There’s a Lot In Toronto

Canada has some fantastic local cuisine traditions (pick up Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip). Then there’s Toronto, with a deep well of international food along and a sizable restaurant scene that while smaller, may even rival New York’s more than 26,000 restaurants.

My US compatriots have little concept of just how vast and diverse Toronto is. When I talked about Toronto, most seemed under the perception that all TO had to offer was a wide variety of poutine and dijon ketchup.

Any Quebecois can tell you, my American friends are misguided in many ways. I put together some figures to give Americans some perspective.

For starters, Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America. To be more accurate, in recent years it seems to be in a constant race with Chicago for population, edging out the windy city most of the time.

The DineSafe map of Hogtown.

Thanks to Canadian, and Quora user, Jerry Kitich, I now also have a handle on how many eating establishments are in Toronto. The secret is DineSafe. “DineSafe is Toronto Public Health’s food safety program that inspects all establishments serving and preparing food,“ and according to them, 17,086 establishments in Toronto prepare and serve food. (That number has increased to 17,195 since I started to write this piece.)

According to Toronto’s yearly estimated growth rate (.86%), proportionally there should have been about 147 restaurants added since last year, which is not far off from New York city which opened 160 restaurants in 2014.

Toronto is also referred to as the most diverse city in the world, with a large immigrant population. Immigration is considered a key part of the world’s food labor force and a creative engine.

The numbers and statistics paint Toronto as a huge, growing city, that’s full of immigrants. According to Phil Lempert, contributing to Forbes magazine, these are all critical parts of restaurant culture.

Of course, in the words of Mark Twain (attributing a false quote to Benjamin Disraeli), “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

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