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St Lawrence Market?

I've been to wonderful Toronto about 10 times and have never gone to the St. Lawrence Market. It's time I went! Can you describe the market to me? I will be visiting in Oct. from Sat.-Monday. Which would be the best day to go? What time is best?...lunchtime? Is there a web site that describes the market? Thanks Toronto Chowhounders

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  1. Saturday, very early; it gets going by 6AM. Go hungry, as there is a lot of good snacking there, including the famous pea meal bacon on a Kaiser. There is no farmers market on Sunday, and it's closed Monday.

    1. I always go on Saturdays around lunch-time as I like to shop and visit Mustachio's for their over-sized Eggplant sandwich. This is big enough for two but I usually finish one myself :)

      Upstairs has cheese shops, seafood, butchers, produce vendors, counter-service prepared food vendors, a bakery, and some dealers selling kitchen gadgets. Downstairs has some specialty shops, another bakery, a coffee roaster, more counter service. Way, way too much to list.

      Don't try and eat at one spot though. Try and sample as much as you can. There's so much good food to be found.

      1. You are in for a treat, the St.Lawrence market is arguably the best place for foodies in the city. If you want info you can go to their website http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/ . Their are 2 parts to the market, north and south. The north market is only open on Saturdays and is worth checking out. I recommend going on Saturday between 7 and 9am. It does open at 5am but I find many of the vendors especially in the north market are not prepared to help customers and are still setting up their booth until about 6 and thats to early for me. Between 7 and 9 there isnt a whole lot of people there so you can get what you want quickly and ask questions which most vendors are very helpful and knowledgeable. After 9 the place becomes a little crazy with locals and tourists. The south market is the best! I recommend getting a peameal bacon sandwich which is native to Toronto and has been around for over a century. Carousel Bakery has the best peameal sammy IMHO. Also many consider Mustachio's veal and eggplant sammy downstairs at the south market a treat. There is always a huge lineup so be prepared to wait a couple minutes. Accross from Mustachio to the north is a place with great brownies and the best Blondies in TO IMHO. I'm gonna post more recommendations as I remember them since Im going on Saturday and I tend to forget things because there is so many things that are sooo good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mlukan

          sometimes on Saturday's Carousel's sandwiches are dried out since they precook them for the crowded rush, which is why i get mine at Paddingtons take-out area, which is along that same aisle as Carousel's. Paddingtons takes longer to get the sammy, but it is fresh cooked.

        2. In the summer, I always bring a huge cooler filled with ice blocks I make at home. That way, if I buy meat, fish or cheese, I drop them off in the cooler before snacking.

          1. You're in for a treat. It's a great place.

            Go early on Saturday morning if you can. Where are you staying and do you have access to a stove or grill??


            1. If you're a foodie, the Market is the real deal for sure. I live nearby and sometimes I wander around in there even when I don't need any food, just because... I like it.

              First of all, be aware that the main market is CLOSED on Sundays and Mondays, so it looks like you'll have to go on Saturday. Please don't end up as one of the sad-eyed tourists I always see lurking outside the locked doors on Mondays! Later in the day on Saturday the Market tends to be VERY busy; if you are at all crowd averse, it may take away your enjoyment of the experience as you dodge crowds of slow moving and cranky people, and the vendors will often be too busy and distracted to give you personal service.

              For ready-to-eat snacks, the best bets are the popular peameal sandwiches from Carousel Bakery on the main floor, the veal and eggplant sandwiches from Moustachio's on the lower floor, as well as the Chinese Deli on the lower floor.

              For groceries, our personal regular stops on the main level are Olympic Cheese (for cheese of all kinds, but mainly Italian-centric), Scheffler's Deli (all kinds of somewhat expensive but wonderful antipasto, dairy, oils, salts, and condiments), La Boucherie for excellent and amazingly priced meat, Mike's for fish and seafood, and the Carousel Bakery for bread.

              On the lower level, you could probably spend hours in Domino's Foods, a vast maze-like store at the very south end that sells almost every dry-good known to humankind. Lively Life fine foods is also good for hard-to-find foods of various ethnicities, like Japanese, Indian,Thai, and Latin/Mexican. Rube's Rice is famous for rices, oats, and grains, and there's an excellent organic veggie place down there as well.

              Of course those are just the spots I've discovered... I'm missing tons more. Have fun!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Gary

                Great info guys! I live in TO and go regularly but reading this I feel like I should be makin' some notes. Thanks

                1. re: millygirl

                  I know. I feel like I need to get up early Saturday morning and head on down. It's been so long since I made the Saturday pilgrimage.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Davwud, the other great time to visit the market is in the middle of the week. You'll miss the outstanding Farmers' Market of course. The difference is that if you go to the SLM mid-day-ish on a weekday you'll not only be crowd-free, you'll be able to drink in all of the aromas. The scents are displaced by the crowds on the weekend. Truly, truly enjoyable to wander and breathe deeply.

                    1. re: Googs

                      I quite often go first thing on Friday morning. Mrs. Sippi is catholic so we have fish for dinner on Fridays. So it's nothing for me to run down there. I grab a PoaC and peruse. The smells are great then too. It's also cool to see the place come to life.


                2. re: Gary

                  Does anyone know if they're still doing classes in the kitchen on Saturdays?

                  1. re: Gary

                    I would agree that Carousel Bakery is the best sandwich in St. Lawrence. The only problem is that I recently found out their bread supplier went out of business!! (Surprising, since I thought they were a bakery...) So they are substituting their delicious buns with these new ones that I have yet to sample. Order the Breakfast Special - you won't be disappointed. It comes with melted cheese and an oozingly-lovely sunnyside up egg alongside the Canadian Bacon. mmm.. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.... They make it fresh each time I've ordered it, so I've had no issues with them being stale.

                    IMO, I find Moustachio's a bit heavy for my tastes. It's a deep-fried stacked sandwich, so get read for a lot of oil and batter, rather than actual substance.

                    Scheffler's is definitely my go-to-place for cured meats (Sereno Ham and Proscuitto Parma and San Daniel). I often bump into Guy Rubino from Rain perusing their shelves.

                    Saturday afternoon won't be 'too packed', and since you'll only be in town for a bit, it shouldn't dissuade you from taking a gander.

                  2. Wow Chowhounders, thanks for all the great advice! We won't be landing in Toronto until around noon, so we wouldn't be able to get to the market until early afternoon. Will it be too packed by then to be enjoyable?

                    Question...as a lover of bacon, what is the difference between peameal bacon and American bacon?

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: synergy

                      Pea meal bacon is a sweet-cured boneless pork loin, rolled in corn meal. It's the part of the hog that we would call strip loin for beef. It is sold raw, not smoked like the U.S. version of Canadian bacon (say, at Peter Luger's), but it can be gently pan fried and should not be dried out or overcooked. In pioneer days the loins were rolled in pea flour/meal, but corn meal became more practical although the name stuck.

                      1. re: synergy

                        Peameal bacon, is a good breakfast-y item. Although it's good all around.

                        I'd skip the Mustachio's sandwich. It's a sub-par italian sandwich joint, in my opinion. Certainly not worth the lineup.

                        If you're doing more grazing than filling up at one location, do check out the eastern european deli around the middle of bottom floor surrounded by fruit stands, juice bar and crepe place. Order some pierogies, a spinach and mushroom stuffed crepe and a piece of chicken sausage. Nice stuff.

                        Also, there's a good Portuguese chicken place on the top floor, near the front st. entrance. If you don't have room for a meal, get a rissois (chicken stuffed turnover) and for dessert some custard tarts (you're missing out if you skip custard tarts).

                        And if you really are hungry, get a fish sandwich at Buster's Cove.

                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          Also worth noting at that Ukrainian deli: the salads. If you need some ready-to-eat veggies to complement the bread/meat options everywhere else, they have some great stuff. In particular, they have a spinach salad (spinach, cucumber, dill, in a creamy base) that is excellent for slathering on a hunk of bread.

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            Oh yea!!! The custard tarts. They are a must. I meant MUST!!!!


                            1. re: Davwud

                              The Eastern bakery has those custard tarts and in chocolate too. After having purchased a dozen, they didn't make it on the car ride home. Poor things, didn't know what hit them! We love their caraway bread.

                              Is there an authentic Port place for those custard tarts in the market to buy bulk?

                            2. re: grandgourmand

                              I think the Eastern European Deli is called Diana's. They sell cooked ready to eat pierogies as well as packages of 1 dozen par-boiled ready for frying at home.

                              Also if you like or want to try cheese curds, on Saturday's get them from Alex's chese shop which is on the upper level far south side of the market.

                            3. re: synergy

                              The market will still be worth a visit. It will be crazy though.

                              Go to the North Market as soon as you get there. These are vendors who only go there on Saturday, and they may run out of stuff. There are some very great products there. The Monteforte cheese people have some very lovely cheeses, locally produced and very tasty. There is a person who sells wonderful organic olive oil, from somewhere in the Mediterranean, you can try it, it is lovely poured over almost anything, very fruity and bold. The streudel people always have samples. The first time I tried their streudel, it was wonderful, the second time a little less delicious. So taste it, and if you hit a good day, buy them and enjoy. They also make a killer butter tart.

                              Yup, hit North market first, then South market. go hungry!

                              1. re: moh

                                I second the "north first, south second" idea. The North market is individual vendors. I've bought everything from cheese to honey to maple syrup and even a small oil painting there (go figure, but it was pretty.) The south market is more of the permanent stalls.

                                If you haven't had Montreal bagels, this is a place to try them, and the baked goods are all generally good.

                                1. re: brendastarlet

                                  Brendastarlet, I'm afraid I can't completely agree about the Montreal bagels. I can only comment on St. Urbain bagels. We were a group of 8 Montrealers or ex-Montrealers, and we all agreed that this was no Montreal bagel. It is an ok piece of bread, but it is not a bagel as we know it. But I agree there are many lovely baked goods. My very favorite bread was the California walnut loaf in the big bakery downstairs in the South side of the South Market. Very good with cheese! This is a truly awesome loaf.

                              2. re: synergy

                                I quite often visit the market after 3pm on a Saturday. Yes, some things are sold out, but a lot of vendors slash their prices to get rid of everything before the 2 days of closure (esp. fish and seafood). Go when you can, it'll be worth it.

                              3. Hope you love the market, it's one of my favourite places and there is so many good things.

                                So just a few gems...
                                Serrano Ham at Scheiffer's (they are sometimes handing out samples)
                                Candied Salmon from Caviar Direct
                                Sourdough Bread from Stonemill Bakehouse (this is real deal old school German bakers)
                                Do spend a little time in Domino's, there is always some treasure there.

                                1. Thank you everyone. I have to wipe my keyboard clean from all the drooling I've been doing reading your suggestions. I'm getting too hungry too :-)

                                  Can't wait to visit SLM when I get there in Oct...fuel up before visiting the Shoe Museum and Queen St.

                                  1. The cheese place that is on the top floor in the corner (can't remember the name) has some more unique French, Swiss, Italian and Greek cheeses. They will let you taste (one or two things) if you ask.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: itryalot

                                      If it is the back corner, that is one of the Alex's Cheese farm locations that Toronto has.

                                      1. re: smr714

                                        I am a lover of sleep, but after following this post all week I decided to give it up this morning and get myself to the market to see what all the fuss is about.
                                        It was well worth the deprivation.
                                        I arrived at the north market around 7am and picked up some amazing Ontario produce! After shopping in the supermarket chains for so long i've become immune to their tasteless, over-priced, generic offerings. The market was not like this at all!
                                        I bought amazing golden beets, fava beans, and fresh peas that up until this point I have not been able to find at a reasonable price (expensive versions at whole foods/cheese boutique).
                                        The scene itself is worth the trip -there is a nice buzz to the place and the entire focus is on food!
                                        I had the peameal sandwich from carousel and it did not disappoint. At first glance I was worried because I don't usually grab a heavy meat/carb breakfast, but after the first bite I didn't put it down, nor did I feel like I over-indulged at the end. It was a nice treat. Probably wouldn't do it all the time though - there are so many other things to try!
                                        I went on to buy an apple pie (from the north market), a couple chunks of cheese (alex farms) and chicken sausages from rowe farms. I am looking forward to all my purchases.
                                        Thanks chows for the advice...keep it coming!

                                        1. re: pancake

                                          I am glad you enjoyed yourself. I was there this AM (albeit briefly on a flythrough) but I still couldn't help myself. This is the best time of year - there were peaches, melons, raspberries, cherries, blueberries... everything. Gads, how I love this time of year at the market!