Toronto insider: from slaughterhouses and warehouses to tequila bars and pizza to die for

The FIPP World Congress takes place in Toronto from 13-15 October 2015. If you’ve never been to Toronto, the Congress also offers an opportunity to experience this wonderful city. In our Toronto Insider series, Paris gives you a local view, tips and ideas of the city she calls home.

This city has just about everything. Where else in can you find such a huge embrace of multiculturalism? It’s like a great big kiss: we don’t just pay lip service to it – we actually live it. Whether you’re craving churrasco chicken, curries or roti, Turkish coffee or a short espresso, it’s here. Oh God, I seriously can’t believe I am talking about food again so early in the post. 

Some people say it’s just a big, cold place. Not true, people! Toronto is a city full of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique character shaped by the stores and shops and the people who live there.

In fact, according to a recent study from The Economist Intelligence Unit, a unit of The Economist magazine, Toronto is the best city to live in the world. Yeppers, in the world. So, in honour of that, I thought it would be fun to showcase the neighbourhoods that built this city in a series. So here’s the first one, the Ossington Strip. 

Where is it? It’s the strip of road called Ossington Avenue in the west end that extends from Dundas to Queen streets. What was there? Seriously not much, it was a little rundown and no one really went there for fun in the past. But they do now. 

Where to go: From coffee shops, bar, restos and galleries, it’s a street full of great places to stop.

If you like tequila 

Try Reposado. Huge selection of tequila – order a tequila flight and get some tapas to go alongside. You will be flying in no time.

No tequila, amigo? 

No problem, head to The Ossington During the week, this place hosts fundraisers and art openings, book launches and storytelling nights. On weekends, DJs line up set lists and you can stop in for a signature drink like a spiked Americano. 

A girl’s gotta eat. Cowboys get hungry, too.

Do you like Sunday brunch? Check out the Dakota Tavern it’s like a real saloon and a great place to listen to live country music. Getting back to brunch, it’s a pretty stellar all-you-can-eat kind with a regular Sunday bluegrass band. Fun vibe, great tunes, cool staff, what’s not to love? 

If you feel like pho

The Golden Turtle is one of the best pho restaurants in the city. Yep, there’s a lineup sometimes, and sometimes they start to clean up around you and point at all the hungry people waiting as a subtle hint to urge you to move on, but the food is well worth it. The pho is absolutely addictive. 

There’s nothing like a Portuguese treat after pho

Open for decades, Venezia Bakery is known for its delicious made-fresh-every-day baking. You’ll find strudelly tarts, cakes, and the favourite custard tarts, made with flaky, chewy pastry and light creamy custard. Sometimes I like to enjoy one while pondering the level of fusion in this city, like why this superior Portuguese bakery is named after a city built on water in Italy. Then I wash it down with an excellent espresso, also from here.

Pizzeria Libretto has this to say about their pizza:

“Libretto aims to be loyal to what real pizza is, invented in Naples using local natural ingredients, cooked in a wood-fired oven at extremely high heat to achieve a charred, blistered crust. We use San Marzano tomatoes and Fior di Latte Mozzarella, brought in fresh daily. Our dough is made with naturally leavened Italian Caputo dopio zero flour. Our pizza bakes in less than 90 seconds in our 900° wood-burning oven, hand-built for us by a third-generation pizza oven maker in Naples.”

Chef Rocco Agostino and Max Rimaldi

Just go to Pizza Libretto. Trust me, it’s really good. 

Learn some culture, Seth

Do you like photographs? O’Born Contemporary gallery.

is a photo gallery that “exhibits all mediums that contribute to the ongoing dialogue of photography’s place in contemporary art practices.” 

It’s new media art

Interaccess is a public gallery dedicated to advancing new media art in Canada, hosting exhibitions, events and workshops, as well as a space. Great blog, too.

Visit a hotel. Um, two hotels actually. 

Then take a walk: go south on Ossington Avenue to Queen Street, hang a right and trot along happily to The Drake Hotel for a trippy rooftop bar, live music, art exhibits, unique rooms and stellar eats and treats like sushi, mac ’n’ cheese and lobster nachos. 

Still feel like walking?

Keep going to the Gladstone Hotel. It’s Toronto’s oldest operating hotel, featuring art exhibitions, workshops and rooms individually decorated by artists. Grab a drink and listen to live music in the Melody Bar.

Don’t miss

If you haven’t yet booked your place at the FIPP World Congress, which takes place on 13-15 October 2015 in Toronto, find out how to do so here.

Any questions?

Get in touch with FIPP’s head of events, Claire Jones.

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