By Ana Taveira
The downtown section of Dundas Street West traverses Chinatown, Kensington Market and more.
AFFORDABLE FLAIR Kensington Market institution Courage My Love is positively packed with kitschy finds from far off lands. Established in 1975, the venerable vintage boutique offers up all manner of one-of-a-kind items, including jewellery, sunglasses, gloves and inexpensive yet still highly fashionable apparel. Exotic beads, buttons and other items are popular amongst do-it-yourselfers, while a selection of retro home accessories rounds out the stock.
HOT DISCOVERY A good thing is not always easy to find. At least, that seems to be the idea behind Cold Tea. Tucked down a hallway in a small, nondescript shopping concourse in the Kensington Market ‘hood, this hip watering hole might not be one of the city’s most accessible, but once you’ve found your way there, a good time is practically guaranteed—thanks to exciting Asian-inspired cocktails, dim sum nibbles and an inviting back patio with communal tables.
STEEP SHOP This city’s location of Chinese tea chain Ten Ren Tea is a popular destination for picking up sachets and loose-leaf tins of high-quality oolong, jasmine, pu-erh and herbal teas, among many other varieties. If you’re on the run but still in need of a beverage, the shop is happy to oblige with take-away bubble tea and other tea-based specialty drinks.
FEAST YOUR EYES In a sprawling yet still intimate building by top architect Frank Gehry, the Art Gallery of Ontario is downtown Toronto’s creative heart and one of the leading cultural institutions in North America. Here you’ll find thousands of works surveying the evolution of art over the past two millennia, from ancient Indigenous carvings to Renaissance masterworks to modern Canadian pieces. In-house restaurant Frank is a great meeting place before or after you explore the gallery.
CHEAP EATS It may not be particularly pretty, but Swatow keeps Chinatown diners satisfied by doling out big portions of noodles, fried rice, sizzling meats and more for a very reasonable price. Open late and boasting speedy service, the bustling restaurant is renowned as a go-to spot for area chefs—Susur Lee is a longtime patron—who want to refuel after a night on the line.
ABSTRACT FOR ALL The subtle beauty of minimalist art is highlighted at Lausberg Contemporary. Ensconced within a block of converted Victorian homes directly across from the AGO, gallerist Bernd Lausberg’s Toronto outpost (he also has locations in Düsseldorf and Miami) features a colourful array of works by such artists as Dieter Balzar, Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer and Douglas Allsop.