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August 12, 2009


Assuming you like being smacked around, I recommend visiting the Systema school (Russian martial arts) in Thornhill.

Dates are helpful. You're talking about this coming weekend? Then the film festival is right out, which is probably just as well, because it would be a total time-suck.

You could try the Science of Spying exhibit to see if it sucks.

Some other events.

I haven't been there in decades, so all that springs to mind from personal experience is taking a look at Yonge St and putting extra sugar in your coffee.

Do you like music? Jazz? Reptiles? History? Star Trek In Imax? Theatre? Walks? Art?

If you're out really late, check out the food trucks on Queen St. between Yonge and Bay. Sausage, fries and a helping of poutine for just a few bones.

Interesting, Sasha--the Aikido dojo at which I used to train (Aikido Eastside) had very close ties to the Systema dojo in the same building (Systema NW), and many of the students (and instructors) cross-trained there. I got the impression that Systema was a very close-knit community, so I wonder if there's a connection.


Will be there the night of the 21st of August. Then it's off to a town near Cobourg.

Sausage, fries and a helping of poutine for just a few bones

Now that sounds lovely.

If you were going to Omaha, I would have a couple of good suggestions.

"What/Where is the most fun to be had "

Please define "fun" as that means many things to many people.

I like the Royal York Hotel

Restaurant choices:


Bardi – 56 York Street (near Royal York Hotel) – expensive

Pier 4 – 245 Queens Quay (south of Rogers Center). Not cheap

Canyon Creek – 156 Front Street – good steaks great pecan pie for dessert

Lone Star Texas Grill – 200 Front Street. Chain, mostly mid price Texas fare


Il Fornello – 214 King (about three blocks north of Rogers Center)

Badali’s Joe – 156 Front Street

I don't have fun so I can't help there.

Please define "fun" as that means many things to many people.

True, but I welcome people to offer their interpretation, as I have a roving eye and a lust for new experiences. Love museums, music (all kinds), food, sporting events, etc...

Nocturnal activities should involve alcohol. And should not involve uptight or boring people - no yuppie crowd if possible, as I deal with them enough in my real life.

All else is fair game.

I don't have fun so I can't help there.

Ah, but food is fun isn't it? Thanks Marty.

We've stayed at the Fairmont Royal York, the Westin Harbor Castle, Le Royal Meridien King Edward, and the Delta Chelsea. All are very good; the Delta is more Holiday Inn-ish but ok.

You might try the Bata shoe museum for something new. And the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Food? I like Rodney's Oyster House.

Thanks Jadegold.

I was looking closely at the King Eddy and the Meridien.

If you had to choose, would you have a prefernce?

Food? I like Rodney's Oyster House.

This would make my brother and his fiancee extremely happy (my traveling companions).

Last time I was there was for the North by Northeast Music Festival in summer 2006. My bandmates and there ate at a really good crepe place called Cafe Crepe at Queen St. and John St., right across the street from MuchMusic.

I prefer the King Edward, but barely.

Rodney's is really good--especially if you like raw oysters. They have a great selection of east and west coast varieties.

BTW, the subway and bus systems make it very easy to get around.

depends what you like

If your into craft beers and good (interesting) pub foods (i.e. lambburgers for example) go to C'est What at 67 Front street east - they sometimes have live local music too. Also Rodney's is a good choice if you like seafood and have a lot of money to blow.

Or you can go to one of the neighbourhoods and find a restaurant - try Bloor West or the Beaches (Beach ?)

The City just revamped both its museum (ROM) and its art museum (AGO) both are good.

If your into trains hit the roundhouse, if into history check out fort york

"Garth and Gord and Fiona and Alice" - the classic SCTV sketch about Maritimers heading to the big smoke of Toronto.

Thanks Ed. Beer, pub food and live music are all good. Maybe I'll hit it up for lunch and down the raw bar at Rodney's for dinner. Followed by late night sausage and crepes.

Oh man.

Holy moses, Jadegold:

I meant I was deciding between the King Eddy Meridien and the Le Germain.

I suck.


I'm partial to the Westin Harbour Castle as a place to say. It's right on the harbo[u]rfront, and an easy walk to streetcars/subways.

I'm out of date on the restaurant scene there, but had a very good meal some years ago at Filet of Sole in the theatre district. I agree about the street carts for late-night dining, and Richtree Market (also called "Marche") is an experience -- sort of a mix between a cafeteria and a public market, and they're open until 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

If you manage to be there during the day, the St. Lawrence Market is a sight to behold, but they're closed on Sundays and Mondays. Saturdays are best, because they also have a farmer's market.

It's touristy, but absolutely do the CN Tower, including the extra-charge SkyPod. And if you have time the Casa Loma tour is worth doing. I'd avoid the Royal Ontario Musuem -- my wife and I found it to be pretty stuffy.

Shame it's not hockey season, or you could catch a Leafs game. From a bar. Tickets are nearly impossible to get.

Also, be sure to drink at least one Caesar while you're in town. It's a requirement in Canada, eh?


Rats, it's been removed.

Enjoy Dr Tongue's 3d House of Stewardesses instead.


I don't know if you know this (I apologize if you do) but that SCTV sketch is a parody of a famous cancon movie from the 70's called going down the road. It's worth seeing if you get the chance, and it will make the sketch much more amusing

P.S. Rodney from the Oyster house is from PEI

For 1, check out the Drake Hotel:

Just go exploring! It's really easy to get around and there are some great restaurants around (check out College St. west of the University).

FWIW, Toronto is a hotbed of people who sing music from the Republic of Georgia.

"I like the Royal York Hotel"

Also, incidentally, the site of the second Toronto World Science Fiction Convention, Torcon II, in 1973, and the third, Torcon III, in 2003 (along with, given the increase in size, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre).

Just don't get sick. I hear you have to wait, like, seven years to get your blood pressure checked.

The best place to visit in Toronto is Pearson Airport - to board a plane for Vancouver or Montreal.

If you want a fun, renovated and artsy hotel, definitely The Drake (as Sam recommended above) or The Gladstone, both on Queen West West. There are some exhibits and other events in the Gladstone on that Friday.

You can find other events in paper copies of NOW or Eye Weekly, or visit their linked sites.

Restaurants? Well, what do you like? You can get practically any world cuisine, although our Latin American roster isn't as strong as our Asian or Caribbean options.

If you're on Queen West and want tasty, funky, fast and cheap, there's Bacchus Roti and New York Subway, which is actually a fusion-y burrito place.

Avoid the Delta Chelsea, okay hotel but the bars had all kinds of uptight yuppies (just stayed there this weekend). Royal York is good choice for a hotel. For a meal Fisherman's Wharf on Richmond is pretty good

The best meal I've ever had in a restaurant in North America was at a place called Perigee in Toronto. It's a whole different concept compared to other restaurants, and it's a long meal, but it's worth the time and expense.

Interesting, Sasha--the Aikido dojo at which I used to train (Aikido Eastside) had very close ties to the Systema dojo in the same building (Systema NW), and many of the students (and instructors) cross-trained there. I got the impression that Systema was a very close-knit community, so I wonder if there's a connection.

The Systema community is pretty close knit, since most instructors tend to be only once or twice removed from Vladimir Vassilev, the guy who popularized Systema in North America and teaches out of Toronto. Systema and aikido are very much from the same martial branch if you will, and you'll frequently find Systema folk at the annual AikiExpo.

Mmmm, roti.

Thanks for a chunk of good info Mary L. And now I've got to consider Perigee too. Only one night...le sigh.

Oooh! I totally forgot about Gandhi Roti. I'd give it the edge over Bacchus. You can get more rootsy, islandy rotis in Scarborough or St. Clair West (Albert's!), but that's a bit of a trek.

When I'm aboot to visit Toronto, I usually try to stay at the hoose of a friend.

Hotel: the Royal York, Westin Harbour Castle, or the Four Seasons in Yorkville are all excellent.

Food: the best roti in Toronto isn't Gandhi or Bacchus (although both are good); it's Vena's, which is a dinky little place on Bloor near Lansdowne. Vena's roti is a fusion of West and East Indian styles and is ungodly delicious; be sure to ask for butternut squash if you go. That having been said, Bloor and Lansdowne is not exactly a wild and funky part of town, so only go if you are feeling fanatical about roti.

In terms of other food, you really have to be specific what you'd like to try, because there's two or three really good restaurants of every single type in Toronto. (Yes, even Latin American.)

Stuff to do: Dunno how much time you have in the city given that it's only the one night, but if you're getting in around noonish the Ontario Science Centre is pretty goddamned awesome, as are the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario. If you like hockey, there is always the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"The City just revamped both its museum (ROM) and its art museum (AGO) both are good."

The recent art gallery renovation was done by Frank Gehry (native Toronto architect)- if your party is arty, also consider lunch at the art gallery.

the recent addition to the ROM was done by Liebeskind. If any in your party are interested in ceramics - The Gardiner Museum across the street is an easy add on.
The Bata Shoe museum is two blocks west of the ROM. As a typical Torontonian, I've never visited it but many think it unique

If museums wins out - there are three high quality hotels within a block- eg Four Seasons.

If you were baseball fans - the Angels play the Jays on the 21st(Red Sox on the 20th)- you could stay at the hotel in the stadium- some rooms look out onto the outfield

If it is a nice day -another idea would be to eat at top of CN tower- the last time I did it the food was good- not great- the advantage is make a reservation you get to go up the tower without waiting and when you deduct the price of going up from your meal, makes the meal quite reasonable.

Toronto has a wide variety of cuisine- what kind of food determines where to go: Highly regarded Chinese restaurants; number of highly thought of fairly new restaurants in College and Ossington area- a short street car ride from subway.

A highly thought of restaurant is Canoe-

Royal York has been a Toronto landmark since 1930's -

The Drake and Gladstone that people mentioned are very small recently renovated- interesting for those who like it.

More specific questions, happy to respond from my vast fund of ignorance.

"the Ontario Science Centre is pretty goddamned awesome"

or was 30 years ago. Particularly good hands on science for children. but removed from the downtown core so consumes time getting there and back. I've had both positive and negative responses when I've taken tourists there.

Are you flying in and renting a car?

The Systema community is pretty close knit, since most instructors tend to be only once or twice removed from Vladimir Vassilev, the guy who popularized Systema in North America and teaches out of Toronto.

Truth. Kaizen was trained by him, so that makes sense. :)

Although I find both of their listings systems incredibly frustrating to navigate, you might want to check out Now or Eye to find out who's playing when you're in town.

For food and drink, if pubs are your thing, C'est What is definitely a good place to go, as is the Victory Cafe if you check out the Annex. (The Victory is on Markham St., about a block past Bathurst off Bloor; the food is not as interesting as C'est What and there's no live music, but it's closer to several venues.) If you're out on Queen West, I hear that Oyster Boy also has good oysters, in addition to the best fish and chips I've ever had.

Wow, found some video clips of Systema. I do aikido, and this looks brutal and brutally effective. With a system like this, how do they explain how to do ukemi? Or is it 'figure out a way not to be permanently crippled when I do this to you?'

(Delurking) As a native who has been away for 5 years I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse anymore, but:

I second all the museum suggestions, especially the Gardiner Ceramic and Bata Shoe, which are a bit different but very well-done and interesting.

The Drake and Gladstone, which have been mentioned as places to stay, are also popular watering holes for the hipster set. If your taste in bars runs a bit more earthy, try Ted's Wrecking Yard on College near Bathurst. For a good beer selection, the Esplanada Bier Markt is a good bet, and their food is good too. Pub-wise, as a UofT alum I like the Duke of York and the Bedford Academy, both on Prince Arthur near Bloor and University.

If you are a fan of rock/punk/alt-country music go to the Horseshoe at Queen and Spadina - they almost always have great bands in the back (although there is often a cover). Lee's Palace is another good place to catch a concert, depending on who's playing.

A couple of restaurant suggestions (out of thousands of great choices):
For Portuguese try Bairrada at College and Dovercourt - it looks plain from the street but they have a great patio out back.
For Indian I am partial to Nataraj, at Bloor and Brunswick: their whole Tandoori cauliflower is worth getting just for its looks.
For Greek head to the Danforth (of course), Mezes and Ampeli are good choices out of many.
Also on Danforth is Cafe Brussel, a very nice (if pricey) bistro-type place.
If you want Italian try Grano, near Yonge and Eglinton, and nearby is the original St. Louis', home of the best wings I have tasted!

Finally, check out the Distillery District - until fairly recently a derelict whisky distillery but now a collection of galleries, cafes, and restaurants, as well as home to a fine little microbrewery.

"So I'm Aboot to Go to Toronto..."

First lesson: We don't say 'aboot' in Trawna dearie. That's for the east-coasters. We actually talk a lot like you Yanks.

Best Hotel, bar none: The King Edward on King just east of Yonge St.

Best seafood: Rodney's Oyster House

Best breakfast: Canadian bacon on a bun at the "Carousel" located at the St. Lawrence Market, southside of Front at Jarvis. Coffee's great there too. Stop by Alex Farm at the south wall while you're there - they have the best selection of cheese you'll find, anywhere on the planet. I'd suggest a quarter pound of the unpasteurized Quebec oka for starters -- get some fresh crusty bread to go with it, it's to absolutely die for. There are fresh bakeries all over that building.

Best afternoon: The Art Gallery of Ontario -- world class! and then some. Incredible architecture -- heart-stopping works of art.
Equal (no shit) to the best galleries of Europe.

Best bar for great conversation and low noise:
Again, the bar at the King Edward, right near the front entrance. The martini's are expensive, but holy shit, one's all you'll need. Four ouncers they are -- served in frosty frozen glasses - stirred, not shaken. Ask for three olives.

Have a great trip!

Agree on the Art Gallery of Ontario and the CN tower. The feeling of vertigo and disorientation while standing on the glass floor of the latter was a unique experience.

Wow, found some video clips of Systema. I do aikido, and this looks brutal and brutally effective.

I had the privilege once of watching Kaizen do a randori with a bunch of our senior students and instructors. It was pretty spectacular. He has an economy of movement that is really fun to watch.

I can't speak for how they train you to take ukemi, but from what I've seen in clips and in person I have no doubt you take it a lot. :)

You don't say how you plan to get to Toronto and leave, but assuming you intend to come into the city by car or plane, or leave by train, I'd suggest the Novotel on the Esplanade, a central, reasonably priced hotel.

If you have a few spare hours, I'd suggest dropping by the Royal Ontario Museum (one of the world's great research museums. ROM has one of the world's greatest East Asian collections, covering Korea, Japan and especially China: the Bishop White galleries have (IMHO) about the best collection of Bhuddist murals anywhere. But this year only, ROM has on loan from the Isreali Antiquities Authority the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Other things to see: the parks. For the best experience, rent a bicycle and start at the Martin Goodman Park on the lake, then bike over the Humber Bridge. Also, Toronto City Hall, the only Terran city hall featured as a set in Star Trek: TNG. Take a stroll along the Danforth (Toronto is the second biggest city in Greece) or up Spadina from Dundas to College (Toronto is the hundredth biggest city in Asia). If you like shopping visit Honest Ed's; it gives you an idea of what Walmart would have been like if Sam Walton had had a personality.

For a reasonably priced downtown restaurant, I would recommend the Richtree Market in the Bell Canada Centre. Aside from its location in BCE Place, a builing designed by the world-class architect Santiago Calatrava Valls, it serves good food at a reasonable price. If you want funky, the Victory Cafe on Markham Road near Bloor and Bathurst offers very reasonable prices; in fact, the whole street offers a collection of quirky art galleries and restaurants, all reasonably priced, and all, IMHO, good. Finally, if you want to splurge for an experience you won't get most other places, the Top of Toronto in the CN tower actually offers some pretty good food and a great wine cellar at pattern altitude over Toronto City Centre Airport.

Smokescreen: as a current native and U of T alum, I'm sorry to say that Ted's Wrecking Yard and the Bedford Ballroom are both gone.

I second Nataraj for Indian. And get the pakoras.

I fly in early (very) on the 21st, am not renting a car, and train out mid day on the 22nd.

And thanks all, this is an amazing list to sort through. I'm leaning toward the museums, it's an artsy crowd.

Also, a bit of a pet peeve: It's not "aboot" (or "a hoose"). It's more like "aboat" (and "hoase").

Where I was born, it's just about exactly "aboot". But that was in CONUS, only about 70 miles from the border. A good 500 miles NORTHwest of Toronto, though, so maybe Toronto is a wee bit too close to the Mason-Dixon line to be having an accent like that.

I keed.

Tariqata: I knew about the Ballroom on Bloor shutting down to make way for a condo development, but I'm pretty sure the Academy (around the corner on Prince Arthur) is still there. Drag about Ted's though...

My impression from the time I've spent in BC was that the accent there was not all that different from how we talk 120 miles to the south in Seattle. Toronto is likely another matter entirely and I defer to the knowledge of the locals. :)

Wow, I wrote a long comment out and then browsed back like a fool.
In summary: There's a good martini bar at the top of the Park Hyatt across from the ROM. You can walk south from the ROM or subway it to Queen St (5 min), then walk west to get to the Horseshoe Tavern's area (also the Black Bull Tavern, possibly the best patio in the city). Just west of there is Chinatown, and further west (streetcar distance) is the Drake and Gladstone.
Royal York Hotel is gorgeous on the outside (never stayed there), and is very near the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Richtree and Canyon Creek. It's also only 10 minutes walk from Queen St. A 10-minute walk east will take you to the St. Lawrence Market, C'est What and a nice Quebecois restaurant, Papillon.
Perigee is in the beautiful Distillery District - you should taxi there, as the walk is not that nice (though fairly short).
Have fun!

Lijakaca, in the future you can often recover your post if you browse "forward" again right after hitting back. Note--don't click through again, that will load a new page--hit "forward".

Some of the more sophisticated interfaces on web sites will screw this up, but plain old text boxes in forms will retain their data.

Catsy:"Toronto is likely another matter entirely and I defer to the knowledge of the locals."

Native Torontonians lack an accent. (it is only people from other places who have them) To rectify this deficiency we have invited people from all around the world to come. If we can reach a consensus on a preferred accent maybe we'll adopt one.

This is a surprising interesting CBC documentary on the development of the Canadian accent(s).

Wow, found some video clips of Systema. I do aikido, and this looks brutal and brutally effective. With a system like this, how do they explain how to do ukemi? Or is it 'figure out a way not to be permanently crippled when I do this to you?'

It's a nifty system, more aikijutsu than aikido, but in the same vein.

'figure out a way not to be permanently crippled when I do this to you' is actually somewhat part of the curriculum. :) The idea behind Systema is for each student to eventually discover his or her own unique way to express it. The training consists of "slow sparring" where attacks are given in received slowly but sincerely, allowing both participants to understand and internalize what's happening. Eventually, they can go full speed without a problem.

Training also consists of a lot of relaxation and loosening exercises so students can absorb strikes without (too much) injury. The guys I've trained with don't have a proper school -- we just work outside their warehouse on the asphalt driveway. We learn very quickly how to breakfall without hurting ourselves too badly. :)

we just work outside their warehouse on the asphalt driveway.

I now remember that there was a guy in Eugene who came to our aikido classes, and he must have been doing something similar, cause he brought the wrong gi to class and it had this oil stain on it and I asked and he said that he was also working out somewhere else and were doing breakfalls on the street. I also recall being very thankful for tatami...

Smokescreen: somehow the Academy just isn't the same though. (but it might just be that my crowd was partial to the Ballroom, and we're all grumpy over its disappearance.)

If you're going to stay downtown, I would plan on parking the car and getting a day pass from the TTC (good for the subway, buses and streetcars). Download the Ride Guide (transit map) and plan your movements around that. Cabs are plentiful downtown if you're pressed for time.

The Eddy is a bit off the beaten path, kinda like staying in the business district of New Orleans. You can walk to places, but there's not much going on in the immediate vicinity. The Drake's a better bet, as mentioned already.

Chinatown (start at Spadina/Dundas) is worth seeing, as it's the second largest in North America after San Fransisco's. Ditto for Little India, home to the first Bollywood premier outside India.

I have too many food faves to list. Except one -- since you're going to Coburg, see if you can hit the 5th Wheel truck stop on your way back.

Finally, you might be interested to know that the same bargaining model that gives us superior cost savings for our pharmaceuticals applies elsewhere -- you may want to check out the main LCBO store and its Vintages section -- a very impressive selection of wines at not-too-bad prices (remember that there are sin taxes involved, so it's not outright cheap). :-)


Stay out of the Science Center during the daytime in the summer as it is totally overrun by dozens of daycare and summer camp groups. If you go after 4:00, they have largely cleared out and it is safe again.

Last week, my son and I watched in bemused amazement as a group of children made the transition from peaceful co-operation to Lord of the Flies in about 20 seconds. One minute they were helping each other to assemble a playhouse. Twenty seconds later they were hurling foam bricks and shingles at each other and at the onlookers below the house. It was quite remarkable.

The Science of Spying was entertaining for a ten year old. Not so much for the adults.

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