To help inspire you to explore the Middle of Somewhere, this list will be updated each week of 2021 with things to do in Toronto. Follow along on the adventures, or look back on past weeks when you are in need of inspiration.

Also be sure to check out the “Eating & Drinking Throughout Toronto” and “In The Know Toronto” pages for more inspiration!

52 weeks of exploring the middle of somewhere

Week 42

Week 41

When was the last time you went to a museum in your own city? For most people, it’s been a while. Let this be the week that you make plans to explore a new (or old) museum again. 

  • I first went to the Bata Shoe Museum when I was six & I sadly have not been back since but I’ve been longing to go for many years. This year is going to be my year & I hope it’s yours too!
  • Located in Yorkville, the Bata Shoe Museum (BSM) regularly displays over a thousand shoes and related artifacts, chosen from a collection of over 14,000 objects, in architect Raymond Moriyama’s iconic, award-winning building. Over 4,500 years of history are reflected in the permanent exhibition, All About Shoes while our three other galleries feature changing exhibitions.
  • Note that as of writing, entry is free for Indigenous visitors and support workers. 
  • The Aga Khan Museum presents and collects art from historically significant Muslim civilizations as well as contemporary Muslim communities and diasporas around the world.
  • Located at Eglinton & the DVP.

Museum of Illusions

  • The Museum of Illusions is an interactive museum with over 80 illusions, holograms, installations and exhibits that will bend your mind! 
  • Located near the St. Lawrence Market & most people say you only need 20-30 minutes to meander through. A great place to pit stop if you’re in the area!

Week 40

When I travel, I am way more likely to head to a bar for a cocktail before or after dinner. In Toronto, I frequently find myself heading to dinner and then heading straight home. Sometimes it’s nice to have a real night out, not just dinner out. Here are some excellent restaurant X bar combinations to get you started!

A Hidden Midtown Gem

  • Just north of Davisville, you’ll find an excellent Dutch Indo food bar called Little Sister. What you might miss is the hidden bar upstairs – Bar Batavia. An excellent, cosy spot for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail. Plus, the food downstairs is delicious!

New Asian Cuisine & Cocktails

  • Another hidden gem is LoPan, which you will find above DiaLo. DiaLo serves delicious New Asian cuisine – it’s a place that has me returning again and again. You’ll also find bites at LoPan if you decide you don’t feel like migrating downstairs. It is, after all, the home of the big mac bao!

Pasta & Libations

  • Some of the best pasta dishes I’ve had this year came from Bar Vendetta (cacio e pepe crown anyone?!). Hop across the street to Cocktail Bar for a delightful libation. If you’d prefer fried chicken over pasta, head to Rhum Corner, which is right next door to Bar Vendetta and part of the same group.

Week 39

Can’t escape the city, but longing to feel like a traveler again? Hit up one of these cool hotel bars and pretend you’ve hopped over to a different city.

Hotel Rooftop Bars

Swanky Hotel Bars

  • When you enter Louix Louis on the 31st floor of the St. Regis, you’ll feel like you entered another dimension. The expansive space is beyond stunning – with a mural on the ceiling and opulence everywhere. Tip: you can even come for afternoon tea if that’s more your vibe!
  • Clockwork is the newly renovated lobby bar at the Fairmont. Clockwork is known for champagne & cocktails, and of course, it’s set around. a dramatic clock perched above the bar.
  • Mister C. is a moody bar in the Bisha Hotel, adorned with velvet and brass. Check their website for weekly specials.

Hotel Bars with Programming

  • As part of the Gladstone Hotel’s post-renovation relaunch, they are focused on being a hub for creativity. Here you’ll find rotating art exhibits through the Stairway Gallery and Studio Level  (plus Canadian artists work in every room). Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events.
  • The Rex hotel is certainly the most low-key on this list, but their Jazz & Blues Bar constantly gets positive reviews! The bar hosts daily events – see their website for more info!

Week 38

Fall is upon us and here are some ideas to get you outside, enjoying the fresh, crisp air!

Fall Hikes

  • Dundas Peak – enjoy stunning views over the changing foliage. Tip: check out nearby Tews & Webster Falls while you are there. Tip #2: Need a pick-me-up? Head over to Shawn & Ed Brewing in neighbouring Dundas for a brew and pizza or Namu for mouthwatering modern Asian cuisine.
  • Rattlesnake Point – walk through the beautiful tree covered trails until you get to the viewpoint (it isn’t very far). Note that reservations may be required. Tip: it’s very close to Applevale Orchards & Springridge Farms if you wanted to bucket the activities together (see below for more details).

Farm Visits

  • Springridge Farm – take the kids to the Farm Yard for a giant sandbox, farm animals, wagon rides and more. Alternatively, indulge at their delicious bakery (speaking from experience, their butter tarts are delicious!) or enjoy a lunch at their front porch servery.
  • Riverdale Farm – can’t get out of the city? Head to Riverdale Farm to explore over 3km of trails or to visit the barn & farm animals.

Apple & Pumpkin Picking

  • Chudleighs and Downey’s are two of the most popular apple and pumpkin picking venues to visit, however, it can be hard to get in (you have to reserve a space in advance and they book up quickly!). 
  • Applevale Orchards – a little bit more low key than the above, but typically it’s easier to get in. Bonus: it’s close to Rattlesnake Point & Springridge Farm!

Week 37

Join the club! These subscriptions and groups will give you access to limited edition products & events. Perfect for the person who feels like they’ve done it all. Psst – you can find more here

Wine, Beer & Cocktails

  • Charlie’s Burgers Wine Club – with Charlie’s Burgers, you’ll get exclusive wines delivered to your door on a monthly basis. You’ll also be able to enjoy no-corkage fees at their rotating partner restaurants when you bring your CB wine. They also run exclusive events for their CB community. Sounds like a win, win, win to me!
  • Salty Paloma Cocktail Club – delicious cocktail ingredients & recipes delivered to your door each month. Salty Paloma kits are not only tasty, but they’re also stunning. Great for a gift for yourself or a friend.
  • Beer subscriptions – we couldn’t pick just one, so here are a few to check out: Small Batch Dispatch focuses on Ontario creations, The Hops Collective offers a mystery bundle featuring breweries across North America, and Canada Craft Club has a Canada package featuring Canadian brews

Treat Yourself

When was the last time you treated yourself to something special? Give yourself a gift that keeps on giving with these subscriptions:

Toronto Life Insider

Become a Toronto Life Insider and get inside access to intimate food and drink experiences, fireside chats, one-of-a-kind cooking and cocktail master classes and contests and giveaways. Plus you’ll get print subscriptions to Toronto Life and FASHION magazine so you’ll always be in the know. 

Join here.

Week 36

Want to enjoy some sky-high views? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Restaurants & Bars with a View

Enjoy a bite or drink & sweeping views from these places:

  • The Roof at SOCO – expansive rooftop in the Delta Hotel offering eats & drinks, up-close views of Roundhouse Park & the CN Tower
  • Falcon SkyBar at HotelX – enjoy sweeping skyline views in the distance & sunsets over Lake Ontario
  • Canoe – one of Toronto’s best restaurants sits at the the top of the TD Tower and offers immersive downtown views that stretch all the way to the waterfront
  • Terroni Price St – look north from this midtown rooftop, over a historic train station & you just might feel like you’re in Europe

Bring out the daredevil in you as you walk around the CN Tower on a 5ft wide ledge, 116 stories above downtown.

Book here.

Take a private aerial tour over Toronto with ifly. You can indulge in champagne and an experience you’ll never forget.

Learn more here.

Week 35

Treat yourself to a night out – you deserve it! Below are some great options to shake up your evenings, that don’t involve just going to a bar.

TSO Movie Concert Series

Think that going to the Toronto Symphony is for older generations? Think again. The TSO has been putting on a series of movie concert series, and I can attest they are excellent. Not only do you get to watch a popular film (think Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars), but the orchestra plays the movie soundtrack live through the film. Talk about an immersive film experience.

Tickets for Star Wars here.

Comedy Shows & Improv

My favourite night-out activity is a comedy show. Absolute Comedy is my favourite venue in Toronto (at Yonge & Eg), and Comedy Bar is a runner up (Bloor St W). Book ahead to secure your seat and get ready to laugh. For Improv, check out Second City or Bad Dog Theatre.

IMAX

Looking for more ways to watch a movie? Head to the Ontario Science Centre and watch an IMAX movie in their giant domed OMNIMAX Theatre. You don’t have to buy tickets to the Science Centre to go – you can get separate tickets for a film.

Check it out here.

Week 34

While on the topic of games, here are some hotspots where you can enjoy a couple of pints or cocktails while you play!

Ever since it opened, The Rec Room has been a great go-to spot before a Jays Game (or any time really). Inside the expansive space at The Roundhouse, you will find multiple restaurants, an expansive bar, plenty of arcade games (and they’re really good ones too!), a virtual reality arena & an event space. I’ve spent time here as part of work events, game nights with friends, pre-Jays game beers and I even attended a magic show in the event space. There’s truly something for everyone.

Discover more here.

Tip: It’s next on the Steam Whistle Tap House & Biergarten if you want to extend your visit.

LOB is described as when bocce met golf. This indoor space is filled with 9 LOB holes. You can play solo or with friends, or join a tournament. And of course, you’re welcome to meander the course with a beverage or two.

Learn more here.

Of course, as it sounds, Escape Manor does indeed offer Escape Rooms, but they also have axe throwing and they’re fully licensed!

Book here.

Bonus: Ping Pong, Billards, Cornole & More!

  • Try your hand at a game of ping pong at SPIN or Pong Bar (they haven’t yet reopened yet, but keep an eye on their websites as they’re worth a visit when they do).
  • Pretend you’re a pool shark while playing billiards at Rivoli
  • Toss some bean bags while playing cornhoe at Bangarang

Week 33

Sometimes we just need to bring out the kid in us. Get competitive, dive into some games and just have fun with these ideas.

Board Game Cafés

Spark a little friendly competition at one of these board game cafés:

Escape Rooms

See if you can beat the clock and escape in one of these escape rooms. Note, not all of these offer small private groups, so be sure to read the fine print if you don’t want to end up trapped in a room with strangers:

  • Riddle Room – located just south of Yonge & Wellesley, this location is a double-whammy as they offer  escape rooms and board games! The rooms are affordable & are really fun with varying levels of challenge. I’ve tried all of their rooms!
  • Escape Games – one of the most well (and widely) reviewed Escape Rooms in the city, and for good reason. Their sets, props & themes are incredibly well thought out. Located near Downsview Airport.
  • Imaginarium – located at Tycos Drive, Imaginarium is one of Toronto’s newest escape rooms and it is riddled with 5 star reviews. I haven’t been yet, but it’s certainly on my list!
  • Casa Loma – currently offering virtual & in-person escape rooms. Is there anything cooler than trying to escape a castle?!

Burn some calories while you run around this playland. Pursuit OCR is full of obstacles – think ball pits, hanging ropes (with foam pits to catch you below), mini rock walls and more – that will test your grip strength & swinging ability. Everyone else made it look easier than it was – even though I spent a lot of my time trying to wade out of the foam pits, I still had a blast.

Discover more here.

Week 32

Discover new eats in Toronto by following these three ideas:

Canada’s Best 100 List

Make your way through Canada’s Best 100 List and discover the country’s top eats. Some Toronto favourites at the top of my list: Giulietta, Edulis, Dreyfus, Bar Isabel, Alo Bar Yorkville (it even delivers well!) & Queztal.

Attend a Cooking Class

Learn something new and have a great time while doing it by attending a cooking class. My absolute favourite Toronto date-night was when we went to a cooking class at Dish. We had a welcome cocktail and then chose which parts of the disk we were going to make (we opted for carrots and filo pastry, while the other attendees cooked up the mussels, main and other sides). Once done, we broke bread together at a long communal table. It was truly wonderful. 

Some more ideas for where to partake in a cooking class:

  • Pasta Forever for all things pasta (private & community classes available) – all virtual
  • Cookery for beginners, pros and everyone in between – three locations in the city
  • The Chef Upstairs for private events or group classes in Toronto & Vaughan
  • Le Dolci for baked goods and sweets

Try A Food Tour

Toronto is home to some great culinary delights, and what better way to sample them than on a food tour. Here are a few ideas:

  • To Food Tours – here you’ll find tours and cooking classes, currently taking place at the St. Lawrence Market and even on the water!
  • Culinary Adventure Co. – discover some of Toronto’s best foodie havens like the St. Lawrence Market, Chinatown, Kensington, Little India and more!
  • Local Toronto Food Tours – focused on showing you hidden gems in popular areas
  • Tasty Tours – most well known for their popular Kensington Market tour

Week 31

Toronto may not feel like it is full of as much history as a European city, but there are plenty of stunning buildings that will take you back in time. Take a trip into history with these lesser well known sights.

The stately Victorian homes on Elmsley Place were built circa 1900s and were part of Toronto’s first subdivision. They were eventually purchased by St. Mike’s as the College expanded westward and now accommodate students.

Tip: Elmsley Place is close to Philosopher’s Walk from Week 30. Combine them for a historic walk through UofT.

Find it here.

54 1/2 St. Patrick Street was built sometime in the 19th century as one of 6 identical Victorian-era row homes along the street that was once named Drummer Street. Over time, owners of the other homes sold the structures to developers, who tore them down. The owners of 54 1/2 St. Patrick Street never did. The demolition of the adjoining house had to be done very carefully, due to the load-bearing walls dividing the neighbours’ homes. Any missteps would have resulted in the 54 1/2 house crumbling. In 2018, it underwent a renovation that resulted in a more modern looking facade.

Find it here.

The Great Hall, located at Queen W. and Dovercourt, was built in the late 1880s by Toronto’s West End Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) to accommodate its growing membership. A fundraising mission was launched to purchase a plot of land (for $10,000) and construct the building. The building was opened on October 9, 1890 and it’s said that some of the earliest basketball games ever played took place in the gymnasium.

Learn more here.

Week 30

Take a moment to enjoy the outdoors before crisp fall days are upon us for good. Below are some hidden green spaces to explore in the middle of the city.

Philosopher’s Walk is a beautifully landscaped footpath that carves its way through the St. George campus at UofT, gently winding from Bloor St. to Hoskin St. between the ROM and The Royal Conservatory of Music. You’ll find the Queen Alexandra Gateway at the Bloor St. entrance. Its stone pillars and lampposts were built in 1906 at the corner of Bloor St. and Queen’s Park, but were moved to their current position in 1962. 

Find the location here.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve frequented Yonge & Dundas, and yet I had no idea this park existed until I attended the immersive play, C.O.N.T.A.C.T, this summer. This park is nestled into the centre of a Ryerson building. Here, you’ll discover a massive arch and oval walkway. Apparently there’s even an ice rink in the winter!

Find the location here.

Not feeling the outdoors? This indoor tiny bamboo forest is an oasis in the middle of a UofT building. You’ll have to step inside the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research to find this mini-garden. Take it all in from one of the wooden decks or benches.

Find the location here.

Week 29

A new season is a great time to explore areas of your city a little differently. Head to a new neighbourhood or discover more about your current one, with the prompts below.

eat

Of course, one of my favourite ways to discover a neighbourhood is to taste my way through it. Hop between locations, pick up items to go, and eat them on a street bench or in a nearby parkette. Some of my favourite to-go items: sandwiches, smoothies, croissants (or other pastries), gelato, fresh bread.

discover

Learn to wander a little more slowly and take in your surroundings with these ideas:

  • walk down both sides of the street (go all the way up one side, cross over, and meander down the other)
  • find a street name you’ve never heard of and take some photos (mentally or real snaps) of houses or nature on the street
  • find a place with a line and join it
  • talk to a shopkeeper
  • find a door, building or house you love
  • look up – discover murals you may have missed before
  • sit and people watch
  • take a detour through that parkette
  • stop & watch a street performer

shop

I am always into an excuse to #shoplocal. Meander through new stores, window shop or pick something up for later. Here are some ideas for how to #shoplocal:

  • wander through three consecutive stores in a row – maybe you’ll pop into something you normally wouldn’t and discover new finds
  • freshen up your space by picking up fresh flowers or a plant from a sidewalk display
  • be intentional about what you buy – read up on the brand or artisan and fall in love with the people behind the products
  • buy a pantry staple or new (to you) vegetable to use while cooking later

Week 28

Kick off this week (or weekend) with some more summer staples! By now, if you’ve been following along, you would have gotten out on the water, gotten active under the sun, eaten street food and explored hidden city views (if you missed any, just scroll)! Here are some more summer staples to enjoy. 

Canada’s largest shipping container market is packed full of eats, shops and activities. You’ll even find Belgian Moon Brewery and plenty of lawn space and picnic tables to relax under the sun. Keep an eye on their event board, as there are always new experiences cropping up.

Learn more here.

Local Beach Day

Spend a day at one of Toronto’s own beaches. Below are a handful of options for beaches & nearby eats:

  • Woodbine Beach: bring your own gear to play beach volleyball, rent a SUP board or just lounge in the sand. Grab a burger at GG’s or a sit down lunch and cocktails at the new Toronto Beach Club.
  • Cherry Beach: Popular for windsurfing & the off-leash dog park, Cherry Beach is perfect for someone who wants to be active. Rent a kayak or SUP board and refuel at Cherry Street BBQ. Want to extend the fun? Pop over to the Docks Driving Range.
  • Hanlan’s Point Beach: Head out to the Island for the day and hang out at Hanlan’s Point Beach. Get there early, as it can get busy. And choose your spot wisely – there is a clothing optional section! Best to bring a picnic so that you don’t have to get up.

Drive-Ins

  • Nothing screams summer more than a night at the drive-in. Ontario Place screens different movies each week – visit their website for all of the details! Alternatively, visit the 5 Drive-In if you are on the west-end.
  • City-View Drive In, on Polson St, is an outdoor, drive-in concert venue.

Week 27

Summer is meant for food trucks and stalls. Head to one of these areas and take your pick!

Market 707 is located at Dundas and Bathurst. There are ~10 food stalls are housed in retrofitted shipping containers, serving up scrumptious international street food. 

Learn more here.

A favourite spot includes: Nom Nom Nom Poutine.

Located just north of Yonge and Dundas, World Food Market is packed full of 18+ vendors serving international eats. Expect this area to be crowded in the summer, but it’s a great place to stop after a jaunt through the Eaton’s Centre. Scoop up some falafels, doas, chicken wings, tacos or nachos and enjoy your meal at one of the market’s picnic tables.

Learn more here.

While Street Eats is a bit of a further drive outside of the core, it offers one of Canada’s largest food truck parks. They have three locations – Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Scarborough Town Centre – and not only do they have plenty of eats, but they also have events that are worth keeping your eye out for. Eat Nights Market, Carnival Flavours and Movie Night are three that are upcoming.

Learn more here.

Bonus: While the above are focused on food truck / stall parks, so that you can have choice once you arrive, below are a few other trucks serving up delicious eats worth the trek from wherever you are:

  • Home Appliances Food Co: burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, fries and donuts that will have you coming back again and again. Plus, they often have a vendor pop-up in their cute patio, selling artisan goods. Read our interview with the founders here. 
  • Cheese Boutique Food Truck: A variety of local restaurants take over this food truck on a weekly basis. Follow their IG for updates!
  • Check out more local trucks here!

Week 26

Head to one of these lesser-well known spots for a cool view of the city! 

Chester Hill Lookout

Chester Hill Lookout is perched above the Don Valley Parkway, and has views towards downtown. You’ll see the Don Valley, skyscrapers, and the CN Tower peeking out of the distance. Access it via Broadview, north of the Danforth.

Map here.

In the area: Depending on what time you’re visiting, pop over to Dairy Queen beforehand for a soft serve to enjoy while looking at the view. Or head over to explore Evergreen Brickworks. Alternatively, head south to Riverdale Park East and catch the sunset at a very popular viewpoint.

Baldwin Steps

Baldwin Steps are a set of stairs beside Casa Loma. They offer a picturesque view towards downtown, and the stairs themselves are beautiful in the summer or winter. They’re also a great spot to get some exercise!

Map here.

In the area: Visit Casa Loma or the neighbouring Spadina Museum. If you’re hungry, head south to Dupont and enjoy a meal at Fet Zun or Playa Cabana.

Trillium Park

Trillium Park is along the waterfront trail, near Ontario Place, and offers stunning views back towards the city. Whether you got here by car, foot or bike, it’s worth pausing for a moment.

Map here.

In the area: Highly recommend getting on your bike and biking the trail. Alternatively, if you’re hungry, head north to Hotel X and enjoy a meal at one of their restaurants. You can also plan to go to an event at Ontario Place, like a Drive-In movie.

Week 25

Get active under the sun this summer!

Beach Volleyball

Head over to Woodbine Beach for some beach volleyball! You’ll need to bring your own net and ball, but they have plenty of courts available on a first-come-first served basis.

Driving Range

Practice your swing at the Docks Driving Range. You can even rent clubs or take lessons if you’d like some tips! The Docks is a fully licensed facility, and you can hang at their patio before/after you hit some balls.

Bonus: You can bring your dog!

Outdoor Pools

Perfect your breaststroke (or your tan lines) at one of these outdoor pools (for most pools, you have to purchase an access pass in advance):

For a ‘party’ vibe:

A little more chilled out:

Alternatively, check out one of the many public pools in the city.

Week 24

While on the topic of day trips, here are some fun out of town summer activities that are worth the drive!

U-Pick Flower Farms

Yes! There are farms that welcome you to pick your own flowers! What’s more back to nature than that? Plus, you get a beautiful custom bouquet to bring home. Most are open late May – October, but be sure to check on their websites! Most prices are per person picking (i.e. if you go with a friend but only one of you is picking, you only pay the pick fee for the picker. The other person may have to pay a lower general admission fee, depending on the farm).

Here are a handful of u-pick farms:

Bonus: Go berry / vegetable picking at Andrews Scenic Acres. Check their website for what’s in season!

Horseback Riding

When was the last time you went horseback riding? Now’s your chance – either of these options will have you creating new memories!

Scenic Caves & Suspension Bridge

Head north 2 hours to explore Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. WIth a general ticket ($26+ you get access to walking trails, Southern Ontario’s largest suspension bridge, the caves trail network, and more!). You can also add on mini golf, zip line and more. Book your tickets in advance so that you know what is open/closed.

Week 23

Summer screams weekend day trips – here are a few places to visit! Easy enough for a day trip, but also plenty to do if you opt to stay the night.

Elora 

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Why go: quaint town, farm-to-table dining & nature walks

Things to do: 

  • Park up near the Elora Cafe, and wander down the main street towards the water. Then turn right down Mill St and head towards the Elora Mills Hotel & Spa. On the way, pop into shops or stop at a restaurant for a bite. Once at the Elora Mills Hotel & Spa, take a right and head towards the Elora Gorge Lookout (you’ll see a trail part way up the hill, on your left, through Victoria Park). Be sure to also take the stairs down to view the Elora Gorge from below.
  • Elora Farmers’ Market: running on  Saturday out of Bissell Park (check their website for a full schedule). Bissell Park has a boardwalk that is great for a peaceful meander.
  • Elora Gorge Conservation Area: if you want to extend your trip, head over to the Elora Gorge Conservation Area for some walking trails (note, there is an entrance fee). Try to find Hole in the Rock, a staircase that was built through a boulder.
  • Elora Quarry: depending on your vibe, you can stop here for a swim or just to look at the limestone rocks surrounding this swimming hole. Just don’t expect your typical sand here!
  • Elora Cataract Trailway: if you’re looking for some more ways to spend time outdoors, grab your bike or walking shoes and enjoy part or all of this 45+km trail along an old railway line!
  • If you’re in the mood for an activity, you can always go tubing, punting or ziplining (purchase tickets in advance to ensure you secure a spot!)

Where to eat & drink:

Bonus: If you’d like to stay overnight, you can’t beat Elora Mill Hotel & Spa.

Hamilton

Distance from Toronto: 45 minutes

Why go: great food, easy to access (you can even take the train!), lots of hikes

Things to do: There is plenty to do in Hamilton, but here’s a round up of a few things to get you going!

Where to eat & drink:

Hillier & Wellington, Prince Edward County

Distance from Toronto: 2 hours

*You can easily spend a few days in Prince Edward County, and it’s so big that some places can actually take 2.5 – 3 hours to get to from Toronto (eg. Sandbanks is a 2.5 hr drive). That’s why we’re keeping these recommendations to Hillier & Wellington, both on the west half of Prince Edward County. You can save Bloomfield, Picton, Sandbanks and some other gems for an overnight visit!

Please also be careful about drinking and driving! Plan ahead to have a DD or spend more time at shops, lavender farms & Wellington Beach!

Why go: great wines & beers, stunning views, and flower fields. Many places in PEC are also dog friendly, so it’s a great trip to bring along your pooch!

Things to do:

Start your trip by heading straight into Wellington:

  • Head straight into Wellington. If you’re there on a Saturday, hop out and meander the small farmers market to pick up a few local goodies. Then head over to Picolina for an espresso and pastry. Alternatively, if coffee isn’t your thing, pop into Lemons for a lemonade. Cross the street to Oak and shop their carefully curated clothing. If you want somewhere to walk with your drink, head down Water St for some views of the lake, and then back up Narrow St.

Now you have some choices:

Option 1: Lavender fields & Wine: Head back west a little to Millefleurs to wander their lavender fields and pick up some goodies to bring home. Once there, it’s easy to pop over to Keint-He, one of the only wineries on this half of PEC with a water view, stretched out beyond their vineyards. Then head back into Wellington (it’s less than a 5 minute drive) and go to Lakeside Motel or Drake Devonshire for lunch with a water view (see if you can book ahead!). If they’re all booked up, pop over to Midtown Brewing for some fresh beers and pizza!

Option 2: Wine, Beer & Sandwiches: Drive north to Wilson Road – it has a handful of places to visit all along one stretch! Start by visiting either Gillingham Brewing, Domaine Darius or Sugarbush wineries. Then pop into Carson’s Garden Market for a little shopping (for all the green thumbs out there!) and then grab lunch at neighbouring Flossie’s (delicious sandwiches).

Option 3: Winery Choice, Lavender Farms & Winery Lunch: Another road that is chalk full of options is Closson Road. You’ll have plenty of choices as far as wineries go: Closson Chase (famous purple barn), Gravel Hill Vineyards, Broken Stone Winery, Lacey Estates. Then go shopping at Bark Woodshop and SHED or visit Prince Edward County Lavender. For a late lunch, stop into The Old Third Winery for fresh pasta (note they largely only serve pasta on weekends) or Grange Winery (which is currently also home to Old Salt, serving up cocktails & gourmet hot dogs).

Option 4: Beach & Ice Cream: Head east to Beach Street and spend some time at Wellington Beach (double check if you need to book in advance as it’s not a huge stretch of beach. Also note that it is more rocky, so bring something to sit on!). After the beach, head to the Old Greenhouse for some ice cream. Enjoy a late lunch at any of the options listed before heading home! *Note: North Beach is also a good alternative to both Wellington Beach and Sandbanks!

 

Week 22

I love a great hop, so here are three ideas to add a little pep into your step this week!

Brews

Beers, beers and more beers! This hop will treat you to some great brews and  great neighborhoods, all within a 30 minute total walk.

  • Kensington Brewing Company: enjoy great beers while people watching in Kensington or pop inside for a great view of their intricate mural (Augusta near College)
  • Birreria Volo: this is the place for a curated craft beer selection – you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice and will certainly discover something new (College near Grace)
  • Bellwoods Brewery: with it’s white picket fence, this is quite possibly the cutest brewery patio in the city (Ossington near Queen

Bonus: Check out our other two brewery hops here.

Food: Of course, we have to make sure you are fuelled for your journey, so here are some great places to grab bites along the way:

  • PG Clucks fried chicken sandwiches (College near Clinton)
  • Lambos Deli (Dundas at Bellwoods)
  • Pizzeria Badiali for some of the best pizza slices (a very slight detour to Dovercourt & Argyle)

Wine

These days, we are spoiled with choice when it comes to wine bars in Toronto. So, we’ve picked the following spots that are a mere 14 minute walk (total!) apart, allowing you to optimize your vino time!

  • Bar Mignonette: sister spot to Patois, here you’ll discover natural wines and a delicious seafood-focused menu. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be perched in one of their rooftop seats people watching along Dundas (Dundas & Palmerston). *Note: Bar Mignonette is currently still pending reopening – check their IG for the latest updates. In the meantime, you can double up near Grape Crush and head to Midfield Wine Bar and enjoy a glass on their side patio.
  • Archive: with plenty of space indoors and out, you can easily spend an afternoon here! (Dundas & Bellwoods)
  • Grape Crush: enjoy wine and eatsammy burgers on this colourful patio (Ossington & Dundas)

Food: While the above places have great eats, here are a few more grab-and-go options, just in case:

Cocktails

Beer and wine not your thing? We’ve got you covered with these cocktail hotspots! They’re only 6 minutes apart, so if any of the locations are busy, you can always move on to the next and return back afterwards. No need to do this hop in order!

  • Cry Baby Gallery: Part gallery X part cocktail bar, you’ll be impressed with the both the space and the drinks (Dundas & Dufferin).
  • Project Gigglewater: Creative, rotating menu of delicious cocktails with creative names (Dundas at Rusholme). Plus, we interviewed the founder, Alfred, and he’s awesome. Read the post here.
  • Founder Bar: Stunning cocktails & eats in a beautiful space. You will not be disappointed with their award winning drinks! (Dundas near Dovercourt)

Food: Additional spots to fuel your journey:

Week 21

Summer lovin’ and we’re out on the water!

Rentals

Want to get out on the water but need a vessel? We’ve got you covered with these options!

Island Fun

Select one of these options to get yourself over to the island for a day of beach lounging, biking or wandering around the cute island homes.

  • Regular Ferry Schedule: Multiple ferry runs to different locations on the Islands; buy tickets online.
  • Tiki Taxi: offers regular service from Spadina & Queens Quay to Hanlan’s Point and Centre Island.
  • The Pirate Taxi: Pirate-themed taxi service to the Islands. Locations at Harbourfront and Jack Layton.

Bonus: While planning your visit to the Island, book with Toronto Island SUP for an eco-adventure, night paddle or Yoga class (yes, that’s yoga on a SUP!)

Tours

Looking for something a little more engaging? Check out the tours below:

  • Paddle Pirates Toronto: Another great option that offers night paddles on illuminated canoe-kayaks. They also have an adaptive paddling offering!
  • Gone Sailing Adventures: Offering everything from group sunset sales and to wine & cheese sails, to private charters.
  • Tall Ship Cruises Toronto: Been eyeing the ‘pirate ship’ at the Toronto waterfront? Make today your day to finally book yourself on an adventure aboard Kajama.
  • Toronto Adventures: Get picked up & driven to an Ontario river for a paddle, guided tour and some instruction. A great way to explore outside the city. Be sure to also rent a boat with them if you don’t have your own!
  • Oceahoceah: Join them for one of their guided tours, like the Full Moon SUP Social & Meditation.

Week 20

Nothing says spring and summer like flowers and plants! Below are some great places that will surely brighten your day!

Plant Shops

2020 seemed to be the year of the house plant boom. We are spoiled with choice in the city – below are my favourite spots to add a little greenery to your home.

Bonus: Read our past article on where to buy large planters.

Flower Shops

Gift yourself or a friend a bouquet of fresh blooms from these shops.

Bonus: Read one of our first-ever interviews with the founder of The Local Flower Collective.

TBG is nearly four acres and include 17 themed gardens. You can take a self-guided tour, or sign up for one of their events (including guided tours on foot or by bike).

Week 19

It’s summer AND some restrictions are lifted – don’t let the rain stop you! This week offers a roundup of perfect rainy day activities that will still have you adventuring to the Middle of Somewhere.

Don’t let the rainy weather stop you from enjoying delicious food and drinks. It is summer in the city afterall! Check out this page for a list of great covered patios for eating and drinking.

There are still a handful of tickets available for this immersive experience and you can literally go in your car. You’ll be immersed in 600,000 cubic feet of projections of Van Gogh’s masterpieces.

Regardless of your skillset, there is an AGO class that will work for you. They have one day workshops & classes for children and youth, and you’ll find everything from introduction to drawing to mixed media explorations.

Bonus

  • Met Opera virtual shows: Each day at 7:30PM EDT, the Met makes a performance available for free viewing for 24 hours. The schedule includes complete performances from the past 14 years.
  • The Middle of Somewhere In-The-Know-Toronto page has plenty of virtual events (cooking classes, workshops and more!).

Week 18

May means it’s the start of Farmer’s Market season in Toronto! A few early birds begin this month, with the rest kicking off in June. Here are some to check out now:

Runs Sunday’s from 9AM – 2PM out of Greenwood Park (note: this location is new). There are many great vendors, including farmers, wineries, breweries, cideries and local producers. Be sure to check out one of my favourite cideries from Prince Edward County – Crimson Cider Company! (take a peek at Week 12 if you missed my shoutout).

Toronto’s largest farmers’ market is worth a visit any time of year. It runs year-round, but there is something about popping into a farmers’ market in the summer that makes it that much better! Make this week your week! It runs from 8AM – 1PM. If you’re tight on time, you can also order in advance (by Thursday) and pick up your goodies on Saturday. Order here.

This market runs Thursdays from 3-7PM and features local, fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as a handful of artisan prepared foods and a rotating choice VQA wineries/cider for take home.

Bonus

  • The Stop’s Farmers’ Market: Get ready for this market to start May 22nd. It runs Saturdays from 8AM – 1PM and features plenty of farm and non-farm vendors, as well as some wineries & cideries!
  • St. Lawrence Market Farmers’ Market: Early birds, this one’s for you! It runs Saturdays from 5AM – 3PM (yes, you read that correctly!). Note that if you decide to swing by later, expect there to be a line.

Week 17

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice scream! The sun has started to shine and the days are getting longer & warmer. A perfect recipe for a sweet summer treat! Below is a roundup of some of my favourites (and a few I’m dying to try!)!

Ice Cream

  • Knockout Ice Cream: a friend put me onto this one and I quickly fell in love. They made my favourite ice cream I’ve ever had – caramelized banana. Sadly, it is no longer on the menu, but based off of that experience, I am certain their other flavours will hit it out of the park! They’re currently operating out of the Annex Food Hall, on Bloor near Spadina.
  • Booyah: If you’re looking for an ice cream sandwich, look no further! You can even order these for delivery and make some DIY sandwiches from the comfort of your own home! Tip: it makes for a fun birthday surprise! (Bathurst & St. Clair)
  • Summer’s Ice Cream: A Yorkville favourite, this is the perfect place to stop while window shopping.
  • Ed’s Real Scoop: With three locations throughout the city (The Beaches, Leslieville, Roncesvalles, and Mimico), you can never be too far from Ed’s Real Scoop!
  • Honey’s Ice Cream: I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but their plant-based ice creams have been all the rave lately! (Dundas & Dufferin)

Gelato

  • Punto Gelato: my favourite gelato in the city. I particularly love their banana (this seems to be a trend…), but they also have plenty of unique flavours like mojito (which tastes spot on like a mojito). Three locations: Yorkville, St. Clair & Dufferin and Yonge & Davisville.
  • Bar Ape: This one is on my to-try list, after it was recommended by Jaimie from the Local Flower Collective, when I interviewed her last summer (located at St. Clair & Christie).

Popsicles

  • Augie’s Ice Pops: these handcrafted ice pops are available at their location in the Junction and also at retailers like Wholefoods, Pusateri’s, The Big Carrot and more.

Week 16

This week is a post for all of you with fur babies or furry friends. Since we brought our pup, @leonardthedood, home back in September, we’ve been checking out dog parks across the city. Here are our favourite off-leash dog parks so far:

This park was a winter & shoulder-season favourite. The park is sand which meant it was less prone to turning into mud when the snow came and went. Large stones have been added to the park, which make for great seating for owners. There’s also a nice wooded trail adjacent to the park, if you wanted to go for a pre- or post-park stroll.

This waterfront dog park is accessible just off of the boardwalk. One of the few spots where doggos can run and swim in the city! (Cherry Beach is another one, but we haven’t quite ventured there yet!)

One of the larger parks in the city, your dog is sure to burn off a ton of energy. Be warned though, big park = lots of dogs of varying demeanours. It can also get a bit muddy. Still worth a visit, as it’s surrounded by big trails – perfect for walking your pooch!

Week 15

Here’s one thing we are allowed to do during a lockdown: essential shopping.

Why don’t you mix up where you get your goods! Below is a list of some of our favourite spots to shop for the essentials:

Bread

Besides pizza, bread ranks as one of Dave’s absolute favourite foods. Over the last decade and a bit of being together, we’ve picked up a lot of bread from a lot of places. Here’s some of our latest favourites:

  • Prairie Boy Bread: last year around this time, we were able to score some of their ramps bread. I dream about the day I can snatch up another loaf. If you are lucky enough to pop into their shop while they have it, be sure to pick up a loaf or two.
  • Pasta Forever: I love a great focaccia, and the best kinds are spongy, soaked in quality olive oil and loaded with flavour. The focaccia from Pasa Forever is absolutely the best I’ve ever had. I bought two in one go and ate them within 24 hours. Check out their webshop for the latest flavours – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
  • Bread and Better: Is there anything better than eating bread for a good cause? Probably not. Order Patrice’s delicious sourdough and support Sick Kids Hospital while you do. It’s got my vote for the best sourdough in the city.

Meat & Seafood

  • Cumbrae’s: a standout butcher shop in Toronto. They also carry excellent sandwiches, sides, fresh produce, sauces and more!
  • Butcher’s Son: a bit biased, since this is my local butcher shop, but they’ve got excellent meats, friendly service & lots of great soups and sauces. If Butcher’s Son is too far for you to venture to, I urge you to find out where your local butcher shop is and pay them a visit!
  • The Friendly Butcher: Another great neighbourhood butcher shop with two locations.
  • De La Mer: a super fish shop – on top of their fresh seafood, be sure to also try their hot sauces, spicy crab dip and crab cakes.

Cheese

Is cheese considered essential? Well, it is in my books!

  • Cheese Boutique: with Afrim Pristine at the helm as the Maître fromager (i.e. King of Cheese), you’ll be sure to find your favourites & discover something new!
  • La Salumeria: a great salumeria just north of Davisville on Yonge St. with a vast cheese selection. They also carry lots of other goodies – olive oils, crackers, sauces and more. Pro tip: order one of their sandwiches as well!
  • Nancy’s Cheese Shop: I sadly haven’t had the pleasure of stopping in here yet, as I’ve managed to only walk by when they’re closed, but it’s at the top of my list given the many rave reviews.
  • Good Cheese: Another one at the top of my list, this shop also carries great local products (beer, wine, snacks, sandwiches, etc.) and operates as a wine-bar (outside of lockdown). What’s better than stopping in for cheese and staying to enjoy some vino too!

Bonus

  • One-Stop-Shops: If you’re more of a one-stop-shop kind of person – check out some of the city’s best gourmet grocers in this post!
  • Blackbird Baking Co: my favourite granola hails from Blackbird Baking Co. I have to carefully portion it out so I don’t devour it too quickly!

Week 14

Look, I know Trinity Bellwoods is alluring – right in the middle of Queen West, close to downtown abodes & surrounded by hotspots to pick up some snacks or drinks. The downside? It can get very crowded! If you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining your distance, check out one of these spots:

If you live downtown, getting to these locations might require a little more effort, but make this week the week that you finally check them out! Pack a picnic and enjoy the sunshine! See this post for some cheese & charcuterie picnic inspiration!

Week 13

Enjoy the outdoors with a DIY street art tour. Below are some great spots to check out!

Graffiti & Murals

  • Graffiti Alley: One of the most well-known spots to check out graffiti in Toronto, this alleyway runs parallel to Queen St (just south of it), between Spadina & Agusta
  • Milky Way: Milky Way is a lesser-well known graffiti alley, located one street south of Queen West, between Dufferin and Cowan Ave. Worth walking the full three blocks!
  • Underpass Park: Located between Eastern Ave, Richmond and Adelaide overappses, Underpass Park was the first park to be built under an overpass in Toronto. Artists transformed the space as part of the Pan Am Path Art Relay, and is home to Mirage, a public art piece designed by award-winning Toronto artist and architect Paul Raff. Learn more here.
  • More: If you’re interested in more graffiti alleys – head up the laneway between Ossington and Brookfield on Queen St. Also, just keep an eye out & don’t forget to look up! There are murals around many corners.

Sculptures

  • The Audience: Walk to the Rogers Centre, heading south down Blue Jays Way. Be sure to look up to see this 1989 sculpture by Michael Snow, who was inspired by the dynamic between fans of opposing teams (more fans can be seen at the northeast corner of the Rogers Centre)
  • Hockey Players @ Scotiabank Arena: These life-sized hockey player sculptures are a must for any hockey fan. They can be viewed outside the Scotiabank Arena, along Raptors Way.
  • Ireland Park: Head south past the malting silos at Bathurst and Queens Quay to find a small waterfront park with statues that commemorate the tens of thousands of people who fled Ireland to North America during the Great Famine. The Toronto statues were created by Robert G. Kearns after he was moved by Rowan Gillespie’s ‘Departure’ series of famine sculptures in Dublin. Notably, there are only five statues on the Toronto waterfront, compared to the seven sculptures that stand on the dockside in Dublin. This is meant to speak to the tragic loss of life during the journey. The park also features stunning views of Toronto’s waterfront.
  • Wavedecks: Go walk on these functional and artistic cedar decks at the base of Simcoe, Rees and Spadina along Queens Quay. Part sculpture, and part walkway, they were designed by West8 + DTAH and inspired by the shorelines of Ontario’s great lakes. Since their installation in 2008/09, they’ve received eight international design awards, including a Royal Architectural Institute of Canada National Urban Design Award.
  • Berczy Park Fountain: You’ll find several dog sculptures perched on this fountain in the centre of the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is
  • Guild Park & Gardens: Beautiful gardens near Scarborough Bluffs, home to many remnants of early 20th century buildings
  • Max Tanenbaum Sculpture Garden: This sculpture garden at the base of Riverdale Park East features 20 life size sculptures that celebrate the human spirit. The colourful sculptures were created by William Lishman, a colour blind and dyslexic sculptor.

… and so many more! Enjoy an escape to the Middle of Somewhere as you wander on your own art journey through the city.

Week 12

When was the last time you ordered alcohol directly from the makers? Did you know that so many local producers offer home delivery throughout the province (or pickup) and they earn more when you purchase directly from them (vs. the LCBO)? Make this week, the week you finally order (or order again)!

Here’s a round up of what I am loving lately:

Brews

  • Just a Pils from True History Brewing, out of Toronto (Free local delivery when you spend a certain amount). A close second would be their other new brew – Twist My Arm – which just might have my favourite beer name of all time.
  • June Buggy from Prince Eddy’s Brewing, out of Prince Edward County (free local delivery or flat rate shipping across Ontario)
  • Jelly King from Bellwoods Brewery, out of Toronto – always opt for a mix of flavours! (flat rate shipping across Ontario)
  • Prickly Pear from Parsons Brewery, out of Prince Edward county (shipping by weight)
  • Eephus from Left Field Brewery, out of Toronto (delivery available throughout Toronto M postal codes)
  • Nula from Burdock Brewery, out of Toronto (delivery available throughout Ontario)

Ciders

  • Chapel on the Twelve from Carlisle Cider Co., out of Carlisle ON (they ship throughout Ontario for a flat fee!)
  • Rosé Cider from Crimson Cider Company, out of Prince Edward County (they ship throughout Ontario for a flat fee & are also a vendor at Leslieville Market in Toronto!)

Wines

  • South Bay Chardonnay from Huff Estates, out of Prince Edward County (free shipping on orders of over $100; you can also purchase mixed packs which is great if you aren’t sure what you want to try!)
  • Tre Amici Curated Packs from Tre Amici, out of Toronto – they are a wine importer that curate lovely selections of wines, at reasonable prices (flat rate shipping available)

Week 11

I know it’s been a minute since I posted Week 10 – I promise to get caught up shortly, so you can continue to discover more of Toronto! Follow the Middle of Somewhere Instagram account for the latest update on what’s been keeping me from the blog!

For Week 11, we’re inviting you to create a delicious cheese & charcuterie spread featuring goodies from some of Toronto’s best bars & restaurants, turned grocers. Read the post here for some great places to order from to make an excellent at-home spread. You’ll also find a list of some of my favourite grocers for an even broader selection to suit your fancy.

Nothing beats an afternoon cheese & charcuterie board, am I right?!

Week 10

During quarantine I have been cooking up some delicious meals, all thanks to virtual cooking classes. There are plenty of local classes available and since the world is virtual these days, you can also join classes with instructors from around the world. In the past year, I’ve made gnocchi, holiday cookies and donairs through various corporate cooking classes, made dumplings with my family to celebrate my mom’s birthday, learned to roll pasta by hand for a date night, perfected the ultimate sear on a steak through a class run by one of Toronto’s great restaurants, and had a blast making souffle pancakes with my girlfriends. All done virtually, of course. 

Below is a round up of some of my favourite virtual cooking classes to date (yes, I’ve attended a lot of classes!). You can also pop over to the In-The-Know Toronto page to find out the city’s latest offerings and a roundup of more classes that I haven’t been able to attend quiet yet. 

Pasta

  • Pasta Forever TO: The best for learning to make hand-rolled southern Italian shapes (no equipment required!), and possibly the best (and easiest) tomato sauce ever. $35 pp – book online.
  • Enoteca Sociale: Great if you don’t want to have to shop for ingredients – all ingredients are supplied by the restaurant and are available to be picked up on the day of your class. The class includes salumi or cheese to start, homemade pasta, and dessert. You can also shoot them a DM via Instagram with requests to cook other Italian staples. $60 pp – book via emailing enoteca@sociale.com (4 people minimum). **Note: I haven’t yet attended this class, but it’s in the works & is one of my favourite restaurants in the city, so I have a hunch it’ll be great!

Local Groups

  • Eat the City: Eat the City is run by the Gusto brand. They brought together six Toronto restaurants and offered three months of meal kits and virtual cooking classes. The last class is on March 17th, to be sure to sign up asap if you want to secure a spot. The class will be run by the executive chef of newly opened Azhar. You’ll receive pre-portioned restaurant-grade ingredients delivered to you home, a curated playlist for the perfect soundtrack to your at-home cooking and access to a virtual cooking tutorial lead by the restaurant’s executive chef. I joined the Gusto 501 edition, and it was excellent! $90 for two people – book online.
  • Elle Cuisine: Perfect for corporate or other large events, Chef Lauren Mozer runs seamless virtual cooking classes that feature multiple camera angles so everyone can easily follow along. You can get ingredients delivered to each participant’s home, eliminating any last minute scrambling to purchase ingredients before the class. Price varies – request a quote online.

Going Global

  • Fēst: Tremendous variety and a great option if you want to have multiple people dial in from different homes. Prices are in USD, but I found Fēst to be one of the most affordable options if you plan to have multiple people dial into the zoom on separate screens (most companies charge per person or per screen and Fēst offers a variety of options for different group sizes). You’ll be paired with a chef based out of the US and will need to pick up your own ingredients before the class (the ingredient list is shared ahead of the class). All classes are private. I’ve done two classes, with two different chefs, and both were fabulous. The only caveat is they don’t typically cook along with you, so sometimes it can be a bit more challenging to follow their directions since you can’t watch them do it first. It all worked out in the end regardless and Fēst has become one of my favourite platforms. Prices vary – book online.
  • AirBnB Experiences: A fantastic platform featuring classes from individuals around the world. Make pasta with Nonna, craft the perfect paella with a top chef from Barcelona, discover Korean home cooking, learn the skills behind two kinds of hand-pulled noodles, cook with a Moroccan family, or whip up Mexican street tacos. There are classes for everyone, with so many cuisines and both private and group formats available. Prices vary – book online. *Note I haven’t attended all of the AirBnB experiences, but the ones that I have participated in have been fantastic. I recommend you read the reviews prior to booking!

Week 9

If you’ve been following the @mdlofsomewhere Instagram account, you’ll know that I’ve been enjoying my fair share of #betweenthebuns food (sandwiches, burgers, you name it). This week, you’ll be spoiled with a round up of some of my favourite foodie spots as of late. After the restaurant and hospitality industry was severely impacted by COVID-19, a few people still managed to brave a launch mid-pandemic. So this week is all about supporting these wonderful entrepreneurs as they make a go of it, with their delicious #betweenthebuns options.

Swing by this newly launched food truck, just north of Yonge and Eglinton, and get yourself one of their delicious burgers, fried chicken sandwiches or donuts (made from a family recipe). Or do what we did, and order it all! You will not be disappointed.
 
Bonus: I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob & Jen and learning all about the immediate impact COVID-19 had on their livelihood and the decisions that went into launching the truck mid-pandemic. They are two incredibly kind people and I am grateful to be able to share their story. For anyone who lives midtown, we are spoiled to have their new truck in our backyards!
 
Read the article here.
 
Why Go? Grab a burger and donut to warm you up on a winter walk (and to support local, duh!).
 
Location: 2444 Yonge St. Toronto (Yonge & Roselawn)
 

Mattachioni – East

Mattachioni, a popular west-end Italian bodega, opened a second location in late 2020 for all the east-enders to enjoy. At their new Gerrard St. E. location you’ll find excellent staples (sauces, dry pasta and other canned goods, wine, local beers, stocks, and more), fresh bread (the sourdough didn’t last more than 24 hours in our house), meats & cheeses, and a full menu to-go of pizzas, paninis and salads.
 
Why Go? Pick up all the Italian staples needed to cook a delicious dinner, and spoil yourself with lunch on the go (who would ever say no to a panini while they shop?!)
 
Locations: 1617 Dupont St. and 1501 Gerrard St.E.
Instagram: @mattachioni
 
Okay, I might be a little late to the game on this one – since they opened in the fall of 2020 – but better late than never, right? Manita is brought to you by Ian McGrenaghan and Colin Tooke, both popularly known for Electric Mud BBQ joint and and Grand Electric taco hotspot. Manita describes themselves as a “Neighbourhood cafe, grocery & bar” and boy is it a good one. We drove over 15 minutes just to pick up lunch at Manita (and then proceeded to eat it in the car, pick up Bellwoods beer and drive home). If Manita was down the street from me, my wallet would be hurting, because I would be swinging by multiple times a week. We devoured the BLT and the breakfast sandwich, and rounded out our lunch with a cookie (am I getting too predictable?). I have a laundry list of menu items that I am longing to return to (note: every single menu item is on my list) and I’m thoroughly looking forward to Manita being able to open their doors to sit-down diners, as their interior space is beautiful. For now, enjoy your meal or drink under their outdoor heat lamps, or follow in our latest tradition and start normalizing eating in your car.
 
Why Go? Incredibly cravable sandwiches and too many surprise and delights to count (cookies & other treats, house-made condiments, carefully curated olive oils and hout sauces, and more!).
 
Locations: 210 Ossington Ave
Instagram: @manitaossington
 

Week 8

This week is all about featuring pandemic ‘essentials’ that give back (essentials is a loose term here, but I’ve tried to cover some of the trending buckets: masks, puzzles (did you know that puzzle purchases have skyrocketed?), and bread (because we can all use some delicious sourdough). If you’re stocking up on these essentials regardless, you may as well pick brands that are giving back! Read on for some favourites.

Masks

  • IZ Adaptive: Headquartered in Toronto, IZ Adaptive creates clothing for wheelchair users and people living with limited mobility. Their masks are made in Canada and for every mask sale, 20% of the purchase goes to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation or Canadian Hearing Services. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to finding treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders and the Canadian Hearing Services is a hearing clinic that provides services for individuals with hearing loss. Shop here.
  • MOJI: All of MOJI’s masks are manufactured in Toronto. They’ve partnered with Canadian fashion start-up, Sprout Collection, as well as other local designers to create stylish & unique masks. If you purchase a Pink Ribbon Mask, 100% of proceeds will go to the Canadian Cancer Society – Canada’s largest national cancer charity and largest national funder of cancer research in Canada. Note that they also have plenty of other masks – ones for sports lovers, beach lovers, bold patterns, solids and everything in between. And while the proceeds of those masks don’t go to the Canadian Cancer Society, MOJI hired seamstresses who were directly impacted by the pandemic, so you know you are directly helping drive down unemployment. Shop the full collection here.
  • Roots: During February, Roots is donating a portion of mask proceeds to The Black Academy. The Black Academy is dedicated to celebrating Black talent across Canada and inspiring generations to come through education, mentorship, and recognition. And of course, coming from Roots, you know the masks will be made out of super comfortable material. Shop masks here.

Bonus: Not a mask, but worth a shout out nonetheless as not everyone has the ability to cozy up at home this season. For every pair of socks purchased, Province of Canada donates a pair to a Canadian homeless shelter. Shop socks here. The slipper socks look devine!

Puzzles

  • Toronto Public Library: By purchasing this 200 piece puzzle offered by Page & Panel, you’ll be providing a $20 donation to the Toronto Public Library. Shop here.
  • Piecetogether: Piecetogether offers puzzles with pictures of local business and artists in an effort to “help support the small local businesses and artists that we cannot visit right now”. How does it work? Local business and artists submit photos that represent them and Piecetogether turns them into puzzles available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds cover the cost of making the puzzle and the rest go to the local business/artist. Shop here.

Sourdough

  • Bread & Better: Bread & Better was my inspiration behind this post. They’re baking sourdough in support of @momhalo‘s effort to raise $1M for SickKids. The Hospital for Sick Children, or SickKids, is a pediatric teaching hospital in Toronto. The $1M is meant to build a Parent’s Lounge within Sick Kids Hospital, providing parents with a haven to rest, to process, and bond one with one another. Order sourdough by direct messaging Bread & Better via Instagram.

Week 7

Last week, we were pleasantly surprised by my uncle, who sent us two negroni’s in the mail! You read that correctly: you can send a pre-made negroni in the mail. Simply order via this website and surprise someone with a cocktail. They’ll receive a package with a pre-mixed negroni in a cute box. All they need to do is add ice and an orange peel!
The National Chowder Festival runs all February and is the perfect way to warm up this winter. The festival celebrates sustainable seafood as Ocean Wise Seafood partners from across Canada sell sustainable seafood chowders with part of the proceeds being donated to the not-for-profit Ocean Wise Seafood program.
 
You can check the participating partners here. Scroll down on the link to learn more about each participant and their chowders. Then head to their website or give them a call and ask to purchase their Ocean Wise Festival Chowder. You can also post and follow along on social using the hashtag #chowderchowdown2021.
Girls Night In virtual comedy shows run every Tuesday at 8PM EST. The show is internationally acclaimed and will surely shake up your Tuesday night. Shows include “games, improv, comedy, musical guests, and so much more” according to their site. Note that shows are first-come, first-served, so be sure to log in 10 minutes before showtime to secure your spot.
 
The ensemble cast met while being part of the award-winning She The People sketch comedy revue (which I saw with colleagues and can attest, it was amazing).
 
Click on the show icon near the top of this page to register and get access to the web link.

Week 6

Missed last week’s menus (scroll down to Week Five if you aren’t sure what I am talking about)? Not to worry – I’ve curated a list of some of the best Valentine’s Day menus that Toronto restaurants have to offer. Read more here.

Enjoy A Film Festival

Watch some films from the comfort of your own home, brought to you by the Toronto Black Film Festival. The 9th annual Toronto Black Film Festival is running from February 10th to 21st. You can purchase individual tickets ($12) or an all-access package ($69). There are 154 films from 25 countries available, as well as additional programming – like panel discussions. The festival was started in 2013 by Fabienne Colas with a vision described as, “Cool, international, independent, politically incorrect and eye-opening, the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) is about discovery. TBFF will showcase the most outstanding and most powerful Black films while creating a space to debate major cultural, social and socio-economic issues”. Buy tickets here.

Furthermore, Cineplex has partnered with The Black Academy for Black History Month. Rent a film in February and $1 from every transaction will be donated to The Black Academy to “foster opportunities for young and emerging Black talent in Canada’s entertainment industry”. They’ve curated a wonderful selection of films with the intention of “[elevating] Black history, artists and filmmakers and spark discussion”. Rent here and don’t forget that you can also order Cineplex’s amazingly buttery popcorn straight to your home!

Another option is to rent a film from the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival. It runs from February 12-15, and also includes several events. Choose to watch brand new films, engage in a chat with Finn Wolfhard, or connect with film gurus for advice and inspiration. Films are released daily, on February 12, 13 and 15, at 10AM for virtual viewings (free for anyone under 25, otherwise pay a small fee for a rental once released). Read more here.

Participate in Frost Bites 

Frost Bites is a winter performance festival hailing from Hamilton. The event features a diverse array of Canadian artists who present performance “bites”.

This year, Frost Bites is offering virtual shows that are participatory-based interactive experiences, sure to shake up your regular weekly activities. Their focus is “on building a sense of community and connectivity, bringing us together at a time when we must remain physically apart”. The shows are brought to you by five artistic companies and they all focus on using technology to engage audiences in unique ways. They run 15-40 minutes in length from February 11 – 14th. Four of the offerings are virtual, giving you the ability to participate from your own home (be sure to read the descriptions to understand what is required, with respect to technology and physical abilities). I am particularly curious about the Escape event. I am part intrigued, part intimidated, but need to know more!

See all shows here.

Week 5

For week five, you’ll find three spots featured with Valentine’s Day goodies. No, I don’t have my weeks mixed up – the menus are expected to sell out quickly, so consider this your advanced heads up! The below list includes delicious items for one or two, perfect if you’ll be celebrating self-love or with a partner or roommate. This list highlights restaurant chefs that launched their own businesses out of their home after the pandemic hit. I will forever be amazed at the hussle and the ingenuity demonstrated by so many after the onset of the pandemic – and there are so many worth celebrating and supporting. Be sure to give them a follow, regardless of whether or not you place a Valentine’s Day order – they offer great food all year round!

 
Looking for more Valentine’s Day menus? Check out more favourites here.
Jess has been running Pasta Forever since the beginning of COVID-19. Prior to launching Pasta Forever, Jess spent ~6 years making pasta at restaurants like Paris Paris and Woodlot in Toronto, as well as Lawrence in Montreal. Read more on her about page here. Through Pasta Forever, she is making pasta at home and completing contactless drop-offs within 10km of downtown Toronto. She also hosts pasta classes that have been so popular, they were booking up months in advance. Thanks to my brother who managed to secure a spot, I’ve got a class booked for February!
 
Lucy launched Breadhead Bakery when the hospitality world began to shut down in March 2020. Her background is as a baker and pastry chef, working for almost ten years at some of Canada’s top restaurants and cafes. Read more here! Her treats are delicious and a great way to spread the love (whether it’s for yourself or sending a dessert to family/friends). I’ve ordered a cake for a friend’s birthday and just finished devouring 6 cookies over just a handful of days (boy they were good!).
 
Jess and Lucy are partnering up for Valentine’s Day to offer what is sure to be a delicious menu. Be sure to follow Pasta Forever and Breadhead Bakery to get the latest scoop – it’ll certainly sell out fast (the menu is set to drop on Pasta Forever’s site at 9AM on February 2nd). If you miss out, fret, but not for too long – you can always order other items for delivery – both businesses have delicious weekly offerings as well as frequent new drops.

Justin was working as the Sous Chef at Toronto’s downtown Buca Osteria & Enoteca until the pandemic hit. He then quickly pivoted to offer pasta classes and make-at-home kits out of his home. His pasta kits were the first that I tried – I drove to his house to pick up my order off his front porch and fell in love with his homemade pasta sauces (shout out to the spicy vodka sauce!). For Valentine’s Day, he is offering a box that includes:

  • Ingredients to cook a Margherita pizza for two
  • A bottle of red wine from Italy
  • A pizza cutter
  • 100ml bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A custom hand-tied flower arrangement of ~20 pink/white flowers
  • 2 pieces of The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake (2 pc)

The box also comes with a YouTube link to follow along a video of Justin making the pizza.

Place your order by Feb 4th via the link in Justin’s Instagram bio.

22-layer olive oil chocolate cake. Normally I would tell you that’s all you need to know. And just to go order this. Now.

But this time, I’ll encourage you to stick around to learn about the founders behind Adobar. Adobar was launched by a brother and sister duo after they were laid off from their jobs post-pandemic. They were quick to pivot and began cooking up Filipino dishes in their home and making them available for pickup and delivery. Their food has been described as “sinful”, “decadent”, “adventurous” and “delicious”.

For Saturday, Feb 13th (because yes, it’s okay to celebrate on the Saturday instead of the Sunday!), they’re offering their 6″ full cake (no savoury items that day). If you’re also dying to try their savoury items – order for a timeframe outside of Valentine’s weekend via their web platform (pickup & delivery available). Alternatively, if you’re keen on celebrating ON Valentine’s Day, check out their collaboration with Tala, Thyme Studio, Soft Dough Co here. They’re offering Valentine’s Day Kamayan Kits that include food, dessert and flowers. Their kits come in three different sizes, because as they put it “who knows how everyone’s celebrating this year. Together? Apart? With baby boo? With the whole pamilya? Third-wheeling? Or just wheeling period.”

Week 4

I just can’t stop dreaming and talking about Gertie’s Peanut Butter Pies. They’re pure deliciousness and anyone who remotely likes peanut butter will be in heaven. Each pie is certainly shareable between two, but don’t be surprised if you end up devouring it all to yourself!

See the list of retailers on their website here. I ordered from Salt Gourmet Foods (they have a ton of excellent gourmet food items – see our interview with the owner here).

Outside of the pandemic, Second City serves up excellent Improv & comedy shows in downtown Toronto. If you haven’t been in person, do yourself a favour and visit once it’s safe to attend in-person events again. Until then, catch a virtual show – purchase tickets here for their weekly Happy Hour special, which occur every Thursday at 8PM EST (note: there are a variety of other shows in subsequent weeks).

Looking for something more hands on? Second City also offers virtual classes for adults and kids/teens.

For those of you that weren’t sold on the Dry January post from last week – I’ve got you covered with cocktail kits and pre-made cocktails for delivery! Maison Selby offers bottled cocktails that you can purchase individually or in a larger size. They’re one of the few restaurants that offer individual sizes, which is perfect for anyone who wants to add one drink to their food order. If you’re looking for more cocktail kits – we have you covered on this page (just scroll down a little!).

Speaking of food, Maison Selby offers their regular menu along with chef kits to cook at home, should you want something more interactive. You’ll find kits for their famous french onion soup, french onion burger, truffle tagliatelle, boeuf bourguignon and more.

You can even pre-order their Valentine’s Day menus – and there is plenty to choose from! Options include: a four-course dinner for two, chocolate fondue kit, cheese & charcuterie, shrimp cocktail, duck & goose terrine for two and a few more cocktail options.

Order here!

Week 3

Participating in Dry January or are simply interested in taste-testing no-alcohol cocktail alternatives? Try out Salty Paloma’s Non Alcoholic Cocktail Kit featuring Seedlip Spice (a non-alcoholic spirit), Bonne Maman Orange Marmalade, Fresh Sour Mix, Grapefruit and Pine Cordial, Fever Tree Lemon Tonic, Cashew Orgeat (Syrup), Chai Tea, Lemon and Dehydrated Fruits. The kit also comes with three non-alcoholic cocktail recipes.

Salty Paloma also offers a newly launched subscription kit – check out the In-The-Know Toronto page to learn more! I’ve previously ordered one of their kits and attended a virtual cocktail class, and thought both were excellent.

If you like the idea of Dry January, but didn’t start this month – opt for Dry February instead and consider participating in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Dry Feb campaign to raise money.

Join Rasa – a Toronto restaurant by the Food Dudes – for a virtual dinner in collaboration with Event Circle. The event runs on January 23rd at 6:30PM. Purchase your ticket and you’ll receive all of the ingredients for a three-course meal and access to a virtual class to cook with Rasa’s chefs.

The meal includes Rasa’s amazing chopped salad, truffle gnudi, the famed Rasa burger, and a dessert. It costs $90+HST / person.

Early in the pandemic, several chefs, restaurants and home cooks came together to contribute to Toronto’s very own open source cookbook. Contributors include: Canoe, Woodhouse Brew Pub, Drake Devonshire, Alimentari (see our interview with the owners here!), Chef Rocco Agostino (of Pizzeria Libretto and Enoteca Sociale), Chef Craig Wong (of Patois and Bar Mignonette), Shori Imanishi (of Imanishi Japanese Kitchen) and many more (see the full list of contributors here). Cook up something that might be a bit outside of your wheelhouse – everything in the book is meant to be approachable and as described by the creators, “It is meant to be shared so that we can learn from each other, inspire one another and at the very least, derive joy from each other.”

Find the cookbook here. You can also download a PDF version from this site.

Week 2

Order yourself some delicious, limited edition zaa from a new kid on the block: Sohmers. One rectangular pie feeds two hungry people. Order via the link on their Instagram feed (keep an eye on their Instagram for the new weekly drop dates – this week, they’re opening orders on Wednesday. Check back weekly if you miss the boat this time!). Pickups are on Saturday’s between 4:30 – 8:30PM.

Also be sure to order the Middle of Somewhere pizza checklist and make your way through some of Toronto’s most popular pizza joints!

What was once a happening waterpark now offers great walking trails and plenty of stunning views of the water and CN Tower. There is paid parking onsite and is also accessible via TTC with a bit of a walk. Make your way around the West Island – taking the trail as far to the west as possible and looping around the island – then head out over the peninsula that looks like a ship. Circle back and head over to the East Island for some more great views of the city.

Despite the province shutting down almost every activity this winter, I was thrilled to learn they kept skating rinks open. That excitement quickly dwindled when I learned it was near impossible to book a slot on the city’s website. Luckily, the Bentway’s booking system opens up every Friday at 10AM with new slots. Pop onto this site, promptly at 10AM to secure your rink time. The Bentway is always a great loop to skate in the winter, but will be even better with fewer people (there is a fixed capacity of 25 people)!

Week 1

Eat at the DaiLo Popup

DaiLo is extending their pop-up at midtown’s Hot Black Coffee for the next few weeks (just north of Yonge and Davisville). They’ll be serving up a small menu of delicious items like bao bun burgers & wings. Follow their Instagram for the latest dates & info. Of course, I’ve taste-tested and it’s well worth the hype. Order in person at the front window.

Tip: If you are unfamiliar with DaiLo, the restaurant serves up New-Asian cuisine with Chef Nick Liu at the helm (you may have seen him on the Food Network). The food is delicious and one of the few tasting menus in Toronto that I’ve returned to multiple times.

Explore Crothers Woods

Crothers Woods is over 100 acres of woodlands, meadows and wetlands in the Don River Valley. It makes for a perfect hike in the middle of the city.

Depending on which trail you take, you may come across the Redway Road staircase, thought to be a neat hidden gem inside the woods. The stairs were originally built as an escape route from the employees of the North Toronto Sewage Treatment Plant, which was built in 1929 (I know what you’re now thinking, but no worries – I couldn’t smell the plant on the trails in the winter, which makes it an even better time to go for a walk in the area!).

Follow the directions to here (or just type in Crothers Woods into Google Maps) and you’ll be guided to trail entrance and a parking lot beside the Loblaws off of Millwood. 

Tip: The trails can get pretty muddy and icy, depending on the weather. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear!

Secure your spot at stackt market’s crokicurl

Okay first off, what the heck is crokicurl?! The game is played on ice and is a large scale hybrid of curling and the board game Crokinole. It was invented by Canadians Liz Wreford and Leanne Muir and was first played in Winnipeg. 

Why should I care? It’s one of the few activities that hasn’t been shut down in Toronto this winter and it still has available time slots to book, unlike Toronto’s skating rinks (note – you may have to look a few weeks ahead, and there are only a few spots remaining so book swiftly). You’ll have the rink to yourself, so it’s a great, safe outdoor activity. I’ve booked my slot in Feb and am looking forward to it!

Book here.

Subscribe

Join the mailing list to receive the latest updates!

Stay Tuned!