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boston foodie needs recs - eating solo

I'll be coming in to toronto tomorrow during the day for a day and a half long conference at the University of Toronto. I should be in the city by lunch time tomorrow, without any commitments until about 7 that night. I'm staying right by the University, at the Holiday in on Bloor Street and am looking for some recs. I'll have a rental car, too.

As per usual, I'll be traveling and eating alone, so no need for super fancy. Any ideas for must hit places with great food and atmosphere that are reasonably priced? Also, recs on coffeshops (preferably with wifi) where I can camp for the afternoon? I'm open to all sorts of food, love ethnic cuisine of all kinds, and trying to avoid sitting at the bar of TGIFridays.

chowhounders, can you help? I leave in the morning.

Many thanks -

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  1. Tight timeline!

    You'll be in the Annex - which is an amazing neighbourhood. Green Beanery is a great coffee shop (corner of Bloor and Bathurst) no idea about wireless though. Food in the area ... there's cheap lebanese takeout at Ghazales which is delicious (just beside the Bloor Cinema, east of Bathurst on the north side); there's delicious Indian at Mt. Everest, which is closer to Spadina (there are divergent views on this board).

    For an afternoon I'd recommend heading south to Kensington. Such a great neighbourhood. Just walk down spadina to College, and then go a wee bit west; the entrance to the neighbourhood is marked by a statue that looks like a post with a chair on top. Great little food shops to check out and a bunch of neat coffee places too. Torito is fun for tapas, La Palette for french bistro fare.

    Also, there's Harbord Street which is fun for food. Dessert Trends has delicious desserts, Harbord Room is a new Toronto favourite, and there are a couple of Bistros (Loire and Tati) that have had favourable reviews here.

    Those are my thoughts off the top of my head. Hope this helps! And welcome to Toronto!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      Green Beanery DOES have wi-fi, but personally I have never tried any of their offerings besides the beans. I'm not a fan of Ghazale, at least for shawarma - I don't care for the chewy microwaved meat, and thus go to Sarah's at Bloor & Brunswick when I'm in that neighborhood (excellent falafel).

      I agree that Harbord is a good bet - there's a little bit of everything, and it's a good place to stroll until something looks good. Harbord Fish and Chips, Boulevard Cafe, 93 Harbord, and the places Yum mentioned are generally pretty well liked on this board.

      I second (third?) the Kensington recommendation too - I never get tired of wandering and snacking my way through there and it's hard to find bad food. There's also a little bit of everything there too - it's a very diverse little neighborhood.

      Also, for lunch, there's the Hart House Gallery Grill, which is right on campus in a really neat setting. Only open for lunch.
      http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/hh/p...

      1. re: Yum2MyTum

        Great recs but all of these spots — other than the coffee house and food shops — are closed during the afternoon. Oops, Desert Trends is open.

      2. L'espresso Bar mercurio - http://www.lespressobarmercurio.com/i... is basically across the street from your hotel. Wonderful coffees and there are always lots of university types hanging out with their laptops, I'm sure they'll set you up with wi-fi.
        Jamie Kennedy is one of Toronto's 'star chefs.' He has a restaurant in the Gardiner Museum (also just down the street from your hotel). It's a beautiful room and not too expensive at lunch. http://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/abtre...
        Have fun.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jimmyb32

          I second both of these recommendations, and also the plan to go to Kensington Market for walking around and snacking. Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner has locally sourced food as well: http://www.jamiekennedy.ca/content/re...

          Try to avoid eating the "Sammy's Student Exchange", the restaurant in the basement of Hart House on campus. Lots of Hot Docs delegates there these days, but it's barely better than a dining hall, IMO.

        2. Welcome to TO kay.em.tea. Its nice to hear from a Boston hound-I visited your city this past spring and had a great time-I am still procrastinating about posting my reviews but loved Bin 26 and Neptune Oyster.

          You will be in my neighbourhood and I echo Yum2MyTum's recommendation for Torito and generally the Harbord Street strip. I also recommend Le Paradis for tasty, classic French bistro fare at reasonable prices. Its particularly suitable for the solo diner, especially at the bar. I would not classify it as a "destination" spot per se, but based on your post and location, I think it fits the bill. Its also a fave with the local academics and has a great atmosphere.

          Have a fun and safe trip!

          SWS

          -----
          Le Paradis
          166 Bedford Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9, CA

          Torito
          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

          Harbord Room
          89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            thanks for the great recs, guys and gals. really appreciate the help. will have to give this a bit more in depth look tonight :)

            thanks again! speaking of food ... time for dinner.

            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              I echo Le Paradis definitely. I had forgotten to mention that one.

            2. Do check out L'Espresso by Bar Mercurio. South side, nearly across from where you're staying, in the main floor of the funky new residence. Weird (not always bad, just odd) service, but great paninis on home baked bread, and some serious coffee.

              The Second Cup at Bloor and Lippincott (a block east of Bathurst) has wifi, and the staff are way nicer than at most chains.

              If you happen to be around the area and want to nurse a beer, Kilgours is the place to go. A charming mix of writers, artists and academics. Your biggest worry there is getting sucked into a Scrabble tournament.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ginsugirl

                Yes, forgot about Kilgours! For sure!

                1. re: Ginsugirl

                  ah, and i do love scrabble. i think that just bumped kilgours up the list. :) thanks again!

                2. Coffeehouses Aroma and Green Beanery at Bloor & Bathurst both have WiFi.

                  1. Burrito Bandidos on Walmer one block west of Spadina just north of Bloor is chow-worthy. It's the spin-off of Burrito Boys, a popular California-style burrito spot. Take-out only but good street food.

                    You're also close to Chinatown but Chinese isn't really conducive to dining alone.

                    For drinks, you might want to check out the Roof Lounge at the nearby Park Hyatt Hotel. Expensive but very Rat Pack if that's yer thing. It's patio also overlooks the dramatic new ROM museum renovation (about all you need to see of it).

                    1. I'd recommend Chinese because you can't get it as good in Boston.