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Visiting Toronto for the first time

mangomeat Oct 27, 2013 11:18 PM

A friend and I are visiting Toronto for the first time next week and we'd like to make it the best trip ever.

We're in our late 20's and from Montreal. Food-wise, we're trying to find places that are good value but also essential, amazing eats that Toronto has to offer (best pizza or burgers, for example).

So far, we're thinking of eating at:

- Pizzeria Libretto
- Capitano's Burgers
- Fresco Fish n Chips
- Queen Schnitzel (is this any good?)
- Soma Chocolatemakers
- Bakerbots Bakery

What do you guys think of those places? Does anyone have other suggestions for some cool restaurants?

As far as activities and things to do go, we're looking for anything that's unique to Toronto and fun/interesting in early November. Parking advice is also appreciated since we're going to be visiting by car. For instance, is there parking around Kensington or the Distillery District, and how expensive is it?

We're planning on visiting Kensington Market and the Distillery District, but are there any more interesting neighbourhoods or streets? Does anyone have suggestions for specific shops or restaurants in Little Italy? Is Chinatown worth a visit? Also, is the peameal sandwich at St. Lawrence Market worth it, or is there something better to try at the market?

We're also going to be having lunch at the 360 restaurant, not so much for the food, but for the experience. And we'll be catching a show at The Guvernment to make the trip more interesting.

  1. Davwud Oct 31, 2013 10:20 AM

    St. Lawrence Mkt is well worth it. Don't believe anyone who says it isn't. Some it may just not appeal to for one reason or another. Some just want to think that everything here is iferrior to everywhere else. But anyone from out of town who I've taken is overwhelmed.

    The peameal sandwich is traditional. If you want to do it, get one at Carousel Bakery. Ask for one fresh off the griddle. Tell them you're from out of town and want to be impressed.
    There are plenty of great things to eat either on site or to take with you.
    Witteveen Meats oven roasts whole slabs of bacon and pork loin that you can snack on. Or take for later.
    I love grabbing some pepperettes from Upper Cut meats to snack on while shopping.
    Scheffler's is one of my favourite vendors. Most things can be sampled first and the anti pasta/olive bar has many, many tasty offerings.
    I think Kozlik's makes the best mustard on the planet. Plenty of sampling there too.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Davwud
      mskatsam Oct 31, 2013 10:42 AM

      The peameal sandwich at the St. Lawrence market is truly a Toronto experience. Plus - reasonably priced. Enjoy.

      Burger Priest is a good option for burgers.

    2. b
      burlgurl Oct 29, 2013 08:17 PM

      Totally grab a burger at Burgers Priest...I personally love the California burger...they grill the buns like a grill cheese and unlike any burger I've had ..soo good!

      1. hal2010 Oct 28, 2013 08:42 PM

        There are lots of interesting restaurants from around the world and they're usually great value. Ethiopian on Danforth East, go a bit farther and it's Bangladeshi, head north to Lawrence and it's Middle Eastern. Then there's Korean on Bloor West. South Indian in the burbs.

        1. m
          mangomeat Oct 28, 2013 05:39 PM

          Thanks, guys! We're checking out all your suggestions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mangomeat
            burlgurl Oct 28, 2013 08:06 PM

            If you're in little Italy, grab a super fresh sandwich at The Fish Store..a little shack that makes awesome fish sandwiches, salads

          2. t
            TeacherFoodie Oct 28, 2013 03:01 PM

            I would recommend Queen Margherita Pizza over Libretto. Pizza e Pazzi is also good pizza (and their meatballs are pretty good too).

            Soma for chocolate (distillery district - you could go here same day as SLM - note SLM is closed on Sundays).

            Bakerbots is awesome - get an ice-cream sandwich. You can get a half sandwich (they break one cookie in two) - the full one is pretty big.

            IMO the peameal sandwich at the SLM is amazing. My favourite peameal ever!

            For burgers I would choose Holy Chuck, especially if you are a milkshake fan. I've had strawberry cheesecake, and the salted caramel one - so good! The Stockyards also makes a good burger.

            Khao San Road is a good choice if you like Thai.

            If you want cheap souvenir crap - Chinatown is your place. I like walking around there and grabbing a snack from one of the bakeries.

            justxpete has made a good list for you as well.

            Enjoy your visit!

            1. KhaoSanRoad Oct 28, 2013 07:39 AM


              cntower - skip the meal, just enjoy the views. ideally catch sunset. drinks atop park hyatt is better money spent and their view includes a really tall tower.

              queens quay - not ideal in nov, but their are gardens, parks, lake views, beaches, shopping and a brewpub

              cityhall - a unique structure, and if you are lucky, a photo op with our mayor.

              kensington/chinatown - great area to walk. torito, cold tea, 7lives, rol san, chinese traditional bun. add AGO, the grange and the grange foodcourt. can also hit kinton ramen on baldwin.

              stlarencemarket/distillery - slm is a nice tourist destination, not for a montrealler imo. i do however enjoy distillery.

              little italy - a no-brainer here: bar isabel. other options are pastis d natas from golden wheat, woodlot bread, duffs wings, manic coffee, panzerotti at bitondos, veal sammy at california.

              other ideas - bloor from bay to ossington. roncy/parkdale. ossington barhopping, wqw boutiques & galleries

              - khao san road

              1. justxpete Oct 28, 2013 07:29 AM

                Just curious - where did you find these places?

                - Capitano's Burgers
                - Fresco Fish n Chips
                - Queen Schnitzel (is this any good?)
                - Bakerbots Bakery

                In any case:

                Burgers - Find a Burger's Priest
                Fish n Chips - The One that got away, or Chippy's, if it's still good (perhaps someone else can comment)
                Queen Schniztel - never heard of it
                Bakery - depends what you're looking for - but generally, feel free to go to: Nadege, Pain Perdu, Rahier, Thobors

                For good and (relatively) cheap eats, you should also consider:

                Porchetta & Co
                7 Lives
                Sabai Sabai
                Kori's roti in Oakville (since you have a car)
                Bahn Mi Boys
                Momofuku noodle bar (slightly more expensive but worth a visit)
                Grand Electric
                Poutini's (actually, scratch that, you're from Montreal!)
                Black Camel
                California Sandwich
                Burrito Boyz

                And there are about a million other places, but you'd have to be more specific as to what you're looking for...

                9 Replies
                1. re: justxpete
                  JennaBean Oct 28, 2013 07:39 AM

                  Queen Schnitzel is a little hole in the wall on the south side of Queen just east of Sherborne. I've never been in but I've walked by - usually quickly.

                  1. re: justxpete
                    atomeyes Oct 28, 2013 03:26 PM

                    Shnitzel Queen's only known for this YELP review:

                    not sure why anyone would want to go there. it's 80 year old windows on the second floor always remain open and don't have screens. i assume they get some lovely visitors that crawl or fly into their attic. but anyways...

                    enough people have commented about the oddities on your list.

                    1. re: atomeyes
                      justxpete Oct 28, 2013 08:56 PM

                      Hilarious. I think I've actually read that "review" before. Can these seriously be real, though? Not someone just trying to draw attention? Perhaps a bit of both?

                      1. re: justxpete
                        mangomeat Oct 28, 2013 10:00 PM

                        I found all of those on yelp. For the schnitzel place, I actually searched for "schnitzel" on there. The place referenced in the youtube vid appears to be fictive, so it's probably just a coincidence.

                        1. re: mangomeat
                          atomeyes Oct 29, 2013 09:46 AM

                          that's a real review.

                          1. re: mangomeat
                            mskatsam Oct 31, 2013 10:32 AM

                            I would recommend Country Style on Bloor near Bathurst for schnitzel. It's a diner style dated restaurant with heaping portions (you may even wish to share). Nothing fancy but reasonably priced. I would steer clear of Schnitzel Queen as it really is in one of the most depressed neighborhoods in the city.

                      2. re: justxpete
                        bytepusher Oct 28, 2013 06:41 PM

                        Chippy's gets mixed reviews

                        I'd suggest Olde Yorke (since they have a car)

                        Fresco doesn't seem to be on the Chowhound radar at all but it gets some good reviews elsewhere. However I think it's take out only so not exactly ideal in November.

                        1. re: bytepusher
                          burlgurl Oct 28, 2013 07:56 PM

                          Chippy's is horrible..it's saving grace is a great location across from Trinity Bellwoods..a great park.
                          Fresco's is way better, but nothing destination worthy. If your in Kensington market and craving fish and chips, sure.
                          If cheap quick bites are what you're looking for add Bahn Mi Boys, Grand Electric and Electric Mud BBQ

                          1. re: burlgurl
                            atomeyes Oct 29, 2013 09:46 AM

                            the only cheap bite at Electric Mud is their water.
                            not sure what you're ordering....

                      3. l
                        LemonLauren Oct 28, 2013 07:26 AM

                        Kensington-Chinatown for an afternoon is a good plan. Include Seven Lives for tacos, or Sanagan's for sandwiches, get coffee at Grind House, or drinks at Thristy and Miserable, and wrap your evening at Cold Tea.

                        Distillery District is interesting, but not really authentic. Though it's close to St Lawrence Market, which is very much worthwhile.

                        I love Leslieville for wandering/grazing, but it is a bit yuppie/stroller/dog-centric.

                        For "cool" restaurants, sure Libretto is good, but there's many more that are great. Chantecler in Parkdale, Bar Isabel (better than great, the best new resto in Canada) in Little Italy, Skin and Bones in Leslieville (a personal preference) and Farmhouse in the Junction (REALLY great for brunch) would be my recommendations.

                        For burgers, +1 to the Priest.

                        Have fun!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LemonLauren
                          KhaoSanRoad Oct 28, 2013 07:41 AM

                          id add rashers to leslieville

                          - khao san road

                        2. KhaoSanRoad Oct 28, 2013 07:01 AM


                          where are you staying? if you can leave your car behind id rec a ttc day pass over parking rates. and our bixi program, while limited in size compared to mtl, runs year round...and even tho its limited, its way better than "the better way" (the ttc). the only reason you would want to drive is if you plan destinations well off the subway lines.

                          - khao san road

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                            disgusti Oct 28, 2013 07:12 AM

                            I drive in Toronto all the time you just have to be a bit patient or inventive in regard to parking

                            1. re: disgusti
                              KhaoSanRoad Oct 28, 2013 07:48 AM

                              i drive all the time as well. and with our confusing signage and volume of construction and add high costs: i rec not driving.

                              - khao san road

                              ps - i hate the ttc (but pro public transit in theory)

                              1. re: disgusti
                                szw Oct 28, 2013 08:16 AM

                                I drive in toronto too (well, used to), would not recommend it for a tourist at all.

                            2. petek Oct 28, 2013 04:54 AM

                              Where are you staying? How long will you be here?(this info will help with suggestions)
                              As much as I loathe the TTC,it's sometimes better than driving in Toronto.Parking in any major city can be a pain in the ass.
                              Pizza Libretto or QMP(both have 2 locations) are solid pizza choices. Burger's Priest or Holy Chuck,best burgers in town.
                              Kensington and Chinatown are side by each..so why not visit both(I'm a big fan of Swatow for cheap and cheerful Chinese.
                              I'm not a big fan of St.Lawrence market and I think the peameal sandwich is meh..but if you insist on going,why not try it for yourself.
                              Lot's of great neighborhoods to explore(if time permits)Dundas west,Queen west,the Ossington strip,Bloor west all have great food and shopping.

                              Plenty of other suggestions will come your way shortly so stay tuned.
                              Have a great stay.

                              1. a
                                akhorasanee Oct 28, 2013 04:33 AM

                                Seven lives at kennsington market
                                Haven't been to capitanos but burgers I would do burgers priest or holy chuck
                                Thai at sabai sabai or sukhothai or khao San road

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: akhorasanee
                                  jayzen25 Oct 29, 2013 09:53 AM

                                  I second Seven Lives, great tacos!, also I would try a burrito, at burrito boyz or one of the many others. I dont think they have them in montreal, like they do toronto. If you are driving in, stop at Shawarma Empire or Ibrahim's on lawrence east scarborough. Also could recommend any California sandwiches for a great veal sandwich.

                                  1. re: jayzen25
                                    jlunar Oct 29, 2013 12:17 PM

                                    Also, go next door to Rasta Pasta and eat their jerk chicken. Noms.

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