Toronto Travel Diary

The last time I went to Toronto I was 13 years old (about to start high school), it was the height of summer, and to be quite frank, I don’t really remember all that much about it. This time I thought I’d share a little of my trip so that next time, in ten years when the memories are a little foggy, I’ll be able to remember them a little better. Plus, I thought it would be nice to share some of my thoughts and tips with all of you!

We got there on Saturday night and spent the first half of our trip outside of the city in Oakville where my cousins live. Sunday was sort of a write off in that we woke up late (getting used to the time change), had a big brunch, and then explored downtown Oakville for a little while. If you ever get down there I recommend a little window shopping down Lakeshore and a nibble at Gold Star Cafe. It’s a super cute coffee shop that has small bites, a good selection of drinks, and isn’t terribly priced.

Monday was exciting because I’ve been dying to go to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. This Instagram that I follow always posts pictures of the famous blueberry pancakes and the pulled pork skillet and I drool every single time. Be warned though, there is always a wait for brunch at Mildred’s. They don’t take reservations and like I said, their pancakes are legendary so it does get pretty busy but I found it to be totally worth the wait. It’s a really cool industrial looking space and they put a spin on great comfort food.

We needed to walk off that brunch, so we headed down to the Distillery District. I’m not sure if it’s everyday they have it, or because it was Victoria day, but there was a market happening with different vendors and tons of people. It’s not a super big area but it was pretty cool with a lot of different niche shops and trendy boutiques.

The next day we went shopping at Yorkdale Mall which was the oddest mix of super high end and more regular stores I’ve ever seen. Like, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a Chanel and an Old Navy in the same building before. Weird. But afterwards we headed in to the city for dinner at Amsterdam Brewhouse. The food was pretty much just your standard brewhouse fare, but the lakeside patio was amazing. It’s literally on the lake and, considering how hot it was (read: extremely), it was a really nice reprieve.

Margherita pizza, chicken schnitzel, summer vegetable pasta, and a pitcher of sangria (not pictured: green chicken curry)

After dinner we walked up to John Street and one of my dessert dreams came true: Sweet Jesus. When we initially planned this trip there were three thing I knew I had to do and Sweet Jesus was on that list. If you know me than you know that ice cream is my biggest, truest love. Both ice cream places that I wanted to visit on this trip were introduced to me via Claire Thomas whom I’ve talked about before. She runs The Kitchy Kitchen and a while back I saw on her Instagram that she was in Toronto and she posted a picture of the smores latte at Sweet Jesus. Naturally that led me to obsessively stalk their Instagram and ta-da, a trip after dinner. The line was around the corner but it didn’t really talk that long (maybe 30 minutes?). I ended up torn between Krusty the Cone and Birthday Cake but I ended up picking the latter and it was a sight to behold. Covered in birthday cake crumbs and adorned with a lit candle, it was quite a spectacle. It was also massive so I only ended up eating half of it but I am glad that I went.

Wednesday was our last day in Oakville so we ended up just sticking close to home; another trip downtown and a walk around the neighbourhood followed by watching the Raptors game on TV. Thursday we took the GoTrain in to the city and checked in to our Airbnb. If you guys haven’t ever tried it, I totally recommend. It’s pretty affordable (we ended up paying about what we would have on a hotel) and you get so much space – we got a two bedroom apartment in a really great area in downtown Toronto! It’s just nice to have your own space and have it feel like a home instead of a hotel. After checking in (and drying off – we got caught in the downpour) we got coffee at Balzac’s which was only a block from our place. We ended up going there almost everyday because it was so close but the coffee was pretty good and the interior was adorable.

After the rain died down we headed up to Eaton Centre to do, what else, more shopping. We were all pretty tired so we kept the rest of the evening pretty low key. Dinner was at Fran’s Dinner which was just a couple blocks from our place.

Friday was another scorcher and also the day we did the most walking – really bad decision on our part. But we sucked it up and to be honest, once I noticed that everyone around me was also sweating profusely I kind of just got over it. I guess I’ll never get used to Toronto’s humidity. We trekked out to Chinatown (Spadina and Queen St.) and had lunch at Dumpling House Restaurant. When I looked up places to eat in Chinatown this restaurant had the best reviews by far and I am so happy we ended up there. It was super cheap (a plate of 15 dumplings for $7.99) and so delicious. When we got there it was pretty empty but by the time we left there was a line out the door. After lunch we walked the few blocks to Kensington Market (it was pretty dead on a Friday, which was nice!) where we beat the heat with mexican paletas (popsicles) from Seven Lives Paleteria.

the lime paleta

Still pretty full from our dumpling lunch, we decided to wait until we got to the Blue Jays game later that night for dinner. We stopped at the CN Tower beforehand and went all the way up to all 3 levels (the main upper deck, the glass level, and also the Skypod). It was probably the most touristy thing that we did but it was worth seeing. After that, like I said, we went to the Blue Jays game. As a diehard San Francisco Giants fan I’m a little ashamed to say that I had a lot of fun, but I just really love baseball. Our seats were way up in the nosebleeds but honestly there is no such thing as bad seats at a ball game. It ended up being a really great game to see; a great double play, a few home runs, and a streaker. Yup, someone jumped the fence and ran all the way across the outfield while ripping off his clothes. It was insane.

Saturday was probably my favourite day because it involved a lot of eating and not a lot of walking. We met up with my aunt and uncle for drinks and snacks at the Drake Hotel. It was a really great spot; not empty but not packed, great service, really cool vibe, and everything on the menu was delicious.

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Pictured: eggs benny and avocado toast to eat, white sangria and iced cinnamon latte to drink

After drinks my other dessert dream came true. If Sweet Jesus was a spectacle, Bang Bang Ice Cream was the opposite. Authentic, real, delicious ice cream. It was another Claire-enabled trip, but it was the one I was most excited about. My aunt and uncle had been before and suggested that I skip the humungous Hong-Kong waffle cone that you’ve probably seen on Instagram, because although it’s nice that they make the waffles fresh, it’s so hot that it melts the ice cream and makes it hard to eat. Also, they take a while to make and since the spot is a literal whole in the wall, it’s pretty inconvenient. So instead I got just a regular sugar cone (my sister had the ice cream cookie sandwich and it looked amazing as well). I liked it because it was just really good ice cream without all the theatrics. I opted for my go-to which is always some sort of coffee flavour and it did not disappoint.

For dinner that night we headed back to Distillery, to a place called El Catrin. I am warning you now – be prepared to wait. They have a really big, really beautiful patio but if you’re planning on going between 7-10pm, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. Having said that, once you’re seated, the service was amazing and like I said, the patio is really beautiful. Not to mention the food which was really good. My top two picks off the menu (or at least, out of what we tried) were the charred corn and the churros. So. Good.

Sandia agua fresca and elote placero

Churros

Sunday was our last full day in the city and after a bit of a late start, we headed back to Kensington Market. Having been on both a weekday and a weekend, the difference is crazy. On a Sunday the market is packed! All the extra bodies gave it a sort of street festival vibe which was nice, but it was also extra sweaty and the lines were really long. The heat was kind of unbearable so I opted for two fresh tacos (again from Seven Lives) instead of anything heavier and I think it was a good choice. Dessert was a mango lassi from Grand Trunk Road and it was perfectly icy and sweet. Just the thing I needed.

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2 carne asada and 1 baja fish taco from Seven Lives Taqueria

So as you can tell, most of this trip was spent doing what I do best which is eating and shopping. I am not complaining one single bit. Hopefully this helps you out with your next trip to Toronto, and if you have any suggestions for next time please feel free to leave them in a comment below!

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