Sometimes when I’m not interning at Rogers TV (love it) or working a retail job to support my fat ass while I’m interning at Rogers TV (hate it) or thinking of deep and meaningful, slightly angsty blog posts to write, I actually go about my days and enjoy the cool things that Toronto has to offer.
My Toronto neighbourhood is Bloor West (specifically Bloor and Ossington) which is a pretty cool little area that has quiet suburban streets (like the one I live on) surrounded by hipstery hang-outs, random restaurants and some pretty awesome little Gems.
Here is a list of the Bloor West Toronto Gems as per my perspective.
Nazareths Ethiopian Restaurant.
At one point or another, Canuck boyfriend and I decided to try some of the local eateries in my area. After jumping on Urban Spoon, we discovered that the poky little dark restaurant/bar that always has a line out the front of it, is in fact Toronto’s best Ethiopian Restaurant. We made the usual jokes at first, like, what will they serve? Air and bark? (Awful, ignorant, etc etc I know) But turns out Ethiopian food is delicious and full of flavour. You eat with your hands and use the Injera – floppy citrusy type crepe bread – to scoop the goopy looking food into your mouth. I am struggling to compare what the food is like because it really is some of the most unique food I have ever tasted. If you go to Nazareth’s and there is at least two of you, I would recommend getting the Beef Tibs and the Vegetarian (the vegetarian is pictured on the right hand side of the green veggie divider line). If you are heading to this restaurant for dinner, GET THERE EARLY! The line up starts at 6/630 and sometimes the service is a little slow (the only drawback) so the wait can be loooooong especially if you are hungry! Oh and did I mention how cheap this place is?! The meal pictured here probably cost $22 including tax and that is PLENTY of food for two people. You could even share that between four (I have).
Possibly my favourite place in Toronto, this little Gem is one of the first places I take people who are visiting from out-of-town, or who are just unfamiliar with the area. I discovered this place when I kept seeing tonnes of smiling people exiting this little glass fronted cafe. Right beside the Ossington train station and run by the indie music loving Rosanne and with a host of characters who work in the place, including ones we have dubbed Smiley Stoner-Mcgee and Kiddie Kiddieson (a young enthusiastic kid that works there), this place has the best ice cream sandwiches in the ENTIRE world (or the bits I’ve seen of it anyway). They make the cookies and ice cream there and if you go there, you NEED to try the Burnt Toffee or Burnt Marshmallow with the Everything Cookie OR the Lemon Meringue Ice Cream with the Birthday Cookie. They have other delicious treats too like pies, macaroons and cupcakes, and they are ALL delicious, but seriously, go for the ice cream sandwiches, a half will set you back about $4 but it will be the best $4 you ever spent. I may have to go there myself this afternoon just because I made myself hungry by writing about this.
Today was actually my first experience at Saving Gigi and I am ashamed of that fact. Whenever I would tell people the area I lived in, their first response was always “Do you go to Saving Gigi ALL the time?!” and alas…my answer was no! But today I changed that! My delightful friend Kate and I went there for brunch and OH MAN! It was cool. It was cute. We felt like hipsters. It was a great brunch. I had the Brie and Pear Baguette with Toasted Walnuts and Honey, and Kate had the Big Brunch with eggs, tomatoes, potatoes (which were SO garlicky and yummy). It’s small place with LOTS of hipsters (seriously glad I wore my slouchy beanie (Canadians would call that a tuke) today, phewph, gotta fit in!) Saving Gigi also has lunch and dinnery type items and also serves booze (WIN!) and there is live music there. They have a huge record collection which they play and its just a really cool vibe. Lots of beautiful artsy type people sitting and staring out the windows typing nonchalantly on their MacBooks (note to self, take Macbook to Saving Gigi, write stuff, be cool, be beautiful, have mysterious air). But seriously, just such a cute place, and my brunch + hot chocolate was about $11.
Okay this is straying a bit into Annex Territory, but I have to mention it in this blog post because I went there today and had my mind BLOWN. I have walked past Honest Ed’s a hundred times. It’s a bit hard to miss and I guess technically isn’t really a Gem either. But wow! That place is something else. If you need anything under the sun, chances are Honest Ed’s has it and for CHEAP! Going in there is actually a bit overwhelming, and I had only planned to stick my head in with my friend Kate, but we both ended up buying some candles, some food items, and some other random things! We also spent about half an hour in this maze of good deals and bargains.
According to my hastily done internet research, “Honest Ed’s was the first true bargain store” opened in 1948. Low prices appears to be their thing and it’s kind of tacky, game-showy “EVERYTHING MUST GO” feel is part of its charm.
And those are pretty much my Gems for this Sunday. Toronto is the kind of place where every corner you turn, every street you go down, there is something cute and unique to discover. I definitely have my days where I wonder what the fuck I’m doing with my life, but really and truly, I’d probably be asking myself that question whether I was in Hong Kong, Sydney, Johannesburg, London, New York, Milan, Hamburg, Jamaica….(I’m just listing random places now)… so why not do it in the quirky and fun North American city of Toronto?
I’ll end this blog post with a picture I took in one of the fruit shops we stopped at today on our walk, to buy Bananas…
Happy Sunday/Monday everyone!