View Full Version : Toronto. So I have a few nights, where should I go?

2012-03-09, 7:01 PM
I have a trip coming up next week where I find myself in lovely Toronto!

Bizarrely, I am seen as the "tour guide" since half the staff I work with thinks I'm from Canada, the other half knows I'm a Canadafile.

We are staying downtown, most importantly at the Marriott on Yonge near Eaton Centre. We have to "work" from 8-4 everyday so that means I have nights free on the town. I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing an absolute MUST SEE in my limited free time. Restaurant suggestions downtown totally appreciated.

Things I want to see:
CN tower
NHL Hall of Fame

Things I like: BEER! I want to find uniquely Ontario experiences.

While I'm working? I'll be in the Lush factory seeing how it's all done. I am so excited! Lush and Canada, all together. Man, too bad the Leafs are out of town because I would totally hit up a game if I could!

2012-03-09, 7:45 PM
Go elsewhere than Toronto? =)

2012-03-09, 7:56 PM
The Steamwhistle Brewery won't be too far from where you're staying. They have a pub/nightclub in the brewery itself. I'm not a drinker myself but the few times I've been there it seemed good.

I'm sure I can come up with more once I'm actually back in the city.

2012-03-09, 8:27 PM
Go elsewhere than Toronto? =)

Oh, I will be wearing all my Habs gear!

Ash, I was thinking Steam Whistle looked like fun. I didn't realize they had a pub too!

2012-03-09, 8:32 PM
I seem to remember a pub area the last time I was there. At the very least I know they do frequent tours

2012-03-09, 8:53 PM
The St. Lawrence Market is a very old Toronto landmark and fun to see, there's also the Old Spaghetti Factory nearby for good eats. Also:


The Royal Ontario Museum is interesting, although it can be a bit pricey. Also for uniquely Torontonian experiences, there's always Casa Loma. And if you really really loved anything and everything about the Scott Pilgrim movie, you can go to Bloor and Bathurst and brag that you were there. So...yeah

Anyways, for entertainment there's the Scotiabank Theatre (although I liked it better when it was still called Paramount), although I guess you have lots of movie theatres in every big city so it depends on how much time you want to devote to all things uniquely Toronto.

For restaurants, there's the Houston steakhouse which is not too far from the Eaton Centre (King & Yonge)...it's not as good as Morton's but not as wallet-punishing either. Visiting Smoke's Poutine (Dundas & Jarvis) is a must as well, even though your arteries will never forgive you. Finally if you're into the wildest variety of burgers you've ever seen, the Yellow Griffon Pub is also good, if somewhat out of the way.

2012-03-09, 9:23 PM
The Hall of fame is kind of lame but worth going to once if you love hockey, and not at all if you don't care about the sport. The cup is worth taking a photo with but it's a replica. The CN tower is fun, just for seeing people freak the fuck out at the glass floor, but you're guarenteed to wait 20-40 minutes for the elevator up.

If you plan on buying alcohol and bringing it back to the hotel, keep in mind alcohol isn't available for purchase at local convenience stores like it is in Quebec. You have to either go to a beer store (literally called, the beer store) or an LCBO which sells liquor and beer. Also they close early on weekends and 9-10 pm on weekdays depending on the location. Both the Beer store and the LCBO have store locators.

Okay, on to the reccomendations.

You're pretty much right next to Dundas Square which is an adorable tiny Toronto version of Times Square, and there's a Trois Brasseurs right there if you like free peanuts and yards of beer.

The Distillery District is really fun and worth checking out during the day. It's just east of the St. Lawrence market (which, if you care, has a bar right next to it called Upfront bar and grill where they partially shot a bunch of the bar scenes from Good Will Hunting and has Kareoke). Anyways the Distillery during the day has a bunch of art galleries and coffee shops and it's just a really nice area of Toronto to walk around during the day and the Mill Street Brewery has a bunch of nice custom made beers there (Coffee porter, Tankhouse Ale, Mill St. Organic) and it's worth drinking and checking out. Also Soulpepper which is one of Toronto's best play companies is right across from it, if you're in the mood for some theatre.

Also in the St. Lawrence market area is the Bier Market which has a ton of beers on tap but turns into kind of a meat market at night and the food is a bit too pricy imo, next to it are a Keg and an Old Spaghetti factory which are both decent. Near there is also C'est What, which is a really cozy bar with good seating and all organic beer and a fireplace and pool tables and I always have a good time when I drink there.

The best pub crawl, IMO obviously is a bit of a walk but a short cab over at Dundas and Ossington and in seems like a kind of unappealing neighbourhood but it's super gentrified. You can start at the Communists Daughter (super awesome hole in the wall where you can bring your own records to play but the sign says 'Nazerre Snack Bar' even though it's the Communists Daughter) then the Painted Lady, the Ossington, Reposado tequila bar etc etc and on and on and basically you can have a pint a bar and I guarentee you'll be on your face before you finish the block and get to Queen. In that area is also Libretto Pizza which is an awesome Italian wood oven pizza joint where they encourage you to fold your personal pizza like a book and eat it and The Black Hoof which is a vegetarian unfriendly awesome charcuterie place with Pig Head Tacos and bone marrow and lots of really tasty dead animals.

North of Dundas Square you have good drinking holes like Bar Velo and hernandos hideaway, but imo if you're going for Margaritas I'd go to Margarita fiesta room instead on Baldwin.

Guu is alwaaaaays a good time and we have two locations in Toronto, one is a smaller location but closer to you on Church north of Dundas Square near Au Noir (the place where you eat in the dark which is gimmicky and kinda fun with a big group but the food bloooooows). Anyways if you can I'd go to the Guu right at Bathurst and Bloor (Bathurst Subway station), it has more seating and they sell Sake mojitos and litre steins of Sapporo for 10 bucks and Grapefruit Nama and lots of really fun and delicious drinks. Also it's a Japanese Izakaya so lots of tapas and lots of food you can order in a group and share with everyone while you get blasted. Also when you enter or leave everyone yells happy greetings in Japanese it's like a big party you can drink and be happy at.

Right next to the Guu at Bathurst and Bloor is Snakes and Lattes which is always fun but always full so call advance and reserve seating if you plan on going. They serve coffee, snacks, shots and booze but the real appeal is the thousands and thousands of board games you can play there, and they literally have anything, lately I played Cards Against Humanity there and that's really fun for a group of 4 or more.

Also right next to there is little Korea and they have an awesome place called the Owl of Minerva which is one of the only places that serves booze 24 hours and you can get a main dish, appetizers and 5 beers or a bottle of Soju for 20 dollars which is a wiiiicked deal if you're looking to end the night right and cab it back to the hotel. Also in that area is Victory Cafe which shows Starcraft MLG's on the top floor with 300 nerds all drinking and yelling out Huk or Idra's name.

Bathurst and College is good for drinking too, you have Sneaky Dee's which is where EVERYONE goes and everything comes served with 3 pounds of cheese. Next to it you have Nirvana, which is loud but friendly and Bistro 411 which is super sketchy (broken locks on the washrooms) but you can get a pitcher of anything for 11 dollars (whiskey sour pitchers anyone?) Also Smokeless Joe's is in the area which has a wicked beer list from all over the world and the crowd is solid but beers are a little pricy. Also Andy Poolhall is there but I'd skip it. Kalender and Pomegranite are both good food choices in that area.

If you're looking to play pool I'd say even though you're closer to VIP billiards I'd go to King and Charlotte to the Charlotte Room that makes a yummy Old Fashioned and Long Island Ice Tea. Raq N Waq is decent too, but if you're willing to get there, in Liberty Village (near King and Atlantic, but don't go past dufferin, that's Parkdale and is kinda sketchy for tourists, which is why I won't reccomend the Rhino or the Drake) is the best pool hall in Toronto called The Academy for the Spherical Arts. It is literally located on 1 snooker street, renamed for the place that used to be a pool table manufacturer, they have a great single malt whisky selection and one hundred year old Bruckswick pool tables you can play on, I seriously love this place.

Yorkville is kind of a celebrity haunt (less so since the opening of the Bell Lightbox theatre) and Hemingways is a good drinking place in that area with a heated patio and I've seen Aragorn and Russel Crowe beering up there. King and Young has the King Edward hotel that has a really great Martini bar. If you're looking for a cocktail bar with a beautiful view of Toronto, near Bay and Bloor you have Panorama which is on the 51st floor of the Manulife building and has a beautiful view but the drinks at the Rooftop Lounge at the Hyatt are cheaper and better imo but the view is only slightly worse. Sutra Tiki Lounge is in Little Italy and has a heated backyard patio with sand and all the drinks are served in volcanoes and tiki cups. W Burger Bar on Yonge and College serves cocktails in fishbowls.

Kensington Market is a lot of fun but Pedestrian sundays don't start till the summer, but there's a lot of good Thai, Mexican and vegan food and bars in that area but kinda sketchy at night. Rancho Relaxo on College and Spadina is where the Stones used to play secret shows sometimes.

What else? Um, Queen and University has the Queen mother near there, the Horseshoe tavern, the Rivoli which has cheap pool upstairs, and near there you have the Ball Room which is big, next to the book store and has free ping pong upstairs. Yuk Yuks is also in that area and on Tuesday or Wednesday they have amateur night for 3 dollars for 4 hours of mediocre and sometimes brilliant comedy and beersies.

I'm not even going to start about food because Toronto honestly has some of the best and most international cuisine in the world, there's something for everyone and it'll take forever to name all the good places, but it sucks that you missed winterlicious. If you have a certain type of food that you like or want to try I can reccomend some stuff, burgers, wings, fine dining etc.

Also, a great resource for finding a specific type of good bar or food depending on meeting a certain criteria is blogto.com, which has listings divided by category, i.e. best new bar, best burger, best pho etc. Really worth checking out because they also usually have pictures of the food.

Hope this helped!

2012-03-09, 10:03 PM
Great Suggestions

Is Communist Daughter the one that has (or used to have) Taco Hell night? All you can eat Venison Tacos may have been my favorite time.

Seconding Communist Daughter if so. Black Hoof is a must.
You should get to Mill Street Brewery as well.
I would say Snakes and Lattes should be a stop, my friend works there and he loves it.
Recommending walking around University of Toronto as the campus is beautiful.

Basically agreeing with everything Eskimo said and just highlighting ones he suggested that I especially liked.

2012-03-09, 10:11 PM
i wish i had a million awesome sugestions as i've lived here like 11 years now but uh, nope! Eksimo seems to know what he's talking about. all my sugestions are basically the museums and normal touristy spots you already thought of, The Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario... incidentally the Rom has a really good Maya exhibit right now.

2012-03-09, 10:38 PM
Is Communist Daughter the one that has (or used to have) Taco Hell night?

Not 100% but wasn't that Oddfellows, on the corner of Queen and Ossington? I know they had an all you can eat Pierogi night. Closed now, unfortunately :(

2012-03-09, 10:58 PM
oh depending on when you're in town, it looks like i will be performing a slightly edited version of my short story "Jawbone" at a poetry club at the behest of a good friend. so if you want to grab a beer with a forumite after he's done making an ass of himself on stage, i'll leave the details here when i have them!

2012-03-09, 11:09 PM
That's awesome Pakx!

2012-03-09, 11:13 PM
thanks man, you should totally come too.

2012-03-09, 11:50 PM
If I'm not working that evening I'm in :)

I'm trying to think of non food and bar related things to do in Toronto, we're not really a touristy city when it isn't film festival season. Stuff like the Beaches, Riverdale Farm, High Park and Centre island are really only worth visiting in the summer, and now that they've opened a Burger Priest at Yonge and Lawrence you don't even really need to visit the Beaches if you don't like biking, volleyball or shirtlessness.

I think the skating rinks are still open for another week, and of them I'd go to the one at Harbourfront over the one at Nathan Philips Square. Just take a streetcar from Union subway station (the subway is super easy to navigate and is three dollars each way) and the Natrel Rink is only like 3 or 4 stops once you get on either the 511 or the 509. The rink has a view of the lakeshore, rentals (7 dollars I think?) and beer and hot chocolate available upstairs.

What else? Pakx mentioned the AGO, the art gallery is free on wednesdays from 6-8:30. Ishmael mentioned U of T, which is probably its best looking in the fall but is still a beautiful campus next to a hideous library.

Sunday mornings across from the St. Lawrence market there's an antique market if you're looking for some really amazing souvenirs and it's fun to haggle prices. They open at dawn (because they are insane) and close at 5 pm. It's fun to do the antique market and then go to the St. Lawrence market across the street and buy lunch there because they have so many fresh options for every appetite, and then you're just a short walk from the Distillery, can make for a fun day blah blah blah.

Cheap plays go to the Terragon, the Factory theatre or Buddies in Bad times theatre. But there's a bunch of controversy at the Terragon now because some play got pulled because of its depiction of the Prime Minister but it's not really all that interesting.

The only other landmark I can really think of is Honest Ed's, lol.

2012-03-09, 11:53 PM
oh god the u of t library is like some kind of 80's sci fi sphynx nightmare. that whole area is gorgeous though, and the ago and the rom are within like 10 minutes walk from each other.

2012-03-10, 12:00 AM
The best thing about Robarts are the rumours surrounding it. The building is sinking because the architects didn't take the weight of books into consideration at the time of it being built, the building was intentionally designed in the shape of a peacock, one of the architects killed himself after it was built, the washrooms had to be closed on two of the floors because of sex, etc etc.

2012-03-10, 12:06 AM
i have zero post secondary (i don't even really have secondary) so i had never heard any of that. kind of amazing. reminds me of that story i read about Cormac McCarthy having a house he bought in El Paso TX completely rebuilt because it was made of clay and adobe, so when he moved his library into the top floor, the entire ceiling on the bottom floor sagged.

2012-03-10, 12:13 AM
haha, that's crazy.

Just north of Bathurst and St. Clair is where Hemingway used to live when he wrote for the Toronto Star, he said Toronto was a good city to write in :P

2012-03-10, 12:16 AM
i would have to agree! although as a child of faulknerian influence it's in my blood to deride Hemingway whenever possible.

2012-03-10, 6:24 AM
Holy crud Eskimo, I better start fasting now so I can eat my way through Toronto (which is what I was planning to do anyway but now I have a better idea of what's worth putting in my gullet!)

So, maybe I can scratch the CN tower from my list unless everyone's clamoring to go up it and I know the Hockey Hall of Fame I'll be doing on my own because my co-workers could give a fuck-all about hockey.

The bar crawl idea is an awesome idea. I know I have some young'uns who are thrilled to go "clubbing" but the old'uns like to sort of hear what the other person is saying when they're out. I'm sure we'll all split up but these are some excellent recommendations that I can use when people are looking for fun stuff to do.

Thanks for the head's up about the LCBO. I am so used to going to a depanneur in Quebec for beer runs. Most of us are from Connecticut so we're used to crazy blue laws where you can't buy after 9 (and not at all on Sundays)

And yes, Pakx, let me know if you'll be performing next week. I'll be in town until Friday morning. I would love to watch you be an ass in front of a crowd! :P

2012-03-10, 6:54 AM
Not 100% but wasn't that Oddfellows, on the corner of Queen and Ossington? I know they had an all you can eat Pierogi night. Closed now, unfortunately :(
Yes that was the one I was thinking of. They did have an all you can eat Pierogi night.

That is sad that they closed.

2012-03-10, 7:42 AM
The CN tower is one of those "do it once just to say you've been there" kind of experiences. I also just remembered that they are some fairly classy restauraunts across from the Hockey Hall of Fame now. It used to be a Shopsy's, which was awful, but it's been replaced by much better fare.

2012-03-10, 8:42 AM
If you want beer, the Beer Bistro on King and/or Bar Volo (near Bloor/Yonge) are top notch beer places. Victory Cafe in the Bloor Street Annex also has a varied and interesting selection of regional beers. Of the three, I'd recommend Volo in particular, it's cheaper and less pretentious than the Beer Bistro, and the food and beer selection are better than Victory.