Please help update my Kensington Market (Toronto) one-day-trip tipsheet
July 15, 2017 9:13 AM   Subscribe

An adult and three teenagers have four hours to drive in, enjoy Kensington Market and its attractions, and be on our way. I can't find much information here less than five years old, so please help me ensure my basic info is solid.

Here's my basic areas of inquiry. (If there's something worthwhile outside the "border" of Kensington Market I'd be interested if it's walkable.)

1. Parking. I expect to arrive on a weekday summer morning before noon. Where can I reliably find a place to park for the day? I see references to two Green P lots but they are sometimes full? Would it be best to park elsewhere and walk a bit?

2. Shopping. Browsing and exploring boutiques and bookstores are a main goal. Particular interests include queer themes, comics/video games, superheroes, and international discoveries. Suggestions of places not to miss?

3. Eating. What are the best spots for ethnic food (not poutine and burgers) and desserts in the area? (Is there a site with good Kensington Market food coverage beyond Yelp?)

4. Other. Places to cool our heels, digest or chill for a half hour between strolling and shopping and snacking?

Thank you for any and all insights.
posted by sacre_bleu to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Admittedly, business hours is not when I frequent Kensington Market, but other than special events and Pedestrian Sundays, I have never found the Green P lot on St. Andrew to be full.

I don't really shop at non-food stores in Kensington, so can't help you with your shopping.

A lot of the restaurants in Kensington have gone kinda upscale over the years as it's become more attractive to gentrifying chefs. But you can still wander through the market stopping here and there to pick up a few bites to eat and find lots of good things. I like El Trompo in particular. Don't plan to have a meal anywhere, just pop into the places that look like you can just grab a to-go order and order a couple of small things to eat as you go.

Moonbeam coffee's frozen apple cider is a great option for sitting and relaxing. It's an eclectic sort of space and the cold cider is refreshing on a hot day.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:44 AM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kensington is one of the best places for vintage -- clothes, furniture, other funky stuff -- in the city. Courage My Love is the best-known and consistently best place for vintage clothes, and there's a bunch of other shops on the same street.
posted by jrochest at 11:15 AM on July 15, 2017

Seven Lives Paleteria
posted by grouse at 1:22 PM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dessert = Wanda's Pie in the Sky
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2017

This page should give you a pretty good idea of what's available food-wise in Kensington: . Just use the drop-down menu to select Kensington Market.

Personal favourites include Seven Lives Tacqueria, Otto's Berlin Donor, and Torteria San Cosme. I would also check out 214 August Ave, which houses several small food vendors of various cuisines. Last time I checked there were empanadas and Latin American food, Indian street food, and the infamous churro ice cream cone.

If you like comic books, you must go to The Beguiling, which is just around the corner from Kensington Market proper on College St.
posted by Rora at 4:17 PM on July 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

4. There's a street piano on Augusta Ave. Near Bellevue by the fish and chips place. I'm planning on trying it out tomorrow afternoon; too bad you won't be there tomorrow. I love seeing people having conversations they'd never have if it wasn't there. I hope you check it out and it's a good weather day when you come, otherwise it might be covered by tarp.
posted by foxjacket at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2017

1. Parking.

The Green P lot on Baldwin should be fine. There is also street parking on Spadina.

2. Shopping.

Boutiques and bookstores are not quite the Kensington experience. There is tons of food and vintage clothing and handmade prints and gifts and nick nacks, but not so much bookstores. If you don't mind walking in College maybe 10 or 15 minutes, Balfour Books is pretty great.

As for places in Kensington, I would suggest Courage My Love, Blue Banana, Model citizen, Bungalow, and Kid Icarus.

3. Eating.

For ethnic food you might like El Arepazo, Via Mercanti, the Jamaican patty place on Baldwin, the great jerk chicken at Rasta Pasta, or the Cuban sandwiches at Torteria San Cosmetic.

4. Other.

FIKA and Jimmy's both have lovely back patios and great lattes. Moonbean has delicious brownies. The park is under construction, which is unfortunate st the moment. Nu Bugel has terrible service but great bagels. Otto's Berlin Doner is delicious. Fresb Collective has a bunch of cool local designer clothing.

It's a lovely neighbourhood! Enjoy!
posted by hepta at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

She Said Boom (372 College Street) is one of the best bookstores in Toronto, just a couple of blocks from Kensington Market north side.

You can also pop over to Spadina to explore Chinatown and the good eats there. You may also run into Peter Parkour, Toronto's Spider-man.
posted by Gortuk at 9:59 AM on July 18, 2017

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