In our latest series, we fill you in on the best places to eat, drink and be merry in whatever pocket of the city you may find yourself in.
If you’re looking to check out one of Toronto’s most vibrant (and unique) neighborhoods, then it’s best to head over to Kensington Market, nestled in the middle of Toronto’s Chinatown. With a multicultural history, the Market, as it’s known by locals, boasts several independent shops and vendors that will fit your need. Hell, if you’ve ever checked out Pedestrian Sunday in the Market then you’ll know this is a community that embraces every aspect of its eclectic vibe. So where should you check out in Kensington? Well that’s tough, but we have some suggestions:
191 Baldwin Street
With multiple locations across the city, Jimmy’s Coffee in Kensington is probably the hidden gem amongst the locations. With a huge back patio to relax and enjoy a big ol’ latte on, Jimmy’s Coffee is a great spot for sitting down with a book or catching up with a friend. Be warned – this spot gets super busy, so tables and chairs can be limited.
267 Augusta Ave
The great thing about the Market is there are always tons of places to pop into when you want to shop. One of my favorites is the Good Egg, which carries everything from cookbooks (including some vintage and collector), cookware and other food related knick-knacks from the home. Even if you don’t find something in your visit, the staff on hand are more than happy to help you source something or direct you to the right spot. The perfect egg!
Seven Lives Tacos
69 Kensington Avenue
I’m sure you’ve had this conversation before with someone: who has the best tacos in Toronto? Now everyone has an opinion but we’ll cast our vote for Seven Lives Taco, hands-down. No matter the time of day, this tiny shop is always packed with folks ready to try one of their Baja-style tacos. But don’t worry, the staff are great and the turnaround time is always quick. Our top taco choice? The Gobernador ($5) with house-smoked tuna, grilled shrimp and cheese. Also, don’t forget: this place is CASH ONLY!
303 Augusta Avenue
If you love craft beer, then you’ll want to pop into the Trinity Common. With a huge patio spilling onto Augusta Avenue, the restaurant has a beer market feel complete with communal tables and great food. While there is tons of seating (and tons of taps) – be warned, this place is popular. If you’re looking for a quiet, casual place for a drink – this may not be it. Our food recommendation? The Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese ($12), the Kansas City Ribs ($10/$17) or buck-a-shuck oysters on Tuesdays.
The Dirty Bird Chicken and Waffles
79 Kensington Avenue
With winter approaching, it’s time for some delicious comfort food. Our suggestion? Adrian Forte’s very own Northern fried chicken and waffles place, The Dirty Bird. Using a blend of spices and a drizzle of maple sugar, everything on the menu is locally sourced and well, tasty as heck. The top seller here is The ODB – with boneless dark meat cooked until crispy, and served atop a maple buttered waffle. Pro tip: don’t forget to ask for dirty sauce.
El Rey Mezcal Bar
2 Kensington Avenue
Cocktail Bar/Mexican, $$
Does everything that Grant van Gameren (of Bar Isabel and Bar Raval fame) turn to gold? It sure seems that way and in his latest venture, they have created their very own Mezcal bar. Currently, the bar has 35 on offer and is selling different mezcal flights to educate their customers about the wonderful flavors and varieties of the spirit. True to form, the food offerings here are simple but outstanding bites including ceviche and tostadas, but they have other offerings as well. A great addition to the neighborhood with an incredible vibe.
238 Augusta Avenue
Hands down, one of the best vegan restaurants in the city. With a fairly limited menu, Hibiscus is best known for their sweet and savory crepes, made with homemade vegan buckwheat batter. The best part, everything is fresh, organic and prepared to order. One of the things you must try is their desserts! On offer, they have homemade vegan ice cream with a coconut milk base. Yes, it’s worth saving room for.
Did we miss any of the best restaurants in Kensington Market? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us@ViewTheVibe.