Toronto Travel Guide

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I don't claim to be an expert on the subject of Toronto, but I'd like to think after four years of living there (with periodic visits since then) that I have a moderately decent handle on the city; as far as food and shopping goes at least.

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EAT

PARTS & LABOUR
 The restaurant is decked out in repurposed industrial products (the lamps above the bar are fire extinguishers sliced in half) the decor is as appealing as the delectable food they serve. Much of the menu I've had the pleasure of indulging in but my stand out favorites are the roasted halibut main and the county festival super doughnut desert. This can also double as a do too, the bar in the basement is a pretty righteous venue featuring such nights as "White Girl Dance Party" and a plethora of note worthy bands.

THE BLACK HOOF

Not for the vegetarians out there, this quaint eatery is charcuterie heaven. If you're into cured meats, stinky cheeses, and wine pairings, this is a must eat for you.  Arrive early, it's a small place that fills up quickly. In the likelihood of having to wait for a table, cross the street to their cocktail bar, The Hoof, for such dreamy concoctions as the Lavender Hound (lavender infused gin, lemon, grapefruit, simple). It is all worth the wait, I assure you.

SUSHI MARCHE

This is hands down my favourite sushi place in Toronto, even though it was located SO FAR EAST I still managed to order from them on the regular. The sashimi is mind blowing and my top three rolls would have to be: the Marche, Kamikaze 1 and 2. This is a takeout place only.

SMOKE'S POUTINERIE

Any poutine under the sun and a weird dude mascot plus lumberjack gingham is what Smoke's is all about. You really can't go wrong with poutine and there's even a veggie gravy option!

POUTINI'S 

I don't play favourites with poutine clearly, Poutini's is all about smaller portions and crispier fries. They also have a veggie gravy option. There is limited seating at their one Queen Street location.

BIG FAT BURRITO

What was once a shanty shack burrito shop in Kensington Market, BFB has become an institution with multiple locations throughout the city - namely beside Lee's Palace! Nothing like late night burrito eats. I usually opt for the veggie option with all the fixings. 

THE LAKEVIEW

The ultimate late night destination for an authentic old timey diner and the grub to match. The fare is pretty standard but their burgers are pretty stand out. I've been known to have a side of poutine here as well. Are you sensing a trend yet?

FRESH

If you're heart is starting to stop from overindulging in poutine... grab a healthy meal at Fresh! Better yet, just grab their Shamrock power shake made of matcha green tea, peppermint, banana, agave, and almond milk. (side note: when I make this at home I sub honey for the agave and add spinach.)

STARVING ARTIST

Breakfast served on waffles. Need I say more? Eggs benedict... ON A WAFFLE! It's decadent and filling and I sort of wanted to die after eating but it was totally worth it.

THE BURGER'S PRIEST

This joint was introduced to me as 'the closest you'll get to In-n-Out in Canada'. Firstly, I live and die for In-n-Out and secondly, they were totally right. They even have a not-so-secret secret menu to go along with their ultra basic burger list. Mildly heart stopping but I breathed my way through a magnificent burger that tasted so ridiculously fresh.

BARQUE

Do you like BBQ? Do you want the most tender chicken you have ever tasted paired with the best salad ON EARTH? I insist you make a trip to this Roncesvalles restaurant and order two competition chicken thighs and the arugula & radicchio salad.

BELLWOODS BREWERY

Admittedly I have not yet eaten here however, the food that was being served around me looked stunning. I can vouch for the beer though; I tucked into a couple Roman Candle's but now that I'm looking at the menu again, I'm wondering why I didn't try the Wizard Wolf. Did I mention that a lot of my drink choices are decided on labels and funny names? This place also has an excellent patio complete with white picket fence and picnic tables.

WOOD LOT

Just go look at the menu. Seriously. Mouth is watering and I'm upset I can't go there for dinner tonight. Also, the space is modern and gorgeous. The washroom stalls are decorated in illustrated mushrooms.

GUU

The original location is in Vancouver but THIS IS TORONTO, NOT VANCOUVER. Expect to be greeted with the whole staff cheering when you walk in... and out. If you want to be where the action is, grab a spot at the bar. This is not a place you go for a quiet intimate atmosphere. My all time favourite dish is the Kinoko Bibmbap which is essentially a smouldering hot pot of rice, seaweed sauce, cheese and mushrooms. Amazing.


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SHOP

DRAKE GENERAL STORE

Odds n sods bits and bobs. You never know what to expect in this offshoot of the Drake Hotel. From trinkets to clothing but most notably they have emoji shaped cookies - the ULTIMATE indulgence.

BICYCLETTE BOUTIQUE

I was fortunate enough to watch the progression of this shop as Paige, the owner & founder, was in my graduating class at Ryerson and this was her capstone project. I finally made the pilgrimage to the brick and mortar store after having admired it's online location for quite some time. I was blown away by the merchandising and vibe of the store. Can't make it to the Queen Street location? You can still shop it online... and admire Paige's inspiring Instagram account of the same name.

I MISS YOU VINTAGE

Do you love designer high end vintage? Look no further than I Miss You. From 60s Pucci dresses to 90s Chanel earrings this shop has all the classics and more.

EMPORIUM BY I MISS YOU

Located next door to I Miss You on Ossington, this shop is about antiques and gorgeous leather accessories. Need a beaded evening purse from the 20s or perhaps a 1800's lover's pin for that special someone? Be amazed by the vast selection and quality of product that owner Julie Yoo painstakingly seeks out.

HONEST ED'S

Go at night just for the lights or in the day time and get lost in the bargain socks and Elvis busts. It's an experience.

LIKELY GENERAL

If a foxy outdoorsy girl was shopping for accessories, home decor, and lovely apothecary goods this shop would top her list. It reminds me of Old Faithful in Vancouver - a very Kinfolk magazine vibe.

ROTATE THIS

Do you like music? Do you like vinyl record? Yes to both? Then pop by this shop on Queen Street West.

HOLT RENFREW

This may go without saying but I thought it was worth a mention regardless. The sheer SIZE of this location is mind boggling. On certain days there is even a sharply dressed doorman outside the main entrance.

Jacob & Sebastian

This shop takes beauty products extremely seriously and you can tell the moment you step foot inside. The store could double as an art gallery with the all white setting and the curated stock - there were even brands I had not even heard of and I fancy myself a bit of a cosmetic junkie.

Far Away Eyes

A wonderfully witchay boutique with clothing, accessories, and home decor.



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DO

SUGAR BEACH

This wins hands down for cutest beach ever. With it's pink umbrella's, it would make an epic style blog location. You heard it here first.

TORONTO ISLAND

Catch the ferry for a short ride over to paradise aka Toronto Island. I'm not sure if this is a winter option but certainly in the summer there are numerous beaches to enjoy, one even being nudie! Wear sensible shoes if you plan on exploring.

PHOTOBOOTHS

Fun times should be documented with photobooth snaps, obviously. There are quite a few located within subway stops. My most frequently used ones are Bathurst station and Bloor + Yonge station.

MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY

Spice up your average walk with a stroll through this epic cemetery located in the heart of the city! There are quite a few intriguing aged headstones to inspect.

CASA LOMA

So there's a castle in Toronto and it just happens to have the craziest view of the city.

TRINITY-BELLWOODS PARK

For ultimate people watching on the weekend, this is the park to pop by. A Saturday afternoon at Trinity-Bellwoods reminds me of a Sunday afternoon in the hip east end London Fields park. There's a whole lot of THIS to be seen. And cute dogs.

HIGH PARK

Yes, another park, but this is a green space you visit for its beauty, water features, and trees carved to look like old men.

BLUE JAY'S GAME

I've never been but I want to go. Let this serve as a reminder.

STEAMWHISTLE BREWERY TOUR

Any excuse to sample beer and walk around a lovely old building is definitely on my to-do list. 


Is there anything I missed?

x SJ

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