Read my latest Toronto travel guide for Trivago.
Recently ranked the best city to live in the world by The Economist and having the
second coolest neighborhood (West Queen West) in the world by Vogue, Toronto is
quite the media darling of late but it’s no surprise to the many who lovingly call Toronto
home. Having lived in the city for most of my life now, I constantly find myself
discovering amazing spots to eat, drink, and shop. Here’s a morning to night rundown of
some of my old standbys and new favorites.
Start With Brunch
I’ve always been a sucker for delicious cross-cultural concoctions and Patois’ fun family-
style Caribbean-Asian soul food is no exception. Playful brunch items include the Hong
“King” Kong Waffle, which is a Hong Kong-style egg waffle, topped with macerated
strawberries, whipped cream, drizzled Nutella and crispy plantain chips, and the Patois
Eggs Benny with two spicy Jamaican beef patties, poached eggs, jerk Mortadella and
the smoothest Hollandaise. This is definitely not your ordinary scrambled eggs with
bacon and hash browns.
For a fresh farm-driven breakfast, head a little more west to Farmhouse Tavern, or its
offspring Farmer’s Daughter, in the Junction Triangle. Both spots post their brunch
menus every weekend on Facebook but expect their impeccably done staples like the
Eggs Benny with bacon, kale, or gravlax and the Backyard Burger topped with a
perfect sunnyside egg to be there and if you’re lucky, seasonal surprises like the fried
green tomatoes that I still think of and salivate about to this day.
Bonus: If there’s one thing that makes the sometimes 2-hour lineup (yes, Torontonians
love their weekend brunch) all worth it, is the Super Cheesy Bacon French Toast at
School. Imagine gooey cheddar-jack cheese oozing to perfection.
Born in Vancouver, OAK+FORT is all about classic, clean designs and to top it off, the
price point is insanely affordable. Their new Toronto shop on Queen West features
slouchy sweaters, well-constructed pants, and generous scarves for men and women in
comfy shades of grey, camel, white, and black. These are pieces you’ll want to live in
and wear every day.
For a well-curated selection of labels like Acne, Rag & Bone, and Isabel Marant, head
over to Ossington’s Jonathan+Olivia, and then go next door and hit my favorite spot in
the city for vintage designer pieces, I Miss You.
Take A Break
For a necessary caffeine fix, pop by any one of four Sam James Coffee Bar locations
or the charming Louie Craft Coffee in Liberty Village. If coffee isn’t really your thing, an
authentic yerba mate at El Almacen always does the trick.
If fancy spas and facials are a bit too intimidating but you still want to pamper your skin,
a healthy Dermalogica skin treatment at their International Dermal Institute is the way
to go. To continue your body prep for the evening ahead, there’s only one place to go to
for all your waxing needs, The Ten Spot (several locations in the city).
Pre-dinner Snacks and Cocktails
New joint, Bar Fancy is just the right place to get your snack game on. With crispy fried
chicken (served with white sliced bread and a pickle, no less) at $2 and half-price
oysters, this happy hour can’t be beat. A few minutes walk away is OddSeoul where
you can indulge in Korean-flared bites like bulgogi cheesesteak and spicy Korean
For a pre-dinner cocktail or two, head to the cosy Montauk bar on Dundas West. A
gigantic chalkboard wall lists unique creations as well as every classic cocktail you
crave of, like delicious Negronis, Manhattans, and French75s.
Time For Dinner
The warm woods of the interior and nightly fun crowd at Bar Isabel on College Street
make for an inviting vibe. Mix that with the creative Spanish fare—shared family-
style—which includes a perfectly grilled half or full octopus, jamon croquetas, whole sea
bream ceviche, and the incredibly delicious cocktails, like the Baraganna with charred
pineapple infused 1800 tequila, cointreau, padron pepper and sage simple syrup and
lime juice, make it pretty common to want to spend the entire night here.
Another favorite is the newly opened DaiLo. There is so much love and innovation
poured into each dish at DaiLo where old-school Chinese staples meet French tradition
with a modern Asian twist. It’s an irresistible combination that results in menu
highlights like Hakka Brown Wontons with toasted sesame oil, house XO sauce and
almond crumble and Ponzu Beef Carpaccio consisting of 90 day Olliffe rib cap, yuzu
soy caramel, truffle dwarf peach, pickled chili and fried garlic. While you’re at it, try the
inventive cocktails at the LoPan bar downstairs, like the Ansei Treaty with sake, white
tea and Dolin dry vermouth.
Grab A Night-cap
Head over to Kensington Market for no-fuss drinks and an intimate front patio at
Ronnie’s where hours will, no doubt, fly by in the best way possible as you catch up with
friends while the drinks never stop flowing. Then, roll over to the perpetually packed and
always fun hidden haven that is Cold Tea for a nightcap.
Late Night Munchies
Chinatown is basically a hop, skip and a jump away from Kensington Market and after
the bars have closed, a feeling of “hangry” eventually ensues, making a visit to Rol
San for some greasy/amazing dim sum a must. For run and go munchies, join the line-
up at Poutini’s for poutine that always hits the spot. You will thank yourself tomorrow.