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July 23, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What is your favourite thing to do at or near Kensington Market in Toronto?

My partner and I are making a semi-spontaneous day trip into Toronto tomorrow, mainly for the purpose of visiting Kensington Market. I love Kensington, but I always end up wandering the same couple of streets. The last time I was there with a more savvy Torontonian friend, she showed me some places I'd never noticed before, including a little hole-in-the-wall place with amazing empanadas.

We don't have much of a plan, we were just thinking of exploring a bit, and maybe staking out a spot at a cafe for awhile and people-watching. So... fire away, mefites. What are the most interesting/tasty/fun spots around Kensington Market?
posted by torisaur to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been there in a while, but I love Kensington... my favorite things to do are to go into the bread and cheese shops, but I'm assuming you've got that covered. If you haven't been, Baldwin Street is close by and has (or at least used to have) some great little restaurants, including a Chinese bakery that sold delicious buns stuffed with meat for $1.
posted by cider at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2011

Well so many things to do, but to start off you could have a wander around Blue Banana Market, which is 3 floors of interestingness... it's across the street from a couple of vintage clothing stores if that's your thing. For a drink and people-watching I recommend Ronnies, which is across the street from a grilled cheese shop and they'll go get it for you if you ask nicely.

All these places and more discussed here.
posted by modernnomad at 1:44 PM on July 23, 2011

I love getting Banh Mi sandwiches on Spadina. They're little baguettes stuffed with fried tofu, slivers of carrot, and other good stuff. There are a few spots on Spadina, just to the east of the market, (all the same, more or less) and the sandwiches are something like $2 each--the cheapest lunch in Toronto.

I have a theory that the sandwiches were invented during the time of the French occupation of Vietnam. No idea if it's true, but thinking of it always makes me feel like I'm in a spy novel while I eat one.

If you're adventurous, try the meat Banh Mi. I never have.
posted by bexpert at 1:47 PM on July 23, 2011

You are in luck! Tomorrow is Pedestrian Sunday, which takes place on the last sunday of every month, from May to October. All the streets are closed to cars, and filled with street performers, food carts, musicians, all sorts of stuff. I wouldn't even bother coming with a plan - just get there, wander, and let the crowd (or sound) lead you to the good stuff.
posted by Kololo at 2:13 PM on July 23, 2011

Gah! i meant to pepper my answer with links!

A boring Pedestrian Sunday website for a fun event
A video of fun!
Photos of fun!
posted by Kololo at 2:17 PM on July 23, 2011

Oh, good lordy! I just realised pedestrian sunday isn't till next weekend. Its a fun enough experience that i think you could consider shifting your Kensington day trip till next week. Tomorrow, go the beaches! Or walk around queen west! Or explore cabbagetown!
posted by Kololo at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2011

The BBQ pork Banh Mi is delicious. I always get them from "Ba Le 2", it's a shop on Dundas just west of Spadina.

For Kensington itself, I like the tacos al pastor at El Trompo. You can get it together w/ bean and bacon soup.
posted by pravit at 3:03 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Torito, a Spanish tapas restaurant on the west side of Augusta just south of College, is worth a visit. It'll be hot walking around Kensington Market tomorrow, and you could cool off there and restore your energy with a glass of cava and a plate of ceviche, and then be back out on your way. There are some nice shops on Augusta up there---lots to browse around in.
posted by wdenton at 3:48 PM on July 23, 2011

A real (espresso) coffee from moonbean. A delicious salad or crepe from Hibiscus (vegetarian and gluten free but don't let that scare you - it's delicious and I still dream about them!). Try on ridiculous hats and sunglasses from the cheap shops. Pick through the second hand clothes stores (some really great bargains!). Check out the awesome little ethnic supermarkets and plan a feast (there are some great Latin American stores and a Caribbean one too from memory). Take a knitting class at Let Us Knit. Argh I'm jelous and I miss T.O.!!!
posted by nothing too obvious at 3:57 PM on July 23, 2011

Resting in Bellevue Square Park, cooling your feet in the wading pool. If you want To go further: check out the skateboarders in Alexandra Park on Bathurst south of Dubdas or continue your walk on Dundas W westward past Bathurst to Trinity Bellwoods park (just past Grace St)
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2011

There's a Hungarian-Thai restaurant in the Market (how's that for a combo?), near one of my all time favorite knitting stores...if you're into that like I am!
posted by at 1:19 PM on July 24, 2011

You should try Agave y Aguacate, aka a tiny table with a couple of hot plates and a deep-fat fryer situated in the back of that place with the churros. It is superb, far and away my favorite Mexican food for the price in Toronto. (Note to future searchers: it opened only recently, and I would be surprised if it sticks around for very long; the owner, Francisco, is much too good to be in this space.) You will wait forever for it, though. (E.g., if a salad calls for tortilla chips, he will cut up tortillas in front of you and fry them. Even the pre-made lime charlotte dessert takes a few minutes, because he carefully grates a lime over it, douses it with a little olive oil, etc.) Totally worth it.

If it's a nice day, you could try to snag a spot on the patio at Ronnie's Local and have a beer. Or you could walk a few blocks to Cloak and Dagger (which has a better and more extensive beer selection) instead.

Cafe Pamenar, on Augusta close to College, is a relatively new and tasty place for coffee. (I prefer their espresso to Moonbeam or other Kensington options.)
posted by chalkbored at 7:44 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Caplansky's on College is fantastic. I also always pick up BBQ pork buns from a Chinese bakery on Spadina and some custard tarts from a Portuguese shop (it's across from the Hungarian Thai place)
posted by Gor-ella at 8:58 AM on July 25, 2011

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