A weekend in Toronto
A weekend in Toronto
RPM Total Fitness is where I first got my start in spinning and strength training, so I love going back for a class whenever I’m in town. They’ve since moved from Bloor West Village to the Junction, but the high quality of classes and instructors remains the same. If you’ve never tried a gravity machine before, I recommend it. It’s similar to a mega-reformer and I always find it challenging, no matter how much stronger or fitter I get.
After a tough class at RPM, it is time to refuel. My parents are big fans of the Junction area and always have suggestions of new places to try. My tried and true places are The Beet Cafe (healthy eats, homemade almond milk lattes, smoothies, and more), The Sweet Potato (part grocery-part health food store) and Crema Cafe (great coffee). But honestly there are new places opening up in the area all the time now!
When I was back living in Toronto after university, I spent many weekend mornings in Bloor West Village taking a yoga, spin or gravity class, eating, drinking coffee, and shopping. It’s always a little nostalgic to go back and see some of my favourite spots. I love stocking up on cheap protein powders, bars, nut butters, and more at Foods for Life – the best health food store prices I’ve found.
Friday evening we headed downtown to celebrate my sister’s birthday at Planta, a plant-based restaurant in Yorkville. I’ve often been left disappointed and hungry by fancier plant-based eateries, but Planta totally exceeded my expectations. The entire menu is vegan and many items are gluten-free. While pricier, the food was flavourful, creative, and delicious! The space is beautiful, the service was great and our server was very knowledgeable about the menu and happy to accommodate for any allergies.
We started off with the Cauliflower Tots (filled with truffle parmesan) and incredibly cheesy and gooey dairy-free Queso Dip (served with black beans, pickled vegetables, cashew crema, tortilla chips). The appetizers set the bar high for our main courses to come!
We tried the Habibi Salad (cauliflower cous-cous, split pea fritters, lentils, parsley, mint, coriander, currants, sumac, za’atar, tahini dressing), Lettuce Wraps (kochujang cauliflower & tofu, kimchi, pickled cucumber, toasted nori, peanuts), and a few pizzas (The Frenchie and the Italian Job). Next time, I want to try their Instagram-famous carrot dog! Yes, a hotdog made from carrots.
We finished the meal off with stealing bites of Madie’s birthday dessert: the chocolate peanut butter cream terrarium. Remember the “Worms & Dirt” Swiss Chalet served on their kids menu? Imagine a fancier, tastier, healthier and vegan version of this!
Planta is a few steps away from Yorkville and Hazelton Lanes, home to fancy stores and celebrity and Real Housewives of Toronto sightings. When I was a kid, we actually spent a lot of weekends at Hazelton Lanes. They had all sorts of fun family activities, including a Father-Daughter Fashion Show that we may or may not have been in. Today I go there for window-shopping and the Whole Foods salad bar.
We kicked Saturday morning off with a trip to the Farmer’s Market at the historic Wychwood Barns (former TTC streetcar repair barns turned community cultural hub). I stocked up on ChocoSol, amazing raw chocolate which I can’t find in Vancouver.
Before heading to brunch, we made a stop at Baker and Scone, which I have hereby declared the best place to get scones ever. Seriously, the scones were amazing, lots of unique flavours, and so buttery and delicious.
It was back to the Junction for brunch at Dirty Food. Think elevated diner food with a focus on local, quality organic ingredients. Their roasted potatoes were especially good.
Whenever I’m home, I try and get a few runs in along the trail system in Toronto’s west end. James Gardens, a public botanical garden is lovely on its own. It also connects to several scenic trails that run along the Humber River and up to the Old Mill.
High Park is of course another great place to visit for a long walk, the petting zoo, or the awesome massive playground (don’t tell me that’s just for kids). As Toronto’s largest public park, it’s where I go when I am missing Stanley Park.
I capped a day of adventure off with dinner at Stadt Cafe with my friend Hilary. The restaurant opened up a few months ago. Like many restaurants in the area, Stadt emphasizes the fresh, natural, and local and serves a “globally-inspired and nutritious menu.” The place was empty when we arrived, so I was a little wary but the food turned out to be pretty good.
After a great homemade breakfast at home (my Dad has mastered the oatmeal pancake) it was back to Pearson Airport for my flight to Vancouver. Until next time Toronto!