Writing a travel blog about the place you grew up in, is somewhat more difficult than writing about a place you just experienced because of course, you must narrow down a lifetime of living, to your top recommendations.
I don’t live in the city anymore so every time I’m back in the city, I try to get in as much food, drink and play as I can. I’ve rounded up a good mix of long standing establishments as well as newer hots spots that are sure to add to your time in The 6 (in case you live under a rock – “the six” is the latest nickname for the city, coined by Drake.)
To start off, although the city is now pulsing 24/7, all year round, I still recommend coming between April and December. Basically, I’m telling you to avoid the first two to three months of the year when it can be quite cold and “brown” (like the whole eastern part of North America during this time, the trees are without leaves and the ground is grimy). That said, literally all of the things I’m recommending below are still available to you all year round so if your family reunion or work conference or vacation time is January to March, you’ll still have a great time.
Let’s start with the most important part of many people’s travels: the FOOD. I capitalized that last part because Toronto’s food game is on point these days. It seems there’s a new restaurant opening up every week, and it’s a really exciting time to be a food lover in the city.
Some of my food favourites are –
Burger’s Priest, what started out as a one location fast food burger joint is now one of the most beloved classic cheeseburger spots in the city. There are multiple locations to choose from so just google the closest to you. Savoury, mouth watering, simple and fresh burgers.
My three favourite taco gems,
Playa Cabana (3 locations, all different vibes, all fun and delicious)
Grand Electric (small, loud, hip hop most of the time, delicious)
El Catrin (wicked margaritas and more of a sit down restaurant than the other two, also in a very charming neighbourhood of Toronto called the Distillery District)
Le Sélect Bistro, the loveliest french restaurant, perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner. The patio is especially lovely on a warm spring/summer or fall day.
Terroni, a long standing Toronto staple. Fresh and simple ingredients. The menu, the cocktails and the food, all Italian. There are three locations, all distinct and all with an eclectic and charming atmosphere.
One in the Hazelton Hotel, good for a more traditional fine dining experience. There are lots of cute shops in the area (called Yorkville), and the food is exceptional.
Byblos, a modern and charming restaurant in the heart of the city, serving the most delicious eastern mediterranean fusion food. You’ll taste flavours you likely never tasted before, and the ambiance is just as fun.
Momofuku, the restaurant originally made famous by chef Dave Chang in New York City, there are four entities in Toronto, all in the same building, all incredible.
–Noodle Bar (slam bam thank you mam style, super tasty noodle bowls)
–Daishõ (family style asian fusion)
–Shōtō (high end, generally 10 course, Omakase style meal. Mindblowing)
–Milk Bar (Dave Chang’s version of a bakery serving the most delicious birthday cake and birthday cake truffles)
Where to stay –
Trump International Hotel and Tower, politics aside, this hotel has all the big and small things done right. Elegant and spacious rooms, with really comfy bedding, and extra tasty food via both their in-room dining and restaurant.
Where to pamper yourself –
If you’re with an all girl crew, head to Body Blitz (there are two locations but I like the atmosphere of the original one on the west side of town). This little slice of heaven in the city offers multiple hot tubs, a steam room, a sauna and cold plunges. If you follow their recommended water protocol, you leave feeling like a million bucks.
If you’re looking for something unisex, the Spa My Blend at the Ritz is everything a spa should be. Light, airy, well performed treatments, with a sauna, steam and hot tub too. If you’re going to go high end, I recommend this one. I’ve been to most spas at the luxury hotels in the city, and it’s by far the most well rounded.
Where to move, cheer and explore –
Elle Fitness and Social, clearly for the ladies, a fitness spot on a second floor overlooking King Street, with a ton of really fun and effective classes.
Blue Jays game, highly recommend if you’re in town during a game. Us Torontonians get pretty excited about our Blue Jays these days. An especially fun activity if the weather is pleasant and the Rogers Centre dome is open.
Raptors game, also highly recommend. The Air Canada Centre is a great place for a basketball game, with legit food and some of the best dancers and music in pro sports, which really elevates the overall energy in the building.
Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, an architecturally beautiful building, especially enjoyable for a night of ballet by the National Ballet of Canada.
Last but not least, if you’re looking to get some salmon fishing in from June to September, give Vito from Lord of the Kings a shout. He’s down to earth and knows what he’s doing, and it’s pretty cool to catch a chinook while the cityscape is still within view.