Here’s How We Find Canada’s Best New Restaurants

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It has been more than 20 years since Air Canada enRoute first set out on a search for Canada’s Best New Restaurants — sending one food writer on an eating marathon across the country to dine under a fake name, entirely on our tab. Restaurants have just one night to make an impression, and we expect no freebies and no special treatment.

The annual search starts with our national panel of experts, who nominate recent openings in their regions — that means any food establishment that was up and running between late spring 2022 and 2023. Then, we puzzle together an itinerary of flights, meal reservations and hotel stays from coast to coast to coast, and the journey begins.

Food journalist Amy Rosen, who set out on enRoute’s first–ever mission to find the country’s best, returned as our writer for Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023. This year, she visited more than 30 restaurants in 15 cities and communities, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, discovering the best îles flottantes, the snazziest decor and the most tantalizing tartares (vegan included) that this nation has to offer. We proudly celebrate all these restaurants for celebrating what we all do best: eating — and cooking — together.

Meet the team of experts who shaped this year’s longlist

Panelist Joie Alvaro Kent

Joie Alvaro Kent   

Joie Alvaro Kent is the Vancouver Senior Judge for the Canadian Culinary Championship and the best-selling cookbook co-author of Where the River Narrows and Maenam: A Fresh Approach to Thai Cooking.  

Panelist Shane Chartrand

Shane Mederic Chartrand

Shane Mederic Chartrand is an international Indigenous culinary advocate, author of cookbook tawâw and featured in Red Chef Revival.  

Panelist Cinda Chavich

Cinda Chavich

Cinda Chavich is a former food editor at Calgary Herald and food columnist for CBC Radio, a bestselling cookbook author and contributor to publications including YAM, EAT and edible Vancouver & Wine Country.

Panelist Pay Chen

Pay Chen   

Pay Chen is a Toronto-based TV and radio host/producer, and food and travel writer who co-created the versatile chili condiment, Sacha-ish, rooted in her Taiwanese heritage. 

Panelist Carmen Cheung

Carmen Cheng 

Carmen Cheng is a Calgary-based food writer who shares her culinary adventures with the likes of the CBC and Avenue Magazine, while also working as an inclusion and talent strategies leader. 

Panelist Eva Chin

Eva Chin   

Eva Chin is the head chef of Toronto’s Avling and the former chef de cuisine at Momofuku Toronto.

Panelist Dan Clapson

Dan Clapson 

Dan Clapson is the co-founder of the Canadian food website, Eat North, The Globe and Mails food columnist for the Prairie region, a regular culinary guest expert on Global News and CTV Morning Live, and author of the cookbook Prairie.  

Panelist Inez Cook

Inez Cook

Inez Cook, a proud member of the Nuxalk Nation, is the co-founder and owner of Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro in Vancouver and the owner of Salmon n’ Bannock on the Fly, located at YVR’s international departures.  

Panelist Tommy Dion

Tommy Dion

Tommy Dion is a Montreal-based food critic and founder of the Quebec-centric blog Le Cuisinomane.  

Aman Dosanj 

Aman Dosanj 

Aman Dosanj is known for her ability to educate, connect and tell stories through The Paisley Notebook’s farm-side pop-up dinner series in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.   

Panelist Iris Gagnon-Paradis

Iris Gagnon-Paradis

Iris Gagnon-Paradis has been a restaurant critic for Montreal newspaper La Presse since 2017 and head of its Inspiration section since 2023.

Panelist Alexandra Gill

Alexandra Gill

Alexandra Gill is the Vancouver-based editor of Canadas 50 Best Bars, The Globe and Mail's former restaurant critic and founder of Dine Like a Critic, curating custom culinary experiences for corporate groups and event planners.

Eden Hagos

Eden Hagos 

Eden Hagos is the celebrated host, creator and founder of edia platform and creative agency Black Foodie, whose writing has appeared in publications including The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Essence

Panelist Peter Hum

Peter Hum

Peter Hum has been the Ottawa Citizen’s restaurant critic since 2012.

Panelist Kirsty Ip (aka Kirby)

Kirsty Ip (aka Kirby)

Kirsty Ip is the founder of the food and travel blog Eating With Kirby who has also been featured in Business Insider, CBC News and The Vancouver Sun to share recommendations and recipes and speak candidly about the behind-the-scenes of food content creation.  

Panelist Shobna Kannusamy

Shobna Kannusamy

Shobna Kannusamy is a Vancouver-based pastry-chef-turned-coach for women entrepreneurs and leaders, as well as a judge on the Food Network Canada’s Wall of Bakers.  

Panelist Briana Kim

Briana Kim

Winner of the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championship, Briana Kim is the chef and owner of the award-winning fermentation-focused restaurant in Ottawa Alice.

Panelist  Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives is a senior reporter with CBC Manitoba and the author of three books about Winnipeg and Manitoba, including Canadian bestseller A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba.

Catherine Lefebvre

Catherine Lefebvre 

Catherine Lefebvre is a co-host of the podcast On s’appelle et on déjeune on Radio-Canada OHdio who has also contributed to Plaisirs and Le Devoir, as well as Pénélope and Dessine-moi un été on ICI Première.

Panelist Marissa Leon-John

Marissa Leon-John 

Marissa Leon-John is a MasterChef Canada alumnus who uses her voice and platform to provide more visibility for other young, black LGBTQ+ members of Montreal’s culinary community.

Panelist Stéphane Levac

Stéphane Levac

Stéphane Levac is a Nova Scotia forager and Indigenous chef at the Maritime Express Cider Co., and former contestant on Top Chef Canada and Chef des bois.

Nancy Matsumoto

Nancy Matsumoto

Nancy Matsumoto is the Canadas Best New Restaurants Critic emeritus and co-writer of the James Beard award-winning book Rice, Water, Earth: Exploring the world of Japanese Craft Sake.

Panelist Lori McCarthy

Lori McCarthy

Newfoundland holds a special place in Lori McCarthys heart, and she shares this connection through her cultural food residencies company, Food Culture Place

Panelist Tara O’Brady 

Tara O’Brady

Bestselling cookbook author Tara O’Brady has been a judge on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Bakers and Iron Chef Canada, an on-air expert for CTVs The Marilyn Denis Show, and a consultant on CBCs Run the Burbs

Laura Osborne

Laura Osborne

Laura Osborne, the former editor-in-chief of the award-winning RICARDO magazine and Air Canada enRoute editor alum, is currently the editor of Time Out Canada

Mijune Pak

Mijune Pak

Mijune Pak is a Vancouver-based international food and travel personality, resident judge on Top Chef Canada and Iron Chef Canada and was named of the “Worlds Most Extreme Foodies” by The Sunday Times

Eric Pateman

Eric Pateman 

Eric Pateman built a culinary empire in British Columbia with Edible Canada, develops destination brands around food, and is Chief Experience Officer of YVR. 

Panelist Gabby Peyton

Gabby Peyton 

Based in St. John’s, Gabby Peyton is a food writer, restaurant critic and author of Where We Ate, a history of dining out in Canada that showcases 150 restaurants.

Panelist Devan Rajkumar

Devan Rajkumar

Devan Rajkumar is a Canadian-Guyanese chef based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, who travels around the world, cooking and spreading the love of food.

Panelist Nuit Regular

Nuit Regular   

Executive chef and co-owner of PAI, Kiin, Chaiyo, Sukhothai and By Chef Nuit, Nuit Regular has transformed Toronto’s food scene through the distinct flavours of northern and Royal Thai cuisine.  

Panelist Darcy Rhyno

Darcy Rhyno   

Based in Sable River, Nova Scotia, travel writer and photographer Darcy Rhyno likes to sink his teeth into destinations, and PEI, France and Spain are the next culinary scenes on his list.

Panelist Shayma Owaise Saadat

Shayma Owaise Saadat

Shayma Owaise Saadat is an award-winning cook and food writer featured in Bon Appétit, The New York Times and The Toronto Star, who you can also catch cooking on CTV’s Your Morning.

Panelist Mayssam Samaha

Mayssam Samaha

Mayssam Samaha is a food and travel writer based in Montreal who travels the world in search of culinary adventures.  

Panelist Clay Sandhu

Clay Sandhu

An advocate for a long lunch, Clay Sandhu is the Food Editor of Cult MTL, where he writes about and photographs food and wine. 

Panelist Joseph Shawana

Joseph Shawana

Joseph Shawana is the executive chef of ddcx Indigenous Kitchen, the board chair of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations and chef professor at Centennial College in Toronto.

Valerie Silva

Valerie Silva

Valerie Silva is the former editor of Eater Montreal whose writing has appeared in Maisonneuve, Air Canada enRoute and Eater, among others.

Panelist Elise Tastet

Elise Tastet

Elise Tastet is the CPEO of Tastet, Quebec’s comprehensive guide of the best local food spots, from cafés to fine dining and everything in between. 

Allison Van Rassel

Allison Van Rassel

With a digital audience of over 100k followers, Allison Van Rassel is a Quebec reference for all things food-related. She’s known in the Canadian media landscape for her contagious passion, on-point reviews and inspiring discoveries.

Panelist Julie Van Rosendaal

Julie Van Rosendaal

Julie Van Rosendaal lives in Calgary and is the co-author of 13 cookbooks who also talks about food on CBC radio and writes for The Globe & Mail.

Panelist Jesse Vergen

Jesse Vergen

Jesse Vergen is a New Brunswick chef with over 25 years of industry experience who opened the Saint John Ale House, Smoking Pig BBQ, Toro Taco, and Barred Rock Chicken, captivating diners with imaginative menus.  

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