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Kensington Market

Summer Fun Guide: Take a Bite out of Toronto

FOODIES AND SIMPLY HUNGRY VISITORS ALIKE WILL NOT WANT FOR OPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO TORONTO’S DINING SCENE

R&D_Lobster Chow Mein_Image by Allison Woo

R&D’s Lobster Chow Mein. Photo by Allison Woo

The expansive St. Lawrence Market is packed full of specialty food items and made-to-order meals. St. Urbain Bagel is known for its Montreal-style bagels, which are baked fresh daily, are best hot out of the oven with a generous dollop of cream cheese. The peameal bacon sandwich from Carousal Bakery has been a market staple for over 30
years and is well worth the line up. Or, if you’re extra hungry, bite into a hearty deep-fried veal and eggplant sandwich at Uno Mustachio Sandwiches.

Join The Culinary Adventure Co. for a guided tour of some of the city’s most exciting neighbourhoods. Learn about the history and heritage of Chinatown and Kensington while enjoying everything from Mexican tortas to dim sum; adults $79, kids $59. Savour Toronto (1-855-472-8687; savourtoronto.com) offers a Best of the West tour for a taste of the hip and trendy dining scene along along Dundas Street West and Ossington Avenue; $75.

Treat yourself with Tasty Tours, which offers two excursions: The Kensington Market Sweet & Savoury food tour includes food samples from Chinese and Latin American eateries; $49 adults kids ages 7-12 $35, children age 7 and under free. Enjoy the chocolatiers around Trinity Bellwoods Park while learning about the history of chocolate and a chocolate-making demonstration in Toronto’s Ultimate Chocolate tour; $39 adults, kids ages 7-12 $25, children age 7 and under free.

Toronto’s vibrant dining scene is flourishing with world-class chefs, unique restaurant concepts, and innovative menus. Below are some dining highlights to whet your appetite.

 MasterChef Canada winner Eric Chong, along with one of the competition’s judges, Alvin Leung, has created a “modern Canadian Asian” menu at R&D. Dive into dishes like fried chicken with glazed cronuts, and venison spring rolls, complimented by intriguing drinks like the 510 Caesar made with garlic and shiitake-infused vodka. Chef Rob Gentile is known for his attention to detail and his obsession with using the freshest seasonal ingredients for his authentic Italian cuisine; try the hand-made pasta at Buca to find out what the fuss is about, or stop by Bar Buca for small sharing plates and a nightcap.  —Karen Stevens

 

 

 

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Explore in Kensington Market

ARGUABLY DOWNTOWN TORONTO’S MOST DIVERSE AND VIBRANT ‘HOOD, KENSINGTON MARKET OVERFLOWS WITH GREAT LITTLE CAFÉS, ETHNIC EATERIES AND ECLECTIC BOUTIQUES. HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR CURRENT FAVOURITES.

Kensington Market Toronto Blackbird Baking

Blackbird Baking Co. in Kensington Market is one of the city’s finest bread boutiques (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Julian Finkle has been silkscreening t-shirts since before silk-screening t-shirts became cool. His unique designs are the stock-in-trade of Model Citizen, though the sartorial shop also carries other North American and European labels of quality. 279 Augusta Ave., 416-553-6632; modelcitizentoronto.com

2 Good Egg is Toronto foodies’ go-to boutique for all things culinary, with an expertly curated selection of cookbooks and mouth-watering magazines, plus unique kitchen accessories and food-related art. 267 Augusta Ave., 416-593-4663; goodegg.ca

3 A staple for health-conscious Kensington denizens, airy, family-run Hibiscus Café is well known for its gluten-free buckwheat crepes served with vegetarian or vegan fixings. On the go? The nutrient-packed salad bowl will give you hours of energy. 238 Augusta Ave., 416-364-6183; hibiscuscafe.ca

4 Some of the city’s best bread can be found daily at Blackbird Baking Co. Pick up a Toronto Sourdough baguette to fuel your further Kensington Market adventures. 172 Baldwin St., 416-546-2280; blackbirdbakingco.com

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Weekend Roundup: May 25 to 27

Sunday: Akosua Amo-Adem and Soulpepper Academy artists perform Dirt (photo by Nathan Kelly)

Friday, May 25
More than 75 bags of dirt fill the Tank House Theatre stage (at the Yonge Centre for the Performing Arts) as the Soulpepper Academy performs Dirt, their theatrical production that revolves around the literal and metaphorical use of, well, dirt. Whether it’s the substance under your fingernails or a dirty secret, the show explores the use of dirt through stories, movement and technology.

Mayer Hawthorne, known for mixing “old school” soul with “new school” sounds, draws inspiration from classic singers like Smokey Robinson. He’s currently on tour with his second album How Do You Do? and swings into T.O. tonight for a show at The Hoxton.

Head to Harboufront Centre tonight for Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre’s Arena, a dramatic program of six contemporary works. Among the dynamic offerings are two premieres, one choreographed by the 2012 resident guest artist Sylvie Bouchard, the other by Deborah Lundmark, the company’s founding artistic director. (more…)

Hot Dining: Chicken à la Kensington

Though it boasts a cartoon rooster for its mascot, Le Kensington Bistro & Rotisserie is hardly some KFC or St. Hubert knockoff. Instead, this homey little spot is the more casual cousin of Loire, a fine French favourite on Harbord Street. Of course, rotisserie chicken ($32 for a whole bird, $16 for half) is prominently featured, but it’s not the only palate-pleaser on chef Jean-Charles Dupoire’s menu—classics like beef tartare ($12), steak frites ($22) and a diverse charcuterie ($15 or $25) are uncomplicated, but nonetheless go far beyond the offerings of take-out chicken joints. And what sommelier Sylvain Brissonet’s Ontario and French wine list lacks in breadth, it makes up for in affordability.

Weekend Roundup, May 27th to 29th

Friday: See designs by Lux and Luster (and 300 other designers) at the Clothing Show

Friday, May 27
Find a unique treasure amongst the offerings of 300 independent designers and artisans at The Clothing Show. Whether you’re looking for vintage accessories or eco-friendly clothing, you can find it all at this annual event at Exhibition Place’s Queen Elizabeth Building.

Shoot down to the Niagara region for a culinary adventure at the Niagara Food and Wine show. Local chefs and vintners gather all weekend long at the Scotiabank Convention Centre to show off the fruits of their labours. Stop by and pair local wine with delectable gourmet food.

Delighting audiences since the mid-sixties with his soulful voice and authentic lyrics, Gordon Lightfoot returns tonight to Massey Hall for the second of four Toronto shows. Hear the celebrated Canadian singer and songwriter’s favourite hits, including “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Sundown.”

Saturday: the Spadina Museum is one of many Toronto buildings participating in Doors Open

Saturday, May 28
Ever wonder what some of the city’s favourite landscapes look like behind the scenes? This weekend you can get an inside look at 150 buildings across Toronto during Doors Open. The free, annual event allows you to see many of the city’s most interesting and historic spaces—from Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens to City Hall’s green roof.

Check out the vintage, classic and modern aircraft and vehicles on display at Downsview Park during the Wings and Wheels Festival. Flight enthusiasts of all ages are sure to be delighted by planes such as the C-130J Super Hercules, plus a variety of other exhibits, vendors and more

Known as the “Pied Piper of Manila,” Carlos Celdran performs If These Walls Could Talk, his world famous “walking tour” of Intramurous, the oldest district of Manila. This entertaining re-telling of the city’s colourful history takes the stage at Harbourfront Centre.

Sunday: Tan Dun appears at Roy Thomson Hall (photo by Chris Lee)

Sunday, May 29
Renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun picks up the conductors baton at Roy Thomson Hall to lead a performance of his personal Water and Paper concertos. The pieces call for unique solo instruments, including some that interact with water and that are constructed from paper.

The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival kicks off with a free party at Yonge-Dundas Square tonight. In addition to live performances by local bands, a selection of videos will be projected onto a giant cube.

This year’s first Pedestrian Sunday occurs today at Kensington Market. In addition to browsing the neighbourhood’s eclectic boutiques and grabbing a bite at one of many internationally flavoured restaurants, local studios and galleries are also opening their doors to the public.

Hot Shopping: Navigate T.O.’s Neighbourhoods

Map of the Trinity Bellwoods area by Marlena Zuber

Marlena Zuber is a multi-faceted Torontonian: she draws, paints, works for a non-profit and is in an indie band. But it’s her informal cartography skills that are turning heads these days. Zuber’s charming yet realistic maps of favourite nabes—The Annex, Kensington Market, Harbourfront and Trinity Bellwoods among them—are a hot commodity. Pick up a framed map ($45 to $85) or a greeting card ($4 each) from Artistry Cards.

Weekend Roundup, March 11th to 13th

Friday: The Kodo Drummers of Japan bring their forceful rhythms to the Sony Centre

Friday, March 11
Enjoy the dazzling showmanship and primal rhythms of the world-famous Kodo Drummers of Japan as they take the stage for the Toronto stop of the group’s 30th-anniversary tour. This dazzling display of speed, dexterity, precision, and muscular endurance takes place tonight at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Canadian Music Week Film Festival—just one of many events comprising Canadian Music Week, from March 9 to 13—screens today and Saturday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The festival showcases 10 features and a handful of shorts, including rock docs, concert films, band biographies, and musicals.

Dog lovers and pet owners are advised to make tracks to the Purina National Dog Show, which opens today at the International Centre in Mississauga, and features hundreds of purebred canines strutting their stuff in competition. A number of vendors are also on-hand with the latest in doggie gear and accessories.

Saturday: Janet Jackson offers an intimate, all-hits concert

Saturday, March 12
Ms. Janet Jackson herself strides onto the Sony Centre stage for her international “Number Ones, Up Close and Personal” tour. The accomplished singer is set to perform top tracks from her Number Ones album in a personal, intimate setting.

Stroll through the bustling streets of Kensington Market on the Kensington Foodies Roots Walk, which has been featured on CNN and in National Geographic Traveler. From 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’ll be able to savour the diverse foods from the ethnic markets, stalls and restaurants.

Start March Break on a high note by making your way to the Toronto Zoo. Starting today and continuing through the week, the zoo offers additional family-fun activities, events, and keeper talks.

Sunday: Enjoy a day at Spring Fling

Sunday, March 13
An excellent daytime activity to kick off your March Break is Spring Fling, Canada’s largest indoor carnival. Enjoy the midway with rides, family entertainment, and exotic animals. All-day ride tickets at this Rogers Centre event are $20, and the fun continues to March 18.

Satisfy Harry Potter fantasies at the Wizard World Indoor Family Fun Park, which opens today and runs to March 20 at Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre.  The park features 150,000 square feet of indoor fun: food and drinks, professional stage shows, 20 carnival rides, free loot bags for kids under 12, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and much more.

Put on your best green outfit and shamrock buttons to engage in a little Irish revelry. The Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins today at noon. The annual procession starts at Bloor and St. George streets, marches east to Yonge, and then south toward Nathan Phillips Square.

Hot Dining: Summer Bites

Embrujo Flamenco's shrimp in chocolate sauce

Few things say summer like a pitcher of sangria and wistful thoughts of Spain, evoked by the authentic small-plates menus at these tapas restaurants.

1 Nose-to-tail charcuterie—from house-made chorizo to artisan cheeses—is the specialty at Cava, but respected chef Chris McDonald’s menu also features an eclectic assortment of nibbles including smoked kingfish ceviche ($13.50) and chipotle-caramel popcorn ($3.50).

2 Authentic tapas and native wines are just two of the attractions at Embrujo Flamenco. The Danforth hot spot is also favoured for its huge paellas ($39 to $59) and live flamenco performances from Wednesday to Sunday.

3 The little bull of Kensington Market, Torito Tapas Bar bustles with patrons enjoying Latin treats at indoor picnic tables or on one of two patios. The restaurant’s subterranean sibling, Pepe’s at Torito, offers a cozier, more romantic space for wining and dining.

Weekend Roundup, April 30 to May 2

Mark the coming of May in the traditional style of our ancestors: laughter, fun and celebration. This weekend, Toronto invites you to take your pick amongst skating, musicals, tours,  fine dining and more.

Friday: Kurt Browning and friends skate their way to Sears Stars on Ice (photo by Stephan Potopnyk)

Friday, April 30
Reach for the heavens while applauding at Sears Stars on Ice, where you can witness first-hand the art of figure skating as interpreted by such Canadians as Kurt Browning, Jeffrey Buttle and our beloved 2010 Olympians, Patrick Chan, Joannie Rochette, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Nosh on traditional public-house favourites like nachos or poutine at the Mill Street Brew Pub. Happy Hour goes late into the evening with a variety of artisan beers, wines and whiskies.

Mark the final day of Keep Toronto Reading month with a trip to a local public library. Attend readings by various authors of books, poetry and plays at the Diaspora Dialogues event.

Saturday: See Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate at the Stratford Festival (photo by Andrew Eccles)

Saturday, May 1
Indulge in the English canon’s finest at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, a short drive away in the picturesque town of Stratford. Enjoy productions of the Bard’s romantic comedy As You Like It, as well as the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate (itself an interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew) and a magical staging of Peter Pan.

Dig into a hearty Mexican burrito at Hernando’s Hideaway. Or sample many other Mexican delights—faijtas, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos and more—at this ebullient Old Town restaurant.

Discover the latest addition to Canadian painter Michael Adamson‘s abstract art oeuvre at his Moore Gallery exhibition, entitled Distant Relation.

Sunday: Elicia MacKenzie stars in Rock of Ages (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Sunday, May 2
Catch the musical love story Rock of Ages in its second week of performances filled with rockin’ ‘80s hits like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

Savour French cuisine at the brasserie-style Le Papillon on Front. Quebecois dishes like tourtière are a specialty, and the restaurant also boasts a huge menu of savoury crepes.

Take a stroll through Toronto on 100-plus tours as part of Jane’s Walk, which wends through the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. Indulge in the Black Creek community walk, peruse the Annex or grab a bite to eat in Kensington Market while viewing the city through experts’ eyes.

http://www.hernandoshideaway.com/home.html

Weekend Roundup, September 4 to 7

Labour Day on Monday makes for a long weekend, so we bring you a special four-day guide of what to do in the city.

Friday: Vernon Wells and his Blue Jays teammates take on the New York Yankees.

Friday: Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees.

Friday, September 4
Root for the home team as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees in today’s Major League Baseball game at the Rogers Centre.

Howl with laughter at The Second City’s final performance of Are We There Yet?, a sketch comedy revue about families and the summer, shaken up with some improv. Kids age six and older are welcome—and may be invited on stage to participate in the antics.

Move your hips to the mariachi sound of violins, guitars, mandolins and trumpets at the Hispanic Fiesta.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday: Look for local produce at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers market.

Saturday, September 5
It’s the opening day of the 60th annual Canadian International Air Show! Peer into the sky to find the Canadian Forces’ famed Snowbirds roar across the blue, twisting and turning in a display of aerial stunts.

Pick up Hot & Savoury pickles, preserved locally in Toronto, from the Toorshi Foods table at the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market.

If the pickles aren’t spicy enough for your palate, turn up the fire at the Hot + Spicy Food Festival, where you can purchase a variety of spices, sauces, marinades and dips from the Red Hot Marketplace.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in <em>The Tempest</em>.

Sunday: See Karen Robinson in The Tempest.

Sunday, September 6
It’s the last night of the Canadian Stage Dream in High Park. Cozy up to your date on a blanket and watch Shakespeare’s The Tempest under the stars.

Treat yourself to Sunday brunch on the intimate patio at Live Organic Food Bar, where you can get dejeuner served up raw and vegan—try the walnut crepes with shaved pear and strawberry compote and cashew chantilli cream.

Unearth some of the best spots for dim sum on the Tour Guys‘ Culture, Cuisine, and Colours free tour of Chinatown and Kensington Market.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday: Ride the ferris wheel on the CNE's last night.

Monday, September 7
Recognize and celebrate workers’ efforts and rights at the Labour Day Parade. This year’s theme is “Good Jobs For All.”

Get a glimpse into the indulgent diversions of the affluent people of Zabid in the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition, Coffee & Smokes in Medieval Yemen. (Take the kids—each child for every adult gets free admission to the ROM this weekend!)

The Canadian National Exhibition closes today, so it’s your last chance to down a bag of mini doughnuts, catch an illusionist show, and view the sun setting over the city from atop a ferris wheel.

Weekend Roundup, August 28 to 30

Friday: See pyrotechnic performers at Buskerfest.

Friday: See pyrotechnic performers at Buskerfest.

Friday, August 28
Try making Chia-A-Noodle, a dish going back to the days of a mostly poor, agricultural Taiwanese society, at Taiwanfest. While slurping up your fresh-made noodles, take in art exhibitions, fashion, music, demonstrations and films at two festival venues: Harbourfront Centre and the Distillery Historic District.

Ooh and ahh as Dream State Circus, The Fast Horses, Trulee Odd, PyRomeo and Circus Orange light it up in a nighttime fire show, the “hottest” gala performance at the 10th annual BuskerFest in Old Town Toronto.

Lose yourself in your thoughts while walking the Toronto Public Labyrinth in Trinity Square (between Queen and Dundas streets, entrance off Bay Street), an oasis of peace in the heart of the bustling city.

Saturday: The historic Sunnyside Pavilion hosts an art show.

Saturday: The historic Sunnyside Pavilion hosts an art show.

Saturday, August 29
Taste specialties of African cuisine at the Toronto African Film & Music Festival marketplace on Bloor Street, between Ossington and Christie Streets.

Get ready for dark humour as Soulpepper Theatre Company opens Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? Edward Albee’s 1962 boundary-crossing masterpiece provides an honest glimpse into married life at the time.

View paintings, photography, sculptures and fashion (and meet the artists!) showcased in the annual Sunnyside Beach Juried Art Show & Sale at the historic Sunnyside Pavillion.

Sunday: Hear music at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Sunday: Hear music at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Sunday, August 30
Make yourself comfortable amongst the graves and gardens at Mount Pleasant Cemetery for its Music at Mount Pleasant series. Today, a Royal Conservatory of Music brass quintet performs Bach and other classical works.

Take a walking tour of the city’s most eco-friendly sites and spaces as part of the Live Green Toronto Festival. Be sure to return to the festival hub at at Yonge-Dundas Square to check out over 100 green exhibitors and hear live music by The Philosopher Kings, Samba Squad, Carly Rae Jepsen and more.

Blow bubbles in the streets at today’s air-themed Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market. With cars banned for the day, it’s easy to experience the multicultural neighbourhood’s many charms.