A guide to Toronto’s Distillery District

by Parisima Baha

Grab your camera and wallet because we’re about to take you on a tour of Toronto’s historic 1832 site. With 47 Victorian buildings housing some of the craftiest businesses in the 6, there’s a lot to see, do and buy in the Distillery. [Image credit: iStock.com/Sisoje]

A guide to Toronto’s Distillery District

1. Where to eat

First things first: coffee. Enjoy a creamy organic latte at Balzac’s two-storey Grand Parisian café that’s so beautiful it’s been chosen as a wedding venue. Or, have an Italian espresso or glass of wine inside Caffe Furbo as you admire the abstract art on the walls. Plus, nothing is quite as sweet as grabbing a bouquet of flowers in the morning to go with your cup of joe. For that, you can head to Arvo Coffee, which shares the same space as florist DeLight.

Evening picks include the shareable tapas and tacos at Mexican restaurant El Catrin. They’ve also got a fun list of cocktails (ask for the bulldog if you’re a beer drinker) and a heated patio sending all sorts of fiesta vibes. Other dining options include creative sushi at Boku and French cuisine with an uber-classy Parisian interior to match at Cluny Bistro. Finish off your feast and satisfy all your chocolate cravings with dessert at Cacao 70, or head over to Greg’s for some of Toronto’s most famous all-natural ice cream.

2. Where to shop

If you’re looking for stylish one-of-a-kind pieces to elevate your wardrobe or home, you’ve come to the right place. Get Paris-inspired clothing at Cop Copine or designer men’s and women’s wear at Gotstyle. If you’re a new mother or father, you’ll definitely have to stop by Mini Mioche for cute eco-friendly baby and kids clothes, including skincare, toys, accessories and more. Shop for a pair of art-deco shoes at John Fluevog, the designer behind Air Canada Rouge’s flight attendants’ footwear. Bedazzle yourself in jewellery handpicked by celeb stylist Annie Jagger at Gilding The Lily, where you can also find gems for your home and gifts like candles, books and vintage finds. For more unique finds, Bergo Designs has all sorts of holiday decor, household items and gifts from luxury watches to funny mugs. For antique home decor and nostalgic Christmas ornaments, head to Blackbird Vintage Finds.

Other must-visit shops include Soma Chocolatemaker, which received several recognitions at the International Chocolate Awards in 2015. Along with delicious flavoured chocolates and truffles, they offer creamy gelato and hot chocolate. Plus, they provide custom services like corporate gifts and wedding flavours.

3. Things to do

The Distillery District is filled with culture and entertainment to keep you busy. Dance the night away to live DJ hits at Stirling Room. Catch a live theatre show or cabaret at Soulpepper. Feeling classy? Head to Tapestry Opera for a live musical performance. For some quiet enjoyment, check out the contemporary art works of Canadian and international artists at Arta Gallery, the sculptures of Quebec artists at Thompson Landry Gallery, or contemporary paintings and vintage photography at Corkin Gallery.

There are also events throughout the year that warrant a visit to Toronto’s Distillery. During the summer, it hosts the Sunday Market, where you can shop local artisan foods like maple syrup, cheese and empanadas. Starting in June, the Music City Summer Series is on, where Canadian artists perform outside. And, of course, you can’t miss the Toronto Christmas Market. Starting mid-November each year, the Distillery District turns into a winter wonderland with festive entertainment and tasty food vendors.

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