Shopping and eating in Toronto
Oh Canada, we love you so and that also goes for your shops and restaurants. For all our guests heading to Toronto here’s a list of where to shop and eat.
You don’t need to pick up a fashion magazine to get a sneak preview of the season’s new trends, just walk down Queen Street West, where you’ll find everything hip, trendy and cool. Young, vibrant and bohemian, this neighborhood is often compared to the SoHo district of New York or London, a hangout for many artists and musicians, with its many music stores, cafes and clubs. A few of the older bars, such as the Cameron, the Horseshoe Tavern, Rivoli and the Bovine Sex Club, have become hot spots in the area.
Hazelton Lanes Shopping Centre (87 Avenue Rd) is a premiere shopping center with more than 65 stores and services. Located in the heart of beautiful Yorkville in downtown Toronto, Hazelton Lanes features premium fashion and lifestyle brands, making it a vibrant shopping destination. Mix and mingle in its Oval Square—a gathering space for the community with comfy seating and free Wi-Fi.
Let’s go vintage
Toronto's fashion credentials are edgy and inventive however it's the vintage scene that shines through as unique. The biggest concentrations of vintage shops are in Kensington Market and Parkdale. Both are great neighborhoods to wander and discover your next new find. Aside from being affordable retail therapy, vintage shopping in Toronto is sure to refresh your wardrobe with a previously loved outfit that will make you feel like a million bucks—even if you only spent $10. Shop like a local at these five of the city’s best vintage finds.
* Courage My Love, 14 Kensington Ave – A bohemian fashionista’s boutique where they stock exotic costume jewelry, repurposed dresses and eccentric retro barware.
* Thrill of the Find, 1172 Queen St East – This shop specializes in European labels such as Prada, Gucci and Chanel. It won’t take you long to find your thrill in this well laid out establishment.
* Cabaret Vintage, 672 Queen St West – For the offbeat bride-to-be with a high-end selection of vintage wedding dresses to fit styles from bohemian to full-on-flapper. This decadent little boutique is also equipped to outfit the groom with a jacket, blazer, tie and cufflinks.
* I Miss You Vintage, 63 Ossington Ave – One of Toronto’s more upscale vintage stores and houses an elegant selection of cocktail dresses and women’s clothing from the 60s and 70s.
* Stella Luna, 1627 Queen St West—A tiny hole-in-the-wall boutique in a space no bigger than a walk-in closet. Vintage brands like D&G, Allan Cherry and Holt Renfrew.
Street food has arrived in Toronto in a big way. Loosely connected to the Food Truck movement but distinct in its own right, street food in Toronto has expanded beyond Indian and Pakistani eats to include a wide range of cultural influences and cuisines. Most notable are Avo (Portuguese street eats) and Kim’s a La Cart (Korean), both are part of the expanding vendor line-up at 214 Augusta. There’s also Hawker Bar on Ossington, the just-opened restaurant that sells Singaporean street food and TUM (Toronto Underground Market) vendors including ESE that cooks up LA style Mexican Food.
Keep it conventional and sink your teeth into these five foodie finds:
* Odd Seoul, Ossington Avenue – Here you’ll find dozens of late-night bars vying to get you inside, but Odd Seoul is the one with soul. Run by two Korean brothers who grew up in Philadelphia, the drinks range from awesome cocktails to cheap beer while the menu offers amazing, shareable Korean and Philly-inspired dishes like spicy Korean chicken wings or acorn squash poutine.
* 416 Snack Bar, 181 Bathurst St – If you’re looking for one of the best late night experiences in the city, head to the unpretentious 416 Snack Bar. Enjoy cheap drinks and way-better-than-average snacks like perogies, Yorkshire pudding or Trini doubles – snacks that totally hit the spot when you’ve had a few too many drinks.
* Bar Isabel, 797 College St – Have some of the best cocktails in the city (try the “old flame!”) and casual Mediterranean-inspired sharable food.
* Cold Tea, 66 Kensington Ave – Although the entrance and hallway of Kensington Mall may seem a little seedy at first, once you’ve entered Cold Tea, you’ll see why people love it. You’ll be greeted by a lovely lady selling dim sum snacks to compliment the Pabst Blue Ribbon, cheap drinks and delicious cocktails at the bar. On a nice day, there’s a backyard patio with two long rows of picnic tables and red-checkered tablecloths.
Whatever you plan on doing for the day, be sure to end it with a kick-in-the-pants cocktail at Melody’s Bar, Gladstone Hotel, Queen St West. It’s named as one of the top ten bars in the world by Condé Nast Traveller. Introduce yourself to their cocktail Diva, Sandy, and have her knock together a Full Metal Jacket for you.
Words: Cindy-Lou Dale
Photos: Canada Tourism Commission