Born in Guatemala, Luis Carpio earned his stripes as a short-order cook in San Francisco, then journeyed north to Canada in 1999 to open Maya Restaurant—a move that, ironically, signaled a return to his Central American roots. "I try to cook similar to back home, try to use our own spices and try to be simple," he told the Toronto Star, which praised the "perfectly cooked chicken," "flavourful refried black beans," and "nicely browned and caramelized" plantain he dishes up.
The concise menu mixes traditional dishes from across Central America, from seafood platters, soups, and ceviche to pork and chicken cooked with herbs not often seen this far north. On weekends, the breakfast menu piles plates with hearty Latin breakfasts, all accompanied by steaming cups of coffee to awaken taste buds and steam-press rumpled tongues.
At Casa Manila, named the best Filipino restaurant in blogTO.com's Best of Toronto, the scents of saffron, coconut milk, and tamarind slip among rustling walls of potted plants. Grass-thatched windows and bamboo shoots hint at the fistfuls of veggies that accent braised meats, grilled king fish, and stews. The dishes all display the exotic style of Filipino fare, which combines Malay, Spanish, Southeast Asian, and Chinese influences. Warm-hued lights, draped in fabric printed with frolicking animals, illuminate the plates, and imported Sarsi, a Filipino root beer, bubbles alongside them. On the patio, umbrellas shelter diners from the hot sun and the sight of clouds being born.
More than 40 years of experience guides head chef and founder Alberto Albanese as he whips up Italian lunches and dinners in his namesake trattoria. Delicate housemade pastas doused in bolognese or ros? sauces join veal piccata, lamb chops marinated in rosemary and wine, and other meat cuts and chops. Espresso and desserts of the day help round out each meal, which can be served beneath chandeliers within the restaurant or under boot-shaped clouds on the outdoor patio.
Inside the kitchens at Il Vagabondo, cooks whip up rosé sauce—a smooth and creamy pink gravy made from fresh-milked tomatoes—to splash onto robust servings of pasta. During dinner, marinated Angus steak medallions arrive at tables slathered in sautéed mushrooms and dry-marsala gravy, and at lunch, pizza pies or meatball sandwiches pair with crisp greens and fresh veggies from the salad bar.
Toronto Social Dance School's instructors teach students with all kinds of dance experience, ranging from beginners who have never set heeled foot to hardwood to seasoned dancers looking to learn a new style. The instructors must complete a rigorous training program before they can teach, so they are well-versed in a variety of dancing styles. They can teach students traditional ballroom and social dance routines and how to have fun doing the merengue, hustle, and waltz.
In addition to dance classes seven days a week, Toronto Social Dance School also encourages students to practice their shuffling during weekly socials held Sunday afternoons and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
Columbus Bakery's adept bakers employ Colombian ingredients and enthusiasm to craft a range of traditional sweet and savoury baked goods. A completely Colombian staff stuff baked and deep-fried desserts with tropical fillings, including guava and sweet arequipe, to satisfy diners and fight off packs of roving birthday cakes. Colombian coffee complements both traditional finger foods and baked goods. Bathed in natural light, the cafe space's tile floor, tall stools, colourful hanging lamps, and shelves piled with pastries welcome northerners with a South American flair.