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Aug 18, 2009 12:07 PM

One day, this Friday, in Toronto (West Queen West)

The wife and I will be in Ontario this weekend for a wedding, but unfortunately we will only have Friday to explore Toronto. We are staying that night at the Gladstone Hotel in West Queen West. For reference, we're in our late 20s and from Brooklyn. Trying to catch up on this board is a Herculean task, so I was hoping for some quick pointers to get me started...

Our flight lands around noon and we'll have a car, so what would you do with a free Friday afternoon and no plans? Are any worthwhile markets open for perusing, or neighborhoods I should know about that have a high density of great eating (maybe with some culture mixed)?

I imagine Friday night we'll be looking for an unpretentious, albeit delicious meal near our hotel in West Queen West. Vdara appears to be a board favorite, and Nyood looks like something we'd enjoy. Please let me know what I'm missing. I'd love something exciting...

Thanks again for answering what I'm sure is a tired question......

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  1. Something exciting? How about Mother India on Queen W. east of Lansdowne. Yummy, yummy East Indian style rotis. They are huge and delicious. Very unpretentious.

    1. skip vdara and nyood and leave the car in the garage and walk up up ossington and check out he scene there, or cross under the bridge and head the cadillac lounge for some music and parkdale's largest patio...the food isn't great but he vibe is good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: robgm

        I second this notion. There are good local places to eat at up and down Ossington.

        Pizza Libretto

        I'm sure you'll have a good time.

      2. take the car up to markham and richmond hill and immerse yourself into the intensity of a true china-city. there are plenty of posts on good dining up there but it's a matter of what you're looking for... dim sum, dumplings, noodles, finer dining... etc. one of my favourite "cheap" stops is the ten ren's at hwy 7 for their fresh fruit bubble tea. real fruit is just so much more refreshing than powdered gunk.

        Vdara is NOT a board favourite. what exactly is it that makes you feel nyood would draw you in? would make it easier to suggest alternatives.

        12 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          If you don't want to bother going out of the city I would recommend Terrori or Pizzeria Libretto. Both are fairly close to the Gladstone.

          Vdara has been mentioned a few times lately but you can definately do better.

          1. re: paper_bag_princess

            I'd just leave the car and head east along Queen to Kensington Market lots of posts about it on here. Then on the way back stop in on Ossington for a drink. Or, if you want to stay closer Ossington has lots of good restaurants. You can look up Foxley, Delux, Pizzaeria Libretto or even just a general search for Queen/Ossington. It's a popular strip with a selection of bars and restaurants.

            1. re: jamesm

              The Gladstone to Kensington? That's a heckuva walk. I'd take the car and park at the municipal lot at Kensington instead.

              Walking east along Queen takes you past Poutini - share one as you walk. (Hint: add a bit of malt vinegar to go with their relatively bland gravy - it adds zip).

              You will also pass by Oyster Boy (just before Trinity-Bellwoods park). If the weather co-operates (and that's a big IF given this summer of rain), you might want to get their deep-fried oysters and fish and chips to go, and have an impromptu picnic in the quite beautiful park.

              From the park, there's a couple of fairly boring blocks, but once you get to Palmerston, things begin to pick up. Lots of interesting shops and holes in the wall. I can't say I've tried them all, but many look like they're worth a visit.You could go all the way to University before you run out of quality real estate.

              Once you're tired, the good news is you can just hop on the Queen street car, and it will drop you off right in front of your hotel. Oh, and at Ossington, which runs north from Queen just across from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (which, when I was a boy, was affectionately called the "loony bin"), you can walk a block up to Argyle where you'll find Venezia, an excellent Portugese bakery, Golden Turtle for Vietnamese, and "Frantic City" - a treasure trove of used records and books.

              1. re: KevinB

                Gladstone to Kensington is a long walk? I walk there regularly from Roncesvalles. It takes a little longer than a half hour.

          2. re: pinstripeprincess

            I'd say you go for dim sum for lunch, straight from the airport in Richmond Hill or Markham. Highly recommend Yang's......Maybe check out an Asian mall afterwards, such as First Markham Place or Pacific Mall. You will not find this level of quality for Chinese food in NYC, not even Flushing.

            After that, check into Gladstone, walk around and develop a hunger. Eat at the restaurants in the surrounding area as mentioned in this thread (foxley, delux, union, etc...). Ignore Pizzeria Libretto, you have Difara's, why bother. Nyood has a very foo foo "to be seen" feel to it, I haven't been so I can't comment on the food.

            Afterwards, do a bar crawl and people watch. That area is admittedly very Williamsburg by nighttime. Bars include Beaconsfield, Drake, Sweaty Betty, Lot 16, Levack Block, Wrongbar, etc......If you feel like dancing and such, pick up a copy of Eye or Now, local weeklies akin to Village Voice.

            At the end of the night, you can settle the booze w/ a poutine from Poutini.

            Yangs Fine Chinese Cuisine
            9665 Bayview Ave, Richmond Hill, ON L4C, CA

            1. re: aser

              Williamsburg is exactly the right point of comparison!

            2. re: pinstripeprincess

              Thanks for the reply!
              Vdara just came up several times in searches for Queens West, all with more or less favorable reviews. While I wasn't wowed by the menu, I was willing to trust Hounders...
              Re: Nyood, the menu seems unique with interesting ingredients, and I couldn't get a reservation until 9:15p which led me to believe that it was the place to be.

              Restaurants that draw us in would be places with high-quality seasonal ingredients, non-fussy preparations and laid-back atmospheres. I'm not sure if the analogy works here, but we definitely prefer Brooklyn restaurants to those across the river in Manhattan.

              However, if the Toronto scene is great food in loud venues, we're totally up for it!

              1. re: EJC

                From that description I'd say Union would be right up your alley.

                1. re: JennaBean

                  Yup, Union sounds like exactly what you want. It gets busy so a res is essential.

                2. re: EJC

                  i would skip nyood for dinner, and go to one of the ossington places mentioned already, BUT would drop by Nyood late at night for desert and a glass of icewine or such. nyood is a scen-y kind of a place (and pretty stunning visually), but also fun, with very attentive service and no attitude. watching the crowd and street from the bar while enjoying one of their excellent deserts (champagne float is my favourite) is a fun way to end the night.

                  1. re: EJC

                    i was pretty much thinking exactly along the same lines as aser, since you're out in the car and already by the airport you really should go north and get dim sum... i really can't think of where you will ever experience what goes on in markham and richmond hill in the US. it is a unique cultural hub.

                    based on what you said i'd also agree with suggestions for union over nyood. the food at nyood is good but the 9:15 reservation means you're going to get hit with the "club & drinks" crowd and it's already pretty loud in there during the dinner hour. even with our produce coming out to shine over the next couple of months, nyood's focus isn't really on local whereas union is - what you seemto be drawn to. it's brand spanking new but really trying to offer something great.

                    if somehow magically you have some time on saturday then the kensington market area or st lawrence market area would be great to browse around even if it is for a quick moment. lots of culture as well and very toronto centric but still not quite reaching the impressiveness of scale that markham/RH have.

                3. Friday afternoon is a good time check out the St. Lawrence market. Take the Queen street car east from the Gladstone all the way to Jarvis, then walk south to Front (2 blocks) and you're in the neighbourhood. The market is fun to walk around and great for food culture.

                  Kensington is also a good choice - less alive on a Friday afternoon than on a weekend. Likewise, take the Queen street car east to Spadina, walk through our Chinatown and go a bit northeast to find Kensington. Plenty of good food places. Torito is a favourite on this board. But for dinner, it might make sense to head back to Ossington - it's a fun strip and there are plenty of restaurants to suit your needs (Foxley, Union?)

                  Welcome to the city!

                  1. If you only have one day in Toronto then I would suggest spending it walking about the city versus touring the 'burbs... unless you have a real interest in Chinese food in particular, in which case absolutely make the pilgrimage to Richmond Hill.

                    Your location is excellent and if you're into walking then I'd suggest heading down Queen to Spadina, through Chinatown, detour through Kensington, and walking across College to Ossington and then back to your hotel. This is a 5km-ish square with lots to see/do in terms of art galleries, culture, shopping, and feeding/drinking (and you have access to cabs/public transit if you want to pull the chute and head back to your hotel bar to drink).

                    I really like Nyood (the red violin is a great cocktail and I like the their Aviation too). The spicy short ribs, polenta, and winter vegetables (I know veggies sound boring, but these are not!) are my favouite dishes. And the lemon brulee bombe is great. It can get loud, but not insufferably so. There are other good options on Ossington, but I would absolutely recommend a reservation on Friday night... the thought of just walking up Os. and finding something without an hour+ wait is extremely unlikely and I would find that an annoying way to spend my vacay. But after dinner Reposado (a tequila bar with back patio!) or the Painted Lady (New Orleans theme) could be very fun for drinks.

                    If you're passing through Kensington I love the black rum cake at the Caribbean bakeries, the empanadas at Jumbo Empanadas, and there is allegedly great vegan (?!) gelato at a place called Hibiscus. The Skyard at the Drake would be great for an afternoon cocktail/snack, although it gets very zooish at night (which may or may not be your thing).

                    Torito (Spanish tapas in Kensington) might be another thought for dinner.

                    Please do let us know where you end up!