Bar Isabel

Bar Isabel has been the centre of attention since its opening in Little Italy last year, with a crew including mixologist Webster (Momofuku) and Chef Grant van Gameren (Black Hoof). You'll find this Spanish tavern at the top of all the 'Best Restaurants in Toronto' lists, and it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down yet.  

Bar Isabel
Bar Isabel

The dim decor is accented with sexy hanging lamps reflecting red patterns off the ceilings, mosaic floors, and wooden arches. The space is cosy and intimate, like most new restaurants in Toronto. It encourages you to get to know your neighbour, with around 75 seats and a fully stocked bar. The cocktails are definitely not to be missed — ranging from A Woman Scorned ($16) with Devil's Cut bourbon, Amaro Averna, Campari, and cinnamon tincture to the Baraganna ($15) with charred pineapple–infused 1800 Tequila.

the warmth of Spanish dcor
Make Reservations A Couple Weeks in Advance

The menu is full of Spanish-inspired dishes like pan con jamon iberico de bellota ($16), a plate of Spanish cured ham, and patatas bravas, a dish as essential to Spanish tapas as poutine is to Quebec, consisting of roughly cubed potatoes covered in sweet sauce with the option of blood sausage. This dish was so good that it had my dinner date look up at me in awe and simply say: "how... did they do... that?" as if cooking were a magical and exotic thing that we may have been doing wrong our whole lives.

Bar Isabels Octopus Specialty
Bar Isabel's Grilled Octopus via Foursquare

Don't underestimate Bar Isabel's cheese and charcuterie plates. From Manchego to Majorero, they have over a dozen cheeses to choose from to pair up with cured meats like buffalo slinzega or jamon serrano gran reserve. With cheese and meat plates ($16 each), you can always add bar snacks — like olives, bread, or garden pickles. Oysters are also served at Bar Isabel at market prices in rounds of 6, 12, or 24. Finger foods are the bar's specialty.

Oysters by Phil Roeder

For those who want more than just meat, cheese, and oysters (don't look at me!), there are mains like whole sea bream ceviche ($26), smoked sweetbreads with raw tuna and green tomato ($20), or an 18oz rib-eye and chimichurri ($42) plus foie gras for a mere $22.

Bar Isabels Motto
Drink. Be Merry. Bar Isabel's Motto via Foursquare 

As sharing plates and the warmth of Spanish décor continue to tickle the fancy of Toronto restaurant-goers, Bar Isabel will remain a force to be reckoned with. Make reservations a couple weeks in advance if you have a specific time or large group in mind, and buen provecho!

Bar Isabel on Urbanspoon


8 thoughts on “Bar Isabel

November 5, 2014 at 6:15 am
Sam L. says:

Octopus wouldn’t be my first choice of meal, that’s for sure. But oysters? That’s another thing. I’ve been thinking of visiting this bar for a while now, and I think it’s the right time to try it this weekend! Thanks a lot for this review 😉

December 1, 2014 at 11:00 am
Xiaoberry says:

I think the food is worth the hype. The cocktails are complicated but pricey (~$14).

December 1, 2014 at 11:05 am
Matt says:

I think you’ll find similar prices at most cocktail bars ($10-16 per 2-3 Oz).

December 1, 2014 at 11:11 am
Xiaoberry says:

Agreed, I’m not saying they’re overpriced relative to other places, just that they’re expensive for a drink.

December 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm
pianonecktie says:

Definitely worth the price and hype. The small plates are the best imo.

December 3, 2014 at 9:05 am
quickfix says:

Bar isabel must-try list; Razor Clams, Fried chicken (when they have it), patatas bravas, Octopus, sea bream. End with the basque cake. Every drink I have had in the place has been nothing short of excellent. They run a tight program.

December 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm
Benjamin D says:

Bar Isabel is what an over the top modern gastro-pub/restrolounge/thing should be. The food tends towards rich but its incredibly good and interesting. The kind of thing you want for a special occasion. The cocktails are great and competitive with the neighbourhood scene (there are a lot of places close by with similar quality cocktails).
Easily my favorite place in town.

December 4, 2014 at 11:07 am
zweiducks says:

I was excited to try this place out, but I had my experience ruined by a very rude server and a couple cocktails that tasted watered down and boring. I do keep hearing good reviews from people, so I may have to give it a second chance.

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