Around The Way: Toronto

I have this odd fascination with Canada and I don’t know why. Whenever the gang and I are trying to plan a trip I always suggest Toronto or Montreal. I would give my reasons, but somehow Nashville, Miami, and Los Angeles were all winners. After years of feeling defeated, I was finally able to convince my friend Margaret to join me on Easter weekend to the land of Drake!

Day 1:

The flight was less than two hours and in the early afternoon, but somehow I still felt very sleepy. We checked into our hostel and took a nap. Our hostel was located near the edge of the downtown area and Kensington market. We worked up an appetite and decided to explore Kensington.

Kensington Market is very charming and diverse through its eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, Latin American grocers, fresh produce, cafes and watering holes. We decided to stop by Seven Lives for some baja inspired tacos and poke nachos.

After we finished dinner we decided to grab a drink at Graffiti’s Bar and Grill, a dive bar known for their heavy metal brunch on Sunday’s. It was Friday night so a low key jazz band was playing. Our bartender was extremely friendly and recommended a lot of local bars and suggested that our next stop should be Grossmans Tavern. Grossmans is a local music avenue and is self-described as “the home of Toronto Blues” (side-note:  that’s a weird sentence to type as a Chicagoan.) An extremely groovy jazz band was playing and we made friends with the group of older women who were sitting next to us. By midnight though it was time to go home and catch up on some sleep.

Day 2:

Waking up refreshed and hungry we learned how to take the public transportation and headed toward Lippincott Street. This neighborhood has a variety of new bars and restaurants and was very busy during brunch time.  Our place of choice was Aunties and Uncles, a casual and hip diner that boasted a community feel. The space is setup in what looks like an old house so it is very crammed and we waited about ten minutes before we were seated. I ordered a breakfast sandwich that was extremely filling.

Damn, I swear this trip was surrounded around eating and drinking, because after brunch we went to the Spanish inspired bar, Bar Raval for some deadly early afternoon cocktails. The woodwork of this bar was completely incredible and really well designed. You can read more about the designers and how they worked here.

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Feeling a bit tipsy we hopped back on not one, but two buses to head toward the infamous St. Lawrence Market. St Lawrence Market is a spacious outdoor/indoor market with 100+ vendors, including food, artists, clothing, tech. It’s a little on the high end side and a lot of the boutiques are small, but I managed to find some cute vintage postcards that I have hanging in my apartment.

Bellies full and feet tired,  it was time for a a disco nap before our Saturday night festivities. We heard about this pizza place called North of Brooklyn which is supposed to be one of the best pizza joints in town….that was a lie. Maybe my pizza standards are higher living in Chicago all my life, but I was extremely disappointed. And since this trip would be nothing without our eating/drinking combos we decided to head back to Kensignton for a nightcap and dancing. I really really can’t remember the bar we went to, but our bartender recommended this semi-underground dance club.We decided to venture to that dance club (I can’t remember the name of that place either…). You had to enter through this Chinese Market and there was a woman selling dim sum out the cart upon entrance. It was a bit sketchy, but man was the music amazing. We danced until last call and ate a duck before going to bed. I am not kidding at 3 am on a Saturday night I smashed an entire duck in China Town.

Day 3:

Easter Sunday. We only had a few hours before our flight to explore and we were awake bright and early to do so. We grabbed some coffee and explored Kensignton Market some more. On Augusta Street there were very cute shops and bars that were all extremely busy.  Margaret and I agreed that our last day would be when we would get Dim Sum in China Town. We went to the infamous Dim Sum King and ate like queens. This was my first time having Dim Sum and this experience was cool and unique. Servers would roll carts with a variety of dim sum and food options and you literally just pick and choose what you want as it is freshly made. Dim Sum King was poppin’ too. I’m pretty sure we snagged the last free table and I saw a good amount of patrons order food to go AFTER their meal.

 

Toronto was hella dope. I can see why Drake is always reppin’ for his city. It is extremely diverse, not in a Black/White way, but in an immigrant way. There’s a huge immigrant population from everywhere and you can definitely see it in the neighborhoods. It is possible to do a lot in a weekend in Toronto, but I would love to go back because there were places on my list and well as places added that we just didn’t have a chance to see. At the time of our trip the Canadian dollar was worth a bit more than our currency so we really got a bang for our buck. Everybody that we met was incredibly friendly and of course loved that were were from Chicago. I highly recommend going if you have the chance! Also, I’m still trying to go to Montreal if anybody wants to join me! 🙂

Next week I’ll take you to LA where I reunite with BECCCCCCAAAAAAA

 

XO,
Ariel

 

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