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Ignorant Yank Invades Toronto

I'm traveling end of month to Toronto for my first trip north of the States. I have much to learn. At this point I'm to be without a car and and staying at a hotel in Yorkville. Everything I will do will be foot / cab / public transit.

I gather that wine and spirits are only purchased at LCBO stores and judging from prices on see online I won't be buying much of anything there. I'd lose my gin and scotch habit quickly if I lived in Toronto!

Exchange rate appears to be pretty close to 1:1 (and I'll be using credit card most of the time) but does US Cash work if I need it? I would assume not?

I haven't done much reading yet so I'm wondering what's unique about Toronto? It's obviously a global city so I'm sure I can find a little bit of everything but what's uniquely "Ontarian" that I need to make sure to experience? I'll bone up on some history.

My college years enjoying the wisdom of Bob and Doug McKenzie are not going to help me much in Toronto I fear. I need better resources.

I will peruse the Ontario postings for recs already in place but if you have a couple of spots walking distance from Marriott downtown please let me know. I've already honed in on one of the oyster spots ( Rodney's, Oyster Boy, John and Son's) although none of them look real close to hotel.

Thanks in advance

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  1. Situated in Yorkville, plenty of options (unfortunately Yorkville restos are over-rated & expensive).

    Consider using the convenient subway line since it's right in Yorkville to travel to neighbourhoods.

    1. US cash might work in Yorkvile but not likely anywhere else. What are you looking for? You might want to check out the Toronto episode of Layover.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MissBingBing

        To the best of my knowledge, US cash will be accepted just about everywhere. Most likely at par.

        DT

        1. re: Davwud

          Yea people will gladly accept US Cash.
          Never had a problem anywhere in Canada.

          I think alot of us still have that 90's mentality when it was $.60 Cdn for $1 USD

      2. King Palace. Cheap Pakistani/Indian on Church just east of Yonge next to the car wash.

        1 Reply
        1. The Marriott Downtown is located by the Eaton Center, I presume you mean the Marriott Bloor Yorkville which sits basically on top of the Bloor/Yonge subway station (and is actually a couple blocks walk from Yorkville proper), there's also a LCBO store in your hotel building but it's a small one.

          Most places at this point will take US Dollars, but they won't necessarily be happy about it and may charge a ridiculous fee. Some will decline. Your ATM card will work in any Canadian ATM, RBC has a branch with ATMs in your hotel building.

          There's a decent Sandwich shop called Black Camel a short walk from the hotel on Yonge Street at Rosedale. Walk out the front door of your hotel and jaywalk across the street for decent coffee at Crema.

          1. Hmmm, where to start. Toronto is a melting pot so as you suspect, you will certainly be able to find a bit of everything (except of course truly unique regional specialities such as southern BBQ, Cajun/Creole etc.). As is NYC, San Francisco etc. the cultural/ethnic communities are often concentrated in heighbourhoods such as Chinatown, Little Italy etc. You will have no problem finding very good Indian, Chinese, Greek, Portugese, Italian cuisine etc. US funds are widely accepted but you will get gouged on the exchange rate. Most ATM's will be connected to the major bank and credit card networks, so I would probably suggest withdrawing cash as and when needed. If you are there on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, try to go to the St. Lawrence Market. It is a typical farmers market but has a good selection of local produce, meat and artisanal products. If you do go to the market, most locals will tell you to get the iconic "bacon on a bun" sandwich from Carousel bakery (it is very good!). As far as any "Ontarian" experiences or cuisine, aside from the stereotypical Canadian bacon or maple syrup, any local chains are slop (you may be tempted to go to a Tim Horton's Donut shop or Harvey's Hamburgers...don't bother. Think Dunkin Donuts and Big Boy). Rodneys is good, Li Wah Heen for dim sum, Libretto for Pizza and maybe Black Camel for a basic sandwich....otherwise, it's pretty much just like any other mid-to-large size N. American city. Oh, one more thing...Torontonian's typically only want what they have to line up for. The herd mentalility prevails. They also suffer from a major inferiority complex relative to their neighbours from south of the border (witness the inevitable flurry of posts here boasting of "world class" this and that...blah, blah, blah). At the end of the day, Toronto is a pleasant city, with friendly people and its fair share of nice (albeit pretentious) restaurants. In other words, not much different than what you are probably used to at home. I hope this helps. Have fun.

            5 Replies
            1. re: StayThirsty

              Wouldn't recommend Lai Wah Heen as its changed chefs, menu and owners.

              1. re: MissBingBing

                Thanks...I did not know. Where in the downtown core do you suggest for dim sum nowadays...Is Pink Pearl down at Q's Quay still OK???

                1. re: StayThirsty

                  If you're looking for high-end ambiance, then try Crown (Bay) or Dynasty (Yorkville)

                  Downtown, Sky, Rolson, Dim Sum King, Rosewood

              2. re: StayThirsty

                "Oh, one more thing...Torontonian's typically only want what they have to line up for. The herd mentalility prevails. They also suffer from a major inferiority complex relative to their neighbours from south of the border (witness the inevitable flurry of posts here boasting of "world class" this and that...blah, blah, blah)."

                um..................................

                1. re: StayThirsty

                  "Oh, one more thing...Torontonian's typically only want what they have to line up for. The herd mentalility prevails. They also suffer from a major inferiority complex relative to their neighbours from south of the border (witness the inevitable flurry of posts here boasting of "world class" this and that...blah, blah, blah)."

                  Funny, I would have said something more along the lines of:

                  A certain segment of Torontonians feel an odd and quite tedious compulsion to relentlessly deride anything and everything here as being barely adequate, presumably in an effort to look sophisticated, and discerning themselves.

                  To add to the OP's list:

                  None of these are fine dining, or Yorkville, and all are fun, quirky, neighbourhoody places, but I like:

                  - Moti Mahal for delicious, super-flavourful cheap-and-cheerful Indian food. (Gerard and Coxwell)
                  - Porchetta and Co for tasty, porky, crispy, sandwiches. (Dundas and Bathurst)
                  - The Only Cafe for fun and eclectic beer, coffee, etc. (Donlands and Danforth)
                  - Kozlik's in St. Lawrence Market for excellent mustard.

                  Personally, I'm on the fence about the Carousel Bakery peameal bacon sandwich. It's fine, but not as good as homemade, in my opinion. The bun's good, the mustard's good, but the meat is meh, in my view. I like the stuff at Sausage King in the market, though.

                  Happy visiting!