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The 6ix: Toronto City Guide

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?

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

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.

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com
Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

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.

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

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.

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

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:

Toronto City Guide: Brothers - www.iamafoodblog.com
Toronto City Guide: Brothers - www.iamafoodblog.com

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.

Toronto City Guide: Grey Gardens - www.iamafoodblog.com

Grey Gardens

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.

Toronto City Guide: Doma - www.iamafoodblog.com

Octopus Salad at Doma Toronto

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.

Toronto City Guide: Jackpot Chicken Rice - www.iamafoodblog.com

Mi Goreng, off menu at Jackpot Chicken Rice

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 :)

Toronto City Guide: Canis - www.iamafoodblog.com Toronto City Guide: Canis - www.iamafoodblog.com

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.

Toronto City Guide: Pinky's Ca Phe - www.iamafoodblog.com

Pinky’s Ca Phe

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.

Toronto City Guide: Superpoint - www.iamafoodblog.com

The Beef Reginette at Superpoint Toronto

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.

Toronto City Guide: Poutinis House of Poutine - www.iamafoodblog.com

Classic Poutine at Poutini’s House of Poutine

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!

Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com Toronto City Guide - www.iamafoodblog.com

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!

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11 Comments

  1. Cheryl says:

    Wow I live in Toronto, and I haven’t even heard of most of these places! I’m always open to new suggestions though. Thanks for the heads up with my own hometown!

  2. Molly says:

    Can you post your Chicken Rice recipe?

    1. Stephanie says:

      heehee, one day! :)

  3. Mike says:

    I don’t play favorites when it comes to food; usually Steph doesn’t get a best-of from me for any dish, but her chicken rice is legit best I ever had, including Singapore’s.

  4. Laila says:

    It’s just ‘Queen Street.’, not ‘Queen’s’

  5. Alison says:

    Glad you enjoyed the food – and I’m pleased to hear that Toronto’s chill vibe is perceptible to visitors. Had to comment, though – it’s Queen Street West, not Queen’s Street West.

  6. Catherine says:

    Looool Toronto and Vancouver always seem to be at odds with each other. (Toronto girl forever tho, no offence 😝)

    Happy to see a nice review of my city, because usually Vancouverites dislike Toronto and vice versa.

    If you’re ever back definitely hit up Bar Isabel for amazing tapas (especially their octopus!) and hopefully Jackpots sister restaurant Patois will reopen soon. It’s my favourite restaurant in the whole world and does amazing Jamaican x Chinese fusion good. And Miss Things is super cute and delicious Polynesian food!! Also Descendent for Detroit style pizza, it’s honestly to die for!

  7. Jaime says:

    Toronto isn’t the East Coast, it’s more like the halfway mark! If you thought people were friendly there you guys should head all the way out to Halifax :)

  8. POUTINI’S HOUSE OF POUTINE!??? hilarious name!!!! Oh man if you want friendly Canada, visit Newfoundland – SO FRIENDLY!!!! I try very hard to represent Canada as a friendly person. Nice that Toronto is friendly!! I wish Vancouver would step up a bit more with the friendliness! Looks like you hit some DELICIOUS spots! Also, please make me chicken rice!!!! I’ve been begging for a Steph meal for years, LOL!! XO

  9. Murphy says:

    Also visiting Toronto from Europe over Easter and agree on the friendly description. Great vibe also from small shops and authenticity galore in places like Kensington Market. Won’t add to what is written on restaurants but Strange Love is a great new addition to the coffee scene (on Spadina) especially the supper cool reverse osmosis water filter that actually does make a difference if the coffee is to go by!

  10. Jane says:

    Love your pics for Toronto, all of those are on point. I’ve been a huge fan of your writing, website and food, if every you are in town and want some chef tips for where to eat, hit me up.