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Visiting Toronto: Where to Eat

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Whether you're visiting from outside the city, the province or the country, we've got your dinner reservations picked out.

Don't settle for this burnt ballpark hotdog.
Don't settle for this burnt ballpark hotdog.
Getty Images/Getty Images

Any time I'm visiting a new city, I like to try my hardest to take in the local experience. Typically -- for me anyways -- that revolves around making the correct dinner reservation. The ideal restaurant is usually unique to that city, it's popular with the locals, and, above all else, it boasts fantastic food. When it's time to head back home, it should feel like you had the best possible food in that city.

What follows is the quintessential list of Blue Jays fan's favourite places to eat in their home town. I've tried my best to break down the rankings into important categories so you can find what's best for you and your entourage. Let's begin:

Barque Smokehouse

What says baseball more than great smokehouse barbecue? I'm biased so we're starting with my personal favourite. I'll avoid being vague, Barque has the best food I've ever eaten. Upon first reaction at the menu, it's not the cheapest place to go. However, the sampler for two, for instance, will feed both of you for $52 total and offer great variety. The servings of meat are so generous that you may not even get to the sides, which are also pretty good. Furthermore, it usually has a pretty good local beer selection -- currently featuring St. Ambroise from Montreal -- that is fairly well-rounded. They also serve a bacon-rimmed 'Barque Bloody Caesar.'

I would also mark Barque the most visiting-team-friendly on the list, insofar as you won't get ripped on too hard for wearing the opposing team's hat or jersey. Unfortunately, this means it isn't the right place to watch the game if that's what you're looking for. Barque is your pre-game meal which brings us to its one true downfall: it is a journey to the ballpark. Located right by High Park, Barque is over an hour walk from the Rogers Centre. If you're staying on the west end of the city, it could play into a stop-on-the-way meal. Honestly though, I'd be going out of my way for it.

Visiting Team Experience: 4/5
Home Team Experience: 3/5
Cost: 3/5
Location: 1/5
Food: 5/5
Beer: 4/5

Total: 20/30

The Loose Moose

Frankly, this list wouldn't be complete without an appearance from The Loose Moose. This is the place that everyone knows and loves. Effectively, it's the Cheers of Toronto. It doesn't appear to be anything special at first glance, but its draught beer selections are second-to-none and its food puts other typical sports bars to shame. It can't be understated what an institution this place has been.

Now the problem, and there is really only one: it is going to be insanely busy. Because of its proximity to the ballpark, everyone that doesn't have playoff tickets will have their reservations at Loose Moose. Furthermore, some patrons will be more interested in the beginning of the hockey season than the playoff baseball. That's fine; to each their own. But that's not the reason you came to Toronto, is it? To me, if you can get in here as a home team fan then you should. It's going to be crazy. If you're a visiting fan, this will not be a friendly confine. There are other places you can go that will have good food, great beer selection, and a welcoming environment for your out-of-town hat and jersey.

Visiting Team Experience: 1/5
Home Team Experience: 4/5
Cost: 4/5
Location: 5/5
Food: 3/5
Beer: 5/5

Total: 22/30

Bar Hop

The only place mentioned more than once from the Twitter poll, Bar Hop boasts an extremely impressive beer selection. Similarly, their "snacking" section is full of original items with which to stuff your face such as the Savoury Garlic Doughnuts and Snails & Bacon on Toast.

According to Google Maps, it's actually closer than The Loose Moose. However, because of its location north of Front St., it actually may not be as crazy busy. This will definitely be the closest spot for a visiting fan to get a Toronto experience with a great choice of good local craft beers before or after the game. It will likely be showing the game, but it's not exactly the 'sports bar' vibe if that's what you're looking for.

Visiting Team Experience: 3/5
Home Team Experience: 3/5
Cost: 4/5
Location: 5/5
Food: 2/5
Beer: 5/5

Total: 22/30

N'awlins

That's right, you came all the way to Toronto to enjoy some Cajun soul food. Favourite of resident Bluebird Banter veteran Tom Dakers, N'awlins Jazz Bar would be a nice escape from your potentially baseball-themed trip. They always have a band lined up for the evening and they are located in the heart of Toronto's Entertainment District. Really good variety, especially for those surf-and-turf lovers.

What their beer menu may lack, their wine menu makes up for and then some. As for food suggestions, the Alligator Skewers and Crab Cakes are a clubhouse favourite. If you're travelling with family or friends that may not be interested in baseball-everything and you want fantastic food with a great atmosphere that's located right downtown, N'awlins is worth a shot.

On tap:

Guinness
Kronenbourg 1664
Beau's Lug Tread
Goose Island Honkers Ale
Steamwhistle
Alexander Keith's IPA
Stella Artois
Grolsch

Bottle:

Budweiser
Labatt Blue
Blanche de Chambly
Coors Light
Heineken
Corona
Peroni Nastro Azzurro
Rolling Rock
Bard's (gluten Free)

Visiting Team Experience: 4/5
Home Team Experience: 1/5
Cost: 2/5
Location: 5/5
Food: 4/5
Beer: 2/5

Total: 18/30

Honourable Mentions

There you have it. Surely you can pick one great place from this variety. But, if you can't, here's some honourable mentions:

Bar Isabel - Food-first establishment. 44-minute walk that would take you through the heart of Queen West.

C'est What - 22-minute walk into Financial District. Steps away from the iconic St. Lawrence Market.

Marché - 17-minutes away from the ballpark. If you have a group of indecisive people, this is your spot. High quality food in buffet-style environment.

If I missed one near and dear to you, feel free to share it in the comments section.

. . .

Michael Bradburn is a Featured Writer for Beyond the Box Score. He would like to thank Twitter users @DumbJStats, @JakeAlanS, and @stevenact4 for their input. All travel estimates are courtesy of Google Maps. You can follow him on Twitter at @mwbii or reach him at michaelwbii@gmail.com.