Eat and drink
2 Lakeview Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 3B1
On a dark, dark street, in a dark, dark building, there was a dark, dark restaurant – and there you found not skeletons, but rather deboned chicken wings stuffed with pork gyoza-style filling, deep-fried and served in a old-school takeout box. The Dyno Wings are just one of the outrageously indulgent Japanese-inspired dishes you’ll find on the menu at Hanmoto, cultish king of Toronto’s snackbars (late-night bars with menus designed for drinking and grazing). You’ll have to know it exists in order to find it, because Hanmoto is happily unsigned, and it’s going to stay that way. We’re grateful, too, because otherwise you’d never be able to get a seat for its moto curry poutine and deep-fried katsu burger. Now those are the kind of dirty dealings we can get on board with.
503 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5
DaiLo, squatting slap-bang in the middle of the Little Italy neighbourhood, is considered to be the city’s best restaurant by our friends across the pond at Foodism Toronto, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they know what they’re talking about. The food here is rooted in chef Nick Liu’s Cantonese roots, given a French spin from his chef training, with a shedload of other interesting influences – think crispy octopus tacos with sambal aioli; pumpkin dumplings with soy brown butter, black truffles and pepita (pumpkin seed) crumble; and the melt-in-the-mouth lamb neck randang. We’re not drooling, you are. Throw in a brilliantly curated cocktail list that navigates the big, varied flavours of the food, and you’ve got a restaurant you won’t forget about in a hurry.
163 Spadina Ave, 1st Floor, Toronto, ON M5V 2A5
If a chef can make a chunk of iceberg lettuce mouthwateringly delicious, you know you’re in good hands. So for a sure-fire meal that totally bangs, Aloette on Spadina is a must, where chef Patrick Kriss serves said lettuce topped with chive cream and avocado and scattered with crispy wild rice. And Aloette isn’t just about the salad either: there’s the Aloette burger, with beaufort cheese; chorizo-stuffed squid; prawn tacos with avocado mousse and jalapeno; and a big ol’ tranche of lemon meringue pie if you still have room for dessert. Take a peek upstairs and you’ll find big sister restaurant Alo, the first in the Alo Food Group, which is more tasting menu than burger and chips, but is just as good. You might as well go to both restaurants, while you’re here…
80 Blue Jays Way, Toronto, ON M5V 2G3
If you’re heading to Toronto and you’re looking for a place to stay, the only thing to say is “Bisha, please”. And we’re absolutely not sorry about that terrible pun, because we mean it: the Bisha Hotel is centrally located, home to three restaurants and a cocktail bar, and has black and gold décor that’s so sleek it’ll make you feel like a Bond villain. Pop into Parisian coffee bar French Made on the ground floor for coffee and freshly made pastries; on the ground floor, Akira Back (from the eponymous Japanese chef) is widely regarded as one of Toronto’s best sushi spots. Chuck in access to King West’s slew of great eating and drinking, and you’re perfectly positioned to make the most of the city.
318 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 3T4
Toronto’s new kid on the block, SoHo offers what many city-centre hotels don’t: seriously spacious rooms suitable for sleeping, lounging and anything else you might need. Rather than trying to max capacity, the hotel has instead focused on a smaller number of rooms and the luxury of space, which moves it away from feeling corporate and towards a more creative clientele. The food, too, more than delivers, with two celebrity chef-led restaurants: the dim sum-style offering at Luckee, and burger bar Wahlburgers, from, you guessed it, Mark Wahlberg and his brothers.
15 Charles Street East, Toronto, ON M4Y 1S1
Anndore House first opened its doors as a hotel in the 1950s, and the revamped property looks to the same era for its decor, with dark velvets and gold accents that make the industrial feeling space still feel cool yet cosy. Each room has a vinyl player so you can groove to your own beat – but given you’re in Yorkville, you’ve got plenty of entertainment to choose from, whether that’s eating or drinking, or (nerd alert) heading to the Royal Ontario Museum, just a 10-minute walk away. Downstairs, the hotel restaurant Constantine is a solid introduction to Toronto’s vibrant food scene – from the same team by city favourite La Palma, it serves Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine that’ll have you licking your plate.
Yes, Toronto has islands. 15 of them to be exact, home to all the outdoor activities you could possibly be after: swimming, paddleboarding, cycling, kayaking and even fishing. Or, you know, just flopping down on a beach. The different islands are easily reached by ferry or water taxi from downtown – check online for details – but the largest and most popular is Centre Island, home to Centreville Amusement Park and the spooky Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Hanlan’s Point is your best bet for beaches, while Wards Island is quieter and more residential.
For more information: toronto.ca
550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8
A trip to a former landfill? That sounds, erm, fun. But Evergreen Brick Works, which was turned from a quarry into a community environmental centre, is a marvel in urban design. Not only is it an educational space for green science, but it’s also home to a 16.5 hectare park with wetland, forest and meadow habitats. For further exploring, the park is connected to the ravines and trails of the Lower Don river, but if you’re more antiques than adventure, there’s an antiques and vintage market every Sunday, and a farmer’s market on Saturdays.
For more information: evergreen.ca/evergreen-brick-works/
Walk along Scarborough Bluffs
You might forget it when you’re in the middle of all those high rises, but the city of Toronto sits snugly on the shore of Lake Ontario, one of the North America’s largest lakes (aka it’s very, very big). This means there’s scope for all kinds of watery activities, but if you just want to stretch your legs, go for an 15km yomp along the lake shore, stretching from the Eastern Beaches of Toronto in the west, to East Point Park in the east, and gawp at the Scarborough Bluffs, formed from sedimentary deposits over 12,000 years ago. White Cliffs of where… ?