Two Months in Toronto
Montreal hounds coming to Toronto next week for a couple months. We are two students who will be working in Toronto for the summer. I've been perusing this board for a couple weeks now and feel so overwhelmed with all the possibilities.
We will be staying on Bay and Gerrard and will have access to a kitchen. Kensington market sounds very exciting and I will hopefully go often to pick up stuff for dinner. Is there another market around that I also should be looking into?
We usually spend our money on brunch as it let's us enjoy restaurants we couldn't afford for dinner service. I would love a couple high end brunch ideas (but under 80$ for two) and a couple lower end recommendations.
I saw that Splendido has a 35$ brunch, is it worth it?
We are also looking for less expensive (under 35$ for two) places where we can pick up dinner and bring back to the apartment to eat. We love dives, diners and homemade comfort food.
We are also looking for one nice celebratory dinner at a more upscale place that won't break the bank (under 150$ for two).
Some restaurants in Montreal offer a special after 9 or 10pm where the menu is much cheaper, is this also available in Toronto?
Will we be able to find food trucks in our neighbourhood? Are there any we should go out of the way to try? We have no mexican options back home so we are looking forward to trying some over here.
Lastly, we are looking for a bakery that has good desserts and a fun ice cream shop.
We won't have a car, but are use to taking public transportation.
A big thank you in advance!
For cheap eats within walking distance, try:
1. Something 2 Talk About - better-than-average Middle Eastern on the northwest corner of Bay & Gerrard.
2. The strip of Asian restaurants on Dundas, between Bay and University is great for really cheap dinners for 2.
For slightly nicer ambiance that still won't break the bank, try Baldwin St. (about a 10-15 min walk straight west) - John's Italian Cafe is on a great little street filled with cute restaurants and cafes, it has a patio and the food is good without costing a fortune.
Cafe La Graffe, also on Baldwin, has an upscale brunch.
Free Times Cafe, about a 15 min. walk away on College St., has a good and fattening Sunday brunch with klezmer music.
St. Lawrence Market is walking distance, if the weather is good.
On Wednesdays, starting July 10, there will be a farmer's market at Nathan Philips Square (City Hall, 10 min. walk)
Dolce on Danforth is great for gelato.
Future Bakery and Cafe has good breads and desserts.
The Bloor/Bathurst area also has some good cheap eats for 2, esp. if you like sushi.
+1 for St. Lawrence Market. If you can tie in a Saturday morning visit the north market is open at this time of year and many local farmers set up shop there selling their wares. Best to go early though since it can get pretty crowded.
Also +1 for Chinatown for shopping and eating.
If you are near Nathan Phillips Square around midday Wednesdays your stay will coincide with the "Fresh Wednesdays" farmers market. More info is here: http://www.toronto.ca/special_events/...
I don't know of any late-night deals, but there are often cheap set menus/special deals on wine on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Union, Ascari Enoteca, Porzia - Monday nights 1/2 off wine, Brockton General - Weeknight prix fixe, Beast - Wednesday 1/2 off wine etc).
Summerlicious will be on when you're here in July (I think?), not everyone on the board likes it, but there are some good deals (Luma, Canoe, George, 93 Harbord, Drake, Globe are some of my faves).
Brunch/Lunch is a good option for saving. I like Luma for upscale downtown.
Harbord Room would be nice for your more celebratory dinner and you'll get a great experience there without food that's too fussy.
For Mexican there's been a rash of tacos - La Carnita (now doing brunch), Grand Electric (also doing lunch) and Playa Cabana (takes reservations!) are the top three, but Seven Lives in Kensington is a good option as well.
There may be food truck events when you're here - follow them on Twitter to check.
For comfort food, Caplansky is near Kensington. Or for upscale pub comfort food you're very near The Queen and Beaver. You should also check out The Gabardine on Bay.
There's okay ice cream at Ed's in Leslieville/The Beach, but you're better of with gelato uptown (Gelatiere, Simply gelato) if you like frozen treats.
Toronto has no decent roving food trucks to speak of. They may give us all the cooties or something.
St. Lawrence Market is also worth looking at, as are the grocery stores in Chinatown, just south of Kensington.
There's loads of great cheap places where you can even eat in for $35 for two. Especially if you like Asian or Middle Eastern food.
Never heard of a late evening discount in Toronto. There is Summerlicious, where restaurants offer a limited set menu at reduced prices.
If you go to the St Lawrence Market, keep in mind that they are open Saturdays and closed sundays. I believe they are open Monday to Friday as well. The peameal sandwich at Carousel Bakery (at the market) is amazing. I am not even that big a fan of peameal, but the sandwich is so good. Other hounds will tell you there is better elsewhere, but if you're at the market, you might as well at least share one between the two of you!
For Mexican, there are quite a few in the city - Grand Electric is extremely popular, but they do not take reservations. Apparently a good plan when going there is to give them your name and number and then head across the street for drinks at a pub there.
Playa Cabana is also quite popular. They do take reservations and I recommend getting them. Their guacamole is quite good, and their fish tacos and short-rib tacos are very tasty.
Milagro is a more "upscale" Mexican restaurant but I would not say it is better than Playa Cabana.
Another Mexican place I have tried and liked is El Rincon. Agave y aguacate has relocated and should be opening soon - there is a bit of a Chow following for this place, but I am yet to try it.
A trip to the Stockyards would be a great dinner. Their friend chicken is enough for two. Their burger, pulled pork and ribs are also good choices.
If you are in the Ossington/Bloor area stop by Bakerbots for an ice-cream sandwich - delicious! Bestsellen is not far from there and I had a really delicious burger there and enjoyed everything else I ate there as well.
Hope you have a good time in Toronto!
St. Lawrence Market is also closed on Mondays.
There are a growing number of roaming food trucks in Toronto. As crawfish points out below you can follow them on twitter. Daily locations are also posted on facebook.
I don't think anyone has mentioned it yet, but I'd also recommend checking out the Distillery District. The Boiler House has a Sunday jazz brunch for $24.95 a person. Nice patio to people watch and then have a wander around after to check out the shops and art galleries.
Kensington Market is a great place to roam around and try lots of different food. For the last few summers Kensington has been closed to traffic the last Sunday of each month and there is a festival atmosphere with street performers and the shops/restaurants setting up outdoor food stands. Not sure about the schedule this year as it is not up on their website yet.