Sometimes I still feel like such a tourist to Toronto. I walk down the streets with my head high, looking up at the buildings that seem to stretch on into infinity. I grew up in Northeastern Ontario where, as the line says in Thoroughly Modern Millie, nothing’s over three stories high. So I’m hardly immune to Toronto’s charms.
Because I grew up and went to school outside of the GTA, I have a lot of friends and family who come visit from faraway places. I get really excited about showing them all my favourite places, and I thought I’d share some of these with you. A lot of these are admittedly in Kensington Market — I live nowhere near Kensington, but I’ve always been obsessed with the place (I ended up there during a class trip in Grade 11 and spent hours just wandering).
Favourite bakery: Bunner’s
How could I possibly not be a fan of Bunner’s? Though I am definitely a savoury girl these days, the little kid in me who loves sweets never went away. So why would I turn down a 100% vegan bakery that specializes in all things tasty? Bunner’s is also 100% gluten-free AND nut-free, so pretty much anyone except for those with soy allergies can enjoy it. The proportions are generous, so I tend to split with a friend.
Favourite bar: Java House
When I first moved to Waterloo and was dating a Torontonian, we met up one night when his shift at Steve’s Music was finishing up. We didn’t know where to go to eat but decided to walk West on Queen, knowing very well we’d find something. The good thing is, cheap doesn’t equal low quality in this place. The food is quite delicious, the vibe is really friendly and cool, and the menu has a huge range of food styles. It’s been Bree-friendly since back when I was an omnivore, through to vegetarianism and now all the way to veganism. Just remember to come with a variety of small bills, because this place is cash only and doesn’t split bills.
Best Dance Studio: Metro Movement
I’ve been going to Metro for two-and-a-half years now, but it’s actually been around for about as long as I have. Metro Movement’s co-owners, Elaine Birkes and Stelia Calagias, opened its doors in 1989 and they’ve been offering really high-quality adult dance education ever since. This isn’t the kind of place where you go to simply dance around and learn combos — there’s legitimate technique taught here, and the teachers are all extremely qualified. There’s nothing wrong with just-for-fun studios (this is, after all, a drop-in studio, so there’s varying degrees of seriousness from the students). But if you want a seriously good work-out, to try a new style, or you want to get back into dance after giving it up in uni, seriously, try this place.
Best coffee shop
Hahhhhh. Like I’d pick just one. My personal favourites around the city:
- Kensington Market: Moon Bean Coffee Co.
- The Danforth: Broadview Espresso
- Midtown: De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters
- Downtown: Black Canary
Favourite vegan supply shop: Organic Garage
Okay, this isn’t technically in Toronto — this is up in Thornhill (Vaughan) so unless you have a car it’s not exactly convenient. For the record, I am also a fan of The Big Carrot on the Danforth. But if you can make the drive, this place is definitely worth it. For one thing, I’ve never been to an organic/natural grocer that was so huge inside (besides Whole Foods, but that brings me to my next point) which also managed to make a lot of specialty foods totally affordable. For the record, I actually do the vast majority of my shopping at Loblaw’s/Superstore and the like, but sometimes you need something special, or want more selection. And that’s what Organic Garage has. So yeah. Head on up to Bathurst when you get the chance.