High City Guide: Toronto

Photo by Erin Leydon

You guys, it’s finally come. Cannabis gets the Canadian government’s seal of approval this week and that means it’s time to do the damn thing: smoke your weed in public. Yep, as of October 17, you can actually consume cannabis anywhere you can smoke a cigarette in Toronto. This time Wednesday, the sweet aroma of burning flower will be wafting through the streets and into the bars and restaurants, the parks will be aglow with little smoking circles bundled to the hilt, and Toronto will be immortalized as the official swagger coach to the rest of the world. And despite the fact that many government sanctioned establishments may not be *quite* open-ready come the big day, the party will (and must!) go on.

Cannabis has been a conspicuous part of the fabric of Canadian identity for as long as we’ve all been alive. But just like much of the US, the plant has been recreationally illegal until this week. Now, as cannabis goes mainstream and money pours into the industry, Toronto has become a real mecca for industry goings on, for cannabis experiences in food and wellness, and for many American cannabis brands to take their businesses public on the stock market.

But what makes Toronto one of our favourite (Canadian spelling) cities goes way beyond any of that. If you’ve paid any attention, you know it’s a hotbed for some of the best music of the past decade—Drake, the Weeknd, Roy Woods, Majid Jordan, PartyNextDoor, and Justin Bieber all hail from "The Six". Toronto’s home to some of the most acclaimed chefs and restaurants, artists who've made names coloring outside every line, green spaces that rival our fave coastal cities, and of course, the star-studded Toronto International Film Festival. And all that makes sense, because Toronto also happens to be one of the most diverse cities in the world: 50 per cent of the population was born outside of the country.

And so, to make sure you get absolutely everything you can possibly get out of your visit to Toronto—or if you’re a local, to make sure you never forget what's in your backyard—we hit up our good buds in bud, the gaggle of cool kids behind one of our fave new cannabis brands, Ace Valley.

These good humans are fixtures on the Toronto scene, having first made a name as the forces behind some of the city's most iconic food and drink establishments of the last decade. They're also the visionaries behind acclaimed Ace Hill Beer and now, with Ace Valley, they've made their foray into cannabis. Their pre-rolls and flower—which launch in Canada this week in two curated strains, Ace Valley Sativa and Ace Valley CBD—focus on simplicity and high quality. All flower is sourced from a premium producer called Flowr out of British Columbia's dreamy Okanagan Valley. And what you get is weed good enough to make even the Californian cannasseur eager to make the trip North. The point is, these guys are *the* line on all the Toronto haps—and have been for a long, long time.

So here it is, the Toronto HIGH CITY GUIDE—complete with the absolute best spots for *all* your lifted exploration.


High City Guide TorontoTruly for the decadent piglet, a meal from Famiglia Baldassare / Photo: Erin Leydon
Bar Raval
  • Where — 505 College St.
  • Good for — Drinks + food
  • Why it’s great — No food journey starts without this Toronto staple. Local celebrity chef Grant Van Gameren mixes internationally-renowned design with amazing Spanish tapas and an enviable cocktail program.
Famiglia Baldassarre
  • Where — 122 Geary Ave
  • Good for — Lunch
  • Why it’s great — In what was his wholesale pasta business and kitchen, chef Leandro Baldassarre opened a 10-seat lunch spot with a menu of only two pastas, changing daily. Service runs 12-2 pm. Pray you’re lucky enough to get in.
  • Where — 163 Spadina Ave
  • What — Dinner
  • Why it’s great — This is a casual french diner that's just right, from the team behind Alo (one of the "World’s 50 Best Restaurants"). They don't take reservations, so go during off-hours or early and put your name down.
  • Where — 1240 Bay St.
  • What — Food + wine'
  • Why it’s great — This place has a rotating seasonal menu by chef-owner Chris White, with a great wine selection and a low-key, cool vibe. If you’re looking for dinner — or the perfect mid-afternoon snack — in the dead zone that is the Yorkville area, this is it.


High City Guide TorontoGreenhouse Juice makes jewels of your juices / Photo: Greenhouse
IQ Food Co.
  • Where — Multiple locations
  • What — Lunch
  • Why it’s great — Started by Alan Bekerman, who's also responsible for the always-excellent music playing, IQ Food Co is a lunch you can get away with eating every damn day. Fresh, seasonal, good.
Greenhouse Juice
  • Where — Multiple locations
  • What — Juice + healthy eats
  • Why it’s great — These guys are the OGs of Toronto’s cold-pressed juice scene. They offer all the classic, healthy bowls, and regularly drop new products.
  • Pro-tip — Their kombucha is best in class.


High City Guide TorontoSam James' "Park Shop" is the epicentre of it all / Photo: Erin Leydon
Midfield Wine Bar
  • Where — 1434 Dundas St. W
  • Good for — Wine + snacks
  • Why it’s great — This Dundas West spot has a great wine selection, super knowledgeable staff, and a vibe to hang with. Ask for some Canadian wine like the Pearl Morrisette from Niagara.
Boxcar Social
  • Where — Multiple locations
  • Good for — Coffee + bar
  • Why it’s great — This spot serves a winning combo of alcohol *and* high quality coffee. The holy grail, as it were.
  • Pro-tip — If you’ve just sparked up and need a snack, their Summerhill location is right next to a delicious pizza joint called Yeah Yeahs (which they also operate).
Sam James Coffee Bar
  • Where — Multiple locations
  • What — Coffee
  • Why it’s great — Locals will tell you that the Sam James "Park Shop" (directly across from Trinity Bellwoods Park) is ground zero for everything cool in Toronto’s west end, but the Harbord Street location is just as special. Great coffee and good vibes. You can’t go wrong.


High City Guide TorontoThoughtful essentials for the modern woman is the Ease motto / Photo: Erin Leydon
Easy Tiger / Ease
  • Where — 1447 Dundas St. W / 1446 Dundas St. W
  • What — Women’s clothing + knick-knacks
  • Why it’s great — These are just two v. cool sister shops, one with knick-knacks and the other with women's clothing and a tattoo parlour out back. "Thoughtful essentials," they say.
VSP Consignment
  • Where — 1410 Dundas St. W
  • What — Vintage clothing
  • Why it’s great — This great consignment shop has a seriously covetable selection of contemporary and classic designer pieces. And, if we're honest, it's better than anything like it we’ve found in New York *or* LA.
Uncle Otis
  • Where — 329 Spadina Ave
  • What — Menswear
  • Why it’s great — These guys are have been the purveyors of personal style since 1991. After roughly a quarter of a decade in Yorkville, Uncle Otis just opened their Chinatown location. They offer a great selection of elevated streetwear, including local and imported brands and cool collabs dropping all the time.


High City Guide TorontoMisfitStudio will get you ripped *and* make you cry (in the best way) / Photo: Erin Leydon
  • Where — 761 Queen St. W / 88 Ossington Ave
  • What — Movement studio
  • Why it’s great — The founder of this place, Amber Joliat, can only be described as a spiritual goddess or an astrological genius whose ability to transport you physically and emotionally is something special. There are two gorge studios, a slew of amazing teachers, a recently launched apparel collab with Fortnight, and a celebrity clientele to truly inspire you to do the work.
Downward Dog
  • Where — 735 Queen St. W
  • What — Yoga studio
  • Why it’s great — This place is an institution. It’s owned by two of the best yoga teachers in the city, both of whom still teach there (Ron and Marla). The most popular classes are by teachers Amica or Sheldon. The music is loud and the yogis are truly impressive. Bring a towel, a competitive spirit, and leave your claustrophobia at the door.
The Quiet Company
  • Where — 511 King St. W
  • What — Meditation studio
  • Why it’s great — This spot might be right in the thick of Toronto’s bustling King West neighbourhood, but step inside and feel your angst wash away immediately. We happen also to know the founder is definitely cannabis-friendly, so keep your eyes peeled for the bi-weekly elevated movement classes and educational Sunday Sessions.


High City Guide TorontoTrinity Bellwoods Park is ground zero for lovers and bud(s) / Photo: Erin Leydon
Trinity Bellwoods
  • Where — Queen W and Strachan Ave
  • What — Park
  • Why it’s great — On a sunny afternoon, this has got to be the highest concentration of young happy babes in any urban green space on earth. Get your blanket, your bud(s), and your cold ones and commence people-watching.
Toronto Island
  • Where — The ferry dock is located between Bay St. and Yonge St. on Queens Quay, but there are also private water taxis that pickup where Spadina Ave meets the water.
  • What — Beaches + parks
  • Why it’s great — This is one of Toronto’s must-see hidden gems. Ferries and water taxis run daily and drop off at different docks on the island. You can take your bike across or just walk, but there's a lot of terrain to cover so make a plan. Pack a picnic, your swim kit, your bocce ball set, and spend the day.


High City Guide Toronto "Colours of the Valley" by Noah Gill of ACE VALLEY at ONLYONEGALLERY / Photo: Erin Leydon
Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Where — 317 Dundas St. W
  • What — Gallery
  • Why it’s great — This place is worth a visit, if only to see the building designed by Frank Ghery. But venture inside, the AGO always has some good shows. Most recently, Yayoi Kusama's ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibit was there.
  • Pro-tip — Head down to Chinatown after (or before) for dim sum.
  • Where — 5 Brock Ave
  • What — Gallery
  • Why it’s great — Tucked in an alleyway in Parkdale, OOG puts on great events and showcases some of the city’s coolest brands and artists. Past events include “Off-White” with Virgil Abloh and NIKE Air Max Day.
MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
  • Where — 158 Sterling Rd.
  • What — Gallery
  • Why it’s great — To much applause, this gallery just re-opened in Toronto’s super hip Junction neighbourhood. It really is an essential on the hit-list for the art lover.


High City Guide TorontoViews from a top-secret Dirt dinner recently
  • Where — TBD
  • What — Private dinner series
  • Why it’s great — This secret dinner experience by founder Sarah Best should not be missed. Dirt brings together a great crowd for intimate hang times and damn good food (always with some special snacks for good measure). The special snack stuff is overseen by chef and dosing expert Michelle Rabin. (Miss Grass partnered on their first dinner and it was, well, a dinner that put the rest of them to shame.)
Charlie's Burger
  • Where — TBD
  • What — Private dinner series
  • Why it’s great — This self-proclaimed “anti-restaurant” has become a staple of Toronto’s killer food scene with a rotating roster of Toronto’s top chefs serving up feasts in the secretest locations. Visit their site and just *try* to get an invite.
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