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Toronto eats and things to do this weekend

HI Everyone - I am traveling with my wife to Toronto this Friday thru Sunday from Detroit Area, MI. We are staying at the Marriott Bloor-Yorkville. It was a last minute thing and we did not know about the Summerlicious festival going on and I hear it may be difficult to get into some restaurants. We need some recs!

We like to try just about everything. I'd like to find something in China Town. Maybe some good authentic italian- around here it is hard to find something without being loaded with tomato sauce. Anything else that I HAVE to try while in town?

Does anyone have any thoughts about Vagabondo for brunch? Bb33 Bistro?

Is Bloor-Yorkville worth a trip for shopping, eating, sightseeing?

One more thing - is there any place to get high quality Asian tea (loose leaf)?

Thanks in advance for any information.

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  1. am I doing something wrong....nobody has replied???

    4 Replies
    1. re: nielubow

      I actually had to look up Vagabondo to see where it was. Then I did a search on the board and there are no comments about it whatsoever (except for one neutral thread).

      Can't help you with the Chinatown recos (mind you, we have three of them) or the Asian tea.

      Bloor/Yorkville is touristy and expensive but it might be worth checking out Caren's Wine Bar, Studio Cafe and Boba. Also just west of Avenue Road is Opus.

      A lot of people consider Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar as a must-go place in Toronto.

      Another area to explore is the Distillery District. High-end restaurant -- Perigee -- there gets lots of positive reviews and it's nice area to walk around.

      Welcome to Toronto! I hope others more knowledgeable respond. And please report back!


      1. re: JamieK

        I just wanted to add that I think the server/site problem is definitely frustrating and may be contributing to the lack of responses.

        (NOT the chef)

      2. re: nielubow

        not sure why replies aren't coming. may be a server error.

        loose tea: look up the Tea Emporium. there may be a downtown location. if all else fails, there is a tea store in the basement of the Bay on Queen and Yonge and its not all that bad.
        Yorkville - do NOT eat there. trust us. rip-off.

        Vagabondo: i used to work near a Vagabondo. i would pass, although i've never had their brunch.
        Chinatown - just beware. read up on the reviews. lots of white chinese food and you have to search for the authentic (I think 7 Seas is supposed to be great for seafood, but i don't touch fish or seafood).

        Summerlicious - hit or miss. i mean, if you want to find a menu online that looks good, then hey, why not hit it up. but i think that it tends to be disappointing.

        Personally, if I had a weekend in Toronto and wanted to eat my guts out, i would break the trip down into must-eats and ethnic stuffs. here would be my lunch suggestions:

        Vietnamese subs at Rose's on Broadview and Gerrard. its $2 for a meatball sub and very tasty. fork out another $1 for the best springrolls in town (especially if they are freshly fried).

        Black Camel - great sandwiches, esp. if you get them drenched in the bbq sauce.

        Monarch Inn - lots of people raving about the smoked meat sandwiches (haven't tried them yet), but its a small jaunt for you to get there (just head west on College).

        Indian buffets - find a good one and enjoy a lunch. i personalyl suggest Kathmandu on Yonge and College. its Nepalese. food is very fresh, selection is decent but the food is great.

        If you want scenery and a neat experience, head to the Don Valley Brickworks (www.evergreen.ca) for the Saturday morning market. food and stuff there and its a nice walk.

        Dinner - you want to spend a lot or a little? this town can bleed your wallet if that's what you want. lots of high end restos.

        People will rant about Jamie Kennedy's for lunch (the Gardiner) or dinner (the wine bar). haven't tried the Gardiner, but its pricey but supposedly great. the wine bar was disappointing (just my opinion).

        Personally, i would hit the ethnic offerings, like Ethiopian (Dukem on Danforth), Korean (lots of places on Bloor and Bathurst), Mexican (El Sol on Danforth), tapas (Foxly's on Ossington),etc.

        but if you want high-end dining and want to drop $100+ a person, there are places that will gladly take your money for you, like George, North 44, Auberge du Pommier or, if you are unlucky, any of the craphouses in Yorkville.

        hope this helps. and bring your appetite, because you could spend the whole bloody weekend eating....

        just don't look for a good hamburger or slice of 'za while here. stick to the serious ethnics.

        1. re: atomeyes

          These are some great suggestions, but dear God, don't tell someone from Detroit to eat Mexican in Toronto. The Midwest does it much better.

      3. Simple!

        RIB FEST Mississauga :)

        1. Lee Valley has a downtown west location, where you'll find an exceptional tin of tea, 7 oz for $8. It contains high grown orange pekoe buds from Sri Lanka. http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page....
          Not far from Chinatown.

          Lee Valley
          590 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

          1. For Asian teas, Ten Ren might be worth a try.

            Also, friends have been to Vagabondo..avoid at all costs!! From what I hear, it's terrible.

            If you're in Bloor-Yorkville, you might want to go up the Manulife Centre to Panorama on the 52nd floor and ask for a seat outside on the south patio. It's a gorgeous way to see the city (pass on the food though).

            1. Thanks...These are all great tips!!

              1. Hi Nielubow,

                While you are in Yorkville . . . try the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel for some cocktails . . . You get a great view of the city and the bar has a great feel to it . . . It's a little pricy but it's a comfortable place to unwind after a day of walking/shopping ...


                1. While it's not in chinatown, Spadina Garden on Dundas is excellent chinese food. If you ARE in Chinatown, go to House of Gourmet - I really enjoy the food there.
                  (check out my review with pics on my blog)

                  In Yorkville, I hear Spice Room and Chutney bar is good.

                  If you like souvlaki - you should try Square Boy - diner-ish, but tasty - on the Danforth.

                  There are a couple of really good tea places in Kensington Market - Moon Bean Cafe and another small one - Tea Shop 168 - I think?

                  For Asian tea - there is a place in Chinatown called TenRen

                  There is also the Tea Emporium.

                  Hope this helps!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tp24

                    www.tenrenstea.com - is in Markham, unfortunately :(

                    1. re: tp24

                      they do have an outlet in chinatown, right across from mother's dumplings mentioned below. dundas and huron.

                  2. Also, not all the restos are booked up for Summerlicious.


                    1. Definitely don't waste your time with Vagabondo. It is quite mediocre to be polite, with most of their business seeming to be from lunchers from the surrounding offices making their choice based on location. If you're looking for good and reasonably priced Italian try one of the three Terroni locations which you can look up on terroni.ca. (The Adelaide St. one is just north of Vagabondo).

                      There's a branch of the Tea Emporium in the PATH underground mall on Bloor between Yonge and Avenue which is probably quite near your Yorkville hotel.

                      Chinatown on Spadina is definitely worth a wander. There are so many restaurants there it's hard to recommend one without guidelines. Pho is not a bad idea, as many of the restaurants along there now are owned by Vietnamese Chinese (with the Chinese community more centred in the suburb of Markham these days). Near Chinatown is Kensington Market, which is a very unique neighbourhood -- it's a bit on the colourful and gritty side, which would be a nice contrast to the very upscale Yorkville neighbourhood where you are staying. Kensington has tons of small chow-worthy food spots.

                      1. For the Chinatown bit, you may be in for disappointment if you go for a dinner there. The best Chinese is in the suburbs. What I would do is go for a light lunch or "in-between meal" (it exists, people) at Mother's Dumplings, a super cute hole-in-the-wall that gets a lot of love on this board. Get some Dan Dan noodles and some dumplings, mmm.

                        Italian I would splurge and get a reservation at Mistura, or go mid-range with Zucca.

                        Looseleaf tea, I short walk from you on Yonge is the House of Tea, a lovely little spot. The owner is really sweet and knows her stuff, have a conversation with her, you'll learn a lot.

                        Brunch, I like the Sunday Jewish brunch at the Free Times Cafe, with live klezmer music. The food is good but not great, but it's really more about the experience. It's a lot of fun.

                        I would also suggest either lunch or drinks at the 18th floor bar of the Park Hyatt, a short walk from you. It is a really breathtaking view of the city from the patio, and the place is old-school polish with great cocktails and a nice tapas menu.

                        1. Welcome to TO Nielubow!

                          As to your tea question, there are several places in Chinatown that sell a vast array of teas....they apparently cure everything right down to your freckles! These are pretty authentic/ethnic establishments, so be prepared! While there are not many chinatown restos participating in Summerlicious, Bright Pearl is a good place to go for dim sum. Rol San is also good.

                          As for good Summerlicious places near your hotel, Imperia is not bad, Mistura and Boba are good (all 3 are Italian). The Spice Room (not to be confused with The Spice Route) is a nice treat as well.

                          I believe it's Caribana this weekend, so be prepared for Caribbean madness!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Paula from Toronto

                            Caribana is the long weekend-August 1-4, but it is Summerlicious which means participating restos get crowded. Check out the scene immediately west of Yorkville, the Annex, if it seems to crowded. Many, many ethnic restaurants within walking distance.

                          2. A great put that isn't too far of a walk for you is called the Rebel House - you'll feel like a local and I'm sure you'll enjoy the food. 1068 Yonge St

                            1. You can eat Chinese at Mother's Dumplings in the heart of Chinatown and then cross the street to Ten Ren to buy tea....or eat at Asian legend on Dundas along the street from Ten ren...Caren's on Yorkville has a wonderful back patio and good food at reasonable prices...Opus on Prince Arthur ...walk from your Hotel is a gem...also fine East Indian dining at The Host...on Prince Arthur...definitely worth hanging out in and around Yorkville ...shopping on Bloor...Holt Renfrew Canada's Sacks Fifth Ave....good Chinese food at the Dynasty also on Bloor across from Holt Renfrew....Miranda

                              1. Yorkville has many very bad tourist trap restaurants. It isn't, however, a complete culinary wasteland any more.

                                Imperia is Italian fine dining in Yorkville that is also the closest to your hotel. The room, the service, the food, the wine all top-notch. You can dress up or wear jeans they will treat you just the same. The owner is incredibly friendly and professional. A real treat.

                                From there please walk past every single other Italian restaurant in Yorkville until you get to Avenue Rd. Trust me. Next stop, L'Unita. Casual, terrific, fun this is a good spot for date night or friends night. Don't know about family night. The wine list is strictly Italian and Ontario. This is a good thing. Again, trust me.

                                Up the road and around the corner from there is the most famous of the lot, Mistura. You'll find a lot of fans of the place on this board. Very high end, chi-chi, frou-frou. If you wish to impress the wife, this is the place. Dine downstairs, dance upstairs.

                                Of the 3, it would be a coin toss between Imperia and L'Unita for me. Whatever you do and no matter what anyone says, do not eat at Sotto Sotto. They give snobbery a bad name.

                                A big ditto to the Park Hyatt Roof Lounge for drinks suggestion. It isn't just the view that's great. Man those martinis! Although I like the view from Panorama, the rest of the experience is just so heinous it isn't really worth it. May as well go to the CN Tower at that point where getting hosed for your cash at least gets you the absolute highest view.

                                If you wish to look at people-sized people rather than ants, try the patio at One. Very comfortable and relaxing. Do not eat there. Just drinks and stare at the beautiful people. Have I said trust me enough?

                                A hearty 2nd to the Studio Cafe in the Four Seasons Yorkville for one of the best brunches in the city...

                                ...however, if you need to nosh as soon as you wake up (and who doesn't) there's a little place called Wish a very short walk from your hotel. Their terrific brunch is only available weekends, but they do have eggy things on their daily lunch menu. Well worth leaving your hotel for this. And PLEASE have the hummus.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Googs

                                  Trust her! Seriously, Googs' recs are spot on. I would just add that one dinner stop between your hotel and L'Unita is Boba on Avenue. I haven't been in over a year, but it's a lovely dinner spot with a surprisingly quiet patio right on Avenue Rd.