One of Toronto’s most exclusive shopping districts, Yorkville has undergone many changes since its beginnings in the 1830’s. What began as a residential suburb eventually turned into a village, which was later annexed to the city, due to its increasing size. By the 1960’s, the area became a bohemian cultural centre, popular among local musicians such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot. Yorkville was also known at this time as the capital of the hippie movement. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, many high end shops moved into the area, and it is has since been known for many high-end boutiques and Canada’s first five-star hotel.
Yorkville is a great neighbourhood for window shopping and people watching. With a mix of art galleries, fashion boutiques, antique shops, cafes and restaurants, this area is best seen on foot, as there are several pretty streets, meandering courtyards, and alleyways.
In September, the neighbourhood is abuzz with celebrities attending the Toronto International Film Festival.Rooftop Lounge
This is a great place to grab a drink before heading out to dinner - it’s quiet and low-key and has none of the pretension that most Yorkville bars have. The rooftop lounge has a balcony that has a great view of the city; on a clear day, you can see for miles. With old-style service, this venue is perfect for a first date.
Park Hyatt Hotel
4 Avenue Road, ON M5R 2E8
+1 416 925 1234
Google map: bit.ly/lfDiTcCrepes-a-go-go
This Parisian-style creperie offers the best crepes I’ve tasted outside of Paris. The smells of espresso and crepes fill the air and you can watch them being prepared right before your eyes. My favourites: the Julia, with chocolate spread and raspberry jam, and the Cote d’Azur, with goat cheese, tomato, basil and olive oil. And unlike most of the cafes in Yorkville, this cafe won’t put a dent in your pocketbook: a crepe and espresso will cost you just over $10.crepesagogo.com
18 Yorkville Avenue, ON M4W 1L4, Canada
+1 416 922 6765
Google map: bit.ly/lrZKVASummer's Ice Cream
Ice cream is one of my favourite treats, and Summer's always leaves me satisfied. This family-owned shop has been making ice cream for over 26 years. It has a wide variety of yogurt as well as milk-based and sorbet treats. They also make waffle cones on the premises, and you can have your ice cream in one of them at no extra charge. Just the smell of waffle cones baking on site is enough to leave me intoxicated with happiness. I can't think of a better way of enjoying a perfect summer evening than with my favourite cone while strolling through the fashionable streets of Yorkville.
My favourite flavour this year: key lime pie. This yogurt-based ice cream is made with lime juice and zest, as well as bits of graham crust. At only 120 calories per scoop, it is refreshing and satisfying at the same time. Flavours come and go, but one that has been popular among the locals for many years is the Toronto pothole: almonds, marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate chunks, road tar, and gravel, delightful and decadent.summersicecream.com
101 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 1C1, Canada
+1 416 944 2637
Google map: bit.ly/ioy4p0Rawlicious
Rawlicious is Toronto's only raw food restaurant where nothing is cooked above 118 F so that all of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals remain in their original state. Sceptics take note: this is not just a pile of cold vegetables on a plate; this is truly delicious food. I love my meat, don’t get me wrong, but I try to visit Rawlicious at least once a week; whether it’s dine-in or take-out.
The recipes in this vegan organic restaurant contain no gluten, meat, dairy or refined sugar, but they are anything but boring. I’m actually hoping they will come out with a cookbook soon.
Some of my favourites are the Pad Thai, containing kelp and zucchini noodles with lettuce, peppers, carrots, onions and cashews, all coated with a lovely thai sesame sauce, making this a lighter and cooler version of the pad thai everyone is familiar with; the Pasta Bolognese, a great spin on the classic dish, is also very good: also made from long strands of spiralled zucchini, along with a fresh tomato marinara sauce and “neat balls,” a mix of nuts, seeds and vegetables, all packed into tight little balls of delicious goodness.rawlicious.ca
20 Cumberland Street, ON M4W 1J5, Canada
+1416 646 0705
Google map: bit.ly/jD8fqt
Pusateri’s Fine Foods
If, like me, you’re one of those people that loves to check out gourmet grocers when you visit a city, then you must go to Pusateri’s. This place is like a candy store for foodies: the freshest fruits and produce available, including my favourite heirloom tomatoes in the summer and chanterelles in the fall; a meat and deli counter that rivals anything I’ve seen anywhere, their Kobe beef is flown in daily from Japan; a bakery section that contains windows upon windows of decadent, glorious pastries, macarons, tarts, pies, cookies, anything and everything your heart desires; cheeses of every kind, fresh bread, imported delicacies and a variety of prepared foods. There is a small cafe area, where you can sit and watch the world go by - if you’re lucky enough to find a spot. No matter what time of day, this place is always packed.pusateris.com
57 Yorkville Avenue, ON M5R 3V6, Canada
+1 416 785 9100
Google map: bit.ly/kC2m8B