Eating Toronto

The Art of Eating Downtown Toronto

There are only a few moments more frustrating (stubbing your toe knowing a stranger saw) than when you have sat down at a restaurant, had a sip of water and then realized the restaurant you chose is a huge mistake. It’s not even the restaurant that is bad sometimes, you just know it won’t fulfil the hopes and dreams you had for that meal. Once you say yes to that tap water thought, you’re pretty much stuck.

That moment feels the worst while traveling. On a short weekend trip you’ve got, maybe, two opportunities to enjoy every type of meal. If you mess one up… well, you can do the math. It’s Blasphemy!

That being said, we had a hard time finding suitable restaurants near our hotel in Downtown Toronto. Here are a few we really liked:

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Toronto

Toronto’s Distillery District

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

Once: a distillery of alcohol for Canada.
Now: a meeting place for the people and visitors of Toronto to enjoy.

It was the friendly Toronto locals we met that recommended visiting the Distillery District – you don’t have to tell us the same thing more than four times for us to listen.

Toronto’s Distillery District is a short 30 minute walk from Downtown. When you get there you’ll know it. The streets are paved in red bricks, as are the buildings. Green renovated beams energize the look of the area, as does the abundance of string lights and the way natural sunlight shines on the pedestrian-only walkways.

We may have visited at just the right time, on a lovely spring day (“The first true spring day in Toronto” as the frustrated locals kept yelling at us) but I think the surroundings were also the cause of such a fun experience.

People want to hang out in places that hold rich of history. Knowing that, on any given day in the 1840, life was lived through the crooks and crannies of those same Industrial Architecture is, well, super cool. I like to imagine the lunch conversation of two distillery workers, “Hey, I rode my horse to work today. He’s parked out the back, you need a ride home?”

Restoring old treasures to make them functional and interesting for the modern age is the absolute best way to preserve a city’s history and uniqueness. The Distillery District now houses shops, art galleries, performance theatres, restaurants and cafes. Best of all, it provides space for people to come together an enjoy each other’s company with a beautiful backdrop.

We spent an incredible night having Mexican food at El Catrin Restaurant with friends. The plates are small but delicious; it’s all about tapas style ordering. You must demand the guacamole for your table before you even order drinks. Don’t be afraid to dance wildly to the music, they play it loud for a reason. Their heated outdoor space is exquisite and the atmosphere is to drink for.

You’ll love it!

Distillery District
maps

El Catrin Restaurant
18 Tank House Ln, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4, Canada

 

 

 

ExploreCanada

Toronto, You Beautiful City!

ExploreCanada

ExploreCanada

ExploreCanada

ExploreCanada

I’ve been wanting to visit Toronto since 2011. A trip to the  Toronto International Film Festival was planned that year, but passports were left behind and borders were never crossed. Since then Canada has played the part of the beautiful girl in high school which the nerdy kid (me) always wanted to date but could only be flirty lab partners with.

This weekend in Toronto felt like a High School reunion where that same beautiful girl finally paid attention to me. Like most reunions, our time together was too short and I was left wanting more. But, alas, here are some facts I will never forget about the gorgeous city:

1) The weather is a serious conversation topic in Canada. It’s not small or elevator talk. These people have serious complaints and crazy weather related stories.

2) The CN Tower was the tallest free standing structure in the world until 2007. I could not believe it.

3) Poutine is the “Canadian dish” we heard most about. The most common description we got was: it’s a plate full of fries that have been drowned in gravy sauce and peppered with cheese. We didn’t try it. It doesn’t sound that appetising before or after running a half marathon.

4) You need cash to get around Toronto, especially if you’re wanting to utilise their cute, red trams. Most taxis only accepted cash too.

5) Said cash is good to have anyway because it’s colorful, it will not rip and is waterproof.

6) Canadians liberated the Dutch after World War II and the Dutch are forever grateful. We arrived in Downtown Toronto just in time to see the “Thank you Canada – Dutch Liberation Festival”. Jack is Dutch so we grabbed flags from an event organiser and joined in the celebration!

7) The show Suits, which is supposedly set in New York City, is filmed in Toronto. They are lying to us all! A friend who works in the Toronto film industry said he sometimes walks down Younge Street to see that the shop fronts and restaurant names have changed. The next day, the street goes back to normal. It’s much cheaper to shut down a major street in Toronto than in New York City and they already share a striking resemblance.

8) The Flat Iron Building in Toronto is the cute, tanned, younger cousin of New York City’s. It’s got so much personality!

9) I have completely lost my ability to discern accents. I didn’t recognise one Canadian accent once. I blamed it on the fact Toronto is a truly diverse city, but Jack said that is no excuse. I can’t pick an Australian from an American one unless I am told to listen out for it.

10) National Geographic named St. Lawrence Market in Toronto’s Old Town the #1 market in the world for 2015. The market is open everyday of the week except Mondays, which is the day I chose to visit. Plan wisely.

11) Canadians are so nice.

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Toronto

Toronto’s Pizzeria Libretto

Running in the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon wasn’t the only reason we wanted to visit Toronto, we had also heard about the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto from three, completely unrelated, sources.

The first source was an interview with food blogger, Laura Wright, who chose the pizza from Libretto as the meal she would have over and over and over again. This, of course, had to mean it was the best pizza in the world. Then, we met a product designer from Toronto at an NYC Dribble meet-up (the awkwardness of networking does pay off), he recommended it saying it was “authentic thin crust Italian pizza. Insanely good.” The third source was a friend of a friend who works as a concierge in a swanky hotel in Toronto. She declared it the best pizza in the city. No questions asked.

You understand now why you should keep the name of this pizzeria somewhere sacred, maybe in your Little Black Book of restaurants or in a draft email filled with incomprehensible notes. A year from now, when you finally take that trip to Toronto, you’ll want to remember it.

Coincidently for us, it was a great place to complete that crucial step in a runner’s half marathon training called “carb loading”.

Pizzeria Libretto offers more than just pizza (we want to try the buttermilk calamari), but you would quickly regret not ordering one. Their pizza is flame blackened to complete perfection in a wood fired oven. It’s crispy at the top and soft in the middle, a truly perfect blend in my humble opinion.

Thanks to our waiter’s recommendation, I took a chance on the Duck Confit pizza, a white pizza featuring a mixture of salty duck and sweet pear as toppings. It was incredible and I love that waiter more than I’ve ever loved any waiter in my whole life. Jack had the Cacciatore Salami – I’d like to tell you how it was but he didn’t share any. That’s how I know it was good.

Pizzeria Libretto is quickly picking up steam. They recently opened two additional locations around Toronto. The pizza train (see here) doesn’t seem to be slowing down. One can only hope that the owners of Libretto go a bit crazy and open up an outpost in Melbourne before we get back in July.

Pizzeria Libretto
221 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON, Canada

550 Danforth Ave
Toronto, ON, Canada
+1 416-466-0400

155 University Ave
Toronto, ON, Canada
+1 416-551-0433

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