Finally announcing what we Torontonians have always known to be true, the Economist recently ranked Toronto as the best city in the world to live in. Since we can assume that probably means you’ll be stopping by for a visit, we have compiled the best restaurants, bars, hotels and the like so you know exactly where to go and what to see.
Work Out: The Adelaide Club
Where: First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West
Perks: Gyrokinesis classes
The Gist: This is the only club in the financial district to offer classes in this unique Pilates practice. This method, taught by private instructors, allows the body to explore extreme movement to build balance and strength.
Where: 587 Yonge Street
The Gist: This family-owned spot has been specializing in craft beer since 1985. Other than being known for their house ale, more than 150 types of imported beer and their local beer festival, ‘The Funk’, this Toronto treasure has another unique trait: a 1 hectolitre nano brewery in the kitchen.
Drink: Bier Markt
Where: 600 King Street West
The Gist: The name says it all. Located in Toronto’s trendy King West neighborhood, Bier Markt offers a diverse selection of brews that would make any beer enthusiast jump for joy. Offering a staggering 150 brands from over 30 countries, this watering hole isn’t for the faint of heart. Start off slow and enjoy their food and beer pairings while you enjoy the company of your friends in this brew haven.
Work Out: The Cambridge Club
Where: 100 Richmond Street West, 11th Floor
Perks: Full-service fitness facilities and social club
The Gist: You know you’ve made it big if you find yourself at the Cambridge Club. More than just a fitness centre, it’s a social hub for elites. Whether you’re enjoying a good game of squash or participating in a bit of wine tasting après-gym, you can combine your passions in this high society oasis.
Groom: Crows Nest Barbershop
Where: 35 Kensington Avenue
The Gist: Classic cuts are back in a big way, and don’t they know it. If any one business can vouch for the resurgence of the barbers, it’s Crows Nest Barber Shop in downtown Toronto. Since their start just over two years ago, they’ve been busy snipping and styling the most fashionable do’s in the T-Dot. Tattooed stylists, a shop with more class than George Clooney’s wardrobe, and of course, a resident mutt; Crows Nest Barbershop might just be the hippest place in Canada to get a cut.
Stay: The Drake Hotel
Where: 1150 Queen Street West
The Gist: Not only is the Drake a great Toronto hotel, it is also deeply embedded in Toronto culture, often hosting various local musicians, visual artists and parties. Definitely one of the trendier options for those in need of a place to stay in Toronto, the Drake also maintains an intimate atmosphere with its relatively small size and bustling ambience. The uniquely urban character of the hotel is mirrored by its offer of guest rooms, featuring modern and quirky colour combinations and design aesthetic. The XL Suite offers custom furniture and millwork, several opening windows, Malin and Goetz toiletries, a complimentary tech library, fitness facility and, wonder of wonders, hand-made dolls.
Work Out: Equinox
Where: 199 Bay Street
Perks: Eucalyptus Steam Rooms
The Gist: After you’ve mastered the art of Power Vinyasa or kicked proverbial butt in the martial arts and kickboxing room you’re going to need to recuperate. What better way to alleviate your strained body than to take a nice steam? The eucalyptus-scented steam rooms help to clear toxins from your body and open up the nasal passage.
Where: 12 Brant Street
The Gist: At Jacob’s & Co. Steakhouse, they show pride in their cuts of beef by showcasing them as they are dry-aged in a climate-controlled glass case in the middle of their dining room. The steaks they offer come from three distinct locales: Alberta, Nebraska and New South Wales, Australia.
Groom: John Allan’s
Where: 176 Yonge Street
The Gist: John Allan’s club for men (careful not to label itself as a salon) has been growing along with the men’s grooming business since 1988. Today there are six club locations and a successful line of accessories, hair care, skin care, and shaving products. Annual memberships with full service visits (including scalp massages, hot towel, shoeshine, manicure, and even beer on tap) are available for those wishing to become regulars.
Where: 477 Richmond St. West
The Gist: Co-owner, Noel Naguiat, describes Mankind Grooming Studio for Men as, “the evolution of the barbershop.” With over 15 grooming experts on staff, the studio offers salon-like quality styling with the atmosphere of a classic barbershop. “Sometimes guys just want to hang out with guys while they get their hair cut,” said Naguiat, citing the “feminine” feel of some salons as a potential reason why gentlemen across the nation are switching to barbers or men-only salons.
Stay: Shangri-La Hotel
Where: 188 University Avenue
The Gist: One of the tallest buildings in the city, Shangri La Toronto welcomes guests with distinct, exotic opulence. The glistening glass structure features 202 guest rooms that are among the largest in Canada. Amenities include 24-hour in-room dining, bedside controls for lighting and drapes, large LCD flat screens, Apple iPads, heated floors and Bulgari bath accessories. An 828-sqm health and fitness facility includes a 20-metre pool and infra-red sauna, which add even more temptation to stay within the hotel’s luxurious confines. Leaving off city exploration just that little while longer.
Stay: The Thompson Hotel
Where: 550 Wellington Street West
The Gist: Thompson Toronto marks the first international expansion of the U.S.-based Thompson Hotels firm and features the city’s first rooftop pool bar and lounge. Three dining options are on offer and include comfort food at Thompson Diner, Italian cuisine at Scarpetta and Japanese dishes at Wabora Sushi. Stylish use of suede, velvet and wood finishes make for an upscale and modern design aesthetic while exquisite 400 thread count SFERRA linens, marble bathrooms and heated floors impart a solid sense of luxury. Thompson Toronto also features its own movie screen room, a yoga studio and rooftop patio with, dare we say it, the best view of Toronto that one can ask for.
Eat: The Chase
Where: 10 Temperance Street
The Gist: Located on the roof of the heritage structure Dineen Building, this restaurant’s patio gets to be automatically classified as a rooftop one. With space that seats 75 and sweeping views of the Financial Distict, The Chase offers a space that is as modern as can be but without all the pretentiousness that usually goes along with it. Plus, there’s an indoor/outdoor bar that guarantees you’ll never go thirsty.
Work Out: Totum
Where: 445 King Street West
Perks: Bod Pod
The Gist: Create a workout program that will suit the needs of your body using the BOD POD- a unique method used to measure the body’s composition of muscle and fat. The BOD POD measures the volume of air displaced by a person’s body while sitting inside a contained space.
Groom: Town Barber
Where: 1114 Dundas Street West
The Gist: Chris Hammell could be a poster boy for the 21st century barber. At first glance, you might mistake him for a cast member of Sons of Anarchy but his shop Town Barber, a two-seat chop shop in the back room of Lost & Found, a menswear boutique, has an old world aesthetic. You won’t find any spa treatments here, only a good chat, comfortable space and a great cut. This shop is all man. Just like it’s owner.
Stay: The Windsor Arms Hotel
Where: 18 St. Thomas Street
The Gist: A stalwart for classic design and luxury, the Windsor Arms features 28 suites with such features as a Butler service, limestone bathrooms with Molton Brown bath supplies and musical instruments including baby grand pianos, harps and guitars. In contrast to the old-world take on luxury, suite amenities also include iPod docking stations, state-of-the-art sound systems, flat screen TVs and wireless internet access. A must-see venue is The Tea Room, a French-style lobby that has been in operation since 1927.
Work Out: The Yorkville Club
Where: 87 Avenue Road
Perks: Juice Bar Café
The Gist: Most high-end gyms have a standard juice bar, but not like this. Fresh salads, grilled wraps and all-day breakfast make it a lifesaver when you’re pressed for time post workout. If you’re looking for a sweet snack opt for the raw food macaroons and pair it with a robust Illy coffee.
Stay: Fairmont Royal York
Where: 100 Front Street West
The Gist: As one Toronto’s most prestigious hotels, the Fairmont Royal York has had many celebrities as guests and even members of the royal family, including the Queen. Having undergone recent renovations, the hotel looks better than ever but hasn’t lost any of its charm. Common areas are decorated as extravagantly as they were when first opened and rooms continue to look and feel cozy. The Library Bar stays true to the old world charm that has become such a signature of the Fairmont Hotels.
Shop: Garrison Bespoke
Where: 26 Wellington Street East
The Gist: When they’re not on the streets of Pitti or Milan with some of the world’s most sartorially-inclined men, the gents over at Garrison Bespoke are busy handcrafting suits that make men look like a kings. Located in Toronto’s upscale Financial District, Garrison Bespoke offers one-of-a-kind suits tailored perfectly to keep up with a modern man’s active life. Their experts will keep you looking sharp and in style with their impeccable advice and exclusive fabrics sourced from Italy and the UK.
Drink: Mill Street Brewery
Where: Brewery, 55 Mill Street; Brewpub, 21 Tank House Lane
The Gist: Toronto has it good. While Steam Whistle is pumping out premium pilsner on one end of town, is producing a variety of tasty ales down in the old distillery district. They offer Ontario’s first certified organic lager, the Original Organic Lager, an easy drinker with floral aromas and a light palate.
Drink: Proof Vodka & Sky Lounge
Where: 220 Bloor Street West
The Gist: With over 60 types of vodkas to choose from, it’s no wonder why this watering hole is known for its exceptional selection. To top it off they serve their cocktails in a more unconventional format, known as the ‘Ice Ball’, where every martini glass is finished with a large sphere of ice. It’s the perfect outdoor haven (in patio season) that provides an escape from Toronto’s bustling streets. With their designer couches, silk pillows and a Mediterranean-inspired theme, you’ll feel like a true king. And who doesn’t like feeling like royalty?
Drink: Bellwoods Brewery
Where: 124 Ossington Avenue
The Gist: A favourite spot of locals, Bellwoods Brewery (as the name suggests) is a craft brew pub with 130 wood barrels they use to experiment with new flavours and styles. A small menu ensures that all of your ordering prowess goes into which beer you’d like to try. The patio follows the same casual vibe with picnic tables and a wide-open concept into the restaurant.
Shop: Ben Sherman
Where: 734 Queen Street West
The Gist: Modeled after the Ben Sherman Carnaby Street location in London, this Toronto haberdasher is the only Canadian standalone Ben Sherman location in the country. Not only is the interior design quite unique for a menswear shop (Think: 40,000 reclaimed subway tiles on the walls), but the products themselves are laid out in an easy to navigate floor plan. If you have trouble locating The Shirt Bar, you might need glasses.
Shop: Blue Button Shop
Where: 1499 Dundas Street West
The Gist: The Button Shop exudes minimalism – it’s the Japanese way. The store curates some of the latest brands found all over Japan and makes them available in one place for the Canadian consumer. In doing so, Blue Button generously makes country-exclusive brands available elsewhere. While holding a classic range, the shop offers refreshed, unique styles for the adventurous explorer.
Eat: Electric Mud BBQ
Where: 5 Brock Avenue
The Gist: Electric Mud is the younger brother of Parkdale’s popular bourbon and taco joint, Grand Electric. They are the children of co-owners Colin Tooke and Ian McGrenaghan. Electric Mud is about as southern as Grand Electric is Mexican. That is to say you can expect traditional-ish Southern BBQ in a completely untraditional setting. After all, Electric Mud is named after the 1968 psych-rock experimental album by Muddy Waters for a reason. The particle board walls, vintage beer ads, and accessorized taxidermy are all there to show you that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously, but eat well and have a good time.
Where: 317 Dundas Street West
The Gist: This art museum, in Toronto’s Downtown Grange Park district, has a collection that includes more than 80,000 works spanning the 1st century to the present day. From now until mid-May, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s works will be on display featuring close to 85 large-scale paintings and drawings.
Eat: Banh Mi Boys
Where: 392 Queen Street West
The Gist: This specific location serves as a hidden gem for people who work in the area. Banh Mi Boys serves Asian-inspired subs, sandwiches, tacos on steamed buns spiced to order. Plan your meal times a little ahead or behind schedule if you want to visit, the line can usually be found pouring out onto the sidewalk.
Eat: The Good Son
Where: 1096 Queen Street West
The Gist: After you enter through a door that leads to a beautiful pantry and pizza takeaway counter, you’ll be seated at a cozy table with leather wing-back chairs. Popular dishes from Chef Vittorio Colacitti include steak tartare, jerk shrimp and the spicy sopressata pizza. While The Good Son is open early on weekends for brunch, weekdays the restaurant only caters to the night crowd, opening at 5pm for dinner.
Where: 433 Queen Street West
The Gist: New to the central Toronto neighbourhood, J.Lindeberg proves to be a great fit by offering great fashion, tailoring, golf and skiwear to its customers. Their suit collection is expansive and includes all kinds of textures, fabrics and colours to suit any man.
See: Toronto Teams
Where: The Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay Street; The Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way; BMO Field, 170 Princes’ Boulevard
The Gist: There’s always some sort of sporting event happening in the city and while it might not always be our proudest moment (lookin’ at you Leafs) it’s guaranteed to always be exciting. Especially if you’re watching from a stadium seat and not just a bar stool.
See: TIFF Bell Lightbox
Where: 350 King Street West
The Gist: The Toronto International Film Festival headquarters isn’t just a hot spot for red carpets and celebrity sightings. During the rest of the year, the Lightbox shows a multitude of great films and documentaries you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Exhibitions and retrospectives are hosted there every so often with the films of specific auteurs on the screen. The last one celebrated Stanley Kubrick.
Where: 62 Bathurst Street
The Gist: GotStyle is recognized as one of the best Canadian stores for men. Period. GS’s new store is divided into three lifestyles-oriented categories: casual, social and business. All of their suits reflect the modernity of today’s tailoring, so think shorter jackets, trimmer pants and nothing boxy or pleated. They also include brands like SAND, John Varvatos, LAB by Paul Lizeri and Got Style’s own private label, which is available in medium to large builds. Did we mention the spa and a barbershop?
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