A Guide to Toronto's Neighborhoods
When planning our trip to Toronto, we had no idea that we would love it as much as we did. Had we known ahead of time, we may have planned a couple extra nights here. But, as we say many times when we leave a city we have fallen in love with, we'll be back!
Toronto feels like a micro version of New York, a city I have loved since I first visited her a dozen years ago. A barista we mentioned this to called Toronto, "New York Lite," and we wholeheartedly agree.
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Toronto's Little Italy is certainly smaller and less flashy than its cousin in New York, but it makes up for it with immense charm. We devoured a gorgeous caprese salad and a savory veal parmagiana at Cafe Diplomatico, served by a darling girl from Ireland. As you walk through Little Italy, take a moment to appreciate the architecture of various churches and other older buildings.
The Distillery District was another favorite little area, with the main attraction being Mill Street Brew Pub, a brewery complete with a full menu of delicious eats. Some of the heritage buildings of the Distillery District date back to the 1850's, which Marvin and I found fascinating. and the shops and restaurants inside the buildings were perfectly charming.
St. Lawrence Market
After a much later start than we had planned, we arrived at the St. Lawrence Market about an hour before they closed. Pushing our way through the crowds, we purchased a Maple Cheddar and a Habanero Jack from Olympic Food and Cheese, then grabbed gourmet, freshly-baked bread to accompany our new cheeses. Locating the two main produce vendors, we arrived as they were marking down their wares and readying their shops for the end of the day. We soon learned that lines no longer existed, and it was a race to grab a bag of the precious, marked-down produce and push coins into the hands of the vendors. "Beans" I yell to the clerk, who hands me a bag of green beans, accepting the $1 coin I offer in return. I snag a bag of arugula, hold it up for him to see, and pass him another $1 coin. When they place bundles of asparagus out on the "mark-down table" I quickly pass him a third coin, grabbing my bundle and scurrying away, glad to be out of the thick of things.
The original St. Lawrence Market was built in 1845, and although it has been rebuilt and renovated multiple times, it still holds much of its antique allure.
The St. Lawrence Market brought to memory Reading Terminal Market, one of our favorite places in all of Philadelphia, and one that we mention on a regular basis. "Do you remember all those big bags of peppers and tomatoes we used to get from Reading Terminal Market for $1?" one of us will ask the other on a day when green peppers are $1.59 per pepper at our local grocer. Stepping into the St. Lawrence Market was somewhat like coming home, only roast pork sandwiches from DiNic's Roast Pork were replaced by Carousel Bakery's Peameal Bacon Sandwiches.
Outside the Market itself, you'll find more eateries - everything from tapas to Italian. And don't miss the Gooderham Flatiron Building at 49 Wellington Street East, built in 1892, and similar to New York's Flatiron Building, built 10 years later in 1902.
We found Toronto wonderfully inviting, with pleasant people, and plenty to do. We'll be back to explore more of Toronto's lovely neighborhoods. It truly is "New York Lite."
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