VISIT TORONTO LIKE A LOCAL
I get asked this all the time. "I'm coming to Toronto, where should I stay, eat, drink, etc?" So I've compiled the list of all lists. This post will take you through my favourite hotels, restaurants and neighbourhoods and have you travel around Toronto like a local.
Where To Stay
Hip & Artsy
The Drake Hotel: Probably my favourite hotel in Toronto. It's a boutique hotel with very few rooms but each one is uniquely decorated (they even have small single bed rooms for those nights you get a bit too drunk at the Drake Underground). This hotel is in West Queen West and has a nice rooftop patio, a great restaurant (more on that later) and they even have a bar underneath.
The Drake Website
Gladstone Hotel: I've never stayed here but it's a Toronto staple. They have more rooms than the drake, but again each room is individually decorated. It's pretty far west, between West Queen West and Parkdale but the streetcar will get you wherever you need to go.
The Gladstone Website
Broadview Hotel: This is a brand new hotel. It used to be a strip club, lol. Anyway, It's brand new and making a big name in Leslieville. This hotel is east of downtown but its has access to a streetcar that will take you right downtown. The Broadview Hotel has an aesthetically pleasing downstairs bar and restaurant downstairs, a covered upstairs rooftop restaurant as well as a rooftop bar. I have yet to stay here but I'm definitely looking forward to my first little staycation here.
The Broadview Hotel Website
The Beverly Hotel: This hotel is in a bustling area. It's on Queen West in the middle of downtown, so you can walk everywhere. The rooms are small but cozy with a minimalist design. The hotel has an amazing rooftop patio, which is open in the summer and a downstairs restaurant, great for cocktails or dinner!
The Beverly Hotel Website
Shangri La: The Shangri La is seen as a luxury hotel for a reason and the Toronto location doesn't disappoint. The Rooms are beautiful and well kept but the amenities... let's talk about the amenities. The hotel comes equipped with a fitness center, one of the nicest spa's in Toronto (Miraj Hammam) and a great hotel lobby lounge that's always bustling (fun fact you can also have afternoon tea there). Attached to the hotel are two delicious restaurants: Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Daisho. Momofuku Noodle Bar is a great ramen spot and Daisho is Momofuku's take on a steakhouse. Local Fact: I highly recommend you grab dessert at Momofuku Milk Bar, specifically the cereal milk ice cream.
The Thompson Hotel: This hotel is the only hotel I'm going to recommend that has a pool. It's in the heart of King West Village. It's a perfect spot to set home base because you can easily walk to anything. The Thompson has great nice big rooms, a seasonal rooftop pool (one of the nicest in the city) and a rooftop bar. The view from the rooftop of the Thompson is one of the most famous. Downstairs, the hotel has a lobby bar, a club (wildflower) underneath and Colette a Parisian inspired restaurant. I highly recommend you check out Colette for brunch on a Saturday!
Thompson Hotel Website
T H E T H O M P S O N
photo from pinterest
The Hazelton Hotel: Located in the heart of Yorkville, the city's chicest neighbourhood. This hotel has been the temporary home of a ton of celebrities. It's steps from a ton of good restaurants, luxury boutiques, and high-end streetwear stores. If you like hanging out on the bougie side, this is the spot for you.
Hazelton Hotel Website
The Ritz: I mean, the Ritz is the essence of Luxury. This hotel is stunning and in a perfect location in downtown. There's a fitness center, there's a spa, there's an indoor pool, this hotel will meet all of your expectations. Fun Fact: Drake is currently living here.
The Ritz Carlton Website
Where To Shop
Ossington: Ossington is Toronto's little hipster street. My favourite shops here are: Jonathan & Olivia and that luxury consignment place up the street.. what's that called again?
Eaton Centre: Eaton Centre is a mall, so you can literally find anything that you're looking for here. Across the street is the Bay and Saks as well!
Yorkville: Yorkville is where you go when you're shopping a little more upscale. It has all the high-end luxury shops (Gucci, LV, Off-White..) as well as some more affordable stores like Aritzia, Club Monaco, and Zara.
Vintage: For vintage shopping, my favourite stores are: Public Butter, House of Vintage and the Black Market.
Where To Eat
Y'all know I love to eat, so I'm going to break it down by meals.
Baro: I really enjoy brunch here, It's Latin inspired so it's a nice twist on the classic brunch favourites.
Mildreds: One of my favourite brunch spots in the city but beware its ALWAYS busy. Would recommend going mid week morning so you dont have to wait in line. Its located in Liberty Village and just has amazing brunch food, my personal favourite is the Veda’s Choice with a side of hot sauce. Definitely a Toronto Staple.
The Drake: Great Brunch spot that you rarely have to wait to get a table. Their eggs benny and their avo toast are to die for.
T H E D R A K E H O T E L
photo by @allegrashaw
Cafe Can Can: Cute outdoor patio in the summer, but also extremely cute on the inside. Perfect for that brunch IG. Aesthetically pleasing as well as great food, you can’t really go wrong.
C A F E C A N C A N
Grand Electric: Best taco spot in the city. There’s two locations, I prefer the original location in Parkdale. My favourite taco is the cauliflower taco, so delicious.
Trattoria Nervosa: This is a good spot for a nice lunch. Classic Italian food in Yorkville!
Banh Mi Nguyen Han: This is a Toronto local secret. This is in the heart of China town and if you're not looking for it you might miss it. The best and cheapest Banh Mi sandwiches in the city.
Luna Cafe: Probably the most underrated cafe/lunch spot in Toronto. Its tucked away but it just gives you the most amazing feeling when you eat there. Oh, also, the food is great.
L U N A C A F E
photo by @allegrashaw
Planta: Had to include Planta for the vegans/vegetarians out there. This is an Instagram worthy, delicious vegan restaurant, that honestly, if I didn't tell you it was vegan, I doubt you would know. Local tip: they do weekend brunch thats AMAZING, vegan bagels and lox? yes plz.
La Banane: A more upscale dining experience, I've been here a few times and I've loved it every time. They serve a modern twist on traditional french food, delicious cocktails and a cool atmosphere.
Mamakas: If you're looking for greek food. This is the spot. It's not the traditional Danforth greek food but it gives you those Mykonos vibes, oh and the food is perfect.
M A M A K A S T A V E R N A
416 Snack Bar: This menu is delicious, its by the same people as People's Eatery, and the one thing you have to get is the Tuna Hand Roll. IT'S SO GOOD. The vibe is really cool as well, looks like a little dive bar, I highly recommend.
Laissez-Faire: One of the newer restaurants in the city Laissez Faire gives you great food in a relaxed atmosphere. I’m always looking for good selfie spots and the bathrooms provide just that. There’s something for everyone on the menu but my personal faves are: Mussels, Shishito Peppers & the Charcuterie board. The later you stay the more fun it gets, so definitely have a few cocktails and stay for the night.
Piano Piano: Ok not going to lie I haven’t actually been here yet. Most of the food has a lot of cheese making it a hard spot for me to eat but also making it delicious at. I’ve heard INCREDIBLE things from anyone who has been there and if I ate dairy I feel like I would regular this spot.
Quetzal: I just went here the other night and it was f*cking incredible. Beautiful atmosphere, the food was to die for and it wasn’t overly expensive. This is one of my new favourite restaurants in the city.
Sorry: Sorry is located at the back of Kit & Ace in Yorkville and its a really aesthetically pleasing coffee shop. There aren't too many places to sit, so I usually take my coffee to go but it's the perfect stop for a pick me up while shopping.
S O R R Y C O F F E E
Photo by @allegrashaw
Oretta: Oretta has a cute little cafe down an ally in King West Village. I go here quite often as it serves great coffee, cute sandwiches and is aesthetically pleasing.
Dineen Coffee Co.: Dineen is the ultimate in aesthetics. This coffee shop is located down Yonge close to the Eaton Centre. It's usually bustling with business people, but if you're lucky enough to get a seat it's a great place to have a coffee and hang out.
Neo Coffee Bar: Neo Coffee bar is a Japanese inspired coffee shop. They really care about their coffee and their baked goods and I really like that. It's located in the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood off of King St. E.
Where To Drink
Cold Tea: Kensington market's hidden gem. A classic dive bar with cheap drinks and good music.
Track and Field: A bar that you can have a drink and also play a quick game of Bocce Ball. This bar has different games and really cool cocktails. It always ends up being a fun night out!
Super Point: This is a pizza place with a bar in the back. I repeat. This is a pizza place with a bar in the back.
Locals Only: Below Laissez Faire is Locals Only. A spot that I’ve spent way too much time at. They have both drinks and food. Food being served until 2am, so instead of having a drunk hot dog, have some drunk food here. The staff are super nice and welcoming. It's definitely one of those places you want to become a local. Before you leave, make sure you take a mirror selfie in one of the bathrooms- cute wall paper and good lighting.
Mahjong Bar: Set in the back of a convenience store this bar has a really cool aesthetic. Its a asian snack bar/speakeasy. A fun place to grab a few drinks, or get rowdy.
SoSo Food Club: If you’re looking to eat but also get a little mixy this is the spot. If its good enough Win Butler Its good enough for me.
What To Do:
St. Lawrence Market: The St. Lawrence Market is such a nice place to stroll through in the morning. On Saturday's you can find a selection of Ontario's Finest at the Farmer's Market. On Sunday's you can grab some vintage jewellery or furniture at the Antique Market!
Allan Gardens: Allan Gardens is cool. Its a conservatory that has a ton of different plants. Its also a great Instagram spot.
A L L A N G A R D E N S
photo from pinterest
Kensington: Kensington Market is a great little neighbourhood that has food, vintage shops, music and is just a great little place to stroll around.
Distillery: Distillery is home to cafe's, restaurants and theatres. It's pretty cool because its so old, all the buildings are made out of brick. If you're coming around Christmas time, they set up the cutest little Christmas market in the distillery!
Theatre: We have some great theatre in Toronto. I always love going to see a musical or play at either: The Elgin Theatre, The Ed Mirvish Theatre, Princess of Wales Theatre, Royal Alexandra or Soulpepper.
Here I'm going to give you a breakdown of some of the different neighbourhoods in Toronto.
West Queen West: Hip, young people. Lots of different shops, hotels and restaurants.
Queen West: More commercialized now, theres a ton of chain stores. Good for shopping on a nice day.
Yorkville: More of an upscale neighbourhood. Home to all of the luxury stores like Gucci, LV, etc.
Parkdale: Hipsters. This is home to Grand Electric and great vintage shops.
King West: Home to a few good restaurants and a lot of different clubs.
Tourist Downtown: This area is like Eaton Centre/Yonge and Dundas. Or can even be the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, ACC, Ripley's Aquarium. To be honest, I try to stay away from there.
Waterfront: It's pretty down there. Walk along the water, see the boats and maybe even go over to the island?
Beaches: Big soft spot for this neighbourhood. It doesn't even feel like Toronto. Home to the Beach (duh) but honestly there aren't great restaurants down there except two: XOLA and The Goof (the good really isnt that good its just a beaches local favourite).
T H E B E A C H E S
Photo from Pinterest
There are a ton of other neighbourhoods in Toronto but I feel like I covered enough in this blog post. If you're coming here, enjoy!!