Toronto Restaurants & Neighborhoods
Hi, I'm a native New Yorker who posts regularly on N.Y. Chowhound. I'm visiting Toronto for 8 days starting next Sunday. Some Canadian posts recommend Chiando - does anyone have the address? All recommendations will be sincerely appreciated.
Also, what's your favorite Toronto neighborhood? (I usually don't go by what's listed in some of the boring travel books.)
I'll be happy to suggest places in Manhattan :)
Chiado, 864 College Street (a bit of a trek from the downtown area - but the College streetcar goes right past it). 416-538-1910. Well worth a visit.
As for neighbourhoods - do you want food, shopping, living, strolling and smelling etc. If you're a foodie stroll Spadina and Kensington Market (the market is west of Spadina, between Dundas and College) - but don't try to drive or park there.
Shopping is Bloor/Yorkville.
If you want to see the 'living city' (and Jane Jacobs means anything to you) try the Annex (north of Bloor, west of Avenue Road).
The ethnic neighbourhoods are scattered, but all safe for tourists - where are you staying?
Yesterday I re-discovered a neighbourhood that I really enjoyed. College Street along the 500 and 600 street numbers (goes west starting a couple of blocks west of Bathurst). This is still known as 'Little Italy' but has diversified. Generally it gets more upscale (expensive) the further west you go, but you'll find inroads from oriental and other european (particularly portuguese - great bread). The regular stores close at 6:00 - but the whole area really comes alive then. Lots of restaurant choices. I enjoyed it early afternoon - if you're there for lunch, check out Kalendar for some 'different' sandwich/wrap sustenance.
A previous email mentioned kensington market. A different market is the St. Lawrence Market which has some great stuff. (It's also the oldest farmers market in North America) Call on me at The Mustard Emporium for other suggestions
College is definitely good... haven't been to Chiando, but the street is pretty reliable west of Bathurst. Utopia, on the northside, has a nice patio and good wraps/sandwiches.
Chinatown is on Spadina, between Queen & College. If that's your bag, Swatow (sic?) is the best by far. Also, there are a few good Vietnamese restaurants on the street. Most prefer Pho Hung, but I say Dai Nam, which is closer to Queen, on the east side of Spadina. Get the rice paper wraps (you wrap it yourself, each wrap comes on a separate plate). (This is all a stone's throw from the Kensington area)
Incidentally, if you're in the mood for dim sum, I'd avoid Chinatown altogether and go to Scarborough or Markham. But that's only feasible if you have a car. And there's nothing else to do there.
For Indian, check out Queen East. As a point of reference, more varied than all the little Indian restaurants around St. Marks Place (I think?) in Manhattan, but nowhere near as good as Jackson Diner in Queens.
Have a good visit!
Slight correction - for Indian I think you mean Gerrard (not Queen)between Greenwood & Coxwell. This is 'Little India' and almost makes you feel you're in a different country. But harder to get to by public transit and parking is difficult. Also, although there are many restaurants, they are no cheaper than downtown and service can be indifferent.
Go for the atmosphere, but eat at Rashnaa (Sri Lankan and formica tables) or Nataraj (tablecloths)- in my opinion.
Queen east is also worth a visit - but you have to go way out to east of Kingston Road, where it becomes the main street for 'The Beaches' area. Good excuse to take a streetcar though as the fare is 'included' if you're taking the subway anyway (but make sure you know how the 'transfer' system works, or you'll pay twice).
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded to my earlier post. Am leaving for NYC tomorrow - had a terrific time in Toronto. It's a really nice, clean friendly city.
I didn't really "discover" any fabulous Chowhound finds I could share with you but will say that none of the food was really bad or mediocre - it just didn't blow me away. Two restaurants I liked for atmosphere and good food were the Zucca Trattoria @ 2150 Yonge Street and Stork on the Roof at 2009 Yonge. The taxes are outrageous - I thought New York was hefty with 8-1/4%. Add at least 15-20% for the server's tip and we're talking 30-35% before the food tally.
Anyway, I had a great time exploring the neighborhoods: St. Lawrence Market is fantastic (wish we had one in Manhattan) and Kensington Market is fun as well. I enjoyed the Beach area; the antique and quirky shops on East Queen and West Queen Streets, Little Italy on College Street at night (much less touristy and hokey than Manhattan's version). Chinatown was fascinating and I loved the architecture in Cabbagetown. Wellesley & Church Street has a much smaller gay section than other cities but it's cute with some charming-looking restaurants with patios.
Managed to also get out to Toronto Islands (Centre Island & Wards) that were really fun (go during the week) and Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake which I thought was a very cute, quaint town. Not hokey at all.
Thanks again for your recommendations. If ya ever need New York ones. just click in to Chowhound.