Toronto Photo Diary

Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery

Bar Raval

Bar Raval

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Momofuku

Momofuku

Blackbird Baking Co.

Blackbird Baking Co.

I’ve been to Toronto twice now – once in the winter, and this last time in late May. I hardly recognized the city this time around: everyone was out and about in shorts, eating and drinking on terraces, socializing in parks. It looked and felt a lot like San Francisco actually, particularly since I was staying in Trinity-Bellwoods, home to Canadian hipsters.

I only had one weekend but was quite productive:

  1. Bar Raval = This was my first stop fresh off the airplane. It was Friday morning and this adorable but small tapas + wine bar was packed. The patrons were shoulder-to-shoulder here – literally looked like happy hour on a Friday night in San Francisco (does no one work in Toronto?!). There was a massive patio which could’ve offered some relief had it not been drizzling that morning. When we finally managed to get a corner to ourselves, we shared some squid and charcuterie and red wine – all were just as good as they sound.
  2. Bellwoods Brewery = Probably one of my new favorite breweries in the world. No, I’m not a beer drinker, but the farm tables and stunning décor could keep me sipping beer there all day long. That, and the fries, which were among the best I’ve ever tasted. (Toronto does fries ridiculously well, which I should’ve anticipated given all their poutine.)
  3. Gusto 101 = Modern industrial décor with charming Italian waiters and some of the best mafalde al funghi pasta ever. The octopus was bangin’, too.
  4. Kensington Market = The cutest neighborhood ever – it’s so diverse, lively and vibrant. Its homes have been inhabited by many waves of immigrants over the decades (from Jewish to Irish and more recently Somalian, Chilean and Chinese), and it remains a predominantly working class, immigrant community, as well as a hub for artists and writers. Don’t miss the the Blackbird Baking Co. and Global Cheese shops.
  5. Momofuku Noodle Bar = A must-visit based on its novelty and reputation, of course, but very hit-or-miss in my opinion. The pork buns were positively bursting with umami. My dining companions all went for the ramen, so I opted for the chilled spicy noodle with pork sausage, spinach, cashew and black bean instead – a dish I adore in its original form on the streets of China, but which I sadly found far too sweet here at Momofuku. The cashews are candied – something the menu failed to mention – and I was craving flavors other than salty and sweet. A touch of vinegar, perhaps? All in all, just meh, but I'd be willing to give it another shot.