A guide to Toronto’s Kensington Market

By YP Contributor

Kensington Market is arguably the liveliest neighbourhood in the city of Toronto. Whether grabbing a locally roasted coffee, pursuing screen prints at an independent art shop, or admiring the tags in graffiti alley, Kensington Market is a Toronto hotspot not to be missed. [Image credit: iStock.com/Arpad Benedek]

A guide to Toronto’s Kensington Market

Coffee and food

The Market has no shortage of high quality coffee. For in-house roasted beans and delicious jasmine matcha lattes, check out Moonbeam Cafe. Jimmy’s Coffee is the spot to hit if you like your lattes strong and Casa Coffee serves up small to-go cups for only a dollar. If you’re feeling peckish, nab a sopaipilla at the Chilean Jumbo Empanadas or a plate of momos at Tibet Café and Bar. If you’re vegan, you’re amongst friends: Try a salad at Hibiscus Cafe, a cold-pressed juice at Urban Herbivore, or a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese and cinnamon bun at the popular vegan bakery, Bunners.

Shop

Kensington is a hotbed of vintage clothing, niche literature and cute artworks.

  • Courage My Love, established in 1975, sells frocks, handmade jewellery and Mexican Lucha Libre masks. Other vintage emporiums include Exile, Sub Rosa Vintage and Dancing Days (which is particularly good for colourful hippie wares).
  • For funky home goods and odd books drop by Good Egg and if you’re looking for locally made screenprints and cards, try Kids Icarus.
  • Blue Banana Market is a massive building crammed with local vendors selling everything from tarot cards to teapots.

Daytime play

From May to October, traffic is prohibited in certain parts of the neighbourhood, for Pedestrian Sundays. On these days, the Market is more alive than ever with tons of street performances and businesses in the hood offering samples of their tasty fare.

A famed tourist site in Kensington is the Hot-Box Cafe, a cannabis culture cafe with a vapour lounge and “potio” out back.

And for those interested in street art, Graffiti Alley is worth a peek. If you’d like to get more of a historical context, try a City of Toronto walking tour of the area.

Nightlife

Nightlife in the market is both wild and weird:

  • If you are in search of a dance party, bounce on over to The Boat for ‘70s and ‘80s themed nights and their “Funk Off” parties held every second Saturday.
  • Thirsty and Miserable is a reliable watering hole where late-night complaining is permitted.
  • Check out an experimental art show (such as the famous bi-monthly Doored) at the avant-garde (and hard-to-find – it’s down an alleyway), Double Double Land.
  • The Last Temptation is the place for cheap pitchers and pad Thai.
  • Ronnie’s Local 069 is another reliable pub with plenty of outside patio seating.

Whether you are shaking a leg at a local watering hole, trying on vintage deadstock, or meeting new friends over a fresh cup of joe, Kensington Market is always a happening scene -- some might even argue that it is the heartbeat of our huge city.

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