Late last month Air Canada’s enRoute magazine announced its picks for Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2013. And I’m glad they waited until my Toronto rounds to celebrate them at the Storys Building.

One of my fave Toronto tour guides, Dave Forde (, and I made the rounds of nibbles from the winners. And I was tickled to see the Vancouver kudos towards Pidgin, Acorn, and the People’s Choice Winner: Vij’s Railway Express.

DSC00096The real treat came by bumping into Jason Apple from Gourmet Syndicate, the company behind the day-to-day running of (and cooking at!) Vij’s Railway Express. A friendly face from my other home, chai, and (literally) a handful of Vij’s yum.

I’ve already visited Electric Mud BBQ and sampled the 3 hour roasted pig tails and grits. So next up Bar Isabel and Shoto!

The Top 10 Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2013 in order are:

1. Bar Isabel, Toronto: “looks, feels and tastes vaguely Castilian but does far more than ape a menu straight out of Madrid.”

2. Shoto, Toronto: “a storybook of a tasting menu, with all the typical annoying bits – the repetition of ingredients, the showy caprice, the monotonous pacing – smartly edited out.”

3. Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt’s Arm, Nfld. and Labrador: “There’s a terrific survivalist spirit bursting out of Chef McDonald’s kitchen, where most everything is made from scratch.”

4. Supply and Demand, Ottawa: “ It’s not supposed to be this easy for a first-timer … you notice all the little things that rookies Steve and Jennifer Wall are getting so right.”

5. Pidgin, Vancouver: “The cuisine of Winnipeg-born Chef Ono, who ran restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong, draws from multiple languages.”

6. Carino Japanese Bistro, Calgary: “a Japanese-Italian wine bar that defies logic in the most wonderful ways.”

7. Maison Publique, Montreal: “A mere 250 years after the Treaty of Paris, cooking Anglo food in Montreal is cool again.”

8. Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu, Quebec City: “one of the most convivial, playful, unabashedly fun dining experiences I’ve had anywhere in North America.”

9. The Acorn, Vancouver: “That the food is meatless is almost beside the point unless you’re a foodie vegetarian who’s long hankered for a compromise-free night on the town.”

10. Electric Mud, Toronto: “Electric Mud is a twisted hymn to the American South.”

People’s Choice Award
Vij’s Railway Express – a mobile restaurant inspired by an Indian rail carriage with a menu that explores regional flavours and dishes of India. Yes, the food truck is the brain child of Vikram Vij. After some ingenious social media efforts and a Bollywood-style flash mob, Vij’s Railway Express captured the vote.

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About The Author

Shelley Mantei founded as part of the network in 2006 (forever in fashion blog years!). The It Lists help busy women define their personal beauty, life and fashion style – vogue nirvana. It's a trend blog featuring the “it” bag, “it” girl, or “it” scoop! Shelley is also a public relations & social media consultant for life + style brands. She's a Vancouver import who now calls Toronto (Canada) home, but is always scooting somewhere to bring you jetsettera tales. Twitter: @shelleymantei

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