One of my favourite areas in Canada is Kensington Market – a distinctive and multicultural neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. One of Toronto’s older and most famous areas is essentially a few blocks littered with cafes, bakeries, fruit stalls, vintage clothing and stores selling incense and weird stuff like voodoo supplies. There is an increasing Rastafarian vibe in the area with a small flea market to conveniently pick up some weed. Perhaps after eating your gluten-free crêpe, stock piling some voodoo supplies to unleash black magic onto the crouch of your ex, you can make your way over to the bong laden door of a Rastafarian store to brush up on your Jamaican creole and smoke some ganja. Just a thought.
Walking through Kensington Market there is evidence of a distinct smell. If it were a perfume the top notes would be nutella crepes, bananas and patchouli which fade into a wet wood aroma. The base notes that linger on your skin, layer scents of fresh lettuce, a hint of marijuana and citrus berries. The area is a bohemian eclectic hang out full of hipsters, vegan non fun-only students, and tourists walking around aimlessly trying to find out why it’s so hip and what the hell gluten is.
The reason I go to Kensington when I am in town is for the food. My favourite two stops are Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Fresco’s Fish n Chips. Fresco’s have brilliant chips and moist fresh fish, and Wanda’s serves delicious fresh salads and super yummy Muskoka ginger ale. I have written about both of these places before, but for those new to the blog, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is famous for it’s freshly prepared salads, quiche, sandwiches, muffins and divine gluten-free (of course) cup cakes. Afterwards, to wash it all down, head over to the Cloak and Dagger pub which has 18 different types of beer on tap.
In 2006, Kensington was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Have you been to Kensington Markets? What was your favourite thing to do?
I rarely admit that I can cook, but in fact, I am quite good at it. I just don’t admit it because I don’t want to do the dishes after. Re-heating Spaghetti somehow requires the use of every utensil in the house. It started to drizzle rain on my last Sunday in Toronto so I roamed around Kensington Mall to sample the local food so I wouldn’t have to do any dishes. My first stop was Wanda’s Pie In The Sky on 287 Augusta Avenue – a funky little bakery/cafe. While slightly small on the inside (I later found out it’s actually larger compared to other shops in the area) I ordered the soup of the day, coconut and sweet potato, an avocado sandwich and a bottle of Muskoka Dry Ginger Ale.
Local hipsters filled the cafe; the type wearing black square Gucci glasses and reading Nylon magazine and Choam Nomsky books, or knitted hat wearing/dread-locked young people who are likely studying environmental science with a full arm of tattoos that don’t really seem to be of anything.
After taking in the warm scent of hippies and gluten-free Spinach and Feta Crepes, I walked down Augusta Avenue to Fresco’s Fish ‘n’ chips at 213. I’ve had a craving for decent fish ‘n’ chips since leaving Australia 5 years ago. And I finally found a place I will recommend. If you ever head to Toronto, and find yourself near Dundas Street West or in the Kensington Market, head to Fresco’s. A little shoebox of a shop but great chips (fries) and to die for. I picked up the Cod on one day and the budget friendly special on the second – Montreal style poutine and a can of Coke for $5. This is easily one of the best poutine in the city. Even their home-made dipping sauce and coleslaw is delicious – and that’s coming from someone who usually dislikes it. The extra crispy fish batter is sublime and the chef is engaging and friendly. A small fries (which is actually pretty big box) will set you back $2.98 and a large is $4.98. Two pieces of fish is $2.95 and there is a Wednesday deal going on for crab cakes, fries and a drink for $9.95
While I did dine in a few other places such as the little Crepe shop (over priced and nothing to write home about although their crepes are decent) and a snack from Market Bakery (super cheap but again nothing amazing) Wanda’s and Fresco were my favourites in the area and perhaps even in Toronto.
Kensington Mall is one of my favourite little places to trek around in on a lazy Toronto Sunday afternoon. Where do you eat when you go to Toronto?