A Local’s Guide to the Perfect Day in Toronto

A hotel owner who knows the city well recommends her favorite restaurants, bars, and things to do.


Toronto’s Ode hotel is run by the Ramsubick family.

Photo by Antony Crear

“New York and London are Beyoncé,” says hotel owner Tiffany Ramsubick, while “Toronto’s Solange—more lovable, and maybe even more talented. It’s got amazing culture, food, and nightlife. It’s accessible. And it’s not overrun with tourists.”

Ramsubick owns the art-filled, eight-room Ode, Toronto’s only Black-owned boutique hotel, with her mother and three siblings. Her perfect Toronto day unfolds around Little Portugal (also known as Dundas Street West), the west-side neighborhood where the Ode opened in 2021. “It’s the city’s best neighborhood,” says Ramsubick, who’s also a lawyer and a lifelong Torontonian. “Downtown has hustle and bustle. In Little Portugal, you can feel like a local. Grab a coffee, sit on a patio, and watch the day go by.” Here’s her guide for how to spend a perfect day in Toronto.


“Ode is a reflection of our neighborhood and the people in it,” the hotel’s website says. “No beige carpets, no black and white photos of three pebbles in a pile.”

Courtesy of Ode

A morning in Toronto: coffee and consignment stores

I have a 19-month-old daughter, so in this Sunday Funday scenario, my husband parents for the day and I sleep in at the Ode. When I finally got up, I’d head two doors east to Larry’s Back Pocket for an iced Dirty Chai Latte. It’s nice and sweet. Then I’d walk a little further on Dundas to Hiya Scone and Coffee, a new shop near the hotel with scones in amazing flavors like Sweet Lime. My favorite is Earl Grey.

Scone in hand, I’d keep walking east along Dundas and look at all the amazing shops. VSP Consignment is the only place to shop for consignment clothing. It’s got the best array of designer pieces in the city. I love to try on their Gucci, Prada, and Miu Miu items and dream about owning them. Easy Tiger Goods is also on Dundas and carries cute knickknacks and crafts, many from local makers. I always recommend that visitors go there for souvenirs. Just east is Good Habits, a woman-owned shop with vintage clothing, jewelry, and cool clothes from local makers. Soop Soop, a neighboring store, has clothes I think I can pull off, but I’m not sure I can—millennial, fashion-forward pieces. So the first part of my perfect day involves trying on more clothing.

To fuel up after all of that shopping, I’d walk east to Hamers Coffee for the Western Breakfast Sandwich, with egg, manchego cheese, romesco, prosciutto, and aioli on bread from Blackbird Baking Company in Toronto. It’s the best breakfast sandwich in town, hands down.

Hamers has a little communal table, but I’d take my sandwich to Trinity Bellwoods Park, sit on one of the benches, and listen to a podcast. I love Starlee Kine’s Mystery Show, which delves into random internet mysteries like Jake Gyllenhaal’s height or the book Britney Spears is reading. Trinity Bellwoods is great for people-watching—it’s a sprawling neighborhood park that goes up from Queen Street West to Dundas Street West, and everyone’s there in the summer. It’s got a dog park, tennis, and lots of space for picnicking. It’s a really well-thought-out park, and there’s always something interesting going on.


Kensington Market is packed full of vintage shops worth exploring.

Photo by Jason Ng/Unsplash

Toronto afternoon: people-watching and interesting art

From the park, I’d walk east to Naked Beauty Bar at Dundas and Bathurst Streets. It’s my go-to place for a mani/pedi, and they’re the best at nail art. Everyone there is so skilled, and I always want something crazy and hard to do—most recently, my nails looked like dripping paint.

After my beauty treatment, I’d walk further east to the Art Gallery of Ontario, also on Dundas, just to see what they have on. I love to wander around there for an afternoon. It’s so large, with such a huge range of such different works. I love that there’s free admission for people 25 and under, and I love that they’re trying to get more people in. A show that stuck with me is Jorian Charlton’s Out of Many. She’s a Black photographer who shoots with film. Her work’s focused on family, and it’s really beautiful.

The Kensington Market neighborhood is a short walk north from the museum, so I’d head there next. I love to pop into the vintage shops, like Courage My Love and Dancing Days. After more shopping, I’d go to El Rey for the crispy squid tacos and an Open Windows, a great cocktail they do with tequila, mezcal, pineapple, and lime. It’s a perfect day drink and puts a little pep in your step, a little zhuzh. I’d sit on the patio for more people-watching, or maybe invite a friend to join me and hang out there for the afternoon.

To recover from the tacos and cocktails, I’d head to Othership on Adelaide, which describes itself as an “otherworldly bathhouse.” They have an ice bath—the longest I’ve lasted in it is 30 seconds. You rotate that with their sauna, and it’s supposed to be great for your immune system. There’s also a sensory deprivation tank. Othership is a beautiful place to hang out—it just feels good to be there.

Evening in Toronto: inventive cocktails and handmade pasta

After that, I’d loop back west and head to Ossington Avenue, which runs north-south. The strip between Dundas and Queen streets is happening. En route to Ossington, I’d start the evening off with a drink at La Piscina, a bar on Dundas with excellent cocktails. I’d kick the night off with a Purple Rain, my favorite drink here. It’s a mix of gin, creme de violette, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Then I’d settle into a nice, long dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant in the city, Enoteca Sociale. They serve handmade pasta with simple ingredients and the best sauces—not too fussy, not too crazy. My husband Victor and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner there many years ago. I always have to get the chicken-liver mousse to start, then the gnocchi with tomato sauce with smoked ricotta on top. It’s pillowy and zingy—the perfect bite.

To finish the night, we’d walk to Bar Mordecai a few doors down. It’s kind of like walking into a Wes Anderson movie—super cool and a great place for a drink. My favorite is the Tame Impala, which blends tequila, lime, ginger, chai, soda, and mezcal. There are karaoke rooms on the lower level. My signature song is Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” You have to pick a song that’s a challenge, where you kind of know you’ll fail.

Writer Michael Kaminer splits his time between Montreal, New York, and Toronto.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR