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Some quick help with an upcoming trip to Toronto, please.

My family (me, my husband, our 4 yr old chowpup) are planning a trip to Toronto for the end of August. I will do my due diligence wrt old posts and, I'm sure, will be back to you for advice about specific restaurants. In the meantime, please help me pick a neighborhood for restaurants.

We're either going to stay at the Four Seasons (Avenue Rd. and Bloor St.) or the Sheraton Centre (Queen St. and York St.) A big factor will be which works better for dinner. By dinner time with the 4 yr old, closer to the hotel is better, with a big preference for walking distance. Which area is likely to give us a bigger set of choices of restaurants that are chow-worthy, casual, and child-friendly early in the evening? We all like a wide variety of cuisines and we don't want mediocre "family" chains (not that anyone here would ever recommend such a thing!), but rather restaurants that you'd be happy to go to for a casual meal, even without a child, that just happen to be fine for kids.

Thanks!

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  1. If you folks decide to stay in the Four Seasons, then, there are plenty of fine restaurants that are within short walking distances from the hotel. These include Boba, MoDo, Opus, Il Posto and Flow (all along Avenue road!). You can check them out at www.torontolife.com. Food quality are all very high. Also, don't forget the hotel's own 'Truffles' restaurant. Consistently great food and service. As for the Sheraton, apart from 'old' China town, there's not a lot of interesting or fine restaurants in the vicinty. However, you can always catch a short taxi ride to 'George' (also on Queen Street), They have a wonderful tasting menu or you can create your own with their 'tapas' size dishes. Enjoy your stay and happy chowing!

    1. I think that both of your hotel options are good. It depends what you're looking for.

      The Four Seasons is in Yorkville, which is definitely more upscale (read: expensive) and has many options.

      The Sheraton is near the Queen St. strip, which has options that are excellent, but definitely not as upscale as the Yorkville ones. They tend to be more casual, some exclusively takeout, and offer excellent value.

      If it were me, I'd want to be closer to Queen than Yorkville, and would consequently pick the Sheraton. Mainly because if I had to pick one neighbourhood to spend time in, it wouldn't be Yorkville.

      1. Hmm, I think I'd lean a bit more towards the Four Seasons (or Park Hyatt or Intercontinental - all within a block of each other). I agree that Queen Street is way cooler than Yorkville and during the daytime, there may be more to explore in that neck of the woods but if you're looking for dinner spots within a short walk, I think that Avenue/Bloor offers better options (plus Yorkville, although touristy, is a nice area to walk around in on a summer evening - hang out by the "big rock"/fountains, grab an ice cream, etc.). In dddition to the fine dining spots that Charles mentions, there's also a Pusateri's (gourmet groceries) and Whole Foods nearby as well as Pho Hung (casual Vietnamese), Greg's (excellent homemade ice cream), The Host (Indian) and, not too much further away, Le Paradis (casual French bistro). Be sure to post again with more questions once you've checked out the board a bit.

        2 Replies
        1. re: peppermint pate

          An aside. Greg's Ice Cream moved from its digs near Bloor & Avenue to Bloor & Spadina. Some sort of dessert café has taken its place.

          1. re: xtal

            Yup - been to the new spot a few times (alas, doesn't have quite the charm of the subterranean old spot but the ice cream is still great). It's still a pretty short walk from Avenue/Bloor - no more than 10 minutes (though perhaps a bit longer if you're pulling a 4 year old...).

        2. I would definitely stay at the Four Seasons over the Sheraton. The Queen street scene, albeit fun, can get a bit raunchy for a four year old. The "coffee shop" in the Four Seasons, called the Sudio Cafe has great food and they treat children very nicely. Note a short cab away or not really a far walk is Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst. The following restaurants are cheap and cheerful: Fresh on Bloor (actually new location just east of Spadina)- vegetarian and great sweet potato fries for your child. Also, Serra for Italian, Chippy's for fish and chips- it's just a counter but really awesome fish and chips- Btitish style. There is also another branch of Greg's ice cream at the Bloor JCC. A bit farther south on Harbord street between Spadina and Bathurst, are three great spots- Splendido (very upscale), Messis (more reasonable and child friendly) and Olvie and Lemon (Italian- very simple, also child-friendly).

          North of the Four Seasons on Avenue Road are the aforementioned places as well as Spuntino which is nice for brunch.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sherry f

            Many thanks for all the recommendations. For a combination of reasons, including restaurant access, we've decided on the Intercontinental. I'm sure I'll be back with more specific restaurant questions, but there are so many great ideas just in this thread that I may already have 6 nights worth of dinners covered! Thanks again!!

            1. re: marcia2

              The Intercontinental is lovely and not huge. Note there is a breakfast place right next door called Over Easy. The restaurants on Bloor near Spadina are just a short walk away from the hotel.

          2. Actually, the most interesting restaurants are in funky neighbourhoods such as the Danforth (mostly Greek), College St. (good Italian and Portuguese), Queen Street East and Queen West. Unfortunately, the big hotels are not in any of these areas.

            With a 4-year-old, I'd recommend you go down to the Movenpick Marche in BCE Place (at King & Yonge streets) for a lunch or dinner. It's a fun place for youngsters, very popular with tourists and locals. There are lots of food stations serving different types of cuisine, you walk around and choose what you like, and get your card stamped (don't lose it!). At the end, they tally up all your courses.

            Happy dining!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Lake

              Movenpick Marche. Are you kidding me?

              People who are making hotel choices based on proximity to restaurants are NOT going to happy at Marche. Marche is for tourists going to see the Lion King

              1. re: superizzy

                marche is very cumbersome with a four year old; food mediaocre at best.

                1. re: sherry f

                  I second that! Took my mother-in-law and she was overwhelmed by the crowd getting food that she didn't get anything! :) And it's definitely not chowhound-worthy.

                  1. re: sasgirl

                    I'll offer a somewhat dissenting view on Marche. Is it a Chowhound destination - no (but some of the food's not bad). Is it in the top 500 spots in Toronto - probably not. But is it a place that some kids love - yes - though maybe better with slightly older kids as it can get crowded and maze-like. And if you're craving a "diet what diet" treat of a crepe or waffle with ice cream and fruit or some other self-indulgent "no I couldn't possibly eat that in one serving but oh look I just did" kind of a dessert, Marche can be quite good. If you go there in the evening (not sure what time - maybe after 6?), they'll validate your parking underground.

              2. re: Lake

                I agree too! It's actually called Richtree now, and they've always pushed out mediocre food. The few things I don't mind there, are their rosti and belgian waffles with chocolate sauce... everything else is a complete miss.

              3. Another recommendation is, if you're in "T.O." (Toronto) on a Saturday, don't miss going to the St. Lawrence farmer's market in the morning. It's great fun, with lots of nice produce and tasty sandwiches to try. It rivals London's Borough Market, IMHO, and of course, the prices are far better!

                The peameal bacon sandwiches are very popular (can't remember the deli's name, but everyone will know it). Downstairs, there's a stall that offers great eggplant parmesan, veal parmesan and (my favourite) Western omelet sandwiches.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Lake

                  The peameal sandwiches are at Carousel Bakery. The veal parmesan sandwiches are at Mustachio's. Both are in the South building of the market. The North building is only open on Saturday's for the farmer's market. The South building is open Tues - Saturday and is full of butchers, produce stands, cheese mongers, fish mongers and bakeries. A great place to explore. If you can go on a weekday, it won't be as crazy.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Also there, at the South end of the South building, is a place that sells and cooks freshly made pasta, with a delicious meat sauce! Its simple but very very satisfying.

                2. I definitely concur with St. Lawrence.
                  It's not particularly close but a short taxi or car ride and you're there. It's a great experience. There's an article made into a poster on the bottom level of the south market that says it's in the top 50 markets in the world.
                  Carousel is a must for a peameal. Completely totally Canadian.
                  You can easily spend an entire morning exploring both markets.

                  Enjoy
                  DT