I was running through the 6ix with my woe!
Believe it or not, both Mike and I have never been to the East Coast of Canada. That is, until last month, when we hit up Boston and decided to fly home via Toronto. At that point, I was all seafood-ed out and looking forward to diving into giant containers of poutine. I didn’t look up anything in Toronto at all, thinking that we’d eat poutine all day, every day. I have to admit, going into it, I had zero expectations, good or bad. Well, actually, that’s not really true. I kind of sort of went there not expecting much. All my friends here, on the West Coast, kind of think Toronto is a dump – sorry Torontonians! But, we figured we’d give it a good shake. After all, Drake loves the 6ix, why wouldn’t we?
We ended up staying at the Drake Hotel (sadly, Drake does not own it) on Queen Street West, in a super hipster, walkable area full of cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. After we landed, we did a bit of light wandering on our way to our dinner reservation and I just about drove Mike insane with the number of times I squealed, “this is SO CUTE.” If you like design stores or cafes that have that sort of unfinished yet Scandinavian look filled with a mix of vintage and modern, you’ll love Queen Street West. I felt like the storefronts and typeface design was on point. I mean, yes, there are parts of Queen Street that have big box stores, but generally, there are still lots of little cute patisseries, meat shops, and fun things to discover.
Fun things like milk in bags! I grew up in Edmonton, in the 80s, where the milk would came in bags that you would put into a plastic pitcher before snipping off the corner so you could pour. My mom still has our very 80’s teal milk jug – she uses it as a makeshift vase. Sadly, Edmonton milk doesn’t come in bags anymore and I don’t think it ever came that way here in Vancouver, so I was infinitely tickled to see milk bags still going strong back East. It made my little Canadian heart happy to see something from childhood going strong.
But what really struck me (and Mike) about Toronto was how friendly everyone was. I don’t know if it was because we were expecting the usual cold, yet polite, Canadian treatment or if it was because maybe we were just a bit more open than usual, but we felt like the overall vibe of Toronto was very chill. Canadians are known for being polite, at least in pop culture, but I’ve never really heard us called friendly. It was a nice change of pace, being in Canada, with friendly people. I know that sounds horrible, but Toronto was a pleasant surprise. So much so that we’re thinking of going back, soon-ish.
Of course it helps that the food was good! I had zero expectations because Mike did all the research. He always does such a good job that I might just leave our culinary itineraries to him completely from here on out. Here’s where we ate:
Brothers – A cute wine bar that is very millennial pink and very right now with its modern Mediterranean inspired plates. We sat at the bar, near the front and the room was airy and light. The menu changes with the whim of the owners. We loved the sweetbreads, mackerel, and olives, but I’m pretty sure anything will be delicious.
Grey Gardens – Again, we sat at the bar, but this time because Grey Gardens is a hot ticket and we didn’t have a reservation. But, the truth is, we love dining at the bar. You can eat as little or as much as you like and you have the added bonus of watching the bartender do his thing. We had drinks and bar snacks; the smoked mackerel dip with house made gaufrette chips were so good.
Doma – From the outside, Doma looks like a cute little brick house. You walk in and it kind of feels like you’re having dinner in a very empty Scandinavian living room, with your cool Korean friend cooking you French food. Very good Korean French food. Highlights include a perfectly fried croquette, the octopus salad, and crispy sole.
Jackpot Chicken Rice – I LOVE chicken rice and so does Mike. I make a pretty good chicken rice (one of the best, according to Mike) so I kind of have high standards for what amounts to simple plate of chicken, rice, and sauce. This place held its own. The chicken was tender, the sauces were punchy, and the rice was nice. But, Mike and I agree, my chicken rice is better :)
Canis – We hit up Canis after our late lunch at Brothers and we were both not particularly hungry, but siren call of roasted duck called us and we answered. It was some of the best duck I’ve had in a while: juicy, intensely savory duck-y goodness. The first bite reminded me of when I used to order duck confit religiously and how much I love duck.
Pinky’s Ca Phe – We hit up this Vietnamese joint for drinks and ended up having snacks because the food smelled so good. We dug the fried rice, the drinks, and the overall vibe.
Superpoint – A casual pizza joint where we didn’t try the pizzas because they were having issues with their wood-burning oven. We did have a tasty plate of beef reginette though.
Poutini’s House of Poutine – Poutine, what more can I say? It was steps away from the Drake and we went out for a 1am poutine just because we could. Was it the best poutine we ever had? Not even close. But, it’s open 24 hours, the fries are hot, the curds are squeaky, and it hit the spot.
Thanks for the chill vibes Toronto!
PS – I didn’t want to put up our potato iphone photo of the duck from Casis, but Mike insisted. Here’s what it looks like when you have light, if you’re curious!