We’ll (hopefully) be able to check out new restaurants again soon. Here are seven to keep an eye on

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We’ll (hopefully) be able to check out new restaurants again soon. Here are seven to keep an eye on

After a gruelling year-plus of lockdowns, pivots and closures, there may finally be light at the end of this never-ending tunnel. The weather is warming up, shots are getting into all kinds of arms and—while we still can’t eat in or outside of them right now—restaurant openings are starting to pick up. From industry veterans expanding their empires to virtual businesses taking the bricks-and-mortar plunge, here are seven reasons why Toronto’s food scene is about to get even tastier.

Aloette in Liberty Village

Alo’s more casual sister spot is bringing its finessed diner fare to the city’s west side, opening in Liberty Village sometime in June. Focusing on takeout and delivery (for now, at least) chef-owner Patrick Kriss and chef de cuisine Solomon Mason will be serving up salads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, seasonal sides and soft-serve ice cream sundaes. Bonus: the space is outfitted with a takeout window. #127A-171 Liberty St., aloetterestaurant.com

Bar Pompette

This café by day and cocktail bar by night is set to open a few weeks from now, just down the street from its big sister, French restaurant Pompette. The team has transformed what was once the Walton into a cozy speakeasy (but the leafy back patio decked out in twinkle lights remains). The focus here is on locally roasted coffee and classic cocktails, but there will also be snacks to nosh on, like charcuterie and cheese. 607 College St., @barpompette_to

Cheese Boutique Bottega

Afrim Pristine’s west-end church of cheese is opening a café and gelateria down the street. The bottega is also being advertised as the perfect pit stop for bakery goods, giftware, kitchen tools and more. Being just a few doors down from the main store means you can grab all your grocery essentials and artisanal goods in one go—then treat yourself to a drink or a scoop of gelato. 29 Ripley Ave., @cb_bottega

Great Lakes Brewpub

GLB has been supplying thirsty Torontonians with ales, lagers, porters and all kinds of experimental one-off beers since 1987. They’ve operated solely out of their Etobicoke brewery—until now. If all goes according to plan, they’ll open a a brewpub in the new Daniels Waterfront complex in the burgeoning East Bayfront neighbourhood this fall. The 6,000-square-foot space will feature a seven-barrel brewhouse with 15-barrel fermenters, a full kitchen and 20 taps to serve guests filling their indoor dining room and two (yes, two) patios. 11 Lower Jarvis St., @greatlakesbrewpub

One Night Only Pizza

Husband-and-wife team Luke and Brianna Pollard turned their Friday night pizza parties into a pandemic-born business, selling pizza from the back porch of their east-end home. They’ve since taken over the Riverdale address of a short-lived variety-and-pizza store and are in the middle of a soft-opening mode, so pizzas are available through pre-orders only. This is good news for those who aren’t on the ONO email list or who’ve missed out on the regularly sold-out pies. (Despite the name, they’ll be open more than one night a week.) 581 Pape Ave., ono.pizza

Tacos 101

Chef Julian Campos’s loyal following were crushed when he was chased out of his original Dundas East location by a condo development. But now—three years later—they can finally rejoice and visit the new home of Tacos 101 in Kensington Market. It will share space with Fruta Libre, a counter serving Mexican drinks like refreshing chamoyada, and snacks. 178 Baldwin St., @tacos101_to

VELA

This joint venture between hospitality expert Amanda Bradley (Alo) and celebrated cocktail wizard Robin Goodfellow (Bar Raval) will transform a King West heritage building into a splashy, sweeping space, designed by Partisans and inspired by the glitz of the hotel lobby bars of yore. Executive chef Jeffrey Lapointe (Soho House, Piano Piano, Splendido) will serve guests New American dishes characteristic of five-star hotels. His late-night snacks, meanwhile, will be selected from an abbreviated “room service menu.” And, perfect for these pandemic times, a 2,000-square-foot covered patio will take reservations day or night. 90 Portland St., @velatoronto