Toronto Vacation Recommendations Needed
Toronto Vacation Recommendations
We will be doing a familiy trip to Toronto for 8 days in early June. We have two kids, 7 and 6, and we eat everything and we can do any price.. The kids are good in any kind of restaurant. Anything unusual, specific to the area, or ethnic is a plus but great food is a must. I have combed the board and found to many places mentined. Some of the places that sound interesting include:
Black Hoof Charcuterie
Caplansky at the Monarch
Need recommendations for lunch in chinatown and nights to include the Distillery district and Little Italy and lunches anywhere else. Thanks in advance!!!
In the Distillery District, you might want to check out Brick Street Bakery for British-style baked goods and Soma for chocolates. The latter isn't cheap, but the kids can watch the chocolates being made, and it's very good stuff - they also have gelato. I've also heard some good things about the baked goods at Sweet Escapes, but haven't been there personally yet. From June 5-14th, the Luminato festival will be going on all over the city - tons of music, theater, dance, literature, etc. events, many of them free and designed for families. Usually they have a lot of the free events in the Distillery District - they say they're participating this year but don't have a schedule of events up yet. (There will definitely be lots of things going on in Yonge-Dundas Square and at the Harbourfront, though, if you're going to be in those neighborhoods.)
The Distillery farmer's market probably won't be up and running yet, so don't plan on that (St. Lawrence Market is much better for a market fix anyway). Mill St. Brewery is good for beer, but the food is really standard chain pub food so I wouldn't bother with it.
In the Distillery District the kids (and you) might find School fun to visit. Upscale comfort food in a sort of neat environment (and yummy cupcakes).
Some Queen West lunch suggestions would be the fantastic wood-oven pizza from Terroni (there are 2 more locations in the city as well) or a picnic fish and chip's lunch from Chippy's (also a location on Bloor).
Downtown Chinatown is iffy. The most reliable seem to be Asian Legend on Dundas, and Lee Garden on Spadina. The Distillery restos are all reliable. How about a quick lunch at Burrito Bandidos, a little hole in the ground on Peter south of Richmond St. They serve a consistently huge burrito, but you'll end up eating it on the outside bench or walking on the sidewalk. Not exactly child friendly. Close enough to the Rogers Centre and Queen St. W. How about Tokyo Sushi for lunch? I love that place. It's small but quaint, super friendly. Everything is fresh. It's on St. Joseph east of Bay St. Walkable if you're planning on walking along Bloor St.
Burrito Bandidos is most certainly nowhere near the Distillery District and nor is the Rogers Centre or Queen W. Burrito is also a strange recommendation to Floridians, who probably have much better access to good Mexican than Toronto residents do. Chinatown is not that iffy, there are plenty of reasonable dim sum recommendations on this board.
Downtown Chinatown is far from iffy--it just doesn't reach the heights of the Chinese food north of the city. For dim sum Rol San is consistently tasty, and kid-friendly (if very crowded on weekends).
The New Ho King is reliable, with huge portions at reasonable prices. Eating Garden on Baldwin is very good, and I'd recommend the Yung Sing Pastry shop, also on Baldwin, for a picnic outside, or for something to take away if you're going to Toronto Island or somewhere else with a packed lunch.
Around the corner on McCaul, I love the patio at Mangiacake. Warm service, fresh food, and a great patio.
Pho Hung is perfectly fine Vietnamese (in Chinatown), and if you're wandering Kensington Market, La Palette is a charming bistro, Torito is perhaps the only good tapas restaurant in the city, and there's any number of charming coffee shops and places to browse or graze.
Big thumbs up to Caplansky's. Ravisoups is also very good, but the ambience is lacking. A place to eat a very good soup quickly, then head out. Enjoy your trip!
Although I like Rol San for Dim Sum, one of the attractions of Dim Sum, especially for children, would be the carts pushed around. Rol San doesn't have those. That would be the only reason I wouldn't recommend this place.
As an alternative, there's Sky Dragon, which is on the top floor of a building on the SW corner of Dundas and Spadina. However, I haven't been in a long time and a few posters have had negative reviews.
There is a post on best dim sum with carts, check that one.
if they were to go to chinatown and are looking for weekday lunches, i would suggest going to forestview for dimsum. the setting is very old school cantonese, chinese newspapers hawked outside, carts and a fry table in the back... and on weekdays during a fairly wide time period they have happy hour which makes it a good cheap option and you'll get to try a lot of things. if you're looking for something specific and know what it's called but dont' see it, you can always ask one of the servers to get it fresh from the kitchen for you.
i would NOT go to new ho king (this place is only for drunkards at 3am) nor would i go to pho hung for vietnamese. asian legend is certainly fine for downtown chinatown but they are supposed to be a northern chinese local chain and there are a lot of cantonese dishes on their menu at this particular location. i would consider going to king's noodles though for what i am now calling "diner" chinese food. it's all the classic quick dishes and they do a good rendition for downtown... think roast meats on rice, noodle soups, and a myriad of things i remember from my childhood.
my favourites for vietnamese tend to be a little further out. pho phuong at brock and dundas west and then there is the st. clair west strip. st clair west is a bit under construction and the fabulous places are a bit far apart from each other... so pho phuong would be a great stop. you would also be right across from one of my favourite portuguese bakeries, brazil bakery and should get natas!
If you're lucky enough to get a fine Toronto June day, may I suggest a picnic lunch? Head to Caplansky's at the Monarch for a couple of (regular) sandwiches, plus a poutine (your kids will love it!), but also stop next door at San Francesca for veal and meatball sandwiches (have them cut in quarters for easy sharing). If you're really hungry, you can grab some pizza from Bittondo's across the street, and then walk south for about ten minutes until you reach Trinitiy Bellwoods park, where you can enjoy your meal in the park.
I assume you have a car - you really owe it to your kids to venture north to Markham or Richmond Hill to taste some authentic Chinese food that you'll never get in Florida. Lots of suggestions on this board.
Finally, not a food suggestion, but if you're staying downtown, and want to explore on the weekend - the Toronto Transit Commission has a family pass (2 adults, up to 4 kids) that's inexpensive, and lets you travel all day on subways, buses, and streetcars. When you see the parking rates (even street parking!) it pays for itself many times over.
as Teffub noted above, it'd be helpful to know whereabouts in the city you'll be based and how you're getting around.
If you're going to the Ontario Science Centre (just thinking like a parent here, there will be a cool spying exhibit on then - http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca ) and you're driving, there's an Indian/Pakistani place nearby on Thorncliffe Park Dr called Iqbal for some tasty kebabs or thali.
Or you could go around the corner in the other direction toward Eglinton and Laird for some great British style fish and chips at Old Yorke.
Alternatively, it's not a stretch to drive south from the science centre to the Little India area as suggested above.
If you feel like getting out of downtown (assuming that's where you are) and feel like exploring the Beach area in the east end (great place to stroll along the boardwalk), there are a few places worth considering.
Sauvignon Bistro at the western fringe is a solid French bistro with a good wine list.
At the eastern fringe, there's Bibiche Bistro and Vivetha Bistro.
btw, getting around by public transit is fairly easy and you can get weekly passes that give you unlimited travel -
If you go to the Royal Ontario Museum, I'd suggest Jamie Kennedy's restaurant at the Gardiner Museum across the street for a kid-friendly place offering delicious dishes made with local ingredients (and I'm no relation to the chef/owner).
If you do the CN tower, Centre Island or Harbourfront Centre (all great places for kids), there's Pearl Harbour for dim sum with a great view
Love the Distillery District but also try to make time to visit the St Lawrence Market (closed on Sundays and Mondays
Hope you have a great vacation and please do let us know how it goes and where you end up!
2485 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E1H9, CA
96 Laird Dr, Toronto, ON M4G3V3, CA
2326 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E, CA
St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA
Jamie Kennedy Gardiner
111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S, CA
2 Thorncliffe Park Dr, Toronto, ON M4H, CA
1862 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1H1, CA
207 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 1A7, CA
i'm just ok with iqbals so i'd probably pick bamiyan kebab instead which is maybe half a block away at most and easier to spot me thinks. it's rather fast food style looking but solid simple food. i'd be tempted to go to iqbals only if the kulfi shack was up and running for the summer because of the sheer novelty.
i'd agree with some others here that it would be a shame not to go up north to markham/richmond hill if you have a car. from my understanding... while i wouldn't go specifically here for the food, there is really nothing like pacific mall in a lot of cities. the surrounding area is generally quite good for dining though.
I think the OP mentioned that the kids have some degree of sophisitication. The Old Spaghetti Factory might work for someone coming to a city for the first time who has never eaten in a restaurant, but for anyone else, I wouldn't recommend it.
By Caplansky's being in a tavern, does that preclude children? Not sure what the current rules are.
Since you have a couple of young kids, how about an ice cream tour of Toronto with an emphasis on the multicultural nature of the city?
Traditional style - but not so traditional flavours - can be had at Ed's Real Scoop in the Beach (and now in Leslievile, too) and Greg's at Bloor & Spadina. Wonderful stuff; I'm especially fond of Greg's burnt marshmallow flavour.
Moving on to Italian influences, there are plenty of great gelato places in Toronto. Two of my favourites are Hollywood Gelato on Bayview (a kind of yuppified neighbourhood with lots of other interesting restaurants of all kinds nearby) and La Paloma at St. Clair W & Lansdowne. La Paloma is a traditional Italian place in a very Italian neighbourhood, and is right around the corner from a great small restaurant, The Big Ragu (we go to TBR for dinner and LP for dessert). Of course, there are several other good Italian restaurants in the area.
Next up is kulfi from Little India, which is a little denser than regular ice cream. There's not a single place I recommend. Instead, take a stroll along Gerrard East, between Coxwell and Hiawatha and have a look around. You'll find people selling all kinds of street food (try the spiced, grilled corn-on-the-cob, and make sure they rub it with lime for you), and several vendors keep a freezer full of kulfi. Pistachio and mango are probably the most common flavours. For a sit-down meal in the area, I like Udupi Palace (vegetarian, try the masala dhosa) and Siddhartha (a really good buffet these days). Again, there are other good choices.
I'm sure I've missed other places and cultures, but I think this is a good start.
Big Ragu: http://www.thebigragu.com/home.html
La Paloma: http://www.lapaloma.ca/home.php
Udupi Palace: http://www.udupipalace.ca/
Hope you enjoy your stay!