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Neighbourhood Guide: Kensington Market

Kensington Market has become one of the most iconic neighbourhoods in central Toronto. Originally known as the ‘Jewish Market’ the area has long been a landing point for new immigrants to the city, and even though prices are rising, the community here has managed to curb major developmental changes and keep Kensington as an enigmatic cultural mosaic. Come enjoy Latin Street Food, Jamaican specialties, handicrafts, street art, buskers, and vintage. Regardless of your age, this Bohemian gem will delight! 

Click Here for more history on the area. Check out our video to get the vibe, and then explore each stop in our guide below!

But First, Coffee

Fika Cafe Toronto

Fika is a charming on every level, located in a historic home on Kensington Ave. With a light blue exterior, a serene back yard, and chairs flanking the fire place; you’ll want to cozy up and stay a while with coffee and pastries! Fika is a Swedish tradition of taking a moment out of your day to enjoy coffee with friends. We’d suggest the cardamom spiced latte and the kanelbulle (Swedish Spiced Cinnamon Buns)

Modern Japanese cuisine has been blooming in Toronto, and Little Pebbles is a cafe sharing tea and coffee culture from Japan. Enjoy flavours of matcha, earl grey, seasonal fruits and sesame in the baked goods, or order a box of some of the city’s best canelés. If you are looking for something unique try the daifuku mochi and fruit sando with whipped cream. 

Food + Drink

A shop specializing in egg sandwiches, served up with nostalgia-inducing tater-tots. The soft, slightly sweet brioche buns are freshly baked in house, making for top-notch sandwiches. We especially love the Egg Bae Bae with Candied Bacon, Muenster Cheese, and spicy Bae Sauce.

Don’t miss the chicken and egg themed graffiti wall by artist Uber5000 and tongue-in-cheek egg art while you dine. 

Egg Bae Toronto

One of our absolute favourite lunch spots! The harmony of flavours and textures in their Döner is truly remarkable, and having beer on draught makes for a nice afternoon chill-down. We love a mix of chicken and halloumi, but the currywurst on fries is also a treat. Looking for a lighter option? Go for the salad or quinoa box, and still enjoy all your favourite toppings. 

P.S. Press the button in the bathroom. 

Not evident from the name, but this is a Japanese cafe nestled in the heart of Kensington. It’s the perfect place to satisfy your sweet or salty cravings. The Tokyo Omelette served with onigiri, the takoyaki, and Japanese curry are all great for lunch or dinner. However you may get enticed into trying cheesecake or soft-serve wrapped in edible 24K gold! A tradition from Kanazawa city. 

A classic Caribbean bakery in the market. Cheap, tasty, and cheerful. You’ll find Jamaican patties here, but so much more than just spicy beef. Choose from curry chicken, shrimp, jerk pork, salt fish, and more. You can also grab doubles (don’t forget the oxtail gravy) , coco bread, and roti. 

Otto's Berlin Doner
Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos

Perhaps the most iconic taqueria in Toronto, often with a line out the door. This cash only spot serves up Tijuana-style street tacos, and is known for incredible seafood. The Baja Fish is a must, while the grilled octopus, and shrimp a la Diabla are other favourites of ours. Not into seafood? Don’t worry, chicken, pork, beef, and veggie tacos are also on the menu. 

A destination that’s hard to describe. On one hand unassuming, and relaxed, yet with an element of refinement to the service and cuisine. Grey Gardens is locally known for a great wine list, cider, and a secret sake menu all curated by Sommelier Jake Skakun. It’s telling of a new age of dining in Toronto, where guests may not wish to dress up, but they do want indulge their elevated tastes, and enjoy a chef’s creativity.

Sweet Treats

Christopher Siu, a contender on Master Chef Canada opened this bakery to showcase his light-hearted creativity. He is best known for his character macarons decorated like super heroes, characters from Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and even the Raptors team. You will also find adorable cakes, and some warm, gooey cookies that we can’t seem to keep our hands off of. Try the S’mores or Chips n’ Chunks and you won’t be disappointed. 

CXBO Chocolates by Brandon Olsen

Retro decor, bright orange walls, and black-and-white TVs will transport you to another era at Cosmic Treats. Their skill at cooking vegan fare really shines in their baking! Come for their popular brunch and dinner, afternoon coffee and cake, or a scoop of their decadent cashew ice cream on a hot summer day. 

CXBO Chocolates has become an iconic local brand. Their colourful truffles have been featured in magazines, sold at Pusateris and the Drake General Store, and their Disco Egg is featured on the dessert menu at Restaurant La Banane (on Ossington Ave.), which CXBO founders Brandon Olsen and Sarah Keenlyside also own. CXBO features flavour combinations like raspberry rose + fennel, as well as ingredients like sherry and yuzu to excite shoppers eyes, nose, and palates.

A wholesome, colourful place with welcoming staff. Visit here for a cafe lunch of soup, salad, sandwiches, and daily features on their completely vegetarian menu. The star of the show of course, is the selection of pies! Enjoy a slice, or take one to go. The eye-catching rainbow cake is an obvious choice for instagram. 

Wanda's Pie in the Sky Rainbow Cake

Shopping

A screen print studio and retail shop located on Augusta Ave. Decorate your home with their original posters, find the loviest stationary, or get a neat local souvenir. Custom orders for printing are being filled all the time, and it’s really fascinating to see the process from the retail space. 

Kid Icarus Print Shop

Blue Banana is not one store, but a series of small stalls stocked by local artists and vendors all with a central cash out. Got lost in the endless alcoves of gourmet foods, clothes and accessories, cute kitchen-ware, and original crafts. The perfect place to find a gift or souvenir! 

Beer + Nightlife

A micro-brewery offering the neighbourhood with a watering hole and some local pride. Come enjoy their ever-evolving taps, based on flavours of the neighbourhood. Ontario cheese and charcuterie, local whisky, and craft cider are also available. 

Check out their website for upcoming events, or pop in to see the rotating art on display. 

Koi Koi Bar is a cozy spot to taste Japanese Sake, Whisky, and Modern Cocktails. Their menu offers raw, torched, and cooked dishes ranging from Japanese Omu Curry Rice, Crispy Soy Wings, and Hokkaido Scallop. Check out their nightly specials like $10 Sake Jenga on Friday nights to get your party started.

Koi Koi Sake Bar Soy Wings
Kensington Brewing Company

A Mexican restaurant with sophisticated tastes, but a relaxed and lively ambiance. Peruse the lengthy Mezcal List.  Ask the bartender to demystify terms like Espadín and Tobalá, they’ll be happy to indulge! Otherwise settle on a cocktail, and get some grub. The food menu features a selection of tacos, ceviche and other regional Mexican eats, including an incredible tres leches cake!

A true hole-in-the-wall type of bar, where you can drown your sorrows in good company. The focus is on incredible beer. Come in for a quick pint of local draught, or inquire about imports from Belgium, and across the globe. We’re sure that you’ll be impressed but some rare brews, so check in often. 

Places of Interest

Recently given a facelift, this park is perfect for a picnic with all of the goodies you’ve purchased in the market. There is a playground with splash pool, picnic tables, and public washrooms in the centre. Don’t miss the King of Kensington statue, or the views of the Synagogue by the park. 

Kensington Market Map

One Sunday each month from May to October, Kensington Market hosts a Pedestrianized Sunday. Not only can you enjoy the regular vendors mentioned above, but temporary street stalls, and live music add to the party-like atmosphere of the day.               Check the calendar here

Uber5000 Graffiti

The Garden Car is Toronto’s smallest park! It is used as a community garden alongside several plant boxes nearby to cultivate veggies and herbs for the locals who participate. This is the 3rd car since 2007, and is taken care of by Yvonne Bambrick.This instagrammable art piece was originally created by an advocacy group called Streets Are for People.

Graffiti Alley Toronto
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