Some of you might know that I am now in Toronto, visiting my family and friends, while showing my Australian boyfriend what Canada is like in the summer time, a really beautiful place. Upon my return I have been overwhelmed with everything a big city has to offer, as Toronto seems like it is booming with a new building slowly towering on every corner. Not to mention, there seems to be events every weekend, with a handful of events celebrated this past weekend alone, including World Pride, there just is not enough time to celebrate everything. But like any trip “home” I find myself craving familiar favourites, as I begin to explore all the new hot spots. Here is a guide to some of my favourite spots, along with a few more recent recommendations from my family (thanks Cameron) and friends.
Crepes a GoGo – Yorkville: Quietly tucked away serving sweet and savoury crepes with one of my favourite thirst quenchers, Limonana.
Pho Hung Vietnamese Restaurant – Chinatown: I went to this restaurant’s previous location across from the ROM at least once a week when I worked at the ROM, needless to say it brings back good memories.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka – Dundas Square: An authentic Japanese ramen restaurant, which brought me back to my travels in Japan.
Playa Cabana Hacienda – Yorkville: Great Mexican food in a fun atmosphere.
Guu Sakabar – Bloor West: A fun Japanese izakaya bar, just be ready for lots of yelling.
Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants – various locations: With at least eight different restaurants under the company, all offering consistent, unique Canadian meals.
Pure Spirits Oyster House and Grill – Distillery District: I love going to the historic Distillery District on a summer night for oysters and drinks on the patio.
Mercatto – three locations Downtown: Consistently good Italian food.
Richmond Station Restaurant – Financial District: Fresh ingredient focused menu with a theme that celebrates the city of Toronto.
Gusto 101 – King Street West: Rooftop dining and drinking with decent wine on tap, believe it or not.
Hey Lucy – three locations Downtown: The best place to hit for a mid-week pick me up, Martini Wednesdays.
Real Sports Bar and Grill – Habourfront: For the man in your life, this is a sports fan dream come true.
Don Mills Shops: Worth the trip from downtown for an outdoor mall with some of my favourite shops.
Queen West: All the brands intermixed with unique boutique shops make this street a fun shopping experience.
Yorkville: You’ll find all the high-end shops here, and possibly a celebrity or two.
Second City: A Toronto institution, where most famous Canadian comedians got their start, performing sketch comedy shows night after night.
Concerts: Summer is a great time for concerts with big names performing almost every week; make sure to check out Drake’s OVO Fest closing out Caribana.
Theatre: Believe it or not, but Toronto does get many of the shows from New York’s Broadway and London’s West End, so get those tickets when in town.
BMO Field: Home to the Toronto Football Club, this outdoor field in the heart of downtown offers red and white fun all summer long.
Skydome (aka the Rogers Centre): Another Toronto institution that brings me back to my childhood when the Blue Jays actually won the World Series, twice in a row.
Air Canada Centre (aka ACC): For those die-hard Maple Leafs fans, or even Raptors fans, not a bad seat in the house.
Museums and Galleries
Royal Ontario Museum (aka ROM): My old stomping grounds, with blockbuster exhibitions circulating all year-long and now Friday Night Live; exploring natural history and world cultures in the famous ‘Crystal’ has never been better.
Art Gallery of Ontario (aka AGO): For anything art in Frank Gehry’s redesigned building, along with a long list of public programs for any age.
The Bata Shoe Museum: A popular, quirky museum that features anything about shoes, obviously a good choice for many women.
When visiting Toronto, most tourists hit the CN Tower and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Though these are good Toronto institutions, there are a few more popular attractions to give one a better sense of this city. In terms of markets, the classics are the St. Lawrence Market, just east of the Financial District, for anything food, and Kensington Market, just north of Chinatown, for vintage clothing galore. Just take note, these are more like store fronts and not tented stands. Then there are neighbourhoods worth browsing, such as Leslieville and the Beach (yes, Toronto has a beach, just don’t swim in the water), and on the other side of town, Bloor West Village and the Junction. But what I enjoy most about Toronto is getting outdoors in the summertime, hopping from one neighbourhood park to the other, as High Park is Toronto’s version of London’s Hyde Park.
P.S. Happy Canada Day!