Today I sit here in my Orange County home office a few days after my adventure in Toronto and I find myself genuinely missing the city. There's something so thrilling about discovering new places in a big city like Toronto. It's like going on an urban safari where you're on a hunt for concrete gems as opposed to wildlife.
This particular travel guide is going to share with you what I did over the course of approximately 48 hours Toronto. I am going back for Thanksgiving in a few weeks and will be there for a longer amount of time so please feel free to share with me your favorite places in Toronto via the comment section at the bottom of the page.
Yonge-Dundas Square - This public square in Downtown Toronto was described to me as the Canadian version of Times Square. There are gigantic screens with advertisements running day and night similar to Times Square. However, there is also an outdoor amphitheater type space where there are constant events including free movies and shows. I also learned they have free wi-fi here in case you're in the area and are in need of it.
The CN Tower - You cant miss it. This Toronto icon used to be the tallest building in the world. That is, until Dubai had to top that (of course). Pay $35 or more to ride the super speedy elevator to the top observatory for incredible views of the city. You MUST stop by the glass floor so you can see what it's really like to be 115 floors above ground. They also have this thing there called the Edge Walk which I totally would have done if we were there during warmer months. You basically pay $195 for an hour and a half experience which includes hanging off the edge of the CN tower while strapped into a harness.
Pro Tip - We discovered you can get around paying to go up into the tower by making reservations at the 360 Restaurant.
Underpass Park - My heart fluttered when I came across this unique outdoor space. This 2.5 Acre park was built in an otherwise useless space under the highway. The space is an "ongoing effort to transform pockets of neglected urban spaces on the waterfront into valued public amenities." Basically, the city spent a pretty penny to have artists come in and beautify the space. Now it's home to a playground, skate park, basketball courts and flexible space that can be used for events and markets.
EAT and DRINK:
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka - As part of an international chain of some of the most sought after shio ramen in the world, this Santouka restaurant is a must. The line is constantly out the door but don't let it scare you away. This place is known as best ramen in town and well worth the wait. Get the Shoyu Ramen with roasted pork fillet.
Imperial Pub - When you are in Younge-Dundas square, walk a few blocks East on Dundas St. to grab a drink and some poutine. I mean, what's a trip to Canada without poutine?! I love a good ol' traditional pub. It drives some of my girlfriends nuts but I sincerely love a place that is a no-frills watering hole even if it may still have carpet and a bit of a musty smell. Imperial pub established in 1944, is one of those. I had the most refreshing cider on tap and the boyfriend and I shared a box of poutine. Perfect after a day of walking around downtown.
Scaddabush - This local Italian chain has such a fun ambiance. We stopped in just to see what it was about and ended up having the best Ceaser (Bloody Mary) ever. It was rimmed in a mildly spicy salt and topped with basil and cheese wrapped in salami. Next time I find myself here, I'd love to try their homemade pasta and meatballs.
Rodneys Oyster House - Was this place made for me? I am SUCH an oyster lover. This oyster house located in the Fashion District is super laid back and has the coolest ambiance and most passionate staff I think I've ever seen. They shuck the oysters right in front of you and shave fresh horseradish directly onto your oyster platter. We also had the smoked fish plate and clam chowder. I am going to be forever dreaming about the seafood here.
Pro-tip - Make a reservation to sit at the bar to get the full experience.
Boston Pizza - A pizza joint that opened in 1968 in British Columbia, not Boston. I'm not going to lie, at first I was thinking "uh, okay a franchised pizza place?" However, as soon as I walked into the location across from where the Toronto Blue Jays play, I understood. It's more of a sports bar than a pizza place and the food is really quite good for a sports bar. Canadian's are much fancier about their pizza than us Americans and it's turned out well for Boston Pizza.
360 CN Tower - This is in my list of top three most memorable culinary experiences. Our meal here was one of the most exquisite meals I've ever had and by far the most incredible view. Like I've stated before, if you make a reservation here, you'll save yourself from paying the price to tour the CN tower.
It's tough to put an experience like this into words so I'm going to try my best. For starters, the floor rotates which is a little surreal for the first few minutes with such a vast view in front of your eyes. It takes about an hour for the full rotation so you can see the entire view within the time of your meal. We decided to go with the fixed price for a three course meal. It's pricey but totally worth it if you're a foodie like me. All of the seasonal menu ingredients are local Canadian and the wine list is also exclusively Canadian. Among some of the dishes we had were the Cod, Duck and Seafood Chowder. Each dish was so perfectly put together, It's hard to describe.
The Gull - After stumbling upon this pub I found out that The Gull is part of a chain of pubs called the Firkin Pubs. With a little research I found that there is even one in the Washington DC and Baltimore airports. Chains scare me sometimes because they can loose their authenticity and quality of food however we were delightfully pleased by the food we ordered. If you find yourself in one of these establishments order the Potato & Cheddar Perogies and Shepards Pie.
I'm super excited to go back to Toronto in a few weeks. I'll be able to share with you even more great places! Have you been to Toronto? Do you live there? Let me know any recommendations in the comments below.
With Love and Wanderlust,