QUEEN STREET WEST
Queen Street’s anti-establishment attitude belies its patrician beginnings. Initially the pastoral preserve of the city’s first colonists, as the spacious lots were broken up and sold, smaller homes and factories cropped up, bringing with them an increasing number of Eastern European immigrants. In the 1970s and 80s the area attracted a number of artists and musicians, who’ve made the area their own. Now, the city’s most vibrant streetscape, Queen Street West’s rich history is evident in the distinctive mix of boho bars and lounges, art galleries and trendy boutiques with down-at-heel fabric stores and old-time discount stores.
• Queen Street is shopping mecca to the city’s style-conscious locals. Find cool footwear at PULL (435 Queen St. W.) and Heel Boy (682 Queen St. W.). Reconfigured vintage at Preloved (613 Queen St. W.), whimsical party dresses at Misdemeanors (322 1/2 Queen St. W.), fab tops by Montreal designer Francis Beauregard at Space fb (389 Queen St. W.) and of-the-moment Canadian designers at Willow Grant (960 Queen St. W.).
• For one-of-a-kind gifts head to the Japanese Paper Place (887 Queen St. W.); find funky knitwear and handmade jewellery by local designers at Fresh Collective (692 Queen St. W.); gourmet chocolates in yummy flavours (like lemon and thyme) at j.s. bonbons (811 Queen St. W.).
• Bijou Asian-fusion resto Red Tea Box (696 Queen St. W.) serves up tastefully arranged Asian-inspired bento box lunches. Pick up Chippy’s (893 Queen St. W.) English-style fish and chips and grab a seat on the bench outside or on the grass across the street at Trinity-Bellwoods Park (if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the legendary albino squirrel). Clafouti’s (915 Queen St. W.) heavenly pain au chocolat are without peer.
• Queen Street culture is best experienced by a tour of its many art galleries. Spin Gallery (1100 Queen St. W.) is the area’s reigning art star. Angell Gallery (890 Queen St. W.), Clint Roenisch (944 Queen St. W.), Katharine Mulherin (1086 Queen St. W.), Edward Day (952 Queen St. W.) and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (952 Queen St. W.) also make space on the scrappy West Queen West strip. Catch up-and-comers at Mind Control (42 Gladstone Ave.).
• Stare down locals (they aren’t shy) on an outdoor patio. The Rivoli (334 Queen St. W.) and Juice For Life (336 & 894 Queen St. W.) are popular people watching spots, as is no-frills hangout the Black Bull Tavern (298 Queen St. W.).
• Dinner. Italian bistro Terroni (720 Queen St. W.) is consistently good and new kid on the block Czehoski (678 Queen St. W.) has recently received notice for its culinary daring. Lalot (200 Bathurst St.) does delicious Vietnamese and San (676 Queen St. W.) takes on Korean fare.
• Queen Streeter’s love the nightlife. Live music is on offer at legendary rock ‘n roll watering hole The Horseshoe Tavern (368 Queen St. W.) and the Drake Hotel‘s (1150 Queen St. W.) arts, music and cultural programming is jam packed seven nights a week. —F.D.
It wasn’t until a large population of Greek immigrants fleeing the chaos of post-WWII Europe settled here that the neighbourhood established a distinct personality. Greek restaurants, bakeries and churches dot the avenue in tribute to these founding families. Attracted by the area’s casual atmosphere and lovely old homes, well-to-do families of all stripes have moved in. Ethnic restaurants, home decor shops and upscale boutiques have come with them.
• Begin with a restorative drop-in yoga class at serene Yoga Sanctuary (95 Danforth Ave.). Test the limits of your endurance at Moksha Yoga (372A Danforth Ave.), where postures are performed in sauna-like conditions. Continue the good-for-you trend and fuel up at the Big Carrot juice bar in the organic/eco-friendly Carrot Common mall (348 Danforth Ave.). Aside from its selection of fresh juices and smoothies, the eatery serves up free trade organic coffee and yummy salads and sandwiches.
• Canadian designer Jeanne Lottie’s stylish handbags and wallets are available at funky Butterfield 8 (235 Danforth Ave.). Trendy gear from the likes of Betsey Johnson is at Maxi Boutique (575 Danforth Ave.).
• Greek and Mediterranean restaurants and bakeries dot the strip and Mezes (456 Danforth Ave.) and Christina’s (492 Danforth Ave.) do their homelands proud. For a romantic dinner, make it Café Brussel (124 Danforth Ave.). The Belgian brasserie’s sleek art-deco decor and plush booth seats provide a sophisticated snogging space.
• In the evening make your way to one of two pubs: Allen’s Irish pub Danforth Ave.) or its adjoining sister establishment Dora Keogh. —F.D.
As the downtown filled up and quarters got tight in the late 19th century, wealthy families looking for more space fled to this lush district. Founding families like the Gooderhams, Eatons and Masseys built magnificent homes here—George Gooderham’s mansion at the corner of Bloor and St. George streets now serves as the prestigious York Club (135 St. George St.). Exclusivity didn’t last and neither did fortunes and many soon moved north to Rosedale, leaving behind whole blocks of elegant Romanesque revival mansions that were soon inhabited by students and professors. Proximity to the University of Toronto makes the Annex a university centric ‘hood. That means plenty of cool coffeehouses, cheap eats, bookstores and bars.
• Grab a latté at central social hub, Future Bakery (483 Bloor St. W.) or take your time and enjoy an omelette at the ever-popular By The Way Café (400 Bloor St. W.).
• Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St. W.) bargain emporium, with its over the top exterior, and twinkling Hollywood lights offers the quintessential Annex photo op.
• The Bata Shoe Museum‘s (327 Bloor St. W.) exterior playfully suggests an origami shoebox. Step inside and check out the vast collection, which includes the shoes of Elton John, Marilyn Monroe and Madonna.
• From Bloor Street, turn down St. George and amble through the leafy University of Toronto campus. Architecture buffs ought to check out Ron Thom’s elegant Massey College and Pritzker Prize-winning Thom Mayne’s Graduate House.
• Grab a sweet treat. The Annex is graced with two of the city’s favourite ice cream stops: Greg’s Ice Cream (200 Bloor St. W.) in the Bloor Street Jewish Community Centre and Sweet Fantasies, located in a treehouse-like structure at the corner of Bloor and Brunswick streets.
• Bloor Street from Spadina on features a small but diverse collection of ethnic restaurants. Try Serra (378 Bloor St. W.) and Via Oliveto (376 Bloor St. W.) are long established local Italian restaurants. Juice for Life (521 Bloor St. W.) is the vegetarian and health conscious resto of choice, while Yummy BBQ (551 Bloor St. W.) serves up classic Korean fare. Right next to the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W.), a funky repertory movie theatre, find cheap and cheerful falafel takeout at Ghazale (504 Bloor St. W.).
• Check the concert listings at graffiti-covered Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.), the classic rock venue has seen the likes of Nirvana, Foo Fighters and The Tragically Hip. Or see what’s on at the alternative theatre space, The Poor Alex Theatre (296 Brunswick Ave.). The city’s Fringe Theatre Festival, July 6 to 17, a celebration of avant-garde theatre, stages several of its shows there. See www.fringetoronto.com for a full schedule.—F.D.LITTLE ITALY
Little Italy, now more ethnically diverse than its name implies, still retains its European character and Italian spirit, making it one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods day and night. The street is filled with trendy stores and boutiques, and lots of great spots to dine and drink. Most restaurants serve Mediterranean cuisine but you will also find Peruvian, Mexican, and Japanese fare, too. When the light dims and the street posts are lit up, the nightlife also heats up. Little Italy is a people place, great for meeting people, and for people watching.
• Shop at trendy boutiques: Unique jewellery at Mink (550 College St.) or the Organic Metal Gallery (619 College St.). You can find Vespas and related fare at Motoretta (554 College St.), and the plethora of indulgent offerings at Red Pegasus (628 College St.), make it hard to leave without buying something. Girl Friday’s (776 College St.) hip in-house label has stylin’ offerings in bright and vibrant patterns.
• Take a break and have a canolli and expertly made espresso at the Golden Wheat Bakery (652 College St.) or Nova Era Bakery (593 College St.).
• Take a break from the heat and check out a flick at the retro-styled Royal Cinema (608 College St.).
• Think locally but eat globally at the Peruvian El Bodegon (537 College St.), Japanese at Tempo (596 College St.), Italian at Grappa (797 College St.) and Coco Lezzone (602 College St.), or Portuguese at Leao D’ouro (356 College St.).
• Drink up at Wild Indigo (607 College St.), which serves up a wild cocktail and martini list, as does Li’ly (656 College St.). Il Gatto Nero’s (720 College St.) extensive wine list keeps the side street patio jammed until the wee hours of the morning.
• Do a little dance, sing a little song: Located in a former legion hall, Revival (783 College St.), has live music seven nights a week and a jazz brunch on Sundays. Go Latin at El Convento Rico (750 College St.), on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, College Streeters flock to the drag queen shows.—M.C.
BALDWIN STREET VILLAGE
In contrast to areas like Yorkville or Little Italy, Baldwin Street Village breathes an air of bohemian sophistication. This culturally diverse area has seen Irish, Jewish, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese communities make their homes here. The end result of the area’s rich history is an eclectic mixture of people, cuisines and shops. You’ll find French, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, and Vegetarian food. Lunchtime sees a rush of suits from nearby offices, while the afternoon lull gives off a siesta vibe that can be felt along the whole street. When the sun begins to sink, twinkling lights float romantically in the canopies above enhancing the intimacy of the setting. The sound of cutlery clinking on the plates begins again, and the street remains a private, delightful entity all its own.
• Traditional Japanese cuisine at Kon-nichi-wa (31 Baldwin St.) or Fujiyama (49 Baldwin St.), Indian at Jodhpore Club (33 Baldwin St.), or Italian at Café Tuscany (45 Baldwin St.). Or grab a Chinese pastry at the Yung Sing Pastry Shop (22 Baldwin St.), and sit on the bench and ponder what else you’re going to eat.
• Chada Import Gallery (25 Baldwin St.) is crammed with exotica from around the world including jewellery, furniture, clothes and knick-knacks. Music of all kinds including albums (remember those?) are at Around Again (18 Baldwin St.).
• A margarita at Margarita’s (14 Baldwin St.) is a great way to unwind. Finish off your day with an intimate dinner. Classical French can be found at Bodega (30 Baldwin St.) and Café la Gaffe (24 Baldwin St.), or if you have Malaysia on your mind, the Mata Hari Grill (39 Baldwin St.) will take you there. —M.C.
There are many versions of how this east side neighbourhood came to be known as ‘Cabbagetown,’ but it seems it started as a derogatory label for the working-class immigrants who once lived here. In the 1840’s thousands of Irish immigrants migrated to the area after fleeing the potato famine in their home country. As poor immigrants, they used every available patch of land to grow food to feed their families, and the front yards of many of the homes were planted with rows of cabbages. These days, however, you are more likely to come across magnolias, tulips or a cascade of annuals than a garden of leafy vegetables. Now a village of neighbours within the city, Cabbagetown is a charming, culturally active mixed-income community and a heritage conservation district protected by municipal law credited as one of the largest areas of continuous, preserved Victorian housing in North America.
• Jet Fuel (519 Parliament St.) is considered by many to be the coolest coffee shop in the city; you may even rub elbows with author Michael Ondaatje. Then stop in at the Peartree Restaurant (507 Parliament St.) for eggs benedict on the patio.
• Make your way through the shady, tree-lined streets to pastoral oasis Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.). Fully stocked with horses and cows, a farmer’s market is held here every Tuesday.
• The rich French fare at Provence (12 Amelia St.) will have you loosening a belt loop or two. —S.T.CHURCH & WELLESLEY
Rainbow flags hanging from street lights are the first clue that you’ve entered the Church Wellesley Village, Toronto’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) community; the second largest in North America after San Francisco. In June, the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebrations attracts close to a million revellers from all over the world. If the area looks familiar it may be because the Church strip doubles as Philadelphia in the showcase series Queer as Folk.
• Stop for a coffee at The Second Cup (546 Church St.) and enjoy a healthy dose of ogling with your espresso. They may not look like much, but “The Steps,” are an infamous communal stoop and have been featured on the HBO hit comedy The Kids in the Hall. Nearby, funky independent bookstore ‘This Ain’t the Rosedale Library’ (483 Church St.) offers plenty coffee-sipping reading material.
• Pay a visit to the recently unveiled statue of Alexander Wood, the neighbourhood’s honorary founding father. An openly gay merchant and magistrate from Scotland, in 1810 a sex scandal forced him to leave the country.
• Spend the afternoon sipping cocktails on Zelda’s (542 Church St.) lively patio or the pub-like Churchmouse & Firkin (475 Church St.).
• Stroll past the National Ballet School (105 Maitland St.), which leaves its doors open during rehearsal, before heading back to your hotel in preparation for the real draw of the Village: Its nightlife.
• Leather and heavy beats abound after dark, as the Village becomes a veritable mecca for gender-bending partyers shaking their thangs into the wee hours of the morning. Men dance shirtless at seductively named bars LÜB, Zipperz, Woody’s & Sailor’s and Pegasus Bar. Lesbians get together at Tango (508 Church St.), Slack Alice (562 Church St.) and the always-popular Pope Joan (547 Parliament St.). Gay and straight audiences pack the tables at Bar 501 (501 Church St.) for the over-the-top drag shows. —S.T.
Gerrard Street East’s India Bazaar (also known as Little India) simmers with heady aromas and pungent spices that tempt your taste buds while shimmering fabrics in bright jewel tones provide a feast for the eyes. A veritable microcosm of South Asia, you’ll find inexpensive Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi restaurants, grocers, paan shops, sweet shops and stores that specialize in traditional saris and brightly-coloured bangles. Posters of Indian heartthrob Shahrukh Khan tile shop windows and the heavy beats of bhangra spill from the open doors of DVD emporiums.
• Most shops and restaurants are slated to open at noon but cling to their homeland tradition of Indian Standard Time (i.e., time + 15 minutes extra). Don’t be discouraged if it’s 12:30 p.m. and the door is locked; go for a stroll and come back for 1 p.m.
• The Six Kumars Silk House (1400 Gerrard E.) or Dulha Dulhan Fashion (1416 Gerrard St. E.) display stunning pure silk imported saris, salwar kameezs and kurta pyjamas. Find gold accessories at Payal Jewellers (1419 Gerrard St. E.) or pick up the latest Billy Sagoo remix or a Bollywood DVD at Paan-O-Rama (1386 Gerrard St. E.).
• Be sure to stop at one of the many street vendors selling cane juice and roasted corn along with other savoury Indian chaat (snack foods) like pav bhaji and bhel puri.
• There is a superabundance of South Indian snack food restaurants featuring dosa (crispy lentil crêpes stuffed with savory curried potatoes), utaapam (hearty vegetable pancakes), bhel puri (puffed rice with vegetables), as well restaurants of the more common North Indian variety to choose from. (As a rule of thumb, try to migrate towards those eateries occupied by locals.) Vegetarians rejoice. Little India takes meatless dining to a new and ambrosial level. No frills Udipi Palace (1460 Gerrard St.) serves a tasty dosa. Bombay Bhel (1411 Gerrard St. E.) has sumptuous thalis for under $5, and Madras Durbar (1435 Gerrard St. E.), for all its bland decor and spotty service, is often sporting a queue for its delish meals under $10.
• Indulge in the Indian tradition of chewing betel leaf or paan. A fine mixture of betel nuts and other spices wrapped in betel leaf, chewing it is believed to help in the digestion of curried foods, and there are no less than five paan shops in Little India to choose from.
• If a pick-me-up is in order before the trek back make a detour to Punjab Food & Sweets (1448 Gerrard Street) for a Kasmiri tea, a close cousin of chai with ground pistachios floating atop milky pink liquid. —S.T.
Tony Yorkville has come a long way. From a secluded forest to a 1960s hippie hangout—Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young—once called the area home and strummed their guitars here at local coffeehouses—to the über-glam shopaholic’s paradise it is today.
• You’ll need the energy to peruse more than 700 boutiques, the biceps to carry the bags loaded with the season’s trendiest items, and most important, the attitude to pull it off. Hazelton Lanes (55 & 87 Avenue Rd.) and Holt Renfrew Centre (50 Bloor St. W.) are the area’s undisputed high-end shopping complexes.
• Some of the world’s most coveted stores rub shoulders along ‘The Mile of Mink’, as the Bloor Street strip has been dubbed. Chanel (131 Bloor St. W.), Gucci (130 Bloor St. W.), Plaza Escada (110 Bloor St. W.) and Hermés (131 Bloor St. W.) are just a few.
• Lululemon (130 Bloor St. W.) has the latest and most fashionable yoga wear and accessories; San Remo (23 St. Thomas St.) ladies boutique is a fave among visiting celebs; mO851 (23 St. Thomas St.) has leather bags and accessories in bold colours.
• Grab lunch at Holt Renfrew Café (50 Bloor St. W.) or at Remy’s (115 Yorkville Ave.); take a seat on the patio along the cobblestone pathways if you can—you can scout out more shops to visit or to keep an eye out for celebs. A more casual lunch can be had at Lettieri (94 Cumberland St.).
• Let your lunch settle before a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park), currently undergoing a partial renovation. High-end art galleries in the area include Stuart Jackson (108A Cumberland St.), Hollander York Gallery (110 Yorkville Ave.), and the Sable-Castelli Gallery (33 Hazelton Ave).
• Take a break and enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland Street). Small Zen-like gardens and benches form the pedestrian area. The Village Rock is a one billion year-old piece of the Canadian Shield from Muskoka that serves as an impromptu sitting spot.
• Now hit the town! Posh places to see and be seen: Flow (133 Yorkville Ave.), decadent den Amber (119 Yorkville Ave.) and the Four Seasons’ chic lounge Avenue (21 Avenue Rd). The Roof Lounge (4 Avenue Rd.) is perched on the 18th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel. Less swanky, but always buzzing, is the rooftop patio of Hemingway’s (142 Cumberland St.). —L.L.ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Long before the theatre lights went up and DJs started cranking out the beats, the Entertainment District was a wealthy residential enclave. The expensive homes eventually gave way to the downtown core’s expansion, becoming an industrial sector littered with warehouses. The opening of the Toronto Eaton Centre in 1977 and the investment of entertainment dynasty, the Mirvish family, saw the warehouses disappear in favour of ritzy theatres and busy nightclubs.
• See some of the city’s biggest attractions. Shop the 285 stores of the Toronto Eaton Centre (220 Yonge St.). Toronto’s iconic CN Tower (301 Front St. W.) is the world’s tallest building, measuring 1,465 feet tall. Get familiar with Canada’s favourite pastime at the Hockey Hall of Fame (30 Yonge St.). Olympic Spirit (35 Dundas St. E.) is a five-storey homage to the winter and summer games, complete with a bobsleigh simulator. Carry on the sports theme with lunch at hockey hero Wayne Gretzky’s (90 Blue Jays Way) eponymous resto.
• The industrial-gothic-designed ChumCity Building (299 Queen St. W.) houses TV’s Fashion Television and MuchMusic. Get star-crazy with Canada’s top talents along the Walk of Fame (along John Street from Adelaide Street), which honours stars such as Mike Meyers, Shania Twain and Alanis Morrisette. • For dinner, sample the sizzling steaks at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (145 Richmond St. W.), or surf ‘n’ turf it at the Whistling Oyster (11 Duncan St.).
• Nighttime is when the Entertainment District really struts its stuff. Take in a concert at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe St.), Massey Hall (178 Victoria St.), or the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front St. W). Grand theatres dot this area, like the 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St. W.), which in 2006 will be the debut for the musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Other jewels in the theatre crown include the Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King St. W.), the Pantages Theatre (263 Yonge St.) and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres (189 Yonge St.), which can boast having the last operating double-decker theatre in the world.
• Even though the last encore’s been played, don’t count the night over yet—the bars and clubs don’t close until 2 a.m. For dancing the night away, there’s a sophisticated crowd at Easy & The Fifth (225 Richmond St. W.), while over at Lot 332 (332 Richmond St. W.), house, hip-hop and R&B keep the crowd moving, and Lucid (126 John St.) is one of the biggest clubs in the city. Up the street, This is London‘s (364 Richmond St. W.) second floor balcony provides the best view for watching all the slickest dance moves. —L.L
With such an easy escape from the metropolis, it’s possible in a short amount of time to go from walking on concrete to walking on sand. The heart of the Beaches neighbourhood starts just west of Kingston Road on Queen Street East, and is made up of five beaches including Balmy Beach and Kew Beach, bordered by a thee kilometre boardwalk and adjacent bike and rollerblade trail. In summertime, buskers, street performers, people giving five-minute massages or hair wraps, set themselves up right next to the boardwalk. While residents, whose houses face the lake, give impromptu movie screenings on their front lawn after the sun goes down. Offerings on the beach are pleasantly next to none, but just a few blocks north bustling Queen Street East is a good anecdote to the chilled out beach vibe.
• If you’re hitting the area early have breakfast at the Sunset Grill (2006 Queen St. E.). But be patient, there’s often a lineup. If you want to grab a cold one, there’s no shortage of pubs Quigley’s (2232 Queen St. E.) and Lion On the Beach (1958 Queen St. E.) both have large patios and views of the street. Fine dining offerings out here are few, but Peppinos (2343 Queen St. E.) is a favourite with locals. For something cold and sweet, forget the Ben & Jerry’s near the park at Kew Gardens and keep going east for homemade ice cream at Ed’s Real Scoop (2224 Queen St. E.).
• Stylin’ souvenirs are on offer at Arts on Queen (2198 Queen St. E.), packed as it is with work by local artists. Mourguet Jewellery (1918 Queen St. E.) has contemporary silver jewellery.
• If tea is your cup of tea, there’s Pippins Tea (2106 Queen St. E.), stocked with loose teas and every imaginable accessory. Experience a classic high tea with crustless sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and homemade jams at La Tea Da (2305 Queen St. E.).
• The area goes nuts during the annual Beaches Jazz Festival (July 15-24). For four days, the street is closed to traffic between Kingston Road and Beech Avenue with a string of live bands set up next to each other on the street. The bandshell at Kew Gardens, where all the big acts play, is a great place to sit on the grass and soak up the tunes day or night. —K.F.KENSINGTON MARKET
People have a fascination with markets, open-air or covered. A voyeuristic chance to observe locals in the natural environment, they’re the fast-beating hearts of any city. Situated right next to each other, Kensington Market and Chinatown, are hubs of activity from early morning until long after the sun goes down. Kensington Market reflects Toronto’s continually expanding cultural landscape. Surrounding the market is a mix of middle and working class homes. Chinese evangelical churches sit streets away from a synagogue. Eclectic and offbeat, the market has undergone a slight gentrification within the last 10 years, which hasn’t taken anything away from its gritty, ethnic character. Today, the market is made up of an ethnic quilt of sorts. Portuguese clothing shops sit next to Mexican empanada shops, which are just down the street from a Brazilian butchers, which is around the corner from the West Indian roti shop.
• Kensington Street is a vintage shoppers dream. It’s easy to spend hours at Courage My Love (14 Kensington Ave.), the cocoon of kitsch which as been in business for decades. Selling everything from bakelite buttons from the 1920s to 50s prom dresses, silver jewellery brought back from the earth’s four corners. There are more than a dozen vintage stores just on Kensington Avenue alone, most housed in old Victorian houses whose front yards are covered with racks of clothes, bags and shoes for sale. Fresh Baked Goods (274 Augusta Ave.) sells new clothing and accessories by local independent designers and artisans.
• Take out that can be brought to the nearby park or eaten on the street is so plentiful, it’s best to go there with a completely empty stomach. Sample cheeses, olives and marinated vegetables and seafood from stores like Cheese Magic (182 Baldwin Ave.). For a sit down meal, La Palette (256 Augusta Ave.) and the gingham-covered tables of the Bellevue Street Diner (61 Bellevue Ave.), which is anything but a diner, are both elegantly bohemian and serve top of the line French fare at reasonable prices.
• At night, your best bet is the aptly named Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave.) a new funky-casual bar serving up live music and Asian-inspired fare. —K.F.
While most major cities in North America have a Chinatown, Toronto’s is thought to be one of the largest. Spadina Avenue is littered with every imaginable “trading” store, selling everything from cheap souvenirs, dress socks, rice-cookers, knockoff watches and anything and everything made of bamboo. On the street, local vendors jockey for space selling electronic toys, bras, green onions, phone cards and baubles.
• Gwartzman’s Art Supplies (448 Spadina Ave.) is a chaotic mecca for any and all things art related, while across the street, Rotman’s Hat Shop (345 Spadina Ave.) is something from another era. In the same location for more than 50 years, the store’s shelves are stacked with poor-boy caps, fedoras and pork pie hats.
• Your cup will runneth over for food options in Chinatown. The plastic tablecloth covered cafeteria stylings of Kim Hoa Seafood and Barbeque Restaurant (332 Spadina Ave.) don’t take away from the fact that their General Tso Chicken is the best in the city. Pho Hung Vietnamese Restaurant (350 Spadina Ave.) is a noodle palace—the duck soup not only tastes great but is also a fun item to order, especially if you’re a fan of the Marx Brothers. The giant Chinese tiger dragon statues outside of the neon-yellow painted Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant (346 Spadina Ave.) are hard to miss. An all-day Dim Sum menu includes up to 100 different morsels to choose from. —K.F.—Maranatha Coulas, Flannery Dean, Kisha Ferguson, Linda Luong and Susan Traxel