A Night Out in the Neighbourhoods
Explore Toronto’s authentic multicultural restaurants, cafes and shops like a local!
Start your adventure the way thousands of Torontonians do every day by picking up a day pass at Union Station and boarding one of Toronto’s famous streetcars (Route 510/Spadina - north, from Union Station). Streetcars, the electric trams that run through downtown Toronto, have been running along the Spadina route since 1841 and slip past glimpses of the Lake Ontario waterfront en route.
Make your first stop at Kensington Market (leave streetcar at Dundas St. and walk west to Augusta Ave). This eclectic, crowded neighbourhood was first home to Jewish immigrants, and was home to a popular outdoor street market in the 1920s. Over the years, waves of new arrivals to Toronto settled and brought their unique sights, sounds and foods to the area. Today, the narrow streets are lined with independent shops and are famous for the vast variety of international foods for sale in the streets and storefronts.
Fuel up for your travels with a fair trade, organic coffee at Moonbeam Coffee Company (30 St Andrews St.). Order a premium shade grown coffee and a homemade treat and cozy up to look at the work of local artists or just watch the unique street life going on outside the window.
Next stop is nearby Chinatown (walk east on Dundas St., back to Spadina Ave.). One of the largest Chinatowns in North America, new arrivals, tourists and longtime Torontonians flock to this neighbourhood to shop for fresh produce, clothing, kitchen supplies, and Chinese music and movies, or to order their dinner from the countless restaurants that line Spadina Avenue. Start with a traditional Chinese appetizer – dumplings. Push through the crowds of busy shoppers amidst the vegetable boxes and nip into a local dumpling shop like Mother’s Dumplings (79 Huron St.) or the Dumpling House(328 Spadina Ave.). A variety of tasty treats are offered, bundled into steamed or fried packages.
Moving along, the smells of spice and the sounds of Bollywood soundtracks are the next stop on this world tour. Little India (walk north to College St., board the streetcar 506 Carleton East, to Greenwood Ave.), to the east of the downtown core is filled with cloth and spice merchants and lined with food shops and restaurants selling South Asian favourites. Order a vindaloo or korma at The Siddhartha (1411 Gerrard St. E.) and taste a touch of the exotic bustle of shoppers and street vendors outside the window.
Then it’s on to Europe, with a short ride to Greektown (board the 31 Greenwood North bus to Greenwood Subway Station, board the Westbound subway two stops to Pape Subway Station). Located just north of Little India, this neighbourhood is one of Toronto’s most popular evening spots. Patios spilling on to the sidewalks serve sizzling souvlaki and potent ouzo. Nearby shops have blossomed around the many restaurants, making it a great area to pick up a slice of baklava and window-shop for clothing and décor. Each Greek bakery in this area claims their sweet desserts are the richest and most delicious – you can be the judge. Try Athens (509 Danforth Ave.) or Serano Bakery (830 Pape Ave.) for baklava dripping with honey and nuts.
The last stop brings us to the hot nightlife of Little Italy (board the subway westbound at Pape Station to Bathurst Station, then take the 511 Bathurst South streetcar to College St.). There are only a few Italian shops remaining in this area, but it’s still a great spot to pick up some Italian cheeses or give a new Vespa a spin. Instead Little Italy is packed with restaurants and lounges catering to every taste, age group, and mood. Try the martini of the month at Li’ly Lounge or tuck into cocktails at Sutra Lounge – in the summer, dig your toes into the sand on their tiki patio.
To return to The Fairmont Royal York from Little Italy, take the 506 Carleton East streetcar to Queens Park Subway Station, and ride south to Union Station.