Alexis Korman, Wine Enthusiast Magazine –
Nearly 2.5 million people call Toronto home, and the cosmopolitan city—poised on the northern shore of Lake Ontario—relishes its diversity. From speakeasy-style cocktail bars to upscale restaurants with expansive cellars (chock-full of wines from nearby Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County) to local hot spots highlighting provincial produce, enjoying great food and drink is a way of life in Toronto.
Stays in the Club Level at the opulent Ritz-Carlton in the heart of the financial district offer stellar skyline views with floor-to-ceiling windows, gratis local wines, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Luxury continues in the indoor saltwater pool or at the full-service spa. For dramatically different accommodations, rent a “crash pad” at the hipster-magnet Drake Hotel, located in the trendy West Queen West neighborhood—its rooms are outfitted with original artwork (the hotel employs an art concierge), charcoal hardwood floors and exposed brick. At night, a gallery and concert venue draw a young, stylish crowd.
Get ready to pound the pavement—Toronto is a pedestrian-friendly town. Its underground PATH network (toronto.ca/path) of heated and air-conditioned walkways extends more than 17 miles. Don’t miss Ossington Avenue for cutting-edge art galleries, unique dive bars, coffee shops and tattoo parlors. The Distillery District (once home to the largest distillery in the British Empire) features a wealth of restored Victorian industrial architecture and home-décor shops, like Blackbird Vintage Finds or Distill, starring Canadian-designed goods. Conquer your fear of heights—and take in the views from the 1,815-feet tall CN Tower, the tallest in Canada—its rotating restaurant, 360, holds the record for the highest wine cellar in the world.
Wine & Food:
Perched atop the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, Canoe offers breathtaking views of Toronto and the CN Tower, and serves imaginative Canadian-inflected fare like Alberta lamb and tea-smoked duck breast with wheat berries. Sommelier William Predhomme’s wine list is largely local, highlighting producers in Ontario (popular choices include Stratus Vineyards’s 2007 Stratus White and Henry of Pelham’s NV Cuvée Catherine Rosé). Daily house-made pastas and shareable small plates are the draw at Enoteca Sociale, along with 80 (mostly Italian) wines for under $80 (CAD), an Enomatic system and a cheese cave stocked with Ontario’s finest fromage. Local Kitchen & Wine Bar is just that—a rustic wine bar for locals. It serves an array of Canadian wines from nearby Niagara, and simple but tasty plates like salumi, house-cured anchovies and fresh-pulled mozzarella. For classic cocktails with an edgy twist, don’t miss Black Hoof, where mixologist Jen Agg shakes up drinks like an oak-aged Manhattan and Tea & Sympathy, with Earl Grey-infused gin, Sherry and jasmine bitters. For a true classic, try the Athol Brose at The Harbord Room—this whisky- and oatmeal-based drink can be traced back to the 1400s.
Canada’s thriving metropolis is buzzing over Ontario wines, throwback cocktails and local foods