and sadly I'm not the only one that thinks so, so make sure to make a reservation to enjoy one. In warm weather the backyard patio is a nice getaway. Also good to note is that the cocktails here are some of the best in Toronto as well. Double Win! image: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/from-the-print-edition-daily-dish/2012/05/16/25-best-burgers/attachment/tlburgers2012_1/
Visit Toronto, Canada
Toronto, eh? Old Hog Town is an always-changing dreamscape of travel delights. Best Asian food this side of... er... Asia? Toronto. Keen on a show at one of the world's greatest music venues? Toronto (bonus points if Neil Young is in town). Want to get your libation on? You get the point. There's something for everyone in this town, whether you're keen on whetting your whistle in the Distillery District or getting your mustache and plaid on in Ossington.
Known as the greenest hostel in North America, it's also one of the most unique hostel stays I've had. Planet Traveler is a smorgasboard of everything a traveler would want in an accommodation: -comfortable and roomy beds -clean rooms with plenty of plugs for your lap top -social and funky common area -free popcorn -incredible rooftop patio with great views of the city's skyline -located near the best neighbourhood and market in Toronto, Kensington Market -green-friendly iniatives -affordable whether you're looking for a dorm room or a private room I would stay here again, even as a local!
At Bar Chef, owner Frankie Solarik’s mad-scientist bartenders wear porkpie hats that recall a classic speakeasy. But they mix modern potions. They inject their martinis with green olive–flavored foam and serve punch bowls such as the Jimmy Cliff, which combines thyme-infused rum, lime, vanilla syrup, and ginger beer. 472 Queen St. W., (416) 868-4800, barcheftoronto.com. This appeared in the September/October 2011 issue. Photo courtesy of Bar Chef.
I was a little depressed when I came back from Brazil last year and I couldn't maintain my 1 a day Acai Bowl habit (I Blame It on Rio). So I am more than thrilled that a cute lady from Recife opened a Brazilian style juice bar in Toronto. Finally I say. and GO!
I’ve visited more than 30 countries in the past five years; my adventures abroad have taught me a few lessons about how I should explore my own backyard. The desire to find something new in a place I knew well led me to this little restaurant, in an alley off a major street I had passed hundreds of times before. Toronto is one of the world's most underrated foodie towns, with Kensington Market serving as one heck of a place for Peking Duck. If you can't catch a Red Eye to Beijing, this will do.
If you ask any fashion editor or blogger what the best vintage shop is in Toronto, chances are they're going to tell you that it's Courage My Love in Kensington Market. It's hard not to miss this shop, which has been in business since 1975. If you look up, you'll see these mannequins on the top of the roof, which have been there for the longest time. You can buy beads to make your own jewelry here as well as find some fun accessories. (I've also scored a Banana Republic trench coat for $30.) And just in case you need some incense, they have that too!
Toronto is little bit obsessed with tacos right now, with full service, hyper designer or hipster restaurants opening every month. Proving that sometimes simple is best, SEVEN LIVES is basically a "barely there" food stall in the middle of multi-ethnic Kensington Market. What this place lacks in design and ambiance is more than made up for by the best fish and seafood tacos this far north of Mexico - verdad! p.s. it's hidden and a little hard to find the 1st time, but you shall persist.
It doesn't get more laid back and cool than this new drinking spot from a group of Toronto bar veterans. Taking over a cheesy, 'skeezy' bar in Kensington Market, the light renovation here kept the charm and dropped the cheese. This is the place to chill with your friends on a weekday. A bonus is that the music selection here is pretty solid (not always the case in Toronto).
The Tour Guys take you on a guided tour of Toronto's Graffiti Alley. As you wind through the alley as well as other points of graffiti in back areas of downtown, you'll get an overview of the history and language of graffiti. It's a great insight into a subculture in our beloved T Dot. There are a lot of talented artists here. Our group also discovered a shop called Bomb Shelter that sells the aerosol paint cans. If you're lucky, the guides may even show you where the remains of Banksy's art is. Tours run from the spring to mid September, but you can enjoy the alley at any time of year.
If you're a fan of dumplings and you're in Toronto, go to Mother's Dumplings. This place was suggested to me by several local friends. They have what you need dumpling-wise: boiled, steamed, or pan-fried. They've got Chinese pancakes, steamed buns, noodles, rice, congee, stews, and soups too. There's side dishes and vegetarian options as well. My favourite? The lamb shumai. I've never even seen that on a menu before! It's cheap, relatively quick, and tasty—my kind of place.
I went to Toronto for the first time in the fall of 2010. I expected it to be colder, but I wasn't exactly thrilled that Toronto's fall was like New York's winter. So I was happy to spend a good amount of time indoors in galleries and museums. AGO was one of them, and as a huge Frank Gehry fan I was even happier to spend an almost ridiculous amount of time staring at the AGO building. Eventually, I walked towards the back and into the glorious Galleria Italia. All empty on a weekday, the play of wood and light was simply beautiful. It will make you smile, adore the sun, and just stay.
As stated on their website, Monkey's Paw is Toronto's most idiosyncratic secondhand bookshop, specializing in uncommon and out-of-print books, ephemera, and images. On one visit, I was able to find an old Boy Scout handbook from the 1940s. This is also a great place to find an old typewriter. If you like odd books or want a good story from owner Stephen Fowler, this is your place. And the source of the store’s name? The W. W. Jacobs tale with an ominous moral: be careful what you wish for. Image courtesy of The Monkey's Paw.
Cold Tea, located in a hidden spot through Kensington Mall (or through an alley off Augusta Avenue) is everybody's little secret. You're greeted by a dim sum cart when you pass the red light leading through the mall. Ripped, printed green wallpaper and a cool font with the bar's name decorates one wall. The Chinese lady preparing the dim sum wears a tuxedo-esque outfit complete with red bow tie. Inside, the back area of the bar offers seating on a leather banquette. Chairs and tables are removable for dancing; a cool mural by artist Mango Peeler adorns one wall and on another the letters "TBD" (because the art on the walls rotates monthly). Various DJs play on a regular basis and famed Toronto chefs will make an appearance with a special dish or two on the back patios in the summer. What to drink? They have the standard Rolling Rock and PBR but also some very inventive cocktails from some of Toronto's best bartenders including the "Sake To Me"—ginger, beer, sake and blood orange. This place has gotten quite popular among the Toronto hipster set that the owners have opened up a new bar on Dundas West called Mr. Pong's, a spin-off of an old Chinese take-out joint.
Seven Lives is a relatively new addition to the city's taco scene, which has been dominated by Grand Electric and La Carnita. Formerly tucked into a food court, this Kensington eatery has branched out into a home of its own thanks to the buzz surrounding it. Owner Sean focuses on Southern California- and Tijuana-style tacos (he learned the chops when living a stone's throw from the Mexican border) and picks include a surf 'n' turf number with steak and shrimp, and the so-called Gobernador, which pairs shrimp with smoked marlin. Best of all? Nothing costs more than $7, and it's all pretty filling.
You'll always find a lineup outside of Aunties and Uncles tucked away on charming Lippincott Street, a block east of Bathurst and College. The reason? It's one of the best value brunches in town. From the hearty challah with housemade jam, to its breakfast pockets or stuffed to the toast sandwich creations (Grilled Brie with pear, anyone?), you will leave here satisfied. There's tons of Canadiana and retro kitsch to look at while you're waiting. (Do expect a 40 minute wait, especially during prime time weekend hours). Definitely worth the wait and a great start to the day before you explore Kensington Market or Little Italy.
Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, but his dramatic 2008 renovation and expansion of this Beaux-Arts museum was his first Canadian commission. He first discovered art on childhood visits to its vast collection, which spans the world. Now the museum features a restaurant, Frank, in his honor. —Charlene Rooke Art Gallery of Ontario. 317 Dundas St. W., (416) 979- 6648. Photo by P. Spiro/Alamy.
A testament to any restaurant, no matter how big or small, is the ability to transform your senses. And when you’re eating their food to not make any sense. This is how I always feel after I eat at Porchetta. I’m literally sitting there –there’s three stools and in fall, for some reason, there’s usually a seat available and I stay to people watch—and I can’t speak. It kind of sounds like this: “ArrrghghghgMmmmmmNoommmmmm.” Like, OMG, it’s SO GOOD. I’ve brought a few visitors from out of town and have made them converts. The crackling pig parts crunching in your mouth or the option of that sweet, sweet truffle oil on your prosciutto wrapped porchetta? It’s over. It’s so over. And their daily soup is not to miss. You will be very lucky if you eat their mushroom truffle soup. These guys know how much I love it. Plus, they're tech-savvy! Follow them on Twitter where they post their specials. Just a note: run, don't walk! These guys are going to be featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations."
San Francisco's street cars get all the press, but if you're looking for an authentic transit experience, Toronto's street cars can't be beat. Toronto is notorious for having some of the worst traffic in North America, but the street cars are generally unaffected - meaning you can get around quicker than you would if you drove yourself or took a taxi, and you see a whole lot more than you do when dive down into the subway tunnels. The cars roll through iconic neighborhoods like Kensington Market, Toronto's bohemian paradise, making it easy to tour around, jump on and off, window shop, and do it all over again.
The best meal of my weekend in Toronto was at The Black Hoof. We started off with deliciously unique libations across the street from the restaurant at The Black Hoof's cocktail bar, and then shared quite a few of the tapas-style dishes. They were all excellent, from the house-cured prosciutto to the smoked sweetbreads to the absolutely addictive pork carnitas tacos. The Black Hoof is definitely a must when visiting Toronto!
Former Toronto food truck superstar, Banh Mi Boys, opened up a shop at the buzzy intersection of Queen and Spadina (ironically, it's beside a McDonald's). In addition to their popular banh mi sandwiches and steam bao is one unusual dish: Kimchi Fries. It's not quite a poutine but could very well be a multicultural version of the Quebecois dish. Pickled, spicy kimchi is topped on hot, crispy fries. Add some mayo and green onions and voila! Kimchi Fries. I'm pretty sure there is no other dish quite like this in the world. It is delicious and addictive!
Somewhat hidden in Kensington Market, Anice is a charming boutique, dripping with gems. The inviting space is home to baubles for the bod, with one-of-a-kind pieces incorporating both the vintage and the new. Brittany—the lovely owner—has a great eye and will transform old metal belts into necklaces, or add charms to bracelets for added flair. If you don't know what to do with a broken heirloom, she'll help bring it back to life, even teaching workshops so next time you can work at home. Despite the 'mish-mash' of materials, the pieces are quite delicate and very easy to wear. Great for gifts.
Ici is a tiny and charming 24-seat neighborhood bistro. Reservations are an absolute must, but try to get the later seating. We got the early seating and were a bit rushed when the time came for the next reservation to be seated. The dishes were creative and well executed, and the plates were colorful and beautiful.
The St. Lawrence Market is great. There are tons of picnic benches outside to sit and eat as well as stools inside. Check their website for upcoming events as well. A quick hit list of where I go: -Carousel Bakery for those peameal bacon sandwiches. They're famous for a reason -Chris's Cheesemongers—ask for Len. He's a good friend of mine and well, just the best! These guys work hard. -That said, my friend who is a cook and had the apartment swears by Olympic Cheese. I like its layout—you can pick up the cheese as opposed to ordering it at the counter. -Buster's Sea Cove. Two words: Lobster Bisque. They don't sell the lobster rolls here on a regular basis. You'll have to go to their food truck for that. -Stone Mill Bakery—great bread. But for $4.95 a loaf? Show me the stone mill. -Sheffer's—they sell prosciutto for $2 here on some days. In the grocery store, it's usually $6-8! -Churrasco for chicken and soup. This guy works so hard and he pays attention to the little details down to the way he folds your bag. It's really quite charming. The chicken is great bang for your buck. -St. Urbain Bagels—yes!
On one of those (far too many for my taste) freezing days, nothing warms me up more than a cup of hot and spicy Mayan chocolate. Delicious! I also would suggest the Bicerin (pictured above) when they happen to have it on their menu. Heaven!
Model Citizen is the bee's knees! For both men and women, there are some really cool clothes here with many Canadian designers. Plus, it's located right in the heart of Kensington Market. Perfect if you're on a weekend stroll. I'm quite fond of their jewelry selection. I got my favourite horse necklace here. The staff are great and they even have silk screening workshops here. Run, don't walk kids! Photo: Model Citizen's Tumblr page
Perched across the street from the ROM (or the Royal Ontario Museum, to be official), Museum Tavern is a great spot to rest weary gams. The nostalgic brasserie is outfitted with a copper ceiling and tufted stools by the bar. Undoubtedly, these cocktails are popular: boozy beverages from the menu are often found splayed across local papers. House picks include the French Tonic with Cointreau and falernum; I sipped on the Mumbai Special, a spiced mix of vodka and curried-jaggery syrup that conjures up visions of India's most energetic city.
List this under "very cool installations." The best part about the 'wavedeck' is that you can slide on it (because you know you want to). It's a great, interactive, gathering place at water's edge, and plays on that theme in a whimsical way.
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