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Best of Toronto

10 Museum Shows for a Cultured Spring

DON’T MISS THESE UNIQUE NEW AND ONGOING EXHIBITIONS AT SOME OF TORONTO’S TOP MUSEUMS!

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Abbas Kiarostami’s exhibition, Doors Without Keys, continues at the Aga Khan Museum through to March 20 (photo: Craig Moy)

The permanent collections at Toronto’s major cultural institutions are always worth exploring, but this season their limited-run shows are also very compelling. From two distinct displays of doors to an anthropological examination of tattoo art, there’s something for everyone at these unique new museum shows.

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13 of the Most Unique Cafés in Toronto

VISIT ANY ONE OF THESE UNIQUE TORONTO CAFÉS FOR HIGH-QUALITY COFFEE AND DECADENT BAKED GOODS—PLUS BONUSES LIKE AMAZING AMBIENCE, SUPERIOR SERVICE, GREAT VIEWS AND EVEN BOARD GAMES!

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Boxcar Social makes its coffees and espresso-based beverages with a often-changing selection of beans from world-renowned roasters (photo: Boxcar Social)

Is a proliferation of cafés any indication of a city’s success? It’s not hard to argue in favour of the idea. Those who pass time at coffee shops necessarily have the leisure to do so. Leisure implies financial comfort, freedom—at least temporary—from work. Others, of course, use cafés as de facto workspaces, with caffeine helping fuel their creative contributions to the economy. And then there are the café owners themselves, who must be sufficiently confident in a city’s commercial vitality to have opened their businesses in the first place.

Ever dynamic, downtown Toronto hosts innumerable independent coffee-sipping spots. Many of the most popular, like Dark Horse, Sam James, Crema and Jimmy’s, are successful enough to support multiple locations across the city. There are far more excellent cafés than can reasonably be counted here, so let’s just say we hold the 13 places below in high regard—not only for their beverages, but for their delicious snacks, congenial ambience and other intangibles, too.

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The Hottest Heated Patios for Winter in Toronto

THESE DISTINCTIVE HEATED PATIOS MAKE OUTDOOR DINING HIGHLY DESIRABLE DURING WINTER IN TORONTO

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The Drake Hotel’s heated Sky Yard patio has been transformed into a cozy, contemporary legion hall for winter (photo: the Drake Hotel)

Whether or not you accept the science behind climate change, there’s no denying that Toronto experienced an unseasonably warm end to 2015, with temperatures reaching the low teens all the way up to Christmas. But now it seems winter’s chill (a modest version of it, at least) has indeed taken hold, ensuring that on most days it’s preferable to be indoors rather than out. Of course, even on the coldest of days there are those of us who yearn for a bit of fresh air and a view of the (slate grey) sky. A handful of Toronto restaurants are set up to oblige our “outdoors, indoors” desires with their popular heated patios.

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10 Undeniably Awesome Reasons to Visit Toronto in 2016

AN ARTS FESTIVAL’S ANNIVERSARY, AN INFLUX OF PRO SPORTS STARS AND THE OPENING OF TWO LUXURY RETAILERS ARE AMONG THE MANY EXCELLENT REASONS TO VISIT TORONTO IN 2016

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Jet (or drive, or take the train) into Toronto in 2016. There are a great many reasons we’re excited for the year ahead (photo: Phillip Grondin)

This past year was one of the most exciting Toronto has seen in a long time. The Pan Am and Parapan Am Games brought thousands of international athletes to the city for a summer of widely praised competition. The Aga Khan Museum gave us a beautiful, compelling look at one of the world’s most vibrant cultures. The revitalization of the downtown waterfront finally came to (admittedly, somewhat confusing at first) fruition. And, of course, the Blue Jays’ playoff run helped renew our sense of civic pride and gave the rest of Canada a reason to love Toronto once more.

It’ll be hard to top all that as we head into a new year, but there’s still much afoot to justify our high expectations. From hotly anticipated performances to major retail openings to a few useful urban improvements, these are some of the best reasons to visit Toronto in 2016.

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3 Toronto Dining Trends That Satisfied Our Appetites in 2015

A LOOK BACK AT A FEW OF THE DINING TRENDS THAT IMPACTED TORONTO RESTAURANTS AND FOODIES OVER THE PAST YEAR

Toronto Dining Trends Restaurants 2015

Delicious on-trend offerings from Roselle Desserts, Canoe and Fresh Off the Boat got our attention in 2015 (photos: Craig Moy; Cindy La; Fresh Off the Boat)

In recent years it’s been fairly easy to pinpoint the developments that most influenced Toronto’s diverse but fickle eating-out industry. Not too long ago, “Middleterranean” fare was all the rage. Before that it was vegetables that took centre stage (or, if you will, centre plate). And most locals no doubt recall the days when charcuterie dominated all dining discussion.

Trend spotting in 2015 has been more challenging—in part because the city saw a relative slowdown in restaurant openings, cooling the pace of change. But if you look closely, it’s still possible to discern some characteristics that have lately defined Toronto’s food scene.

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Best Restaurants for Visitors to Toronto: Our 2015 Where to Dine Awards

WHERE TORONTO READERS HAVE VORACIOUS APPETITES (IT TAKES A LOT OF FUEL TO SEE AND DO EVERYTHING THE CITY HAS TO OFFER). EACH YEAR, YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE DINING ROOMS AS PART OF OUR WHERE TO DINE AWARDS. THESE ARE THE RESTAURANTS THAT EARNED YOUR ACCLAIM IN 2015.

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The Sultan’s Tent offers a unique night out for visitors to Toronto (photo: Liam Mogan)

INTERNATIONAL
The Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc
This richly decorated restaurant remakes Old Town Toronto as an ageless Barbary Coast encampment, where visitors dine in colourful splendour while partaking in traditional French-Moroccan hospitality (including nightly belly dancing shows). The three-course prix fixe, featuring the likes of a couscous salad, braised lamb shank and assorted tagines, is particularly popular for groups. Guests seeking a more subdued experience can savour a languid lunch or afternoon mint tea at the Casablanca-inspired, front-of-house Café Moroc.

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Variety is the Spice of Life: Indulge at the Best New Restaurants in Toronto for 2015

THE BEST NEW RESTAURANTS IN TORONTO FOR 2015 ARE A POTENT MIX OF FINE-DINING RESTAURANTS AND EASYGOING ESTABLISHMENTS

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Kasa Moto’s ambitious Japanese spread helped to make it one of best new restaurants to open in Toronto in 2015 (photo: Liam Mogan)

Toronto’s dining scene is renowned for its diversity; its best restaurants are lauded for combining fresh, local flavours with culinary inspirations from around the globe. But it’s a tight market (the city’s foodies are a fickle bunch) and newcomers need to offer both high-quality cooking and a dash of conceptual creativity to really stand out. Fortunately, a select group of establishments rose to the challenge, and in doing so became our favourite pizza parlours, gourmet cafés, seafood spots and fine-dining spaces to debut in 2015.

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10 Road Trip–Worthy Ontario Restaurants

THESE SOUTHERN ONTARIO RESTAURANTS PROVE THAT TORONTONIANS AREN’T THE ONLY ONES WHO APPRECIATE A GOOD MEAL

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The Drake Devonshire Inn’s dining room boasts picturesque four-seasons vistas (photos: Kayla Rocca)

Torontonians tend to spend a lot of time and energy thinking about food and drink. And why wouldn’t we? This city’s collection of restaurants, cafés, snack spots and cocktail bars is arguably both the most varied and highest quality in the country. That said, the culinary borders of Canada do extend beyond Toronto’s city limits: Montreal and Vancouver are also renowned foodie towns, and closer to home, Southern Ontario hot spots like the Niagara and Muskoka regions, Stratford, and Prince Edward County also cater to discerning tastes. But you needn’t take our word for it. Hop in your car and discover these road trip–worthy Ontario restaurants for yourself.

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Haunted Toronto: Six Ghostly Sites in Hogtown

THE LEAD UP TO HALLOWEEN INEVITABLY BRINGS OUT BONE-CHILLING, SPINE-TINGLING, GOOSEBUMP-INCITING STORIES OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, SPOOKY SIGHTINGS AND HAUNTED TORONTO DESTINATIONS. FEELING THE URGE TO INDULGE YOUR INNER GHOSTBUSTER? HEAD TO OEN OF THESE SIX SCARY SPOTS IN THE CITY—IF YOU DARE.

Haunted Toronto Ghost Tours

Old City Hall is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two convicted criminals (photo: Eric Parker)

Depending on who you talk to, both Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas are said to haunt one of two different locations in Toronto: Old City Hall and the Don Jail. Turpin and Lucas were the last two individuals in “Muddy York” to be sentenced to death for their crimes. As one story goes, the penalty of death by hanging was delivered in a courtroom at Old City Hall where the men now roam, sometimes tugging at judges’ robes. Alternatively, the men haunt the gallows of the Old Don Jail—where many inmates were treated poorly while the prison was in operation from 1964 to 1977, and in whose open courtyard hangings were carried out.

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Where to See the Best Fall Colours Near Toronto

THE GOLDEN HORSESHOE REALLY EARNS ITS NICKNAME AS VIBRANT FALL COLOURS EMERGE ACROSS THE REGION’S ABUNDANT PARKS AND CONSERVATION AREAS—ALL JUST A SHORT DRIVE FROM TORONTO

The fall colours can be seen in abundance on the Niagara escarpment (photo: Jeff S. PhotoArt)

The fall colours can be seen in abundance on the Niagara escarpment (photo: Jeff S. PhotoArt)

We may complain about the shorter days and the noticeable chill in the air, but one thing we can’t lament with autumn’s arrival is the beautiful change it brings to our parks and woodlands. While trees are, of course, reasonably abundant in Toronto, you really do owe it to yourself to take leave of the concrete jungle in order to view the most vibrant foliage. So pack a picnic (or just some sturdy hiking shoes) and head to these just-outside-of-town locations to be awed by the best fall colours near Toronto.

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10 Amazing, Family-Friendly Toronto Summer Attractions

WARM WEATHER BRINGS OUT THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN TORONTO. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TIME IN THE CITY—AND MAKE SOME INDELIBLE MEMORIES WHILE YOU’RE AT IT—BY VISITING THESE UNIQUE SUMMER ATTRACTIONS.  BY CRAIG MOY

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The Evergreen Brick Works offers myriad environmentally focused summer activities (photo: Craig Moy)

THE EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS

5 Unique uses for an Old Factory

The formerly industrial, now eco-conscious heritage site known as the Evergreen Brick Works positively hums with activity.

• Hunt down the venue’s unique art works, from the hard-to-miss “living map” in the Commons to the preserved graffiti in the kilns.
• Take the kids to learn about the environment through outdoor play at the Chimney Court Children’s Garden.
• Trod the trails that wind through the 40-acre greenspace behind the Brick Works. Climb to the lookout for an impressive view of the downtown skyline.
• Enjoy a nourishing gourmet meal—made with local and sustainably harvested ingredients—at Café Belong.
• Peruse farm-fresh produce and more at the farmers’ market every Saturday and Sunday morning.

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Agritourism in Ontario: Discover Where the Good Things Grow

ONTARIO’S AGRITOURISM ATTRACTIONS OFFER LOCALS AND VISITORS ALIKE A FARM-FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON OUR RENOWNED AGRICULTURAL BOUNTY.
BY RENÉE SUEN

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(Monforte Dairy cheese photo: Renée Suen)

 

Finding seasonally fresh food in Toronto isn’t hard: nearly every restaurant menu and produce shelf boasts of the bounty. Ontario is blessed with more than half of Canada’s highest quality farm land, and most of it is a mere hour or two’s drive from the GTA. No matter if you’re a dilettante cook or a full-fledged foodie, it’s easy to connect with the province’s primary tastemakers to learn about land stewardship, food security, and sustainable aqua- and agriculture, all while marveling at the picturesque surroundings. So fill up the tank, plug in your favourite playlist, and embark on an adventure that’ll leave you satisfied, but also hungry for more.

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