What’s in my Travel Journal? Four Days of Food, Fun, and Festivities in Toronto!

Following the success of our family trip to New Orleans last New Year’s, we decided to welcome in 2017 in the Great White North. We hadn’t been to Toronto in eighteen years and all of us immediately fell in love with the cosmopolitan city all over again. What’s not to like there? Should you decide to follow in our footsteps, here are a few ideas:

Food

No two ways about it, Toronto is a foodie’s paradise. With the help of our adventurous twenty-something sons, we were able to sample a surprising number of diverse selections in a few short days. The winners were:

Dumpling House, Chinatown

Best dumplings I’ve ever had. It’s a small place so expect to wait in line. Luckily there is plenty to watch as the dumplings are prepared right in the front window and go immediately from there to the steamer a few feet away. Surprisingly I liked the steamed pork ones even more than the fried, though both were excellent. Other family favorites were sour cabbage and pork dumplings and the hot and sour soup.

PAM (Pho Ai My), Spadina Avenue

Efficient and friendly service with abundant refills on the delicious hot tea (the cold drinks were a little sweet for my taste). Boys loved the pho and banh mi (little pork and duck sandwiches).

Copa Cabana Grilled Brazilian, Adelaide Street West

If you’ve never been to a Brazilian steakhouse and you identify as a carnivore, this is a good one to try. The red meat was on the rare side, which may not appeal to everyone, but there’s also skewers of chicken, shrimp, and swordfish to balance things out. The surprise of the night was a floor show consisting of gorgeous, brightly feathered dancers and a woman flipping about on two suspended scarves. They definitely didn’t have that in Austin!

Drink

Irish Embassy Pub & Grill, Yonge Street

Lively, vibrant ambiance, perfect for a pre-dinner drink or two. Try my favorite-Goose Island Honkers Ale. Or stick with the more traditional Harp or Guinness.

Earls, King Street West

Lots of televisions strategically placed for hockey fans to keep track of the score but the volume doesn’t interfere with conversation and the bar seats are easy to settle into. Of course I couldn’t resist the name of the Hamilton, Ontario-brewed “Collective Arts Ransack the Universe” IPA and it didn’t disappoint. It was so sublimely citrusy that I shared a second one with my youngest son!

The Nutcracker Tea at the Omni King Edward, King Street

The King Eddy proper English tea (like they have in all the British mysteries!) with sweet and savory morsels accompanied by elaborately steeped teas expertly served by a tea-rista (?) It was a leisurely two-hour experience which included finger sandwiches of egg and chicken, tarts, and (of course!) scones and Devonshire tea. Expensive indulgence but well worth it.

Festivities

Harbourfront Centre Natrel Rink

Adults and kids of all ages will enjoy skating on this outdoor rink adjacent to the lake. It’s always free and there’s a live DJ on Saturday nights from December to February. If you don’t have skates and need to rent, get there early as the lines can get long fast.

Royal Ontario Museum, Queen’s Park

If you visit Toronto in the next two months the one thing you absolutely should not miss is ROM’s exhibition, “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”.  As one of the most prestigious photography competitions in the world, the images of animals, landscapes, and other natural wonders will linger with you long after you return home. There are also these wonderful two-paragraph descriptions of what you’re seeing and what obstacles the photographer overcame to get the shot. Allow yourself plenty of time-it’s not something to be rushed through. I even forked over fifty dollars afterwards to purchase the book.

We all agreed that we’d love to return to the city this summer. Any suggestions for warmer weather activities would be greatly appreciated!

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