Toronto! You’ve surprised me with your extremely friendly people, interesting architecture (amazing co-existence of the old and the new), cleanliness and safety, diversity and bilingualism, the worst ever lobster rolls, amazing wines, your Bloody Caesar cocktail (Bloody Mary for the rest of the world), your sugar bomb bizarre beavertail, the biggest dogs fountain, the greatest choice of French cheese, horrible Aircanada service, beautiful nature, endemic love for kayaking, and black squirrels at last.
If you plan a trip to Toronto (and you absolutely must), check out my Toronto travel tips before you go.
Wine & Dine in Toronto
The Wickson Social – a very spacious cocktail bar perfect for any gathering, big or small, with 2 bars upstairs and downstairs and a dining area. I haven’t eaten here, but the drinks menu is pretty good. Beer choice features mostly local brews and some rare finds. Their wine list is focused on small artisanal producers from around the world. Cocktails are taken seriously here, with pride and creativity.
The Wine shop on 228 Queens Quay W, Toronto – sometimes there is no better way to taste somewhat pricey wines than to go to a wine store equipped with a good wine preservation system. The Wine Shop in Old Town Toronto is a great choice if you want to try several different Ice wines at once and pay as little as $7 (CAD). Besides, it’s a great way to learn more about local wine and wineries. Knowledgeable staff is right for your convenience.
If you want to learn more about Ontario wine country read my blog post Ontario Wine Country at a Glance.
Poutini’s House of Poutine – Poutine is a fancy word for cheese fries with gravy. Well, there is more than that involved here. It’s not just cheese, but cheese curd and it’s not just gravy, but a thick and vinegary barbeque gravy (there is a vegetarian option too). It’s definitely not healthy, but obsessively good. Needless to say, there is only Poutine in the menu.
Sweet Jesus – they definitely go hard on their soft served ice cream here. As they claim, “…the goal is to combine conceptual thinking with high-quality ingredients and products, in an effort to make something that tastes and looks, unlike anything you’ve ever seen and had before. Amen.” Check out them at @sweetjesus for some of their craziest creations, it will make your mouth water.
Guschlbauer – it’s an Austrian bakery that has been around since 1919 but has recently opened its first North American location in Toronto. They specialize on so called devil buns, which feature creamy cheese between layers of pastry. These puffy buns look so good, you close your eyes when you take the first bite.
Steam Whistle City Brewery – prime location (right across from the SkyDome) and high-quality European style pilsner are two reasons you should add this brewery to your must-visit list. Come for lunch or after a long day of walking off the city when the steam-powered whistle makes its call signaling the end of a fulfilling workday.
Casa Loma – Toronto’s Majestic castle is now a museum and landmark as well as a popular wedding venue, a haunted house, an escape room, a winter wonderland, a music performance scene and soon a steakhouse. Read the story behind the castle here.
Lakeshore – you can’t visit Toronto and not to see Lake Ontario. Walk along the water or rent a kayak to explore the lake’s shorelines and overview the city skyline from the lake.
Yorkville – used to be Toronto’s bohemian enclave in the 60’s, and is now full of designer boutiques, high-end hotels, and restaurants. Should you want to have a little walk, far from the glamorous crowd, just cross the Avenue Road and stroll the streets of this cute neighborhood, full of beautiful brownstone buildings and maple trees.
Other cool neighborhoods: Distillery District (cobblestone and Victorian Industrial architecture) Queen / Ossington (Brooklyn of Toronto, best three blocks to wine and dine), Kensington (multicultural market with great food).