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Travel Talk: 10 Bests of Toronto

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Culture & Entertainment

Travel Talk: 10 Bests of Toronto

Where to eat, shop, dine, drink or hang off a building in Toronto! Hi there. Yes, I've been away for a while and, unexpectedly, disconnected.  I spent almost three weeks overseas, most it in remote Nepal. I shall be writing more about that in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I want to blog about something closer to home: my city of Toronto. Later this week, thousands of travel bloggers will descend on this city for TBEX, an annual conference of travellers dedicated to travelling around, and writing about, the world.  So, with that in mind, I'm sharing with you a very arbitrary list of MY 10 bests of Toronto. And, let me tell you, it hasn't been easy to choose my fave eatery, my fave go-to shopping spot.  Feel free to challenge me! 1. Best Tapas Torito Tapas Bar  This tiny Spanish eatery in Kensington Market serves incredible ceviche: white bass cradled in corn, chili, cilantro and citrus. Then you must wash it down with a house mojito. Last time I checked they still didn't take reservations. Do try to get there early enough to nab an outside table. Perfect for people-watching. 276 Augusta Ave (416-961-7373) 2. Best Saturday Afternoon Hangout Neighbourhood:   Kensington Market Hippie haven meets hipsters. Over-the-top meets the organic crowd. Head to Augusta and Kensington and you'll find a bustling neighbourhood of boldly-coloured murals, vintage shops, roof-top gardens, racks of vintage clothes on the sidewalk and funky cafes (Moonbeam is my favourite). [caption id="attachment_15743" align="aligncenter" width="263"] Kensington Market Crazy, colourful Kensington Market, where eclectic meets hectic. (Courtesy: See Toronto Now)[/caption]

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3. Best communal dining:  Khao San Road. Expect a wait during busy times (dinner, especially). No reservations. Incredible ­ and authentic­ Thai food. Kaffir leaves and Thai basil add kick to Gaeng Phed (red curry). Bonus: gluten-free, celiac-friendly dishes. Don't be surprised if you share a share with complete strangers. It's all part of the experience. 326 Adelaide St. W. (647-352- 5773)

4. Best outdoor apparel and gadget store: Mountain Equipment Co-op. You will enter the doors intending to buy one pair of hiker's socks, maybe a new water bottle. You will leave with a whole lot more. Make a bee-line for the travel gadgetry section inside the front  door.  Lifetime memberships cost a measly $5.  400 King St. W.  (416-340-2667) 5. Best way to scare the daylights out of yourself or a friend:  CN Tower Edgewalk. Head to the top of the CN Tower, get suited up, harnessed up, and then walk on the edge. Adrenaline, anyone? 301 Front. St. W. (416-601-3833). [caption id="attachment_15757" align="aligncenter" width="330"] CN Tower Edgewalk Living on the Edge: CN Tower Edgewalk (Courtesy: CN Tower/Edgewalk)[/caption]

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6. Best Afternoon Tea: Windsor Arms Hotel. A touchy of hoity-toity tickles everyone's fancy, and you can enjoy it without breaking the bank. Tea and crumpets, British-style. 18 St. Thomas St. (416) 971-9666 7. Best Photo Op:  Leuty Lifeguard Station. A great excuse to head out to the Beaches neighbourhood in Toronto. This iconic, early 1900s  shoreside landmark is a requisite holiday photo op. You¹ll see it from the boardwalk. Take the streetcar or a cab and get off at Kew Gardens, walk south. [caption id="attachment_15745" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Leuty Life Station Leuty Life Station, Beaches Toronto (Courtesy: BIA Beaches)[/caption]

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8. Best Racuous Entertainment:The Flying Beaver. This Cabbagetown hangout can get wonderfully rowdy - in a good way. It's a comfortably mixed crowd of gay and straight. Expect the likes of stand-up-comic-cum-torch-song singer Lea Delaria, funny guy Gavin Crawford, sassy Carla Collins, and plenty of local musicians and artists such as Micah Barnes and others. 488 Parliament St. (647-347­6567). 9. Best Grilled Cheese when you're super hungry:  THE GRILLED CHEESE. Spend a few hours burning calories sight-seeing. Go easy on breakfast. Then headed to the Grilled Cheese for lunch. It's all in the name. The Classic Sandwich is edible nirvana ­ gooey Monterey Jack, provolone and cheddar. (66 Nassau St. 647-347-7062) 10. Best spot for smart drinks:  Stock, Trump Hotel So, you've booked cheap digs online in advance, perhaps you've saved some bucks by flying on Porter Airlines or you got a great deal on VIA Rail. Now is the time to spend a little cash. You owe it to yourself! Donald Trump's team had high ambitions for his 30th floor restaurant and they succeeded big time. Book ahead.  325 Bay St. (416-637-5550). And you? What did I miss? Where did I mess up in my list of Bests of Toronto?
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Travel Talk: 10 Bests of Toronto

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