Turns out, a lot.
Whenever I go to a new place, my bookend of judgment is whether or not I’d like to live in that location. If money was no object, could I really live here? It’s hard not to compare everything to New York, where we quite literally have it all at our fingertips. I was pleasantly surprised to walk away from my trip to Toronto feeling like it very much could be a great place to live. It’s (obviously) less diluted with residents than New York, but it still has that buzzy, city feel. I’d say a good comp is a mix between Mayfair and SoHo, London.
My ‘Certified Lover Boy,’ (boyfriend) prides himself on his firm belief that ‘Too many memories are made over shared meals’ not to try out some of Toronto’s best. Lest we forget, we are in the homeland of Champagne Papi, himself.
So, we (he) pooled our (his) resources to snag some drool-worthy restaurant recs.
Here’s a Toronto ‘Food Snob’ Guide if you ever find yourself going to the 6:
Sultry Date Night:
Prime Seafood Palace
This stunning maple dining room leaves no room for question, you’re about to have a fine dining experience. Firstly, there’s hardly an entrance to the restaurant. If you’re walking up to a nondescript door on the left side of a building, you’re in the right spot. Now, open. the door.
Admittedly, we were simply too enamored with the food to be bothered to take any decent photos. Please see above, Sando, doing what Italians do best.
With a Michelin Star, Osteria Giulia did not disappoint. The sheer ambiance was enough to make me swoon, between the soft beach wood dining room, the dimly lit tables, to the rice-paper menus. The sommelier’s knowledge was unmatched, and every dish was better than the last. This is the perfect spot for a celebratory dinner or a special anniversary. It’s a very buzzy spot, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
This is a must. Good luck getting a reservation, because this spot was seriously the blueprint of IYKYK. When you first walk in (after waiting patiently for a table to open up) the walls are reminiscent of Lucien and Ballato’s, donned with celeb shots by the hundred. Name a rapper, he’s on the wall, eating at Pai. Anyone who knows me, knows I fucking LOVE Thai food, possibly more than Chick-Fil-A, and that’s saying something. So, when it comes to my Pad Gra Prow, I’m a bit of a savant. I will not shut up about this until someone I know goes, and can further attest. It’s the best Thai I’ve ever had.
Admittedly, this was on every food guide for Toronto that we found on the internet, so nothing new to report here, other than the fact that it’s on those lists for good reason! The grilled cheese will make you need a nap between the rosemary-infused bacon and Jarlsburg cheese. The restaurant itself is well known for its pancake stack, a decadent fat boy topped with blueberries and whipped cream. You will need to nap or like, work out after this meal. There is no in-between.
Bagels On Fire
It was Sunday, and I was grumpy, because who likes packing at the end of their trip? In a last-ditch effort to lift my spirits, Sando twisted my rubber arm with the promise of a bagel. I was reluctant, because how good will a random ‘nearby’ bagel shop in Toronto be? It’s no Astor Place bodega, after all.
Much to his joy and my chagrin, Bagels on Fire was in fact a self-fulfilling prophecy, because they were in fact, fire. For a quick, pit-stop last-minute, mom-and-pop storefront, these were some damn good bagels, and they were honestly as big as my head! (I have a small head, but like, still…)
I mean, how I haven’t found one of these on Caviar in the city is just absurd. This is my FAVORITE place for takeout, the Oaxaca Bowl is the perfect combination between delicious and healthy, and the price point is like your standard SG order.
Building Your Tolerance:
This is top 3 places in Toronto because it’s a little hole in the wall, but a very busy dive bar with no menu. The bartender waltzes over to you and asks what you usually drink, your preferred liquor, etc. I said, ‘something crisp, light, refreshing, and with Tito’s. 5 minutes later, he came back with a custom cocktail made to perfection. This is a very cool spot for a pre-dinner aperitif or a solid pregame for a night out. it should be noted that the dollar is strong in Toronto, so the prices for your cocktails might scare you, but you won’t have hangxiety about it in the morning.
This stunning corner spot looks like you stepped into the hull of a fantastical pirate ship, with the bar made of one solid piece of wood. If you’re into aesthetics and hand-crafted cocktails, this is the spot for you.
If you’re staying at the Bisha, which I recommend, then you get first-come-first-serve at Mister C, which by night doubles as a very busy nightclub in the lobby of this ultra-eccentric, sexy boutique hotel.
Enable Your Shopping Addiction:
For the best thrift experience in Toronto head here. I have a rule, when I’m shopping in another country or place, I try to get something exclusive to that place, something special, that will hold significance over time, and will ultimately, turn into another sentimental article of clothing in my closet – I use ‘Materials’ as pinpoints of my life, where I was, and who I hope to be in the future. So, I found a wacky pair of Off White Virgil Abloh Boots that made my heart palpitate. Please, don’t ask how I got them home. Let’s just say, I was a creature of the airport.
Yeah. I mean, every fashion-phile like myself knows that you can find some pretty incredible pieces at the Webster, it just depends on your budget. The store layout made me feel like I was in the showroom of my dreams. Carefully caressing each hanger, your hands whisper over some of the most iconic fashion houses, anything from Mugler to Rick Owens.
This area is filled with every glitzy store you can imagine. Yorkville Blore is the 5th and Madison of Toronto. Cartier, Prada, and Hermes are all within steps of each other. As my boyfriend pushed through the revolving doors at Cartier and whispered “This is more my style, we’re city girls after all,” I felt in that moment, ‘Yes, I could live in Toronto.’