Toronto is a city that reveals itself over time. It grows on you until suddenly you realize that there’s nowhere else in the world you’d rather be. And nobody knows this better than the locals who live here. Here’s the side to the city that Torontonians know and love.
Some cities will take your breath away the moment you land. Toronto is not one of them. Yet it’s a city that you grow to love. The more time you spend with it, the more you’ll appreciate its friendly locals, the multicultural food scene and the plethora of fantastic patios. People come from all over the world to live in Toronto, and most of them find good reasons to stick around. These are six reasons why Torontonians love their city, known to locals as the 6ix (thanks to Drake and his amalgamation of the city’s two most popular area codes, 416 and 647).
“There are so many different cultures, so many different cuisines – it just breeds better restaurants,” says Eric Chong, winner of MasterChef Canada and co-founder of R&D.
“We have a big population of immigrants, and that’s what makes Toronto’s food scene so special. They can bring their authenticity – it’s difficult to know what real dim sum is or bad dim sum is if you’ve never been to Asia. I try a new restaurant every week with my fiancée, and when I eat out, I want to get inspired and learn from a new reference. At work, I’m cooking Chinese food all the time, so at home, my cuisine would honestly be Italian. When I dine out in Toronto, I love to eat Japanese food. Yasu, Skippa, Tachi and Sansotei are my favourites.”
“We live in a city that’s on the verge of being massive. There’s a community and audience for almost everything you might want to see – no matter how niche. But it’s also small enough for there to be space and support for people to create something new. Things get lost in bigger cities. But Toronto has enough communities for music to really thrive. The best places to check it out are The Baby G, Handlebar, Burdock, and The Opera House.”
“You can get just about anywhere on foot,” says Daina Fitzgerald, fitness coach and spin instructor.
“Walking through the city while listening to a podcast is the perfect way for me to decompress after teaching a class. Toronto is an incredibly foot-friendly city – whether you want to go for a run along the waterfront or hit up a yummy restaurant or patio. I’m happiest when surrounded by others, but when I need some time alone I prefer to take it while walking through the city.”
“I love meeting new people in Toronto,” says Emily Ramshaw, Bumble lead and born-and-bred Torontonian.
“There’s so many good places to meet people in Toronto. When I match with a new friend on Bumble BFF, my favorite place to go is Good Space at Dufferin and Queen for their Move Light yoga class – it’s a great way to break the ice. Or if the weather is good, I’ll grab a bottle of rosé, some sandwiches and sweet treats from Nadège on Queen West and head to Trinity Bellwoods. If I’m meeting someone for business, I’ll head to iQ on King West to grab a coffee or a healthy lunch, depending on the vibe I’m hoping to strike.”
“Toronto makes me feel connected to cultures I’ve seen while traveling,” says Allison Asis, local jewelry maker and travel lover.
“Toronto makes you feel like you’re in other countries. A while back, I started to really miss Japan. But I could go to places right on my doorstep that reminded me of it. Ramen Isshin on College Street has the best ramen in TO in my opinion. Sanko on Queen West has an amazing selection of Japanese kitchenware, food, drink – that sort of thing. And Sakai Bar on Dundas Street West has such an impressive menu of sake, traditional Japanese dishes and a beautiful intimate setting. They all remind me so much of the spots I visited in Tokyo. I love traveling, but you can also get a multicultural experience right here.”
“Going out for a meal is a new experience every time,” says Melody Saari, gluten-free pastry chef and co-owner of Almond Butterfly Cafe & Bakeshop.
“What I love about Toronto is that not only is the food delicious, but there’s also a strong focus on making it look Instagrammable. People are pushing the envelope to try to create unique flavor combinations that look visually appealing. It’s great to see this grow in the past few years, especially for more niche restaurants – gluten-free and dairy-free food doesn’t always look particularly appetizing. The most Instagrammable yet health-conscious spots are Hello 123, Impact Kitchen, Fresh, and Kupfert & Kim – they’re just so good!”
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