All posts by Crave Stu

Why Kensington Market is Toronto’s Top Foodie Destination

With its laidback vibe, diversity of cultures, one-of-a-kind and low priced shops, Kensington Market has been a destination for decades.

Diversity is what “The Market” is known for, of course. But lately something special is happening that goes beyond diversity and cheap eats.

An evolution of places to eat in Kensington Market

A culinary evolution that values quality authentic food without the fussiness of high-end restaurants is making Kensington Market Toronto’s #1 foodie destination.

RastaPRasta Pasta quickly became a foodie destination for its cheap and delicious $6 Jerk Chicken meal after opening in 2013

With an influx of new places to eat added to the already vast amount of options, picking just one place and leaving without FOMO is a challenge.

To help you sift through the wealth of options to find your favourite spot, we talked to Kensington owners to get you the inside scoop.

SanCosSan Cosme’s massive Mexican Tortas have quickly become a market favourite  

Grant van Gameren (owner of Bar Raval and Bar Isabel) recently opened El Rey in Kensington because of its unique non-chain gentrification characteristics.

One-of-a-kind bars and eateries

Well equipped to be Toronto’s top cocktail bar this summer, El Rey specializes in mezcal (tequila is a type of mezcal). Whether in a cocktail or a tasting flight, El Rey has an incredibly large collection of mezcals along with a small and refined menu of Mexican inspired dishes. The restaurant itself is small, but its patio doubles the capacity.

ElReyPatiEl Rey’s patio right on Kensington Ave

If there’s one shop that defines Kensington’s foodie scene, it’s the infamous Seven Lives. The taqueria almost always has a line and I’ve met few who have scored one of the 4 inside seats. One bite into a seafood taco, and the inconvenience all makes sense.

Owner Sean Riehl had a plan in 2014 to move Seven Lives to a larger location on Ossington Ave, but he didn’t feel right leaving Kensington, despite the potential for more business. He especially loves the community of businesses; he buys most his fish within Kensington and applauds how shops help each other out. In fact, he has recently opened a Paleteria right across the street from Seven Lives, which means he’ll be staying in Kensington for the long run, so yes, you’ll have to brave the taco line for the foreseeable future.

SevenOutsideThe new Paleteria across the street from Seven Lives Tacos

One of the most striking characteristics of Kensington is the overall quirkiness and novelty of the establishments. That’s what Konrad Droeske co-owner of Otto’s Berlin Doner loves about the market.

Konrad observes that business owners are more adventurous and risk taking in Kensington because of the alternative appeal. He notes that this is what leads to the creative and one-of-a-kind establishments.

OttoOtto’s German street food: Currywurst, halloumi salad, doner, fries with feta

Interesting and novel ideas like Otto’s take on German street food and San Cosme’s Mexican sandwiches is what makes Kensington a destination for foodies.

How to navigate all the choice

Don’t get overwhelmed by the vast amount of options; get lost in them, explore, and find a spot that is unique as Kensington Market itself. Let us know your favourite Kensginton destination by using #CraveKensington

Tacos are Dead, Try these Instead

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but Toronto’s taco party has come to an end.

While we still love the endless possibilities of Toronto’s Taquerias, places like the Anthony Bourdain praised Agave Y Aguacate have closed, the line at Grand Electric has disappeared and Playa Cabana’s new venture was empty on a recent Friday night.

Toronto’s craving for tacos is currently satisfied.

What could follow the great taco craze?

Could it be the sweet n’ spicy empanada? Or perhaps the gluten-free arepa?

Don’t think too hard, the answer is simple as… the sandwich.

Sandwiches? Really?

Yes. Really. But no, not a simple back-to-basics ham and cheese renaissance.

ChefRobChef Rob Bragagnolo puts the final touches on a roast chicken focaccia  

Toronto Chefs have changed the sandwich

Toronto chefs are using the sandwich as a canvas to change what you think a sandwich should be.

Specialized sandwich spots including La Cubana, Flock, Rashers, Caplansky’s and Porchetta & Co have all recently expanded anticipating new demand.

Exciting new sandwich spots are also popping up, and worth the visit.

4 best new Toronto sandwich shops:

4. Torteria San Cosme, 181 Baldwin Street.

SanCosThe massive Yucatan pulled pork sandwich – $10.50

There’s no better symbol for the end of the taco craze than at this Kensington Market Torteria. Why? Because it’s a Mexican restaurant that only sells sandwiches. No Tortillas, just traditional Mexican street style sandwiches. Options include:  Smoked ham, pulled pork, steak, mole chicken and sides like corn on the cob with lime, crema, cheese and chilis.

3. Carver, 101 Peter Street.

Carver

Chef Rob Braganolo (Marben) does two roasted meats: porchetta and chicken. The focus is on using quality ingredients on par with high-end restaurants, but in a fast food format and price. Don’t expect to sit down; there are stand up tables for a quick bite, but most take a fluffy focaccia sandwich to go.

2. Fresh Off The Boat 404 Queen Street West.

FOBFresh and crispy whole softshell crab sandwich – $16

While this seafood sandwich shop will satisfy your craving for classics like lobster rolls and softshell crab sandwiches, they are attracting regulars with The FOB which features battered catfish, kimchi, and chili aioli on a baguette. The clever Asian twist on classic seafood makes this place a Queen West must try.

1. Brock Sandwich, 1260 Bloor Street.  

BrockMenyy

The lineup of sandwiches includes fan favourites like the chicken piri piri, and the new must-try shrimp and squid po boys. This tiny Bloordale spot also features vegan options including a crispy fennel sandwich as well as constantly changing specials such as a Mexican steak sandwich (shown in lead image).

Pick a sandwich shop, and be ready to re-imagine what you think a sandwich should be. Tag your photos #CraveTO so we can like them! 

Your New Summer DJ Playlist

New season, old music. You could check Spotify for the biggest new hits or look at Billboard charts and see Drake at #1, but why not bring a spark to your summer with some bright new DJ tunes from the city you love?

To start that spark, we booked two of Toronto’s most exciting DJs for you to enjoy at our May 27th event.

Jamie Kidd

Jamie

Jamie’s funky deep house music will have you grooving

Partially as a reaction to being steeped in jazz music early on, Toronto producer Jamie Kidd fell in love with the stripped down and primal rhythms of electronic music. Driving rhythms along with heavy bass define his genre-bending sound within Toronto’s house scene.

Jamie tells us his favorite part of Toronto’s music scene is “the diversity of patrons and performers that brings in a wide pallet of musical tastes.” This can also be heard in his music.

Expect good vibes, with a set of funky tunes, and maybe even some disco during his performance at CraveTO on May 27th.

 

Nature of Music

nature of

Nature of Music’s atmospheric house seriously sets a mood

Duo Nature of Music got into electronic music and Toronto’s club scene after they both moved here from Iran in the early 2000s. Not knowing each other previously, Mazi and Kian met at their neighborhood gym.

The duo’s atmospheric sound sets them apart in Toronto’s house scene as they aim to “tell stories through their sets.” Mazi describes their favorite part of Toronto’s scene to be “the rapid change” which is reflected in their unique adaptive sound.

At CraveTO on May 27th they promise to deliver a set of beats that “compliment and enhance the food and drink experience.”

Set the pace for your summer in T.O. and add these DJs to your summer playlist by checking out their SoundCloud pages here:

Jamie Kidd

Nature of Music

Mexican Frozen Treats in Kensington Market

Serving up new twists on classic Mexican and Californian frozen treats, Seven Lives Paleteria is your Kensington Market stop on a sunny day.

Seven Lives Paleteria Kensington Market

Forget the chocolate covered, cookie crusted, marshmallow topped ice cream cone you’ve come to love, and welcome fresh fruit with sweet and sour flavour combinations.

Seven Lives owner Sean Riehl excitedly tells us about his “Mangonadas”. They combine mango soft serve with a fruity, sweet, sour and spicy syrup topped with a tamarind straw for a one-of-a-kind flavour.

best dessert Kensington MarketA “Mangonada” ($5) one of the many frozen treats at Seven Lives Paleteria

There is also a wide selection of paletas (Mexican style popsicles) to accompany you on a stroll through Kensington Market.

Palettas in Toronto

Location: 72 Kensington Ave across the street from Seven Lives Tacos.

Hours: Noon-10pm.