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NY hounds' first trip to Toronto [Nov 8-10]

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Hello Toronto hounds!

We'll be in Toronto for the first time and will attempt to cram as much as we can in two and a half days.

I have many suggestions from friends and fellow hounds, but want to make sure we get the full Toronto experience. Suggestions for sites, alternate places, as well as scheduling are appreciated. What I'm most concerned with is whether or not my proposed itinerary is logistically feasible.

Here's what I have so far:

Saturday:
- CN Tower (get it out of the way as early as possible)
- ROM
- Lunch at Poilane
- Roam Queen Street West / Queen Street East
- Roam King Street East
- Drake Hotel for afternoon drinks (on Queen West)
- Roam King Street West
- Dinner at Starfish

Sunday:
- Kensington Market (vs. St. Lawrence? Recommendations?)
- Brunch at Le Petit Dejeuner
- Roam Chinatown (is there a Toronto Chinatown?)
- Architecture: Roam UofT, Lakeshore (Santiago Calatrava bridge), BCE Place (Santiago Calatrava)
- Roam Little Italy
- Roam Bloor/Yorkville
- Drinks at Beer Bistro
- Dinner recs (maybe Beer Bistro?)

Monday:
- Need breakfast recommendation
- Leave for Niagara (need lunch recommendation)

Thanks!

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  1. Don't go to CN Tower. I don't care how much of an amazing atmosphere it has, the food is horrible. Everyone I know and me hated it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: AngelSanctuary

      Oh, I should've clarified. We're just going up there to check out the view and to stand on that glass thing. No food will be consumed there =)

      1. re: AngelSanctuary

        I went about two months ago and it wasn't "horrible." I actually liked it.

      2. If you want full Toronto experience, chinese food is highly recommended as this is what Toronto does very best outside Asia. But not the food in Toronto China Town as the chinese food there is very average. There is a old china town near Toronto downtown but most chinese nowaday go up to the newer china town up north (about 30 mins drive from downtown). For chinese food near downtown core, go to have dim sum in Lai Wah Heen, expensive but well worths it.

        Not sure if you are from NYC, but if yes, I would skip Starfish and Beer Bistro if you are looking for the best that Toronto can offer for your 2 nights of dinner, food is good there but really nothing special, just good restaurant that can be found in any big city. But if you are just looking for some good food, casual and good atmosphere with a not-too-expensive pricing to relax (as I can see your schedule is very tight), then Starfish and Beer Bistro are good choices. Hope that helps.

        1. Hi hgp,

          Wow, that's quite the schedule! My thoughts:

          If you want to see the St. Lawrence Market in all its glory, it'll have to be on a Saturday. Saturdays there is the farmers market in the north building, and the many food vendors in the south building. On Sundays the farmers market is replaced with an antiques market and the south building is closed. The SLM is pretty close to BCE Place (actually now called Brookfield Place).

          You might want to tackle the ROM, Yorkville, UofT, Kensington & Chinatown all in one day, since they are more or less all in the same area. You could start in Kensington/Chinatown (they're right next to each other) in the morning, then walk north through the U of T grounds towards Bloor/Yorkville and the ROM. It's about a 1.5 mile walk, all in all.

          The Calatrava bridge is way out in Mimico on the west side, but if you're heading out to Niagara on Monday you could see it on your way out of the city.

          1. Have a great time here, hgp. Just a suggestion...I'm not sure if your itinerary is sequential, but I'd definitely combine your Queen W. roam with a King W. roam and the same for Queen E. and King E. K and Q are only a couple of blocks apart, but it's quite a distance to travel from E to W.
            Also, I'd definitely do Kensington/Stl L Markets on Saturday am, as there's a lot less action on Sundays (none at St. L). You could do the CN Tower on Sunday, when many other things are closed in the am.

            1. My suggestion is to scratch the Sunday brunch at Le Petit Dejeuner and go to Gallery Grill in Hart House instead. If you're going to be around Kensington, you're more or less in the area anyway. And the food/ambience is better. (make reservations).
              http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/hh/p...

              I agree that St Lawrence Market should be done on the Saturday, early in the day if possible.
              http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/

              Where are you staying?

              -----
              Gallery Grill
              7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

              1. Instead of Beer Bistro, I would head across the road to Jamie Kennedy wine bar. Better food!

                1. That's some itinerary! It seems to me a bit ambitious, and slightly scattered in terms of geography, but you're definitely setting yourself up to see the highlights! Here are a few initial (kinda random, please forgive lack of organization) thoughts:

                  Day One:
                  - I'd recommend Saturday morning and the St. Lawrence (don't forget the North Market!), and I'd probably just snack about from the various vendors for breakfast (peameal bacon sandwiches are big "Toronto" fave at the market... they're not my thing, but Mr. Rab loves them and they're worth a try).
                  - From here, you could head east or west (I don't think you can do Q/K east and Q/K west in one day), but I'd probably recommend West so that you can walk through the BCE and head to the CN Tower (if you must, although it's pretty tourist-y, expensive, and the view won't be great if you have an overcast day... I'd rather have drinks on the Roof at the Park Hyatt if you want a view... different view, but better all-around experience).
                  - If you walk down Queen West, you'll find various spots for lunch, or you could wander slightly north and hit Chinatown. The Drake is an excellent cocktail pitstop at the end of that route.
                  - I wouldn't bother with lunch at Polaine (Holt Renfrew is uptown and out of your geographic way, at this point, and it's just a fancy department store resto - not particularly Toronto nor particularly special).
                  - For Saturday dinner, Starfish is charming and local, but I'd echo Charles Yu's JKWB suggestion for "Canadian" food. Do note that they don't take reservations, but they will take a cell number so you can wander about while you're waiting for your table (drinks at Lucien or Colborne Lane might be a good time-passer).

                  Day Two:
                  - I agree with mogo that ROM/Yorkville, U of T and Kensington/Chinatown could be crossed off in one ambitious day (throw in College Street Little Italy if you're power-walkers).
                  - This means brunch at Le Petit Dejeuner will be out of your way (depending on where you're staying... where are you staying??), but I'm anti-brunch so I don't have any better suggestions (it's just not my meal).
                  - If you end up around Kensington you could easy scrounge about for various lunch options (try the black rum cake at the Caribbean bakery, papusas or empanadas from one of the Latin vendors).
                  - From there, you're close to Chinatown and Little Italy, you could do drinks/snacks at Torito or there are lots of pretty bistro spots on College (not positive what's open Sunday) that are getting good reviews (Alice's, Sidecar, Grace) (and I'm just assuming from your other pics that you like small local places versus the credit-card busters).

                  - Again, I'll leave Monday breakfast to those who know better (and depending on your location). Hope you enjoy your stay!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Rabbit

                    Thanks, Rabbit (and everyone else)

                    I'll look into these places for Sun night dinner:
                    Alice's, Sidecar, Grace

                  2. CN Tower's food is not as terrible as it once was, surprisingly. Their Caesar salad is quite good (lots of anchovies). However, for better food with a Canadian flare, do look up Canoe. It has a great view as well- just be sure to ask for a window seat when making a reservation. I cannot really tell your inclinations for types of food from what you've mentioned above, but it does appear you lean towards the more casual, and more traditionally N.American fare. Please do let us know if you are more open to different types of cuisines. Better recommendations can come of it, as this is where Toronto really shines.

                    Rabbit's recs are solid and very tailored to your itinerary. Do let us know if that is more helpful.
                    Cheers!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: BokChoi

                      keeping in mind though that canoe is only open mon-friday, so i don't think they'll have that opportunity. i would go to jkwb as it isn't the most expensive place in toronto but will give you a feel for what toronto fine dining is generally like and exposure to our local food movement while being open pretty much all day every day (ie. convenient).

                      i won't comment as to everything you're interested in doing but i did want to make sure that this architecture/eating tour wasn't missing anything (unless of course you intended to miss these buildings)..... but at the very least you might want to include OCAD (Alsop) into your tour. The security has been lax the few times I've been there and it's been fun to run around the building and especially climbing up into the big pixelated box. it's quite an interesting view as well when you crawl up into one of the pixel windows. OCAD is so near to chinatown (virtually bordering it) that it could fit very nicely into your itinerary. I would catch the Dundas St car and get off at Spadina to drop into Nguyen Huong for bahn mi (i like the regular cold cuts spicy with extra cilantro) and then hop back on to hit pho phuong by brock (which would bring you one major block north and at the most west side of the queen west fun) but not for pho.... bahn xeo, shrimp cupcake things and vietnamese breakfast type goodies (think rice noodles and ground shrimp/pork things, all in the apps section). across the street is a great brazilian bakery with awesome portuguese pastries (do a natas tasting if you like! ossington is a street east of brock and by queen west is venezia... i would say this is the rival for natas in toronto).

                      you really may not want to miss the portuguese food in our city. we have a fair sized population and for the most part i'd say they're the most consistently delicious ethnic food you can get downtown. SLM has one of the better portuguese roast chicken joints in the south market.

                      if you're all the way on queen west as is i would consider rhino simply because the prices are significantly better than most other places in toronto for import beer... but really the best import beer we've got usually comes from the states so i don't know why you'd bother. the rhino does often lack availability though and can be a gamble that way.

                      i wouldn't go to starfish as a tourist but i'm blanking on better suggestions currently.... perhaps try lee? just because of the susur connection and interesting fusion though he's hightailed it off to nyc for his latest venture.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        you are right, psp! I keep forgetting about that.

                        If you are stopping by the ROM, the C5 inside is quite nice and has a great atmosphere. They have afternoon tea, serve lunch and dinner.

                        Cheers!

                    2. Since it's probably going to be cold, I would buy a TTC Day pass each day - it's $9 and covers two adults and 4 children for the entire day. Very worth it.
                      Although there may be better Chinese food in other areas of Toronto, I think for a tourist, Chinatown is fun. I think asking other tourists is a better idea, than asking people who live here and go to these places all the time, and can't see their value. For instance, I would think it would be more fun for a tourist to eat in the Distillery District than at Starfish.

                      1. St. Lawrence Market and Kensington Market are quite different. St. Lawrence is two buildings: the South Market building is open Tue through Sat with two floors of butchers, veggie stalls, housewares, bakeries, etc., while the North Market building is open only Saturday mornings for a farmer's market and Sunday for antique sales.

                        Kensington Market, on the other hand, is actually a neighbourhood rather than a market proper. While it contains many restaurants and specialty food shops for cheese and "ethnic" specialty food, Kensington is also known for its gritty "bohemian" vibe, with a mix of arts, crafts, junk shops, head shops,etc. which make for good people watching.

                        And Toronto most definitely has a Chinatown -- two, in fact -- but the largest one is on Spadina Ave between approximately Queen St and College St. The northern edge bumps up against Kensington Market, making those two destinations suitable for one adventure.

                        Enjoy your visit!

                        1. From NYC or NY state?
                          if its NYC, skip the Chinatown all together. or you can see it when walking through Kensington Market.

                          my suggestions?

                          some of the dinner suggestions above are great. Beer Bistro is better for a great beer selection and some (expensive but tasty) snacks.

                          eating: i second the suggestion for grabbing snacks in Kensington market. you have quite a selection to choose from. and stop at Wanda's Pie in the Sky. very tasty desserts.

                          for walking: not sure why you want King St at all. I would skip that alltogether. the TTC day pass is a good suggestion. for people watching, you can go to Queen and University and walk down there. then just head west and keep on walking on Queen for 30-60 minutes (I kid not). Queen West West is interesting (Queen and Dufferin) and that's where the Drake is.

                          I would skip the Drake (for the love of god!) and instead go north on Ossington and find a watering hole there. cheaper than the Drake, cosier as well. plus you have some yummy food options, like Foxley's.

                          Queen E is a fair distance from Queen W, so you will need to go on the Queen street car. i would dedicate 1-2 hrs if you want to check out Queen E (the Beach and Leslieville, except i am not sure how fun the Beach is when its cold out).

                          architecture: this is where you can have a field day. U of T is a great choice. you can walk from College up to Bloor and see lovely old buildings, and take a small detour to Baldwin and McCaul for more food options (Yung Sing Pastry, for example). Front Street, near St Lawrence Market, also has some cute old buildings. and don't Miss Will Alsop's reno of the OCAD building (also near U of T at McCaul, south of Baldwin).

                          22 Replies
                          1. re: atomeyes

                            Thanks, everyone, for all the wonderful comments and suggestions!

                            We are from NYC and we're staying at the Cambridge Suites Hotel in downtown TO (or at least I think that's in downtown).

                            Here's my revised itin, based on the various suggestions here and from friends. I'm sure it can still be fine-tuned, and further suggestions are welcome. And yes, we are as much power-walkers as we are power eaters.

                            Some questions:
                            - We will be driving from NYC. Do you recommend that we drive around TO, or use the train there?
                            - I heart Art Gallery is still closed for reno. Any recs for a small(ish) art gallery featuring local artists?

                            --------------

                            SATURDAY

                            1) St. Lawrence market: Farmer’s Market in North building. Food vendors in South building. http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/

                            2) LUNCH: Poilane (we're meeting a friend there, so we don't have much of a choice on this one) - Could not find its website. Holt Renfrew (uptown

                            )

                            3) Roam Queen W

                            4) Snack at JS Bon Bon shop on Queen St. West - it's a chocolate shop for the chocoholic.

                            5) BCE place (now called Brookfield Place) - Santiago Calatrava architecture

                            6) Drake Hotel for drinks On Queen West http://www.thedrakehotel.ca - meeting friends again

                            7) Roam King West - pretty happening at night. Lots of resto-lounges, so you can eat dinner and then stay for drinks. Cheval, Spice Route, Brant House, Century Room, etc.

                            8) DINNER/DRINKS Beer Bistro (Reservation at 6PM - again, meeting some folks there
                            )18 King Street East (at Yonge St)

                            9) Roam area and walk off all that food!

                            ----------------

                            SUNDAY

                            1) CNN Tower - Lookout & Glass Floor (husband insists, no choice)

                            2) Kensington Market: Mostly outdoor. Go to Wanda's Pie in the Sky for very tasty desserts.

                            3) Dim Sum at Lai Wah Heen in downtown Chinatown

                            [Toronto has 2 Chinatowns -- but the largest one is on Spadina Ave between approximately Queen St and College St. The northern edge bumps up against Kensington Market, making those two destinations suitable for one adventure]

                            4) Architecture: OCAD (Alsop) The security has been lax the few times I've been there and it's been fun to run around the building and especially climbing up into the big pixelated box. it's quite an interesting view as well when you crawl up into one of the pixel windows. OCAD is so near to chinatown (virtually bordering it) that it could fit very nicely into your itinerary.

                            5) UofT - [near the university of toronto and art gallery of ontario there is a really weird structure that is formed like a table but it sits on top of victorian row houses. i forgot who made it.] - Any notable structures/buildings we shouldn't miss?

                            6) Walk from College up to Bloor and see lovely old buildings, and take a small detour to Baldwin and McCaul for more food options (Yung Sing Pastry, for example). Front Street, near St Lawrence Market, also has some cute old buildings. and don't Miss Will Alsop's reno of the OCAD building (also near U of T at McCaul, south of Baldwin).

                            7) Bloor/Yorkville - pedestrian shops, high end boutiques, mix of big chains and quaint boutiques, luxury.

                            8) ROM - http://www.rom.on.ca/ - Afternoon tea at C5

                            9) College Street Little Italy (if not too tired)

                            10) DINNER: Still open, though leaning more towards JKWB
                            // Starfish OR Susur or Kultura (Asian tapas
                            )// Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar for “Canadian food”
                            // you're close to Chinatown and Little Italy, you could do drinks/snacks at Torito or there are lots of pretty bistro spots on College (not positive what's open Sunday) that are getting good reviews (Alice's, Sidecar, Grace) (and I'm just assuming from your other pics that you like small local places versus the credit-card busters).

                            ----------------

                            MONDAY

                            1) Roam Queen E, King E

                            2) LUNCH - Need suggestions
                            // Nix Le Petit Dejeuner? http://petitdejeuner.ca/
                            // or Kensington area - you could easy scrounge about for various lunch options (try the black rum cake at the Caribbean bakery, papusas or empanadas from one of the Latin vendors).

                            3) Leave for Niagara / NYC

                            4) Pass by santiago Calatravao bridge in Mimico on west side/lakeshore, on the way to Niagara

                            1. re: hgp

                              Couple of comments:
                              sat - your lunch will be at Holt's Cafe (that's the correct name).
                              JS Bonbon's has closed
                              Sunday; You'll need a reservation at Lai Wah Heen.
                              Susur has closed. Kultura is only open on Sundays for Brunch (closes 3:00). JKWB doesn't take reservations so risk a line-up.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                Thanks for the info!

                                Lai Wah Heen - I didn't realize this was a hotel restaurant. Any other recs for dim sum in Chinatown?
                                JK - You're right. They only make lunch or Fri night prix dinner reservations.

                                Any recommendations for Sun night dinner in Little Italy? Just looking for something inexpensive and casual. I'm looking through this list and can't decide:
                                http://littleitaly.sites.toronto.com/...

                                1. re: hgp

                                  Unless you go up north to Richmond Hill/Markham area which most of the good chinese restaurant are, I think you may have better dim sum in NYC china town than Toronto's china town.

                                  1. re: hgp

                                    i'd avoid little italy all together. no food places jump out at me. its less touristy than NYC's little italy, but its not v-line worthy.

                                    again, i'd suggest Ossington. we really like foxley's. very tasty.

                                    i'm also a sucker for Cafe LaGaffe on Baldwin and McCaul. incredibly tasty, wont blow your budget.

                                    howsabout ethiopian? Dukem on the Danforth is a fave of foodies on here.

                                    chocolate: Soma is excellent - the Distillery District. there's also Mill Street brewery for beer (DO NOT EAT THE FOOD!!)

                                    and car vs transit? parking in Toronto can be a headache. personally, i think that you can get by if you want to walk and leave your car at the hotel. you can also get a cab to drop you off at a destination and walk from there. but the Drake is a hike and a half from Leslieville/Queen East (you are talking 2-3 hrs walking, i guess).

                                    1. re: hgp

                                      Just to clarify, hgp -- Jamie Kennedy has two locations. The wine bar is definitely open for dinner every night (but doesn't take reservations)

                                      The other location at the Gardiner Museum is open only for lunch and Friday prix fixe
                                      http://www.jamiekennedy.ca/v2/restaur...

                                      So you're good to go with dinner at JKWB, dinner starts at 4pm on Sunday.

                                      JamieK
                                      (not the chef)

                                      1. re: hgp

                                        Lai Wah Heen is extremely good for dim sum - but also expensive - say $75 (Canadian) for 2 people. But you'll remember it. In Chinatown itself - all the good places will be packed and no reservations! Choose the longest line! As a visitor I'd trek to lai Wah Heen (with reservation). It's only 10-15 mins from OCAD.
                                        Also don't recommend anything in Little Italy. Mostly 'trendy' bars with OK food (at best).

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          As someone who lived in Toronto and now in Manhattan, I can guarantee you that Lai Wah Heen has better dim sum than anything in Manhattan Chinatown

                                    2. re: hgp

                                      For Saturday, I'd suggest you see Brookfield/BCE Place right after the St Lawrence Market since it's in the neighbourhood, otherwise you'd be backtracking a lot if you're planning to roam Queen West. BCE Place and The Drake are quite far apart.

                                        1. re: hgp

                                          In response to your question about local artists showing, if you take atomeyes suggestion to go to the distillery district to check out Soma for some chocolate then I would definitely go to see the Ryan Mcginness show at Artcore. I think it's the best show in the city right now by far. I know he's a new yorker and all (repped by Deitch Projects and Pace Prints) but this show is not coming to NY and is not to be missed. That would also give you the opportunity to try Colborne Lane if you wanted to work that into your schedule as well. Maybe worth juggling things around a bit? I leave that up to you.

                                          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                            and if you like roaming around and looking at old buildings, the Distillery District is a good place to do it.
                                            http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/...

                                            hgp - you're going to have to come for a week!

                                            1. re: JamieK

                                              Yeah, it's sort of like the meatpacking district minus the shitty clubs.

                                            2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                              Thanks, Notorious PIG (great name, btw!).

                                              What area is Artcore in, and do you suggest I work that into my Saturday sched (primarily King/Queen St W) or Sunday (King/Queen St E).?

                                              TIA!

                                              1. re: hgp

                                                Thanks!

                                                You can find all the info about Artcore and the shops/restaurants on the Distillery website. A map of the area is there under the "location" tab on the navigation bar and artcore is under "galleries":

                                                http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/...

                                                I would suggest working that into your Saturday agenda as the gallery is closed on Sunday however the Distillery is on the East side closer to king/queen east so maybe a swap of days is in order? Also, a small sidenote about the show, don't forget to check the blacklight work out behind the curtain. It's not immediately noticeable but is the highlight of the show.

                                                I might even just drive through King/Queen west on the way to the distillery as it's not as interesting as some of the other locations you have. If you ask me from a culinary/shopping/architecture standpoint you could even cut those streets out totally and not miss that much. Most of the shops in that area are furniture shops that sell Bootleg Eames or Modernica and the ones that don't, don't really have anything that you couldn't find in ny.

                                                From a Culinary standpoint there's good coffee in that area similar to the caliber at Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea/Brooklyn but then again there's probably a Grumpy caliber shop in almost any area of the city at this point after our recent small boom of great coffee shops. As restaurants go it looks like you're pretty covered there so I'm not sure if the East end has that much to offer you food wise.

                                                Happy Hunting.

                                            3. re: hgp

                                              To the question of driving, it's easier to get around town by public transit. You can get a day pass that will give you unlimited travel on subway, bus and streetcar -
                                              http://www3.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/P...

                                              1. re: hgp

                                                The Cambridge Suites Hotel is downtown at Yonge and Richmond which is a few blocks away from the Eaton Centre. I recommend using the TTC and supplemen your travel with cabs instead of using your car. Much easier and less expensive than parking. This is a really good city for walking so you may find yourself on foot for the whole thing!

                                                Here's some tweaks for your itinerary:

                                                SATURDAY
                                                1) St. Lawrence market: Farmer’s Market in North building. Food vendors in South building. http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/

                                                2)BCE place (now called Brookfield Place) - Santiago Calatrava architecture

                                                * Get on the subway at Yonge & King and head northbound to Bloor Station (5 stations – a short 10 mins). Come up to street level and you’re in Yorkville. Holt Renfrew is half a block west.

                                                3) LUNCH: Poilane (we're meeting a friend there, so we don't have much of a choice on this one) - Could not find its website. Holt Renfrew (uptown

                                                )

                                                *Walk west on Bloor Street after lunch and peruse the shops for your excursion on Sunday. You’ll also see the ROM enroute to the subway. Get on at Museum (it’s located just south of Bloor on Avenue). Take the southbound train and get off at Osgoode (3 stations so maybe 5 mins). You’ll be at University & Queen W.

                                                4) Roam Queen W

                                                *Since JS Bon Bon doesn’t exist anymore, I would recommend stopping at either Dufflet or Prague Deli for a sweet snack:
                                                http://www.dufflet.com/home.asp
                                                http://www.theprague.ca/

                                                5) Drake Hotel for drinks On Queen West http://www.thedrakehotel.ca - meeting friends again

                                                6) Roam King West - pretty happening at night. Lots of resto-lounges, so you can eat dinner and then stay for drinks. Cheval, Spice Route, Brant House, Century Room, etc.

                                                7) DINNER/DRINKS Beer Bistro (Reservation at 6PM - again, meeting some folks there)18 King Street East (at Yonge St

                                                )

                                                8) Roam area and walk off all that food!
                                                ----------------
                                                SUNDAY
                                                1) CNN Tower - Lookout & Glass Floor (husband insists, no choice)
                                                2) Kensington Market: Mostly outdoor. Go to Wanda's Pie in the Sky for very tasty desserts.

                                                *To get from Kensington to Lai Wah Heen, you’ll be walking through Chinatown and then past the unfinished AGO on Dundas. Directly behind the AGO is OCAD so you can do that next.

                                                3) Architecture: OCAD (Alsop) The security has been lax the few times I've been there and it's been fun to run around the building and especially climbing up into the big pixelated box. it's quite an interesting view as well when you crawl up into one of the pixel windows. OCAD is so near to chinatown (virtually bordering it) that it could fit very nicely into your itinerary.

                                                4) Dim Sum at Lai Wah Heen * is downtown but not in Chinatown. It’s at the Metropolitian Hotel just east of Chinatown at Dundas and Bay where the old Chinatown used to be before they moved it west to Spadina.

                                                [Toronto has 2 Chinatowns -- but the largest one is on Spadina Ave between approximately Queen St and College St. The northern edge bumps up against Kensington Market, making those two destinations suitable for one adventure]

                                                *From Lai Wah Heen, you’ll need to head back over to the AGO. Go north on McCaul at Dundas until you reach Baldwin street. Yung Sing is on the north side. If you head north on Beverley street, you’ll reach U of T at College street. Beverley turns into St George Street and if you keep heading north, at the corner of Harbord and St George is the Robart library, it looks like a concrete peacock. A few blocks to the west of that is the grad residence at the corner of Spadina and Harbord, it’s the one with the Toronto portion of their sign sticking out into the road above. I’m not familiar with the “weird structure that is formed like a table but it sits on top of victorian row houses” at U of T. I wonder if they’re referring to the OCAD building?

                                                4) UofT - [near the university of toronto and art gallery of ontario there is a really weird structure that is formed like a table but it sits on top of victorian row houses. i forgot who made it.] - Any notable structures/buildings we shouldn't miss?

                                                *If you walk west on Harbord, you will see more restaurants. Some notables here are Dessert Trends, Harbord Bakery and Splendido. If you walk north on Spadina, it will take you to Bloor Street where you can turn east and head over to Yorkville or if you turn west, you’re in the Annex. More restaurants!

                                                6) Bloor/Yorkville - pedestrian shops, high end boutiques, mix of big chains and quaint boutiques, luxury.

                                                8) ROM - http://www.rom.on.ca/ - Afternoon tea at C5

                                                *Little Italy would require you to backtrack down Spadina & west on College.

                                                9) College Street Little Italy (if not too tired)

                                                10) DINNER: Still open, though leaning more towards JKWB
                                                // Starfish OR Susur or Kultura (Asian tapas
                                                )// Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar for “Canadian food”
                                                // you're close to Chinatown and Little Italy, you could do drinks/snacks at Torito or there are lots of pretty bistro spots on College (not positive what's open Sunday) that are getting good reviews (Alice's, Sidecar, Grace) (and I'm just assuming from your other pics that you like small local places versus the credit-card busters).
                                                ----------------
                                                MONDAY
                                                1) Roam Queen E, King E

                                                *If you roam as far as King and Parliament, it's worth a detour south on Parliament to Mill Street. Turn east on Mill past the new condo buildings and you'll see iron gates on the south side. This is the entrance to the Distrillery District where you'll find SOMA for your chocolate fix, Brick Street Bakery for some tasty eats (olive fougasse, bakewell tarts, chelsea buns) and Balzac for a nice cup of coffee. Just up the street from the distrillery is Gilead Cafe, a nice option for lunch:
                                                http://www.gileadcafe.ca/21CB4F07-38E...

                                                2) LUNCH - Need suggestions
                                                // Nix Le Petit Dejeuner? http://petitdejeuner.ca/
                                                // or Kensington area - you could easy scrounge about for various lunch options (try the black rum cake at the Caribbean bakery, papusas or empanadas from one of the Latin vendors).
                                                3) Leave for Niagara / NYC
                                                4) Pass by santiago Calatravao bridge in Mimico on west side/lakeshore, on the way to Niagara

                                                1. re: fickle

                                                  A couple of teeny things to add: Dessert Trends is now called DT Bistro. Second the recs for the Distillery - lots of neat little commercial gallery spaces scattered amongst the very tasty beer, chocolate, and baked goods (I also second the comment about going to Mill St. for beer, but don't bother with the food - you can do much better elsewhere). A good destination for a 'Hound that's also into architecture and art. And yes, the "weird structure formed like a table" MUST be the OCAD building.

                                                  1. re: Wahooty

                                                    Wow, I may have to convince the hubs and the friend to skip work for a few more days so we can cram everything in!

                                                    Thanks again for all the recs. I'll process everything in the next day or two and finalize our itinerary.

                                                    ~ hgp

                                                    1. re: hgp

                                                      Just fyi - here's a very recent review of DT Bistro in Toronto's major newspaper -
                                                      http://www.thestar.com/article/521464

                                                      1. re: JamieK

                                                        ...ouch! Just for clarity's sake, I wasn't recommending the place (haven't been), just correcting the name for our visitor's sake. :)

                                                        Although, for what it's worth, that review hasn't tempered my desire to stop by there for dessert at some point....

                                                        1. re: JamieK

                                                          To be fair, the comments that people were making at the bottom at the link are fair game - a dinner reservation at 10:30 p.m.? I do agree that the service at DT is hit and miss - if it's the servers I know are good, I'll go in. If it's the chef's wife, I just keep walking, because she sucks. You will never get served. However, the food is good, and I think the space is great in summer.

                                              2. To the OP's original request: "logistically feasible?"

                                                Not in two days. For example, you'll line-up at Le Petit Dejeuner for at least an hour before you'll get a seat. "Roam" Queen West/East? That's two days right there!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Dimbulb

                                                  Thanks, Dimbulb. I revised our itin separated K/Q West on Saturday and reserved K/Q East on Sunday. Maps are very deceiving, aren't they? Thank goodness for this forum!

                                                2. As there's been hardly a mention (so far) - a comment on Poilane. First it isn't a Poilane outlet, but an upscale cafe serving Poilane Bread. It's called Holt's Cafe and is indeed much better than reviews suggest (and it's upstairs - not the basement food outlet at Holt Renfrew, that doesn't serve Poilane). And it's close to the ROM, so quite feasible if you are going there anyway. However, you'll find yourself surrounded by women 'of a certain age' who typically used to frequent Holt Renfrew - althouigh now it's much more multi-cultural (especially Asian). It operates more as a place to pause and have a tea and sandwich - but can get busy - particularly on a Saturday. The poilane bread used to be flown in every Wednesday (don't know if that's still the case) , but I prefer it toasted anyway.
                                                  Is it worth a special trip - not for me - but the Holt Cafe is still (for me) one of the best places in the Yorkville area. I much prefer it to C5 - the place in the ROM.
                                                  Incidentally apparently Poilane Bread is (or was) available in NYC at Agata & Valentina, so you might check those and save yourself some time (already you're over-optimistic) in Toronto.
                                                  You might also combine ROM with U of T (on a Sunday), in which case Holt Cafe doesn't open until 12:00 - and the shopping on Queen is better on Saturday - so you could try Le Petit Dejeuner then.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    Thanks, estufarian. We're meeting a friend there, so I'm afraid Poilane / Holt Cafe stays. We'll probably stop by for tea at C5 in ROM on Sunday, at least based on the current iteration of our itinerary.

                                                    1. re: hgp

                                                      I know you want to see some local art. Queen West has lots of galleries, especially Queen West West near the Drake, and you will also pass by the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. It's a small, interesting spot, no entry fee, just donation suggested. http://www.mocca.toronto.on.ca/
                                                      The Gladstone Hotel is just a block or two past the Drake, and has good local beers and wines, and tasty food. It is also an artsy hotel. They have exhibits and events all the time. I live in the neighborhood and prefer the Gladstone, as it has more of a laid back feel, and less of the 905ers (our version of "bridge and tunnel"). You may want to check it out. http://www.gladstonehotel.com/

                                                      1. re: melly mel

                                                        MOCCA, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, will actually be closed for installation the weekend you're here!
                                                        http://www.mocca.toronto.on.ca/ > Currently Showing
                                                        There are loads of other galleries on Queen W, though. I'd suggest taking a look at Slate, one of our local gallery guides, before you arrive if you're into seeing art: http://www.slateartguide.com/

                                                        Have fun!

                                                      2. re: hgp

                                                        hgp

                                                        Just as an FYI, C5 does not offer tea on Sundays. Best to call ahead an confirm

                                                        Here is a recent post on the topic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566251
                                                        Cheers!

                                                    2. One more bit of counsel on the art scene... when you get here pick up a NOW magazine (a free Toronto entertainment weekly) and it will give you the rundown on all the little galleries and what they're showing. (www.nowtoronto.com).

                                                      Just to keep things food-related, note that NOW has restaurant reviews on their site including relatively recent reviews for the Holt Renfrew Cafe, JKWB, Lai Wah Heen and some of the other spots you're considering. NOW is also relatively good at spotting new joints and sussed out places like Sidecar and Foxley well before the mainstream newspapers. The publication is easy to find in green boxes all over the city.

                                                      PS - I think the table shaped building that someone described near the art gallery just is the OCAD building!

                                                      1. Hey, hgp, let us know how your trip goes and where you ended up! Chow!