Old Town’s main artery is a bustling hub of social activity—part of the city’s oldest neighbourhood, it offers an array of fine establishments. Globetrot the world through your taste buds, take a picture in front of one of the city’s landmark sites or catch an award–winning show.
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POSH PARISIAN You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Paris’s Right Bank upon stepping foot in Biff’s, a gem in the crown of Oliver & Bonacini, the group behind such revered restos as Canoe and Auberge du Pommier. Impeccable servers float through the buttery yellow room adorned with vintage French posters—the perfect environment for noshing on the artfully plated cuisine of chef Basilio Pesce. Comforting and traditional, his offerings include beef bourguignon, coq au vin and steak frites.
CULTURAL CRAVING Although this food-friendly thoroughfare receives applause for its belly-filling offerings, the soul is also nurtured at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Two auditoriums, the Bluma Appel and Jane Mallett theatres, make up this complex which was constructed in 1967 and is the home of the Canadian Stage Company, Music Toronto and the Hannaford Street Silver Band. Beginning March 15, catch Canadian funnyman Colin Mochrie in Art, which attempts to define what constitutes the form.
MOROCCAN HIDEAWAY Nestle in for a night of exotic fare and foreign finery at the Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc. Grab a perch at the commanding wraparound bar in the café or tuck into a curtained-off dining space in the back where plush jewel-toned throws and silk fabrics exude luxury and comfort. Over a finger-friendly meal of native Moroccan dishes such as hummus or couscous, enjoy a live belly dancing performance nightly.
SAY CHEESE One of the city’s most distinctive facades, the Gooderham Building—locally referred to as the Flatiron Building—is at the crux of Wellington and Front streets. The narrow, wedge-shaped edifice originally served as the offices of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. While the front is often photographed, the rear is also worthy of a snapshot: it boasts a whimsical trompe l’oeil by Canadian artist Derek Besant.
AS FRESH AS IT GETS The iconic St. Lawrence Market is a bustling indoor bazaar that has been going strong for more than 200 years. Formerly the site of Toronto’s first City Hall as well as a jailhouse, more commercial enterprise prevails today with more than 120 specialty merchants peddling everything from cheese and meat to honey and baked goods. On Sundays, 80-plus antique dealers set up shop in the market’s north building to hawk their wares.
NEIGHBOURHOOD NUCLEUS A mainstay of Old Town since it first opened its doors in 1974, Le Papillon on Front is a tony brasserie that currently resides in an airy heritage building. An homage to French and Quebecois cuisine, it boasts a menu of classic offerings that would make Julia Child proud, from tourtière to duck. Originally a creperie, the menu is chock full of savoury options with such fillings as baby shrimp, beef ragoût and curried lamb stew.