Toronto Trip: Weekend and Birthday Ideas
I am visiting Toronto with my girlfriend next weekend. We are staying at the Hyatt on Front and Jarvis. It's her birthday as well so I am looking for some ideas/places to eat for the entire weekend (Friday afternoon - Monday afternoon) as well as her birthday.
We are open to try all kinds of foods. Ideas for sushi(AYCE or otherwise), breakfast etc would be great. We would like to enjoy Toronto stuff rather than chain restaurants.
I have also been reading about 'The Rex' jazz bar. I am hoping to take her out to something like that one of the nights. Is The Rex too tacky and loud? Something musically pleasant and suitable for a birthday/date? We are recent university grads so the pockets are not that deep thought I dont wanna cheap out either.
Thanks a ton!
2nd vote for Brasaii for brunch.
Nice thing is it's right at King & Spadina, so you can stroll up Spadina to Kensington Market right after. Stop at Dark Horse on the way for a traveler and by the time you hit the market you'll be ready for a fresh baked piece of pie at the pie shop right by the Fat Burrito... ;)
1. The Rex is a dive bar. I love it and I go often, but it's not at all fancy or upscale. It is by no means tacky, but it's gritty. The food is mediocre (roadhouse-y stuff), but the atmosphere is great. I'd check it out (might be good for a cheap weekend lunch if you're shopping along Queen).
2. For a more upscale music spot you could look at the Reservoir Lounge or Harlem, which are both near your hotel. Neither are over the top expensive, and the food at Harlem is supposed to be excellent (I've never been so this isn't a first-hand recommendation).
3. For breakfast, I might wander down to the St. Lawrence market and make a bit of a picnic. You could do the same for lunch... but this will only amuse if you're food people who like busy markets. Don't overlook the north market if you're visiting on a Saturday. And the SLM is closed on Sunday.
4. Second Thatcher's School recommendation, but it's pretty far from your hotel. I like Senator, Dark Horse, Drake and the Hyatt too (and agree with their descriptions... except that I never worry too much about dressing for the Hyatt).
5. A few Oother spots I love. Negroni Panini for lunch or dinner (cheap and cheerful, but still a bit romantic, excellent panini, great service), Torito (tapas, can add up but fun and romantic for a splurge dinner, Kensington market is a great area for wandering about), Ematei is where the Japanese expats eat (but it's more izakaya than sushi and it can feel a little dark), Weezie's is a small local spot close to your hotel that might be good for a reasonable-but-romantic-ish dinner, Ame is new and very luxe for Japanese/sushi (expensive, but you could just stop for a drink and a snack).
354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA
30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA
276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA
52 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA
492 College Street, Toronto, ON M6G 1A4, CA
My bad. The Hyatt at King and Spadina.
These ideas are great. We are coming down from Winnipeg and are really looking forward to the trip. We have been to Toronto twice now but I don't want to do the touristy stuff anymore. I want the local food and entertainment experience.
Keep em coming.......Thanks!
blitz, pay very careful attention to the rec's you're getting here. The hardest part for you will be navigating through the plethora of bad, pouseur restaurants in the Entertainment District. If you haven't heard it here, I wouldn't take a chance. That neighbourhood specializes in separating tourists from their money.
I tend not to hang out there, so I don't really know where to dine amongst the landmines. Here are some places near your hotel that I've heard good things about. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can help narrow this down a bit more.
Breakfast: Cora's http://www.chezcora.com/a/05-ou-dejeuner/196.htm
Brunch: Brassai http://www.brassaii.com/
French Bistro: Le Select Bistro http://www.leselect.com/
Indian: 309 Dhaba http://www.dhaba.ca/
Mexican: Milagro http://www.milagrorestaurant.com/
The name says it all: Rodney's Oyster House http://rodneysoysterhouse.com/index9.php
Sushi for the break the bank birthday dinner: Ame http://amecuisine.com/
Wine by-the-glass: Crush Wine Bar http://www.crushwinebar.com/
455 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V1K4, CA
461 King St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K7, CA
309 Dhaba Indian Excellence
309 King Street West (across from Hyatt on King), Toronto, ON M5V 1J5, CA
432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA
5 Mercer St, Toronto, ON M5V1H2, CA
277 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V3E4, CA
Rodney's Oyster House
469 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1K4, CA
A couple more adds:
- if you want a really nice place to have sushi for your special b-day dinner, try Blowfish resto.
If you want good sushi without the bling, try New Generation Sushi on Bloor, or Asuka in Yorkville. Also in Yorkville is Sushi Inn, which is a little easier on the budget.
I don't recommend New Generation Sushi on Bloor for a birthday celebration. It is true that the food is good, but the place is VERY busy. Last time I was there, the minute we finished eating we were asked if we could leave because there was a line up outside. If you're celebrating and want to linger after dinner it's probably not the best place to go.
Since you're new grads and don't want to drop a wad, I'd save some money by trying *nicer* (ie, more interesting, more *Toronto stuff*) places for brunch, cheap eats for a snack and having dinner at ethnic places, which you may or may not have much access to where you currently live and then end the evening with a drink at some of the nicer spots.
Also, how will you be dressed? Sounds like a dumb question, but if you're out in hoodies and skate shoes (not being derogatory) it will preclude you from going to some spots...
Here's my own personal list of what I'd tell my nephews to do if they were coming into the city for a weekend:
- A great brunch Saturday at a funky neighbourhood place like the House on Parliament (great food, big portions) or School Bakery & Cafe in Liberty Village (small meals well presented, great room, nice location)
- Breakfast Sunday at the Senator or at a dingy diner on Queen East - or a massive breakfast at Cora's on Front St (though a little touristy)
- Chill with Coffees at some point at the Dark Horse Cafe at 215 Spadina (just north of Queen)...it's more of a destination than the east end location
- Cheap(er) dinner one night at Asian Legend on Dundas, just east of Spadina
- If you're going to the AGO, have drinks at their bar afterward, or better yet, walk up to Baldwin St, turn left and find the little Italian cafe/bar on the south side (sorry, no name)
- Cheap, massive and tasty burrito for lunch at Big Fat Burrito in Kensington Market
- Pizza slice lunch or snack from any one of the many independent pizza places that dot the city
- A fancy and romantic evening drink at the (enclosed) rooftop bar atop the Hyatt at University and Bloor (need to dress for it)
- A trendy evening drink at the Drake (packed!), or at the Gladstone hotel (more mellow)
- A tiny, cozy, noisy hidden away place off Yonge St called Fire on the East Side, that's good for a drink or dinner and close to Yonge/Bloor
- Cheap dim Sum lunch at the huge Chinese Restauant on Spadina with the yellow building, red roof and dog/lion-thing statues outside of it
If you want to splurge on a special birthday dinner, make reservations at Politica on Strachan, at wonderful, small, romantic place where you can take your time and have an excellent meal. Mains will be between $20-30. Then you can walk up to Queen West and head in any direction to find a bar. You will not be disappointed!!