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Toronto Vacation Plans. What do you think?

r
Raboi Apr 18, 2009 01:15 PM

These are my Toronto Vacation Plans but I still need some advise. Critiisms and critiques would be nice too. We are staying at the Residence Inn Downtown on Wellington just north of Rogers Centre. We have no car. We have two kids, 6 and 7 years old but they do well in nice restaurants. I STILL NEED RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DINNER IN THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT AND LUNCH IN ST. LAWRENCE MARKET.

Day 1 Friday. Arrive. Quick Lunch at Ravisoups. Get Oriented. Dinner at Black Hoof

Day 2 Saturday. St. Lawrence in the morning and for Lunch BUT NEED A RECOMMENDATION. Head down to the Harborfront. Dinner at Chiado

Day 3 Sunday: Ontario place and lunch there. Dinner at Colborn Lane

Day 4 Monday: Zoo and lunch there. Chiado for Dinner

Day 5 Tuesday: Royal Ont Museum then Jamie Kennedy Gardiner Rest for Lunch. Meander through Cabbage Town and Riverdale Farms and then to Distillery District. NEED RECOMMENDATION FOR DISTILERY DISTRICT OR SHOULD WE SKIP IT AS IT APPEARS SOMEWHAT OVER RATED?

Day 6 Wednesday: Ont Science Center for Afternoon and Lunch. Dinner at Lai Toh Heen

Day 7 Thursday: Casa Loma then Lunch at El Rincon and on to Canada’s Wonderland for the rest of the day

Day 8 Friday: Fort York in Morning then on to Chinatown, Kensington and Little Italy. Asia Legend for Dim Sum Lunch then Caplansky for Dinner then Greg’s Ice Cream.
OR SHOULD WE GO SOMEWHERE NICER THEN CAPLANSKY FOR DINNER?

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  1. Full tummy RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 02:07 PM

    Did you skip the art gallery (Art Gallery of Ontario - AGO) on purpose? I would highly recommend a visit there, and you can eat lunch/brunch/dinner at the restaurant, Frank.

    When will you be in town?

    Keep in mind closing times, for example Riverdale Farm closes at 5 p.m.

    The Distillery District is an interesting place to see, with its cobblestone walks and unusual buildings. Others may have better suggestions for dining. You may want to try Mengrai Thai; it's fairly close.

    Are there specific kinds of food you want to eat while you're here?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Full tummy
      r
      Raboi RE: Full tummy Apr 20, 2009 01:36 PM

      We are doing AGO prior to going into Chinatown. Looks like we will try to do dinner at Weezie's prior to the distillery which we will go to for dessert. We have access to very good high end Thai down here so we decided not to do Thai. Thanks for help. Will post in another month after the trip!

    2. Rabbit RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 02:24 PM

      Hello Raboi -

      Here are some thoughts on your (commendably researched!) itinerary:

      Day 1 - You may not find Blackhoof an entirely satisfactory dinner for your first night in Toronto. It might be better off saved for a day when you've had a pretty substantial feed already and you're in the mood for a meal that is a bit graze-y. It's not that I think you'll have trouble getting enough calories, but there's a different kind of satisfaction that comes with a meal versus a picky dinner. And you've already had a light-ish lunch at Ravi. Also, since it's Friday I might suggest that you'd be better off at a place where you can book a definite rez versus taking your chances. I'd perhaps sub Chiado or Colborne Lane and risk the no-rez policy at BH on a weeknight.
      - Note that whatever day you plan for Blackhoof, it might be a good idea to have a Plan B since it lines up. Pizza Libretto and Foxley's are good options in the same-nabe, just in case.

      Day 2 - At St. Lawrence you might just let everyone freelance and choose what they want and then you can all eat on one of the picnic tables outdoors. Favourites include peameal sandwiches (various options) and eggplant parm sammies (downstairs), but you'll also find sushi (downstairs), fish and chips, and some killer cabbage rolls (can't remember the name of the place... also downstairs).

      Note: You have Chiado listed for dinners on Days 2 and 4, but I doubt you're actually planning to go there twice... do you have an alternate dinner pick?

      Day 5 - Distillery... I have mixed feelings. It's a pretty spot, but a little tourist-y and slick. It lacks great chowing... and that's already a very ambitious day you have planned. If you do end up thataway I like Mengrai Thai, which is a short walk from the DD. Or else you could, for the sake of convenience, eat at Pure Spirits or one of the other outdoor patios. It probably won't be the culinary highlight, but you may feel just fine about eating roadhouse-y food, drinking beer, and looking at the sky.

      Day 8 - I really like Caplansky's. I think it's worth hitting at some point on the trip, but it might feel like a letdown on your last night. Or it might feel like a relief. Either way, I'd really struggle to get down a cone at Greg's after a big feed of smoked meat at Caplansky's (both are "worthy" - it's just a bloody lot of food).

      One restaurant your hotel is quite near that I like (and it's not "the best" in Toronto, just a cozy spot that we return to often) is Le Select Bistro. It's middling-to-good bistro fare with a kiddie menu (but not gross kiddie menu, they're still serving the kids French bistro classics [i.e. little servings of terrine de campagne]). They have a nice patio, good wine selections, and they're easy walking distance for you if you find that you're just too tired to stick to the grand plan one night. www.leselect.com

      1. g
        Gary RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 04:22 PM

        The Distillery is definitely worth a visit, but the dinner options there are a bit hit and miss, especially when compared to some of the other places on your agenda. Two oft-recommended restaurants within an easy walk of there are Weezie's and Mengrai Thai. Both are excellent.

        Weezie's is about a 5-10 minute walk northeast of the Distillery area, at King St. and Power St. Mengrai Thai is about a 10 minute walk northwest, at Richmond St. and Ontario St. For both you will most definitely want reservations.

        -----
        Weezie's
        354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

        Mengrai
        82 Ontario Street, Toronto, ON M5A 2V3, CA

        1. t
          ttran88 RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 04:46 PM

          hey raboi,

          ill keep it simple. your choices are fine.

          St. Lawence is a market. They have alot of different venues to eat. My choice is the veal sandwich at Mustacio's downstairs... very good.

          Distillery i would chooses the Boiler Room... nothing spectacular but solid.

          Caplansky's is a deli.. not a great place for dinner; nice for lunch. The choice is yours for your final nights dinner.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ttran88
            JamieK RE: ttran88 Apr 18, 2009 05:15 PM

            I agree with Rabbit that Black Hoof, while intriguing, may not be the best choice for your first night. In fact, you might consider Rabbit's suggestion of Le Select for dinner the first night, it's within walking distance and you can make reservations.

            If your kids are at all interested in hockey (which I'm not sure if kids in Florida are or not) the Wayne Gretzky restaurant is nearby and, while not incredibly chowish, it's fun and full of hockey memorabilia.
            http://www.gretzky.com/restaurant/

            -----
            Le Select
            432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

            1. re: ttran88
              Wahooty RE: ttran88 Apr 18, 2009 05:40 PM

              St. Lawrence is definitely a wander-and-get-what-looks-good kind of lunch. Personally, I like to buy a bunch of stuff from Scheffler's and Olympic, a baguette from one of the bakeries, and take everything down to the lakefront or Centre Island for a picnic. But for a self-contained lunch, one of the best tips I've gotten on here is for the bifana sandwich from Churrasco of St. Lawrence. Get it with everything on it. I have only met two sandwiches with an aroma that can make me salivate all the way home - this is one of them. That being said, I don't think it's possible to get a bad lunch in the market. Go with whatever you're in the mood for.

              Also, Asian Legend is great for northern Chinese dim sum - soup dumplings, onion pancake, etc. If you want more of a Cantonese dim sum experience, there are better places.

              Some reviews point to Caplansky's being more family-friendly during the day. I can't comment, but do agree with those think of it more as a lunchtime thing. It's a deli run in the back of the second floor of a bar. Do with that what you will.

              1. re: Wahooty
                aser RE: Wahooty Apr 19, 2009 04:10 PM

                Skip on Asian Legend, it's not a destination restaurant. It's not even dim sum, northern dumplings and such are not considered dim sum, AL don't even do those that well. If you want authentic and innovative dim sum, go to Lai Wah Heen. You have some $$ restaurants on your list so I don't think you'll be surprised at the higher pricing of LWH. Expect $40ish per person for dim sum, higher if you reach for things like shark's fin soup dumplings.

                http://www.metropolitan.com/lwh/

                I haven't been to Lai Toh Heen, but most people agree LWH the main location is better.

            2. p
              phoenikia RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 06:35 PM

              The Distillery has at least 3 chowworthy stops, but none of them are restaurants- the Brick Street Bakery has delicious eccles cakes and good sandwiches (there is 1 bench inside where you can sit and eat, or you can get take-out and eat whatever you buy outside), Soma Chocalatemaker http://www.somachocolate.com/ has some of the best chocolate and gelato in the city, and Taste of Quebec has all sorts of interesting cheeses, maple products and charcuterie. I drive out of my way to the Distillery to stock up on chocolate at Soma.

              Not far from the Distillery is Leslieville (a stretch along Queen St East less than a 10 minute drive east of the Distillery), which has lots of restaurants (Tomi Kro, Leslie Jones, Joy Bistro, Fare Bistro, Table 17 and more), some of which are considered foodie destination restaurants.

              I wouldn't skip the Distillery- there are lots of interesting galleries, as well as a building that is mostly working studios, and a theatre, in addition to the touristy shops.

              1. s
                Snarf RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 07:29 PM

                There are some good recommendations in the other posts.

                Definitely Distillery District, but maybe during the day between meals. While there, the only must on the eating side is Soma, for chocolate or Gelato.

                While nothing to do with food, don't even consider eating at Ontario place. I think you could take a picnic. A fairly decent water park there that the kids should like.

                1. c
                  currycue RE: Raboi Apr 18, 2009 07:49 PM

                  Looks good to me! Just wanted to add Le Gourmand on Spadina, not too far from your hotel if you want a proper espresso/coffee and some great pastries/croissants/pressed sandwiches

                  www.legourmand.com

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: currycue
                    pancake RE: currycue Apr 19, 2009 07:52 PM

                    My two suggestions would be:
                    1. When you are at St. Lawrence pick out a variety of things and share with the entire family. There is lots to try and you definately will be tempted. Downstairs you will find eggplant/chicken/veal parmigana sandwiches. There is also a nice Eastern European booth with hot foods, greek food, japanese, crepes, etc. Upstairs they serve out the famous pemeal sandwich. Other vendors cook up sausages/meats. There is even a fish restaurant upstairs. Buying your own stuff from the delis and putting together a sandwich on freshly bought bread would be yummy too.

                    2. The day you head to chinatown/kensington/ college - you should nibble along the way rather than sticking to one lunch spot. Alot of people like the empanadas in kensington. On college you can get some good pizza at Bitundos. In chinatown, you can sample a few offerings. BBq meats, dumplings, bahn mi, chinese buns, etc. These neighbourhoods are great for grazing.

                    1. re: pancake
                      pancake RE: pancake Apr 19, 2009 07:59 PM

                      Other places you or your kids might like in the area of your hotel are:
                      - burrito boyz (I really like the halibut burrito)
                      - smokes poutiniere (this place gets mixed reviews on this board, but I think your kids would love the idea of a big box of fries)
                      - cora's for breakfast (I like their fruit crepes with custard). Its laid back and kid-friendly.

                      Your schedule looks jam-packed, with lots of great food choices!

                      1. re: pancake
                        b
                        befuggled RE: pancake Apr 20, 2009 05:15 PM

                        Although I've never had the halibut burrito, I've been pretty disappointed with Burrito Boyz (and their offshoot, Burrito Bandidos or whatever name they decided on). I would personally avoid Mexican and Mexican-inspired food if I were vacationing in Toronto. Toronto has a lot better food to offer, and I suspect you can find better in Florida.

                      2. re: pancake
                        Davwud RE: pancake Apr 20, 2009 04:49 AM

                        Both the St. Lawrence and Kensington rec's are perfect. There's too much at StL to stick to one thing. It's a great place to graze.

                        In Kensington there are a number of different places to grab snacks. I really like the chorizo chili at (Salvador's???) the place that sells a bunch of different chorizo. Look for the Chilean flag. Across the street is Emporium Latino and has a small kitchen in the back. Some good stuff coming out of there too. There's a Jamaican patty place. If you've never had one it's something worth trying. Not the best the city has to offer but still good. I get cocobread and eat it like a sandwich. My last trip I went into the cheese shops and had some samples of some incredible cheeses. There's beside each other and they're both good. Ended up with a goats milk Camembert and a raw milk Beaufort.

                        Happy eating and enjoy your visit.

                        DT

                        1. re: Davwud
                          s
                          Snarf RE: Davwud Apr 20, 2009 05:40 AM

                          The chorizo place mentioned is Segovia meats on Augusta. The same family also owns El Gordo empanadas next door, which does over 40 varieties that are delicious.

                          1. re: Snarf
                            Davwud RE: Snarf Apr 20, 2009 05:58 AM

                            That's the place. I had the chili last Friday and it was great.

                            DT

                    2. BokChoi RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 08:29 AM

                      It appears you are going to Chiado twice for dinner - you must really like that place. It's on my list of places I must try but have not gotten a chance as of yet. Make sure you pack something before you go to Canada's wonderland and bring it along. There is not much in the park that is edible or healthy. I remember that there was a corporate event there and we were given free coupons for food ($20) and I still pretty much maxed it out on a simple grilled chicken salad and a drink. They do give you extra greens though if you ask for it - don't be shy.

                      I would agree with everyone's recommendations to not skip distillery. It's a great little part of town with lots of character. Great for a nice, sunny afternoon. Have gelato on their little outdoor patio, while watching the photographers take photos of everything around them. Sweet temptations is also worth checking out (near the restrooms) - I've heard good things about their baked goods, but haven't tried them out yet (gelato is great though). Have a good trip. (Try to squeeze in dim sum at Lai Wah Heen if you can).

                      I'd hit the peameal bacon place at St Lawrence - Carousel Bakery. Get the breakfast special with egg and oozy cheese if you can.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: BokChoi
                        Davwud RE: BokChoi Apr 20, 2009 08:44 AM

                        BC and I have debated over which is better, the peameal sandwich or the breakfast on a bun at Carousel. I suggest you and your SO get one of each and have them cut in half. Then you can do your own comparison.

                        DT

                        1. re: Davwud
                          BokChoi RE: Davwud Apr 20, 2009 08:54 AM

                          Good idea, Davwud. Either of those sandwiches would make me very happy - the more the merrier.

                        2. re: BokChoi
                          Full tummy RE: BokChoi Apr 20, 2009 09:29 AM

                          The only thing about packing a lunch at Canada's Wonderland is that they are very strict about not allowing food into the park. They check all the bags now, very thoroughly. So, if you do bring food, you will have to leave it in a vehicle in the parking lot, and depending on how close you got to the gates, it may or may not be a pain in the butt to get your food (and then, who wants to eat in the parking lot)? It's a tricky place food-wise, but if you have kids, they may be begging for a full-on junk food experience with fries and hot dogs, etc. I highly recommend the funnel cakes, if you're up for deep-fried strands of dough, ice cream, and strawberries.

                          1. re: Full tummy
                            Davwud RE: Full tummy Apr 20, 2009 09:39 AM

                            They could always do lunch before going in and a late dinner. Then the funnel cake would be a nice snack.

                            DT

                        3. r
                          Raboi RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 04:20 PM

                          Thanks to everyone for the help. We have made some significant changes based on everyone’s comments. Unfortunately, we can’t go everywhere as we are limited by days, have no car. BTW, we are staying downtown near the convention center on Wellington. We had to remove Caplansky from our list of places to hit but our plans are to hit:

                          Day 1 Friday – Lunch at Smokes Poutinerie for a legit Canadian dish followed by Dinner at Nota Bene

                          Day 2 Saturday – Grazing lunch at St. Lawrence Market followed by an afternoon on the waterfront and Dinner at Chiado.

                          Day 3 Sunday – Morning at Fort York with remainder of the day walking through Chinatown and Kensington, Grazing for lunch, and finally getting dinner at Black Hoof and later Ice Cream at Greg’s

                          Day 4 Monday – Zoo in the morning/afternoon and Lai Wah Heen for Dinner.

                          Day 5 Tuesday – Ontario Science Center and then Indus Junction for Dinner. I knows its not a quintessential Toronoto restaurant but modern Indian is not something we get in Southeast Florida.

                          Day 6 Wednesday – ROM followed by dinner at Jamie Kennedy Gardiner. Cabbagetown and Riverdale farms followed by dinner at Weezie’s and desert in the Distillery District.

                          Day 7 Thursday – Casa Loma, Lunch at El Rincon, then remainder of the day at Canada’s Wonderland

                          Day 8 Friday – Spend the day at Ontario Place and dinner at Colborne Lane.

                          WILL LET EVERYONE KNOW HOW IT ALL GOES IN ANOTHER TWO MONTHS!!

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Raboi
                            l
                            LemonLauren RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 04:31 PM

                            sounds amazing! does JK Gardiner do dinner on Wed? i thought they just did lunch and dinner only on Friday. i could be wrong.

                            1. re: LemonLauren
                              Wahooty RE: LemonLauren Apr 20, 2009 04:56 PM

                              I think it's a typo. There are two dinners on that day. :)

                              1. re: Wahooty
                                r
                                Raboi RE: Wahooty Apr 20, 2009 06:26 PM

                                lunch is at the gardiner. dinner at weezie's. thanks for the typo catch.

                                1. re: Raboi
                                  l
                                  LemonLauren RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 07:14 PM

                                  it's the english teacher in me.

                                  i loved the jk gardiner space, it is a truly special unique toronto restaurant experience :)

                            2. re: Raboi
                              haggisdragon RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 04:39 PM

                              Sounds like fantastic fun!

                              1. re: Raboi
                                Davwud RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 05:10 PM

                                Hope you enjoy yourselves.

                                DT

                                1. re: Raboi
                                  Davwud RE: Raboi Apr 20, 2009 07:07 PM

                                  Kensington on Sunday?? Does anyone know what will be open??

                                  DT

                                  1. re: Davwud
                                    Full tummy RE: Davwud Apr 21, 2009 12:55 PM

                                    I was there this past Sunday, and it seemed most everything was open...

                                    1. re: Full tummy
                                      grandgourmand RE: Full tummy Apr 21, 2009 02:12 PM

                                      Actually Kensington on a Sunday in two months could be great. I don't know when it starts, but they have car free Sundays. Great for walking around and several of the shops have street food. Grilled sardines, grilled sausages, etc. If you don't mind your kids seeing a bunch of hippies gyrate to music that's only playing in their heads, then it's a blast.

                                      1. re: grandgourmand
                                        Wahooty RE: grandgourmand Apr 21, 2009 02:52 PM

                                        Last Sunday of the month, May-October are the pedestrian Sundays.

                                        http://www.pskensington.ca/

                                        Otherwise, I can't say I've ever noticed anything closed on Sundays in Kensington.

                                  2. re: Raboi
                                    t
                                    torontofoodiegirl RE: Raboi Apr 21, 2009 09:36 AM

                                    Your restaurant choices sound great. My only comment would be that, if possible, you might want to consider renting a car for at least a few days of the trip, as you will end up spending quite a lot of time on public transit getting to and from some of your destinations (hence minimizing the amount of time you can spend eating!). In particular, I'm referring to the zoo (quite a hike on the TTC), Wonderland, and (to a lesser extent) the Science Centre. Our downtown area is pretty easy to get around on foot or by TTC, but the 'burbs are another story.

                                    1. re: Raboi
                                      grandgourmand RE: Raboi Apr 21, 2009 02:17 PM

                                      Riverdale Farm is awesome. If there's a possibility of switching your Tuesday and Wednesday around, you can catch the Riverdale Farmer's Market while you're there. I know you're going to SLM and that market experience, but this one is different. Then again, not sure if it's worthwhile if you're not buying anything since you don't have a kitchen. Plus, your farmers markets in FLA are probably better.

                                      Regarding the Monday, not to complicate your life, but you could pick up some Caplansky's smoked meat pre-sliced and use it as cold cuts during your zoo day. Otherwise, the food there is pretty much crap and you're not allowed to eat the animals.

                                    2. s
                                      sam_1 RE: Raboi Apr 21, 2009 09:08 AM

                                      I would also suggest skipping dinner in the Distillery District and going to one of the other places recommended. Another really good option in the general vicinity is Ivory Thailand at Church and Adelaide.

                                      Enjoy your visit!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: sam_1
                                        JamieK RE: sam_1 Apr 21, 2009 12:18 PM

                                        They're having dinner at Weezie's, not the Distillery District (but near it).

                                        1. re: JamieK
                                          pancake RE: JamieK Apr 21, 2009 01:50 PM

                                          I would rent a car to get to wonderland and the zoo as well! On the way to the zoo you could stop by pacific mall (a completely asian mall). Search it on this board. It is an interesting place. Might be similar to your chinatown experience, but I always feel like I have been transplanted into asia when I am there. Your kids might get a kick out of all the candy/movie/bubble tea shops there. All the candy is imported, so you can buy different versions of chocolate bars (green tea or chestnut kit kat for example), interesting flavoured chips (pizza!), etc. There are a few food courts with lots of choices. Check out the little booth where they make tasty ice cream sandwiches on waffles (coconut ice cream is good!).

                                          If you want to experience some indian flavours/culture, I'd highly recommend a quick stop in the "little india" neighbourhood around broadview and gerard. There are some fun restaurants and shops. If its a nice evening, some vendors roast corn and serve tasty treats on the sidewalk.

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