chow recommendations for tourist
Visiting from SF this weekend, looking for guidance to great chow, in these specific areas:
local specialties not available elsewhere
quick casual meals or takeout suitable for a family
anything that would be great to buy and enjoy back in the States
I'm staying in the Hilton and plan on walking or using public transit to get around.
You should definitely visit the St Lawrence Market on Saturday, lots to see and taste there. You could get take-out there -- a peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery (upstairs) or a sandwich from Mustachio's (downstairs). Get a taste of some fabulous Quebec and Ontario artisanal cheeses at Scheffler's.
You can buy items to take home there too, ie maple syrup. But i'm not sure about the rules regarding taking things like cheese and peameal bacon across the border.
St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA
yes, the Distillery District is worth checking out and easy to get to by transit. Just take the streetcar east from King subway station and get off at Parliament St. and then walk south.
Please let us know where you end up and if our recommendations helped or not.Thanks!
55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA
In the Distillery District, make sure you make a stop at Soma Chocolates. IMO, the best chocolate maker in the city. Great stuff to take home with you -- you can do a taste test against Recchiuti chocolates in SF. Your kids can watch the chocolates being made, and would probably enjoy the "sparkles" chocolate, which is really good dark chocolate imbedded with Pop Rocks. And for a very adult treat, get a shot of the Mayan hot chocolate (undiluted!).
Thank you Ontario board for the suggestions. We visited the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday morning and was it a scene! I was able to get lots of takeout to stash in the hotel refrigerator. We tried Carousel’s peameal bacon sandwich and given the depth of the crowd around the stall surprisingly it was not a hit. The family was put off mostly by the look of the sandwich – they had just sort of mashed the meat in between the halves of the roll instead of neatly layering it, and it looked very messy and unappetizing. Tasted fine though. Even served cold, the kids loved the potato pancakes from a purveyor that also sold Ukrainian sausage, should have gotten more of those.
Since I was with my kids all the time, we did a lot of quick takeout. The kids loved Eaton’s Centre’s Jimmy the Greek’s platters and we got them several times. I liked them also, particularly the dressing on their salad. Greek food is not as ubiquitous in SF as in Toronto so we don’t have it much.
Richtree Market was also a good place to pick up family-friendly meals, and I enjoyed their rosti though of course rosti is better freshly made at home. I tried to sample Coconut Grove’s roti but alas stopped by on Sat. night when they were closing – and they were closed the rest of my trip due to Victoria Day.
My kids are not very big on sightseeing so I decided not to drag them to the Distillery district, though it looked like an interesting place to visit.
I did get to eat at two places RW Apple recommended in his travel book: Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and Lai Wah Heen. JK Wine Bar’s Sunday brunch went down very well after a morning at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The entire family, including the picky 7 year old, gobbled up foods they are not accustomed to: poutine, crispy pork belly with mashed potatoes, garlic sausage ragout with polenta, and grilled asparagus with poached egg. I tried 3 oz of a suggested Gruner Veltliner and liked it a lot.
Lai Wah Heen’s dim sum was also a big hit. I always like trying nonstandard dim sum. I don’t remember the individual items very well, but remember feeling that some of the creative items worked better than others. Nothing fell below the level of good, however, and we all cleaned our plates.
While scouting out dining options, a couple of times I checked out the offerings at local supermarkets, and was thrilled to find Lay’s Spicy Indian Masala, Smokey Bacon, and Spicy Curry potato chips, as well as Bugles, one of my favorite snacks. These are available in the states but require diligence to search out. The kids loved the Bugles as well as the Masala chips – I had to remind them that they supposedly did not like spicy foods! I enjoyed the unusual chip flavors and these snacks were the only food item I took home with me.