my tronnow

This post is a blatant ripoff of Erin's amazing "Hamilton Summer" series (part 1 and part 2), with her permission. I love the idea of Google Street View. These pictures are so ugly that they are fantastic to me.

As many of you know, I am pretty fond of this town. I rarely exit the five kilometer radius that surrounds my apartment, and so it feels like a small town to me (although when I visit a truly small town, I realize that it's not a small town at all). Here are some of my favourite places to visit. I'm sure I'm forgetting many, many others.

(Just FYI: no one says "To-ron-to." It's "Tronnow." "Tronna." As few syllables as possible).

It doesn't look like much, but the red building in the middle "houses" Henhouse, my favourite bar in the world. Excellent jukebox and way chill vibes. The owners are from the band The Organ (just FYI). I love it.

Beirut restaurant and the Paradise, which was once a porn theatre, then a rep cinema (I miss it!), and is now empty. When I was little, my dentist was next door but it's now a store called "Scented Romance" (?!). This is a great area for the hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant, especially if you like Ethiopian food, Middle Eastern food, and churrasco (and I do!). It's also a great area if you're a retired Greek man and want to hang out in a Greek man-only kathenion (you never know).

The Common. My favourite coffee shop. You can forget about getting a seat most of the time. Arabesque is across the street and they make the best falafels there. Aw, look, liquor license application in the window!

The Dufferin Mall and Dufferin Grove Park. The Dufferin Mall is a hilarious joke to most of us but I can't help but love it there. I've been going there my whole life.

This bleak little strip of Bloor includes Holy Oak (right in the middle, next to Furniture Time -- !?), which is a really nice little coffee shop. Calico Cafe is across the street; Calico makes really amazing vegan food with vegetables that the owner grows himself or gets from the Dufferin Grove farmers' market (see above), which takes place on Thursdays.

Saving Grace: best brunch. Forget about going on the weekend, though. I also like Ella's Uncle, the coffee shop across the street. Bookhou is near here, as is Made.

Augusta Avenue. You kind of have to wander around Kensington Market. Good Egg, El Trompo, Bungalow, Kid Icarus, etc.

Julie's Cuban. Yum.

Luna Cafe. They get beautiful light in there when it's sunny.

The shop with the animal print sign is Penny Arcade Vintage, one of my favourite vintage shops. There's karaoke and disco next door! Rad. I also love I Miss You and the small network of vintage shops around the corner & down the street from here.

The Lakeview. The food here is merely okay but! They're open 24 hours, they've been around forever, scenes from Cocktail with Tom Cruise were filmed here, and they have good beer specials. I always seem to end up here.

Silver Falls Vintage / Hunter & Cook, a gallery. Sweaty Betty's is the bar next door, and that ugly grey building is an artist run center where Geoff worked for a while. World Sew is on the corner, for all your sewing machine & serger repair needs. Virgina Johnson and a lot of good restaurants are up this street (including one of my favourite Vietnamese places, Golden Turtle). I have yet to try the pizza place nearby, Libretto, but I have heard good things. If you want to buy a Fjallraven backpack or Surface to Air shoes, go to Jonathan & Olivia the next block up. I actually really like the bar called The Ossington, just up the street.

Robber! You know how much I love that shop. It's the white one in the middle. In the summer you can get a Big Gulp from the 7-11 a few doors down.

White Squirrel coffee shop. They have Greg's ice cream here. One of those might as well be my bike parked out front!

Chippy's! Excellent fish & chips. Get two orders of haddock & extra tartar sauce & only one order of fries to split between two people. Sit in Trinity-Bellwoods park across the street and enjoy the day. Also visit The Paper Place next door.

Swan is the restaurant in the middle, and I enjoy it quite a bit. Fresh is the vegetarian restaurant next door, on the corner. It's a bit of empire in Toronto. Fawn Boutique is across the street, and it is a beautifully curated shop.

Oddfellows on the corner: all you can eat tacos in the summer on Sundays, all you can eat pierogies in the winter. I also love popping in to Gus Studio and Stylegarage on the opposite corner and thinking about my dream sofas.

This is a great block. Chasse Gardée, Art History, The Melissa, Katherine Mulherin Art Projects, Board of Directors.

The Drake Hotel & the Drake General Store. I like the General Store. They sell Shared clothing and In God We Trust jewelery. I also like eating lunch at the Gladstone Hotel nearby, and I like the Beaver. We also recently discovered that a newish bar near here, The Double Deuce, is a good one.

The green shop is Magic Pony. They have great art shows there and at their other space, Narwhal Art Projects. A lot of great people are associated with these spaces.

This place is pretty hilarious. Ancient discount shop. But if you go down Markham Street you'll be in Mirvish Village, which is a nice little strip with good restaurants and vintage shops. I love Butler's Pantry and the Victory Cafe.

This is my favourite restaurant in Korea Town, Buk Chang Dong. There are only a few items on the menu, and they specialize in soon tofu. So hungry.

Aunties & Uncles. Amazing brunch, but don't bother going there on weekends. Go during the week and wander around Little Italy (just FYI, it's Little Italy historically only -- not too many Italian businesses remain).

Sneaky Dee's is kind of the worst but it's also kind of an institution. You pretty much have to go.

The Big Chill ice cream shop. We are anxiously awaiting its reopening for the season.

Ezra's Pound on Dupont (the little white building in the middle). I used to live nearby but moved away a week after it opened. The hours aren't the best (I think they close at 4 and aren't open on Sundays), but the coffee is very good. I haven't been to the second location on Dundas.

I found Geoff's twin! Right in front of Peixeria Portugal!


Thank you all so much for your amazing & thoughtful comments on my last post. I've been overwhelmed by the comments & emails I have received. I don't quite feel ready to respond to them (next post!) but thank you all for sharing your feelings, and thank you for not taking offense to anything I said. I certainly didn't mean any offense -- I wanted to express my thoughts on something that is potentially the most personal experience I will go through, and how I have been feeling about it.


  1. So cool about Henhouse -- I learned about The Organ while watching The L Word and they instantly became a favorite band of mine. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That last photo and caption is the best ending to a great tour!

  3. So you know, I've been by (if not in) all of the places you profile here and enjoy many of them as much as you do. (I'm surprised you didn't include Bairrada at College and Rusholme! Best patio in the hood, IMO.)

    Gotta say, though, Toronto really does look hideous. If I were from out of town, I would not be inspired to check us out :-)

  4. Yay! Thanks to your tours around the city, most of these spots have become part of my Toronow, too. There's still a number on the list I'm excited to try like all those fabulous brunch stops. :) You and Geoff really do give the best tours.

  5. I love this! Libretto is good, but I recommend going for lunch. They have a great special, and it's impossible to get in there for dinner unless you want to wait for 2 hours.

  6. By the way, the dufferin mall has gotten a lot better over the last couple of years...and they just renovated winners!

  7. hell yeah! thanks for the tour, anabela :)

    glad i say "tronnow" the right way.

  8. Love this tour! My Toronto is so different from this, but I love yours too. It really is a city with many facets. And I bet it feels like a different small town to all of us!

  9. haha i love the instructions on saying toronto. tronnow all the way.

  10. Love this - thanks so much! I now have my 'Toronto to-do list' for the Spring/Summer.

  11. Thanks for this! I'm moving to Toronto this summer and while I'm familiar with a few of the food establishments on this list, there are lots of new and exciting places I'd like to check out!


    PS. Re: your last post - I can totally empathize. My partner & I are in the midst of planning our small wedding and it's ridiculous how people can get so caught up in it all.

  12. This was so cool to read! I love Julie's Cuban. What a cute building. It was also nice to see Robber since you mention it so much. It's my kind of store!

  13. I get such a kick out of the whole Tronnow thing! I've never even been there, I've lived in Alberta my whole life, and that's exactly how we all say it, too. It's really strange to hear someone say To-ron-to. You know immediately they're not from around here! Anyway, it made me smile.

  14. Arabesque! Try the Kibbeh next time, it's divine. Love this post.

  15. Love this post! seems your Tronnow is a lot like my Tronnow. (long time reader, first time poster :)

  16. Thanks for the tour... I had no ide that's how Toronto looks! Its cool how much you love your city x

  17. wow, so big brother! incredible!!

  18. oh this is soooo bittersweet... i wish everyday i was still living in toronto...

  19. This is my Toronto! I love it, but I never realized how ugly it is. By the way, my three year-old would tell you it's pronounced "Towonto".

  20. This was so great and totally made my morning. Thanks for giving me a reminder of why I love this city :D

  21. What a nice post - I've been meaning to check out a couple of these places! Have you been to Saving Gigi? Unlike their relative, Saving Grace, I always seem to luck into finding a table there!

  22. Thank you! This is amazing lady. I'm spending the morning at the AGO today mooning over Anselm Keifer's new piece, but I have a sneaking feeling we'll be taking advantage of this tour all Sunday. xo

  23. Anonymous19.3.10

    Unlike most Ontarians, I love Toronto. I'd love to live there but the housing prices are so scary. Maybe one day.

  24. great post idea! makes me want to visit toronto even more! you've got a lot of nice little spots!

  25. no communist's daughter?!

    i love this little part of toronto...it holds a lot of bittersweet memories for me. thats why, for me, toronto is a nice place to visit..and not the greatest place to live.

  26. Is it weird that this post made me cry? I left Toronto two years ago and miss it everyday...so many of the spots you mention here were all places I frequented...oh, Toronto, I love you.

  27. ooooooh you're making me miss toronto so much! i'll be back soon. i hope.
    i totally used to live near you too - bloor and bathurst, honest ed's corner every morning and evening!

  28. I'm a little late on this, but I love your tronnow. :)
    love that you included a little bit of korea town in there. If you and geoff want to go eat korean bbq, jin and I are totally in.

  29. Wow! I haven't been this homesick since I moved!! You got everything! Man, Toronto's so nice in the summer...

  30. Best post idea ever! I REALLY hope this catches on and someone does one about Portland, OR because I am going there for a month and want to know all the little details like this!

  31. i know i can't complain, given my current location, but this post makes me homesick. i heart tronna.