With its high-rise sky­line and in­ter­na­tional out­look, this buzzing Cana­dian city holds its share of sur­prises


Find­ing lit­tle gems in Canada’s big­gest city

Art Gallery of On­tario

Toronto has some se­ri­ously long roads (Yonge Street is over 50 miles), but with fo­cus you’ll find it walk­a­ble. Be­gin your tour at the Art Gallery of On­tario, which was re­vamped ten years ago. It has a per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of more than 95,000 works, with ex­hi­bi­tions span­ning Euro­pean mas­ters from the 1600s to 20th-cen­tury North Amer­i­can pain­ters. Head for the sec­tion on the Group of Seven, a col­lec­tive of artists from the 1920s to 30s who de­picted the coun­try’s land­scapes in beau­ti­ful col­ors. Look out for Above Lake Su­pe­rior by Lawren S Har­ris, The Cloud, Red Moun­tain by Fred­er­ick H Var­ley, and Falls, Mon­treal River by J E H MacDon­ald. The gallery de­scribes them as giv­ing a “unique artis­tic voice” to Canada. ago.ca

Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket

About a ten-minute walk from the gallery is the mul­ti­cul­tural low-rise dis­trict of Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket, which is made up of Ja­maican patty shops, taco bars, whole­food stores, quirky home­ware out­lets, cheese shops and pizze­rias. It’s got a counter-cul­tural feel that makes it dis­tinct from the rest of the city, and is closed off from traf­fic on Sun­days. Don’t be put off by the slightly gritty, hippy vibe – there are some good din­ing restu­ar­ants here too. Grey Gar­dens is a chic wine bar and restau­rant serv­ing the likes of sweet potato ravi­oli with black truf­fle, and stuffed chicken with mus­tard greens. The Kens­ing­ton Brew­ing Com­pany is worth a visit if you’re into craft beer – its new brew­ery opened re­cently at 299 Au­gusta Av­enue. kens­ing­ton-mar­ket.ca


Top off your art and counter-cul­ture tour by head­ing down Spad­ina Av­enue through Chi­na­town to the LCBO liquor store about 20 min­utes away on foot. LCBO stands for the Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario, and th­ese gov­ern­ment-run out­lets, dot­ted all over the city, are pretty much the only places where you can buy some good booze to take home. You could buy a bot­tle or two in duty-free, but there is a far greater choice in th­ese LCBO shops. Your laun­dry list might in­clude ice wine made from grapes frozen on the vine near Ni­a­gara Falls, as well as clas­sic whiskies such as Cana­dian Club, Crown Royal, Lot No 40 rye and for­mer pro­fes­sional ice hockey player Wayne Gret­zky’s No 99 Red Cask. lcbo.com

Bar Buca

Since the late 1800s, thou­sands of Ital­ians have im­mi­grated to Canada, with re­cent es­ti­mates putting their de­scen­dants in Toronto at al­most 500,000. Nearby, don’t miss this Ital­ian hang­out with sit-up stools, tasty brunch dishes, filled fo­cac­cia, cured meats, pas­tries, wine, clas­sic cock­tails and great take­away cof­fee. From your perch at one of the high ta­bles you will get a view into the open kitchen and there is al­ways a wel­com­ing, con­vivial buzz here. Aper­i­tivo is served daily be­tween 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM and in the evening, you can stop by for beef short rib skew­ers, steel­head trout served crudo and cauliflower car­bonara with pancetta, Pecorino Ro­mano and duck egg. No reser­va­tions, but you’ll be fine as a walk-in un­less it’s packed. buca.ca

Bisha Ho­tel

A ten-minute walk from Bar Buca, this swank new ho­tel opened in the En­ter­tain­ment Dis­trict at the end of last year. It was a new en­deavor for Charles Khabouth, CEO of Toronto’s Ink En­ter­tain­ment em­pire, who has a port­fo­lio of dozens of restau­rants and clubs both here and in Mon­treal, near Ni­a­gara Falls, and in Mi­ami. This was his first ho­tel, how­ever. The 44-floor tower has 96 rooms man­aged by Loews Ho­tels & Co, as well as 355 pri­vate res­i­dences. In Fe­bru­ary, a new ho­tel floor de­signed by pop singer Lenny Kravitz was un­veiled. Go for a drink in the sul­try ground-floor Mr C bar or head up to Kost restau­rant at the top, which of­fers great views of the CN Tower. bisha­hotel­toronto.com Visit see­torontonow.com

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