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Sep 7, 2010 09:28 PM

toronto next week! - help

Will be in town for four days -- staying downtown, very transit friendly -- looking for three things: 1) unique Toronto food experiences; 2) inexpensive dive bars that are fun to hang out in and 3) good coffee. Thoughts?

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  1. I'd definitely recommend Hoof Cafe for brunch, or later on drinks and excellent bar snacks. The original Black Hoof is directly across the street for amazing charcuterie, and things like marrow and tongue sandwiches, etc....Excellent housemade cocktails at both spots. They don't do reservations but you can leave your number and grab a drink at one of the many bars in the immediate neighbourhood. I like Sweaty Betty's, Communist's Daughter, Baby Huey and Crooked Star. Each is within a 15 minute walking distance to both of the aforementioned Hooves. A search for Black Hoof and Hoof Cafe will turn up many results. I'd also recommend walking through Kesington Market. Lots of great shops and some interesting little Latin places that serve papusas, empanadas and other tasty stuff. Again a search will yield all the info you need. Kensington is connected to Chinatown which is also an interesting stretch to walk down with a variety of good Chinese options. For dive bars the Parkdale neighbourhood has the Rhino which has a great beer selection and across the street is Cadillac Lounge which likely qualifies as a friendly dive. If you're in the area there are some really good Roti options, including Bacchus for West Indian and Mother Indian for Indian rotis. There are also some poutine places on Queen Street near Parkdale which is uniquely Canadian. Some purists will tell you that it's not as good as real Quebec poutine that they had in a hole in the wall served by fur trappers and the curds squeak so loud you have to wear ear plugs, etc...but it's good. Particularly if you've never had it before. Can't help with coffee it turns me into a spazz.

    Enjoy your stay!

    The Black Hoof
    928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: jamesm

      For coffee, I'd recommend Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord, Manic on College, and Dark Horse on Spadina -- all within walking range of the jamesm's v good recommends above.

      147 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H1, CA

      Dark Horse
      2401 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

      1. re: jamesm

        ^ I agree with these recommendations! Great list Jamesm :)

        The Distillery District is also good for wandering, and Balzac offers a good cup of coffee :-)
        Ezra's Pound is near Hoof Cafe - a nice place to stop for coffee

        If you're shopping in the downtown core, my favourite coffee shop is currently Little Nicky's Coffee ( It's gotten a lot of attention lately for their fresh mini-donuts. I've had their mocha, which wasn't bad - not as mocha-ish as I like (but I have a strong sweet tooth - my friend enjoyed his). I've enjoyed a cup of mocha in Kensington's Krepesz as well. I'm more of a mocha/latte girl than a coffee girl.

        In Kensington, Moonbean Coffee is a popular choice as it's a nice place to just chill. It's getting a little cold though :(

        I've heard that the Dark Horse is really hit or miss, but I haven't tried it yet..
        Enjoy your stay and report back! I'd love to know what dive bars are good!


        Distillery District
        55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

        Ezra's Pound
        238 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R1V7, CA

        Dark Horse
        2401 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

      2. For downtown dive bars you might try the Rex. Food is mediocre roadhouse but the jazz makes for a fun night and a great space to hang out solo. Cheap drinks. Totally mixed crowd.

        The St. Lawrence market is fun for daytime gadding about and the peameal bacon sandwiches are a Canadian thing (I don't think they're any big woo, but Mr. Rabbit is American and loooves them). Also, you can probably find yourself a butter tart at the market.

        Toronto has some good Portuguese (notably Chiado... or the more casual Senhor Antonio which would probably be more fun for a solo diner). Globe Bistro is doing Canadian food and other spots like the Niagara Street Cafe or Cowbell also a have a strong local focus.

        Niagara Street Cafe
        169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA

        864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

        1. A great Toronto dive bar is Sneaky Dee's at College and Bathurst - cheap drinks, great nachos, great atmosphere.

          Sneaky Dee's
          431 College St, Toronto, ON M5T1T1, CA

          1. Wow, thanks, guys. Great stuff! I am staying at the Sheraton Centre on W. Queen St., btw. I love good charcuterie ... maybe that was telepathy? Let's hope so.

            One more question: if I had one pricey, formal meal ... where to? Canoe, perhaps?

            1 Reply
            1. re: dolphin146

              Canoe would be a good destination, or perhaps George which is also close to your hotel. If you're into charcuterie and excellent housemade cocktails I'd definitely hit up Black Hoof. Looking forward to your report and enjoy our city!

              The Black Hoof
              928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

            2. And I'll give a full report ... like the one I did on Buffalo a couple of weeks ago on the New York State board.