining is! I actual wonder if they even know it exists!

  25. This Just In – There is a whole province full of good restaurants outside of Vancouver. Victoria and the Okanagan Valley have wonderful dining spots that deserve mention – although from a review of the coices offered, all of which I am sure are worthy, it would seem that your judges never ventured out of cities. Maybe a supplementary list – 50 excellent restaurants not located in major metropolitan areas!

  26. So happy that one of my favourite restaurants is included on this list. Chantecler is amazing! Spectacular, unpretentious food; friendly and knowledgeable staff; and a warm, inviting space.

  27. you forgot the restaurant <> for quebec city. Should be before le cloche penche and laurie-raphael… it has more prestige and it has more stars than the two others !

  28. I live in Ottawa, and when I first read on Twitter that Play and Sidedoor were the only 2 restaurants to make this list I was certain it was a joke. They are both decent restaurants but so far from the city’s best.

    • where is your top spot? i was disapointed by ottawa.

      Really like Wellington Gastropub and Petit Bill’s

      • I just recently moved from Ottawa and was extremely disappointed with this list as well. I would recommend Fraiser Cafe, Domus, Murray Street. and Allium. If you want a unique experience try Mariposa farms for Sunday brunch or the Wakefield Mill, which has a beautiful 6 course tasting menu for a very reasonable price!

  29. London,On-never on the list of anything

  30. Who’s the Canadian Egon Roney?
    Time to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake and Port Dalhousie and just like in Europe, you will discover that the best Restaurants are very seldom in large cities. i.e. “Chez Pic” ; l’Ousteau de Beaumanière; Chez Jacques; Girardet just to name a few.
    Gastronomically inclined…et vive la bonne bouffe!

  31. Aw s$$t there’s only 2 cities in Ontario.
    Somehow the people at MacLeans have managed to ignore the the other 9 million of us.
    I’ve been to better restaurants in Strathroy and Lucan than any of the ones mentonned

  32. This list/article is a joke, right? These definately are NOT the 50 best in Canada, but I can only guess places your writers go to or know the owners, You should change the name of your publication(?) to MAD Mag. This article is so wronge! is so many ways. Absolute garbage!

  33. Lots of cry-babies, but not surprised. The only way Maclean’s could have succeeded with this article and you guys would be if there were only 50 restaurants in Canada.

  34. I love Menam! A lovely restaurant with excellent food and a great cocktail list

    • Good, but overrated IMO. Maybe in Vancouver’s top 30 but not top ten. Especially when the list omitted La Buca, Quattro, Tableau, Bistrot Bistrot etc.

  35. Terrible, shameful Montreal list.

    O + G is a cafe. Kazu is a likeable but messy Japanese hole in the wall just above fastfood level. Ferreira’s heyday was fifteen years ago. Bouillon Bilk can’t hold a candle to at least a half dozen others not named. Dominion Square? A fine spot for cocktails but posh fish and chips. Maison Boulud just opened.

    What a joke!

    • Kazu is just above fast food? You have lost your mind. Why would you assume incorrectly in reference to an article you felt did the same? Stick to what you know.

      • Ken, I’m going to be very selfish here and suggest (plead) that you not try to change his mind with the facts.

    • YES! YES! YES! What a shame Maclean is getting worse than ever! And I WON’T BUY IT ANYMORE

  36. Well, if don’t go off the beaten trail, how can you qualify these as Canada’s Best Restaurants!!! Only Vancouver in BC – Come on!!!!!!

  37. Where’s Boa Thong Thai from Vernon BC? It’s the greatest I’ve ever been to!

    • There are 18 cities in Canada? Odd. You mentioned-hmm.-A 19th?

  38. Yeah and now I’m frickin STARVING! Let’s see, which of these bad boys is closest…

  39. omg this list is ridiculous!….Halifax & Moncton’s, not to mention Charlottetown & Frederiction’s best eateries are conspicuously absent….& what is represented I’ve never heard of{truly a travesty if a traveller relied solely on this list….they would be robbed}….this article wasn’t worthy of posting, never mind standing as a arbiter of the ‘best’ dining rooms in Cahana….mon dieu!

    • Agreed, particularly since I wasn’t that impressed with The Bicycle Thief. Fid is good, but better than Chives, Gio, or even The Wooden Monkey? I’m kinda amazed that they actually made it to Lunenburg hah.

      • I can’t believe the Rum Runner is on this list…’s one of the most awful places I’ve ever eaten. Comparable to Boston Pizza or some other chain restaurant.

        • I disagree. The Rum Runner served my party the most incredible scallop meal. However, I will say this; Don’t go there if you’re hungry. They focus on presentation first and foremost. This dish was delicious, and a work of art, but in the end it was five scallops on a bed of two blades of grass, which even the server was so very proud of. If I want art, I’ll go to a museum, thank you. When I’m hungry, I want a meal.

        • Don’t insult
          Boston Pizza for Pete sale!!!!

  40. Longview Steakhouse, Longview Alberta. The most underrated restaurant in the country! (and I live in Vancouver)

  41. I’m amazed to see Lot 30 on this list, the food is horrible.

    • I live in Charlottetown. The food at Lot 30 is the best on the island. Not sure where you’re dinning at……

  42. You didn’t include the Pizza Delight at the “jail” in Charlottetown. They have an open grill where you can grill your own bread and then slather it with flavored margarine. I think this concept is truly cutting edge and is changing the restaurant scene as we know it. Bravo Pizza Delight…..Bravo!

    • Probably impossible to get a reservation.

    • You had me at “flavored margarine”.
      Oh wait… gross! Are you serious?

  43. None of the restaurants listed would crack the top 200 list in the states.

    • We don’t live in the USA. However, I personally know from experience some very find Canadian restaurants that would crack the top 200 list in the states. Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal (large cities by Canadian standards) and many other places like Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Windsor (Ont) to name just a few where any Americans who critique food have dined — the reviews of our Canadian food draws RAVES.

    • Yeah, but these are Canadian restaurants and therefore would not appear on an American list.

  44. I wonder if jake richler has even been to Montreal let alone been born here!!!! Where is Joe Beef?!! Pied de Cochon!? Le Filet!??? This article is a disgrace to the Montreal Food scene
    wonder if author is for hire??????

    • Disgrace? Laprise trained all those heroes you mention and what does he get in return: Former commis chefs that complain that they were left out when they should have been congratulating their former mentor.

      You’re a disgrace to grammar and punctuation marks.

    • Montreal restaurant affectionado

      This type of list usually fails to
      satisfy. Too many restaurants are left out. However, in my mind, though Joe
      Beef and Pied de Cochon are good restaurants, they have always been highly
      overrated. I’m glad someone recognized it for what it was: media hype.

  45. Be How much Did Kazu paid you Guys To Be In This List?

    • Kazu is pretty awesome but not best I agree.

  46. Amazing how there can be as many as 10 great restaurants in one city, but none in smaller cities or towns across the country. Should we say the best 50 restaurants in 17 Canadian cities

    • I agree with you. None in smaller cities…

    • How shocking that cities, traditionally places with higher population densities and, thus, higher concentrations of restaurants, dominate such a list.

    • Obviously you have never been to Rum Runner Restaurant in Lunenberg, Atlantica in Portugal Cove, L’Idylle in Dieppe… or many others, as these are small towns.

  47. I assume that the Ontario reviewers are incapable of travelling beyond Toronto and Ottawa? Give me a break! You have 1/3 the population of Canada in this province, spread through a whole bunch of amazing cities and eating a cool restaurants! This is about magazine sales, not restaurants.

  48. i find it very hard to believe that both Play and Sidedoor are above places like Whalesbone and Atelier in Ottawa. This list touches absolutely no where near the best restaurants in Ottawa. Go into smaller counties and you’ll see places like Cheshire Cat in Stittsville, doing EVERYTHING from scratch and seasonally, absolutely incredible.

  49. Bao Bei? really… sooooo overrated … westerners are so gullible if marketed correctly… too expensive and not real Chinese food .. more like a bar.. that’s where they get their money.

  50. What: a pleasure it was to discover the Blue Door from Fredericton on your list! My colleague and I discovered it while on a business trip to Fredericton some years ago. I still cook their Thai chicken: we convinced the restaurant owner, a young couple, to share the recipe with us. My family and friends in Canada and the far away Sudan we work now are enjoying it very much. Congratulations, the Blue Door of Fredericton. Marina

  51. disappointed there isn’t anything from cape breton on here.. .looks like not even an attempt to try and represent the island. when there’s phenomenal places like flavor & the dancing goat… or even the red shoe pub… it’s surprising there’s none. only mainland.

  52. There are a lot of sour grapes in the comments section. Sounds to me like disgruntled cooks who are ruined because they didn’t make the cut. Food is a personal experience and by no means does this list reflect what’s better or worse, it is the opinion of the writers in this specific publication.

    Lay off the Hateorade.

  53. Um, none in Victoria? Did the budget not include a ferry trip?

  54. Montreal list…way, way off. Martin Picard is arguably one of the the most innovative and best chefs in North America and his restaurant Au Pied de Cochon is NOT on this list. Joe Beef is missing as well. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. Get real!

  55. Don’t know how the Blue Door made this list. Management must have known they were being evaluated because the last time I was there it was terrible. Fredericton does not have a lot to choose from but I and others I’m sure will not darken their door again

  56. Tres Carnales as one of the two restaurants for Edmonton? It’s good, but ranked on this list? Red Ox Inn, Hardware Grill, Unheardof, Lux, Pampa, Culina, etc….

  57. This guide cannot be taken seriously. Your Montreal restaurants are old school non trendy places. Comme on this is a real joke. Next time why don’t your reviewers ask around before they write such a list. Very disapointed.

  58. Having eaten in all those retaurants in Nova Scotia, all I can say is that the reviewers must have not been to Charlotte Lane in Shelburne!

  59. What about Stories at the Halliburton and Gio, where the chefs are absolute geniuses

  60. Forgot to mention, Both the Halliburton and Gio are in Halifax, NS

  61. It sickens me to think the rest of Canada believes BC has only 1 valuable city? Vancouver is not the gem of BC… Shame on them. There are many wonderful cities in BC. Maybe I should re-think my subscription if my city (Victoria– the capital city of BC) wasn’t good enough to review, but it’s good enough to take my money?

    • Sorry, I should’ve said Maclean’s (not rest of Canada)

    • Oyama is the gem of BC. I speak as a Vernonite.

  62. HAHAHAHAHA! You joke. You kid. Weak list.

  63. All I have to say is. Politics. Thank you.

  64. The Bicycle Thief in Halifax was recently shut down do to an outbreak of highly contagious food born illness and yet here it is because they had to have a least one restaurant from each major city in Canada

    • To be fair, they also list Fid, which is waaay smaller than The Bicycle Thief and is a much more intimate setting. I don’t really like The Bicycle Thief – it’s loud, noisy, and the first and second dishes are very poorly balanced with the mains which – worse – all came with the same vegetable when I went. It was okay, but hardly worth the price and the noise takes away from the presumed “upscale” nature of the meal. I liked Bish far more.

      In Halifax, there are numerous restaurants offering a better menu and dining experience than The Bicycle Thief: Chives, Brooklyn Warehouse, Cut, Jane’s (sadly closing!), Brussels, The Wooden Monkey. I haven’t been to Gio yet but by reputation it’s very, very good (if a bit pricier).

      And, yes, the whole food-borne illness thing was caused by the staff eating out of communal dishes in the kitchen. Remarkable that no customers got ill.

    • To be accurate – The Bicycle Thief voluntarily closed for a short period of time after a Norwalk-like virus hit Halifax, not due to a contagious food born illness. The Bicycle Thief is very proactive when it comes to taking care of their customers and staff, and puts their health and safety above all else.

  65. no swiss chalet?

  66. Congratulations to Normand Laprise. His influence has extended beyond Montreal and he’s been supporting local farmers and the community long, long before it became hip and trendy. Good on him.

    Too bad his former apprentices are spending too much time complaining to Anthony Bourdain as opposed to being gracious and keeping their mouths shut.

    This is why Canada can’t have nice restaurants.

  67. This list is ridiculous. Any foodie who puts a restaurant that has only been opened for 3 months as (Maison Boulud) on a “50 Best” list is out of their mind. The Montreal portion of this list is pitiful. I would agree many of the restaurants on the list are great restaurants but by no means deserve to be on the list (Olive + Gourmando, Ferreira). The author should have titled this “50 new and hip places” or “Cool restaurants by province”. The author did not do his research, if he truly wanted to put the best restaurants on this list, he should have (not put a crazy disclaimer about well-formed establishments at the beginning).

  68. A top 50 list in the second largest country in the world, and people don’t agree with it? Shocking! Aside from the panel who put this list together, I’m pretty sure no one else has eaten at all these establishments, thus making every comment/critique/complaint moot points.

    Coming from Toronto, I have my own opinions about our choices, but the rest of Canada? Well I can’t say, because I HAVEN’T EATEN AT THEM! Think about it. Any form of top 50 this or top 100 that, or best of this best of that are completely based on arbitrary terms.

    Who is to say what really is number one in any category? Do you need a panel of 100 or 1 million? Half women, half men? Mixed race? An age median? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    These lists are put together to sell magazines, and inject revenue into the economy. When these lists are released to the public, the masses will then go spend their money on whatever the lists were made for. Simple. Stay calm and carry on. Chances are your favorite restaurant that went “missing” is gonna be just fine…

  69. A top 50 list in the second largest country in the world, and people don’t agree with it? Shocking! Aside from the panel who put this list together, I’m pretty sure no one else has eaten at all these establishments, thus making every comment/critique/complaint moot points.

    Coming from Toronto, I have my own opinions about our choices, but the rest of Canada? Well I can’t say, because I HAVEN’T EATEN AT THEM! Think about it. Any form of top 50 this or top 100 that, or best of this best of that are completely based on arbitrary terms.

    Who is to say what really is number one in any category? Do you need a panel of 100 or 1 million? Half women, half men? Mixed race? An age median? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    These lists are put together to sell magazines, and inject revenue into the economy. When these lists are released to the public, the masses will then go spend their money on whatever the lists were made for. Simple. Stay calm and carry on. Chances are your favorite restaurant that went “missing” is gonna be just fine…

  70. An absolute complete failure in the Montreal list, you list mediocre restaurants and leave out some of the best (Au Pied Du Cochon, Joe Beef, Liver Pool House) ! How much you get paid to put certain places on there?

  71. The Montreal section of this is so far off. CLub Chasse et Peche has outright disgusting seafood (half the name) and Dominion Tavern serves sub-par pub food for 3 times the price. I guarantee the person who made this list has never eaten at either.

  72. In defense of the food critic/author… this was a ridiculous mission. The word “best” is likely the worst descriptor … without narrowing categories he didn’t stand a chance. Imagine the time and manpower needed to create sensible lists like “Best Food”, “Best Presentation”, “Best Ambiance”, “Best Service”, etc. The list of categories is endless. Instead of bitching, perhaps you could all suggest your favourite restaurant in your comment. That would be much more helpful. Cheers!

    • Why bother – there are many good restaurant review sites already on the internet.

      • Because it beats the hell out of negativity while still giving people a chance to put in their two cents.

        • Grow up – life is full of criticism.

    • Yup. The food CRITIC. They stated only the worst 50 restaurants in Canada. There’s a lot of fine dining out there, but hardly any of it made the list.

      By the way, Vernon BC has the greatest in Canada: Boa-Thong. Here’s its website:, It’s menu is at, and its address is at Try it out everyone, I guarantee 98.75% that you’ll like it. If you do, vote up on my comment, if you don’t, vote down on my comment.

      Maclean’s, next time you do a 50 best restaurants in Canada, travel across in every city and get Canadians to vote. This list was a dunce.

  73. Absolutely agree with disappointed! I guess there are no resteraunts in Victoria, B.C., Saskatoon, Hamilton, London….Geee, these people will just have to order take – out.

  74. A notable omission for Vancouver is La Buca. Maenam is ok, but it doesn’t belong in that sort of starred company.
    And if you’re going to mention Araxi in Whistler, then how could you possibly overlook the Trattoria?
    Of course, another issue with these sorts of ratings is that they overlook and ignore certain niches. An example would be steakhouses, which are generally considered to be “old school” and lots of contemporary foodies frown on red meat generally — so steakhouses are sort of anathema. Another example is Chinese restaurants, of which the Vancouver-Richmond area has tons, and a few are top-notch.

    • Another notable omission for Vancouver is Quattro’s.

  75. I’m sorry….did you forget Vancouver Island is a part of Canada?

  76. Play food and wine’s food is absolutely horrid! They have an exquisite wine selection to cleanse your pallet of that horrible taste you have lingering after eating their food!

    • I forgot to add that this is an Ottawa restaurant. The Panaché is much better! Give it a try if you’re ever in the Nation’s Capital.

  77. Did you een go to Victoria?!?!?!? List Fails…

    • Nonono… The correct question is “Did you go ANYWHERE? Or were these all in your head as the 50 worst?”

  78. I live in Ottawa and the above selections for Ottawa are very remise. They don’t even have the best chefs. Sidedoor is cute and they can be quite adventurous with their menu. Play is overpriced and in order to leave full you need to order 3 meals or eat before you go. If you want delicious and upscale, then Eighteen should be your pick, they have a world renown chef. A better price point without the possibility of disappointment is the Black Tomato.

  79. Bishops’s in Vancouver should be on this list.

    • I think Bishop’s probably suffers in the PR deparment just becuase it has been around for so long. Note that it’s older than practically every restaurant on that Vancouver list.

  80. 3 restaurants in NovaScotia… Bicycle thief is good, I’ll give it that. Along with the other NS picks, but we do actually have far superior cuisine outside of the usual tourist traps! C’mon! What about places like The Port, or Le Caveau in the Annapolis Valley?! Peopled dont pay 200$ for lunch there for nothing! Same for Ontario, we have some amazing food outside of Toronto and Ottawa! To say otherwise is just plain narrow minded and short sighted! Ridiculous list, completely useless.

  81. I’ve tried most of them on the Vancouver list and I have to say I more or less agree. Especially with the fact that La Quercia is on the list. Reminded that we’re long over due to try L’Abbatoir.

    • Crappy Miss. That article leads me to a Phisiotherapy site, not a restaurant!

  82. Where’s Trattoria della Nonna in Lunenburg? It definitely should be on the list.

  83. Missing Atelier in Ottawa makes this list moot. It is Canada’s best, hands down.

  84. These are the writer’s selections. There are great places in so many towns across canada. Too bad there isn’t a site where you could recommend restaurants other than trip advisor.

  85. Glad to see the Tide and Boar Gastropub in Moncton on the list. Well deserved!

  86. I personally work at one of these restaurants.To narrow it down in NB. I believe we do not deserve to be on this list as there are at least ten other deserving places across our country that I know of off hand. I work go to work to see a chef/ owner who only shows up when he feels like it or hasn’t been indulging in libations the night before. And when is there is commonly found in an office on Facebook. Leaving his top 50 kitchen to be ran by an overly talented sous brought in from another province. Front of house manager/owner responsible for menu’s and cocktail menu’s as well as facebook and social media advertising has grammar and spelling that. would make a school age child blush with guilt. Then when corrected scoff’s at you. Anyway my feelings are there is more to restaurants than a 3 hour afternoon meeting and photo shoot. I hope the list guides people but they do not take it to heart as Canada’s Top 50.

  87. You spelled Lunenurg wrong

  88. It is very unfortunate that the questionable “foodie” author didn’t entitle his foray into journalism as “100 of the best restaurants in Canada”. A very subjective choice and a rather limited one. I gather he’s an urban dweller and doesn’t venture out much past the pavement. Too bad. I was looking forward to this edition, but now won’t waste money on it now that I see how very unadventurous the choices are – all excellent restaurants but certainly not the best 100 by a long shot.
    Amateur hour, author.

  89. Tide & Boar Gastropub (Moncton): that’s a joke (or an ad)!!! If you really had to pick up a place in Moncton, you should have tried Little Louis (

  90. Québec City: if you chose Clocher Pencher against L’Initiale, you really missed something.

  91. Once again Macleans features a story about Canada’s best and leaves the north out of the picture completely. It is happening way too often people! Look up … look way up!!!

  92. I guess it’s 2012 we all watch the food network, we’re all experts, right?

  93. I do not think the author actually visited Ottawa other than perhaps a brief walk through the market area since there are far better restaurants throughout the city than Sidedoor. It is just the another version of the box-bar/tapas lounge over charging their customers to pay for the rent and serving less than stellar dishes with the lackluster customer service endemic to many of the restaurants in the nation’s capital. Just a couple streets away you have far better and cheaper places (Murray Street, Khao Thai, Smoque Shack, Ahora, etc…). The Ottawa Citizen has a terrific food and restaurant reviewer who routinely covers places that would easily make this list. Sorry Macleans, this is just lazy research.

    • I think the name of the article is misleading. If MacLean’s could only name 50 restaurants, they should have named the article differently. To debut an article with “50 Best” you better have clout. Otherwise, you will get killed in reviews, just like the replacement referee’s of the NFL.

  94. Spending
    the weekend in Vancouver, having ever so much to be thankful for
    (family, friends, health, wealth, safety, and opportunity), I decided to
    celebrate, nay indulge in, Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant Macleans magazine rated recently as “The best of the top 50 restaurants in Canada, 2012.” Restaurant of the Year: Hawksworth (Vancouver)
    could not get a booking for Friday, Saturday, or Monday evening but I
    was able to snag a 5pm early reservation Sunday. Perfect: got more
    attention from the sommelier, head waiter, and maitre d’ at that time than even Donald Trump might hope for at any restaurant in the world.

    was seated at a very nice marble table, nothing on the table, looking
    out a massive set of glass window panes across the street at the
    Vancouver Museum of
    Art, a 1930s icon of architecture. Absolutely perfect 1-2 hours for
    capturing a view of the
    sunset without blindness. Unusually warm day: young, attractive,
    well-dressed Vancouverites
    were out in full force, strolling and strutting to be seen in loose,
    light, minimalist clothing a few feet below and beyond my indoors perch.

    was asked “what sort of culinary experience was I looking forward to
    enjoy?” I said that, over and over, I have been told that Vancouver
    might be the best place in North America for seafood. I said that I
    would probably best enjoy something unusual, perhaps a little spicy as
    an appetizer and as a main course. But, for health as well as cleansing
    my palate reasons, I generally like to start with a tasty greens-based

    I typically prefer a robust red wine, but often with seafood or fish, an oaky
    Chardonnay works best. Since I was in BC, Canada’s best source of
    native wines, I would prefer a BC wine. Also, a bottle of sparkling
    water, served with lots of ice.

    We agreed on the water,
    a white wine, and a starter
    involving greens. A starter involving some sort of “les fleurs de saison frais,” or whatever. I’ve had some very unusual salads involving “fleurs”
    at Ontario’s top-rated restaurants on terraces overlooking Niagara on
    the Lake with friends, so I thought nothing of the suggestion.

    Excused myself for a few minutes; went to the washroom.

    back: there was my wine bottle, a carafe half-filled with the wine, a
    wine glass, a carafe of table ice water, a bottle of sparkling water, a
    glass full of ice with a tiny spoon, an empty water glass. A dinner
    plate, a linen napkin, a months’ supply of cutlery I could never pretend
    to name. An odd-looking, small but beautiful deep-blue bowl of red,
    yellow, orange, and green flower tops/greens tops immediately to the
    left of my dinner plate.

    I forked a few of “les fleurs de saison frais” onto my plate. Not very tasty, but OK. Quickly, the head
    waiter came by, accompanied by the sommelier. I was
    asked “And how is monsieur’s dinner experience beginning?”

    said that the wine was great, the salad was okay, but not very
    tasteful, a little dry, perhaps it might best be accompanied by a
    vinaigrette or a mixture of light olive oil and balsamic vinegar?

    The head waiter agreed instantly. “Most of our patrons enjoy les fleurs as an ‘accoutrement de table.’ But I agree with connoisseurs such as yourself – something extra is needed.”

    Everybody was solemn and attentive. Nobody laughed, nobody smiled, nobody whispered.

    I had a moment of expose, realization, and embarrassment; the rest of the meal was perfect.

    -Steve Priebe, Mississauga, ON

  95. Montreal Gazette exposes a possible foodgate (as in wentegate). Check out – their list has been up for 6 months according to the Gazette

  96. I’m surprised this list overlooked The Carleton in Ottawa

  97. What the f***k Olive & Gourmando et non APC, Les 3 petits bouchons, Joe Beef? Hahahahahahahah! Ça sent la collusion à plein nez ça!

  98. This is a pretty fun list to real overall. Although, I’m in Vancouver, and Bao Bei is a questionable red dot on the list… considering its in a city with such high caliber Chinese food. Not that its bad… but top 50 in the country? Many places have certainly been overlooked on this list.

  99. Tres Carnales should not be on that list. It is deemed a below average restaurant experience by even locals and regional media outlets. Poorly researched choice. I’d hate to think MacLean’s was informed by this restaurant’s recent appearance on a recent Food Network show; the one where the host is sloppily eating the “featured” greasy food over the prep station.

  100. Nothing in Saskatoon ? Canada’s strongest economy & fastest growing city in the country. Thanks Macleans for perpetuating the hayseed stereotype. meat, potatoes and boiled cabbage thats us…..

  101. lol you all are a bunch of idiots, a top # list is SUBJECTIVE to the writer of the article. It is THEIR OPINION, hence why these types of articles are called OPINION PIECES. Not one top # list will be the same because everybody’s palate is different. Instead of acting like children and crying about the writers list, maybe you should go out and write your own OPINION PIECE on the top restaurants in Canada and see how the list you come up with gets shredded (most likely worse than this list).

  102. I agree with the majority of the criticism of the list. I believe the individual that compiled the list of 50 Best (????) ate most of his meals at the corner no name burger joint


  103. Ridiculous. You are saying that the only great restaurants are in a handful of cities – oh yes, Toronto and Ottawa are the only 2 Ontario cities. What a waste of time, space and paper. You should be ashamed with this list.

  104. If you’re in Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, expect attention. Bones are thrown to Calgary. But what about Motorburger in Windsor or some of the fine, elegant restaurants scattered in population centers less than 100,000 people? Not everyone in this country lives in Toronto!

  105. Shocking. Atelier from Ottawa won the Gold Medal Plates last year and didn’t even make it in the top 50. The only good thing about this list is all the reactions. I’m going to use the comments from hear as my restaurants list to try :-)

  106. The anger over this article is absolutely hysterical. It’s a subjective list of restaurants, folks! Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

  107. This list is great to see because it made me curious enough to visit some of the restaurants web sites. I have friends througout Canada and we will definatley be discussing their cities restaurants next phone call / email.

    I am a restaurant owner in Saint John, NB and run two restaurants in one location….Urban Deli and Italian by Night (Deli by day and authentic ‘Tuscan style’ Italian at night. It is such a hard business and when I see other restaurants making a list like this, I am pleased for them because it truly is hard work and at times people can be unforgiving and also very kind and generous with their comments – either way it has an impact on us.

    I have visited both the Blue Door in Fredericton and Tide & Boar in Moncton and they are very good restaurants (yet uniquely different). Tide and Boar and Urban Deli were both featured on “You Gotta Eat Here” earlier this year. The reason we were chosen was because of Trip Advisor and the customers comments hosted on their page.

    Reading all the discussions and opinions makes the reading of the lists even more interesting!

  108. Tide & Boar in Moncton: what a JOKE!

  109. The list just illustrates what a waste of time these lists are. Sidedoor in Ottawa – you have to be kidding! There are so many better places in Ottawa. Also, I am sure there are some great restaurants that exist outside this very restrictive list of Canadian cities.

  110. The best restaurant in Canada is my house on Simcoe Street in Niagara on the Lake. Best food, wonderful service and clean!! Not many restaurants can say that!!

  111. what happened to Victoria – we have a ton of fantastic seafood restaurants – I guess being the Capital City of BC (not Vancouver – our ugly step-sister) doesn’t even rate – sigh

  112. I cannot believe they left out The Hoito in Thinder Bay. It is only the best breakfast served in the Western Hemisphere.

  113. I’d rather pay rent and have heat at my place then pay big bucks for some small portion, I’ll keep going to the local pub and get a burger and beer for under $6.

  114. I have been reading all the discussions regarding your list. Why would you copy from a successful website like They posted the top 50 restaurants months before yours yet you did not acknowledge that you got this idea from their success according to the Montreal Gazette. You should be ashamed of taking advantage of a small but successful website like I hope they do get a lawyer and pursue this legally as the newspaper noted. SY

  115. This list is at the least interesting, you have establishments of all price points across a vass country. I have traveled across canada numurous times and very few restaurants can offer the hole package. Some restaurants should or should not be on this list but this would be based off of my experience, any one that has worked in the industry knows that there are far and few restaurants that can offer an experience worth remebering 100 percent of the time. Imagine being these critics and visiting each province trying to determine which place is better then the rest! Heck I would not have made it out of BC, there is a reason for there being so many restaurants from Vancouver. If the rest of Canada wants to see Passion and Product In all areas of a restaurant from food to wine and cocktails, this is an epic center of knowledge.

  116. I don’t know most of these places, but the ones I do know should NOT be in a top 50 list. The Stockyards is okay but not great. A much better smoked meat/bbq place is Hogtails in Waterloo, Ontario. Nota Bene was good at first but has gone downhill… and it was never a superlative dining experience, just very nice. There aren’t nearly enough ethnic cuisines on this list, or restaurants outside of big centers. Why no Langdon Hall? And where oh where is Toronto’s most exciting eatery, Acadia? Sorry guys but I’m not interested in buying this list.

  117. Sure they’re are great restaurants all over a Canada, but I think you’re missing the point. Most people travel to the major cities, not small towns/areas. As for places that are better I’m sure there are, but food is a very subjective thing. One persons poison is another persons meat. At some point you have to cull the list or it will be too overwhelming to read.

  118. Bodegs in Regina is decent; one of my faves there. But, not worthy of top 50 in the country…not the best in Regina even. Better than the creek Bistro or the Willow? They’re not even in the same league, really. The latter is a refined dining experience: proper service, sources local game and produce, experiments creatively with the amuse bouche, has a fantastic Sommelier who pairs wines to food ingeniously and engages the community with the city’s premiere wine club. Etc etc

  119. It looks like these restaurants were chosen by someone with a narrow bias for a particular aesthetic in food. You’d think that the person responsible for this list would be able to determine the great restaurants across all of the styles.

    Only someone who never ate the food would put Dominion Square Tavern above Joe Beef.

    Just saying…

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  124. A list of the best restaurants in Montréal that excludes Joe Beef is not only incomplete, it is uninformed, ignorant, and pointless.

  125. And the Vancouver list:
    Blue Water is not only not one of the best restaurants in town, it’s not even the best seafood joint.
    This list sucks.

  126. Joe Beef, Europea, Atelier, Liverpool house?!?!

  127. I’m from Saint John, NB. Would have liked to have seen restaurants such as Thandis, Sense of Tokyo, Italian by Night, Suwanna Restaurant and Britts Pub considered for the next publication.