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Visitor as Local: The Real Bohemian's Guide to TORONTO

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Where I go, where my friends go and where I take my out of town visitors. Tourism Toronto will tell you one thing, I'll tell you another....
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1320 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L4, Canada
This intimate restaurant has quickly become one of my new favorites. It has all of the marks of an amazing experience: attentive, knowledgeable and friendly staff; simple, yet flavorful dishes; boozy libations and a gorgeous atmosphere (including...
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832 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V3, Canada
If you only have one Italian restaurant to visit in Toronto, this is the one. Yes, Buca is good too, but Campagnolo treats you like famiglia. There is a reason the restaurant was voted on En Route's top ten restaurants of 2011. Everything on the...
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730 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H2, Canada
Founded by Canadian Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford of Food Network Canada's Restaurant Makeover and Pitchin' In, Ruby Watchco is her farm to table labour of love. For $49, you get a four course meal: an appetizer, main course, cheese amuse bouche...
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348 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1R7, Canada
The Templar Hotel took what seems like FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRR to open. This long-awaited 27-room temple to designer minimalism (a Japanese vibe?) is Toronto's 1st (and so far only) member of the supercool Design Hotel Group. The location is a little...
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1214 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J6, Canada
Stay in one of the 37 artist-designed rooms at the Gladstone, Toronto's longest-running hotel, and you'll be feeling the design vibe by morning. The Snapshot room incorporates vibrant images of Toronto's High Park and gives a treehouse feeling to...
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414 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G6, Canada
I fell in love with Korean food during a 3 month stint in Seoul so back in Toronto in the depths of winter you will find me here once a week (at a minimum) for their delicious and insides warming soup. Korean cuisine is well represented in Toronto...
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676 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E5, Canada
here is a lunch spot that takes the "pop up" restaurant trend to the next level so to speak. Located adjacent to a condominium showroom with an as of yet undetermined expiration date - they offer a daily menu of 3-4 choices that you can have as a...
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357 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1S5, Canada
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...
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194 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z1, Canada
Love Jazz? the centrally located REX is a local institution featuring 19 shows per week. They also happen to have some affordable ($100) and simple rooms that have everything you need for a short stay. Transit, sightseeing, food and shopping are...
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Raw, vegan food that makes you "Feel Good." My favourites here include the "Make Kale Not War" salad and the spicy "Bangkok Doc," their take on the classic Pad Thai. They also sprout their own grains and get a lot of their veggies from the market...
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519 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9, Canada
Run by the 519 Church Street Community Centre, Fabarnak offers a daily "Square Peg" $10 for a lunch bento box. I've had it several times and it's always fresh, interesting and delicious.
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334 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A2, Canada
having celebrated their 30th birthday this year, this much written about and visited restaurant/bar/pool hall/live music venue has withstood all the changes that have happened on this once, long ago, cool strip. Now the domain of GAP, HMV and H&M,...
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37 Milford Ave, North York, ON M6M 2V8, Canada
The Junction has its fair share of furniture shops but one of my favourites is Metropolis Living. Owned by siblings and veteran vintage collectors Phil Freire and Maggie Gattesco, the store feels like a museum of cool props. I'm a big fan of the...
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60 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 0A4, Canada
This location is now the new flagship hotel for the brand. Local design firm Yabu Pushelberg aimed for surprises around every corner with the design of the hotel. From the 50 foot fenced ceilings (the fence pattern is also replicated in its...
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872 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G3, Canada
Love oysters? and lobster? and fish in general? This is your place. The current menu is ace in my books, a great selection of oysters (obviously) and the bouillabaisse are my favourites. I could eat it once a week and sometimes I do! The service...
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235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada
This 10-acre cultural "facility" located on the shore of the mighty Lake Ontario is especially popular on summer weekends, but I enjoy it just as much in the winter. A lakefront outdoor Skating Rink (free) brings in the kids (curated DJ Skate...
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32 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4, Canada
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!
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928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1W3, Canada
Cocktail Bar's Manhattan has been voted Hogtown's number one libation many a time. The booze-heavy tipple blends house-made bitters, Alberta Springs 10-year rye whiskey and the kicker, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth. Two dried cherries––bathed in...
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1330 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L4, Canada
Brace the line ups because this is one of the most popular restaurants in Toronto. It's getting the accolades too: En Route named it one of their ten best restaurants in the country. The premise is simple: tacos, bourbon and loud hip hop and rap...
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550 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2V4, Canada
The Thompson Toronto’s rooftop lounge and pool both offer a broad view of the skyline and Lake Ontario. The lobby welcomes with modern furnishings. The Counter, a 24-hour diner, serves poutine, the Canadian greasy-spoon favorite made of French...
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780 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 2R5, Canada
If you want to indulge on decadent desserts, this is definitely your place. From the cotton candy macarons to my favourite, the salted caramel tart, the desserts here are simply divine. This is also the perfect place to get a gift for the foodie:...
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1575 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto, ON M6K 3C1, Canada
Do you love the tagline ("What creams are made of"), or do you love it? Ashley Jacot De Boinod—former pastry chef at Buca—has taken her doughnut creations to new heights. Tim Horton's tim bits these are not. If you want peanut butter, bacon, and...
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hidden enough that you need to know, tight enough to almost be a private party for you and your friends and delicious enough to make you want to come back. Not sure how to best describe this place but as a local Toronto (416 is the local telephone...
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1192 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J6, Canada
named after our famous national animal (and perhaps cheekily after our 2nd most famous asset) the Beav is an all day West Queen West cafe/bar/lounge/whatever. I love the no nonsense all locals vibe that goes from bagel and chai latte in the...
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1151 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3, Canada
The famed Drake Hotel's motto is that they are a "hotbed of culture." This extends to their General Store but the items in here are anything but general. There's lots of curiosities here like those fun scratch maps, New York vs. Paris postcard...
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392 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A9, Canada
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...
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60 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K2, Canada
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...
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223 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4, Canada
The only official business happening here is drinking. Located in the heart of Kensington Market, this patio is the best place (next to coffee shop Casa Acoreana) to perch and people watch. With its laid-back and casual vibe, you're guaranteed to...
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825 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V4, Canada
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...
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11 Charlotte St, Toronto, ON M5V 2H5, Canada
Nothing compares to this place in the world of Thai cuisine in Toronto (though if you want a wee bit of a cheaper eat, Salad King is a good bet). From their street style pad thai, Sam Roas, pictured above, to their succulent Khao Soi, you feel...
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1349 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1M1, Canada
At this most hipster of hipster espresso bars, Portland meets Toronto. And it is good. Don't let the hipster vibe deter you—the 'spro is solid, tunes are fine, and the baristas will even crack a smile (occasionally). They also bake their own...
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30 Mercer St, Toronto, ON M5V 1H3, Canada
but gets all the basics we need just right. Crisp sheets, ultra comfortable beds, excellent yet not fawning service and a nice breakfast spread (included with your stay) not to mention free WiFi, makes this the place I book all my friends who...
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Grange Park, Toronto, ON, Canada
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...
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50 Gladstone Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 3K6, Canada
INDEXG is not your parents (or grandparents) B&B. 5 sparse yet "themed" rooms allow you to stay in what actually functions as an art gallery ( http://indexg.com/ ). Clean, crisp, affordable and located on the border between 2 of Toronto's hottest...
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2959 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z2, Canada
It's worth the trip to browse at Mjölk, a den of Scandinavian and Japanese goods—and a wonderland for design geeks. The shop gets bonus points for its location in the up-and-coming Junction neighborhood and its two friendly owners whose lives...
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790 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G3, Canada
The moment the snow melts, young Torontonians begin their annual spring migration to Trinity Bellwoods Park. The hippest park in town, Bellwoods stretches from the shopper’s paradise of Queen West up to central Dundas Street. On a...
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Grange Park, Toronto, ON, Canada
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...
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550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8, Canada
If you ever go to the Evergreen Brickworks, make sure you stop by for a breakfast sandwich at Cafe Belong. You'll get a fresh buttermilk biscuit, eggs and herbs. It's fresh, it's flavourful and you can eat it right by a pond in one of the best...
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550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8, Canada
The Evergreen Brick Works, a reclaimed quarry in the lush Don Valley, is a showcase for sustainable and green living, as well as for urban design. A community has been established in this once-derelict industrial site and former landfill. ...