Written by Contributor, Samantha Tess
This past summer I left the country for the very first time as my boyfriend and I took our first vacation together to Toronto. Although my passport pages are still crisp and remain stampless (I’m still bitter about that), the trip was incredible.
My fascination with Toronto began in 2012 when I saw the city featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘The Layover’. The friendly Canadian culture and diverse cuisine shown in the documentary are exactly what you get when you visit Toronto in real life.
I’m big on eating like a local while traveling. Yelp is a good starting point, but trust the locals when you start to get hungry. Especially when in Canada. Canadians are the nicest people you’ll ever meet and will not steer you wrong.
My favorite hidden eateries as suggested by the locals:
Smoke’s Poutinerie — Standard poutine, but it’s a chain with a location in Philadelphia for the cravings you’ll get afterwards.
Sassafraz — A go-to for an upscale dining experience al fresco in the Yorkville Village section of Toronto.
Sneaky Dee’s — The BEST nachos in the world as stressed by an expatriate Texan with Mexican roots.
Betty’s — A hole in the wall specializing in bar food and boasting a cease and desist letter from the Betty Ford Clinic.
Wvrst — Try rabbit, kangaroo, or play it safe with just plain beef sausage. Don’t leave here without getting the duck fat fries and truffle dipping sauce.
The Dime on Queen — A punk rock establishment where every menu item is $5. Enough said.
When it comes to finding things to do in Toronto, look no further than a CityPass. Admission tickets to the famed CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Center, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and other attractions are bundled together for a great price. CityPass made our lives so much easier when it came to the trip’s itinerary. We opted for one meal out a day and one attraction a day.
Quite frankly, Toronto felt like a home away from home. It has the perfect amount of grit mixed with a small city feel similar to Philadelphia. The biggest difference? Torontonians form a single file line at the bus stop rather than a chaotic cluster. Don’t sleep on this unassuming, very friendly destination for your next trip.