Kensington Market in downtown Toronto is one of the spots I always recommend tourists scope out and it has been three years since I last shared stories about the area! As with any neighbourhood in Toronto, much has changed over the last three years and one of my favourite restaurants, Le Kensington, no longer lives in Kensington Market. Do not worry because there’s newer spots to visit as you explore this national historic site of Canada where cultures meet and where you can take a sensory journey around the world.
Locals flock to Kensington Market to procure quality spices from around the world, some of the best cheese, bread and green living products, but as with many tourists, we locals go mostly to soak in the charm of the busy streets. While I’ll be the first to say that it can be quite difficult to navigate the narrow sidewalks with a double stroller, it’s one of our favourite summer time activities. We’ve braved snow and rain as well but summer and fall is when you’ll find us there more often. One thing to point out is that Kensington Market can be a bit slow after 9 p.m. and there have been times we’ve found it difficult to find late night snack spots so keep that in mind! There’s plenty of bars open late into the night but those may be hard to get into, especially with young kids in tow.
Go for the vibe, stay for the food and linger for graffiti.
There’s so many spots to dine and drink through at Toronto’s Kensington Market and it can be overwhelming as you walk through the two main streets and many side streets. Restaurants and bars are also constantly changing here and many are so tiny that it’s hard to bring a stroller in (even if it’s just to stow away)!
Below are a list of our current faves mixed in with some tried and true spots that have stood the test of time as we’ve visited with the kids.
- El Trompo : This is one of the first taquerias in Canada and even today, is family run! Definitely the best authentic Mexican home cooking you can find.
- Supermarket : No groceries for purchase here but this Asian fusion spot is also an awesome music venue where you can find up and coming artists playing at.
- Nu Bugel : They serve the best Montreal style bagels I’ve found in the city and if you’re lucky and walking by around closing time, you may just have a bag of bagels gifted to you!
- Tito Ron’s : This Filipino-Caribbean take out joint can be hard to find but their dishes and Ube Sundae is perfect on a hot muggy day.
- El Rey Mezcal Bar : This is my current fave as they have a gorgeous bar inside and a fab patio (where you can park your stroller) to sip on amazing cocktails and delicious tapas style dishes.
- Handle Bar : An old favourite, this cozy little spot is the perfect drinking hole when you’re looking to gather with your mates.
- Thirsty and Miserable : While I detest the fact that this spot is super tiny and cash only, they do have a stellar craft beer list and have allowed us to bring the stroller on occasion (vs. having to fold it away at most other spots).
Every last Sunday of the month during the summer, Kensington is a pedestrian only zone which makes it easy to push the stroller around! Each visit to Kensington Market sees me discovering new works of street art and learning about new artists and musicians (most of whom just start playing on a street corner). I also must tell you about Blue Banana, a store that’s filled with the neatest little items and where you’ll find some of the best gifts for your buddies. Also, just around the corner from the main Kensignton Market strip is Baldwin street, quite possibly the best hidden/forgotten food street in Toronto!
p.s There’s playground in Kensington Market but given our desire to sit on patios, the kids are yet to play there!