Living in suburbs about an hour outside of Toronto means I visit it quite often. Whether it’s work, play or to root on my favourite sports teams, my trips to Toronto are a straight line from home to place of interest. I input the coordinates in my GPS and usually arrive within 5 km of my location (give or take traffic, detours, or poor direction following). I don’t explore, I don’t deviate from my destination and sadly, don’t see the hidden beauty of my city.
I have many friends who live or have lived downtown and rant about the hidden gems. Normally, I look at them crazy and tend to stick to the big box stores of the suburbs. When the Food Nook Tours (along time friend) approached me and told me she was giving personal tours of her neighbour, Roncesvalles Ave, complete with history, specialty shops and tasty samples, I thought it was time that I stepped out of my comfort zone and checked out a new area of Toronto
Food Nook Tours began with a love affair of her neighbourhood. Being a single woman in Toronto, she spent much of her free time visiting local shops and restaurants in her backyard. The business became friends and she was unofficially giving tours to friends and family members. After awhile she realized there were many suburbanites, like myself, who never ventured out passed the commercial sites in the city, thus missing these amazing shops!
Explore Roncesvalles Ave Like you never have before!
If you don’t know Roncesvalles, it is a beautiful neighbourhood, often called a hidden gem…or as we like to say a nook. Roncesvalles Avenue is always bustling and has a bevvy of fun stores to explore from clothing shops to used book stores and even an apothecary herbal dispensary.
Food nooks theory is life is too short and you should always Eat Dessert first! The Chocolateria was opened in 2010 by a corporate lawyer when was tired of the fast paced life of law and wanted to own a business that was fun and recession proof! You can’t go wrong with chocolate!! Everything is freshly made in house and you can find unique flavours from chocolate cover potato chips, chocolate filled with bacon bits and my kid’s favourite, chocolate with pop rocks in it! The chocolate was fresh, high quality and mouth watering!!
Looking for a place to chill and fill up on delicious baked goods? Then Fantail is the place to be! This bakery cafe is one of the newest kids on the block but it is a welcome addition! An Australian family affair, this bakery features a complete line up of vegetarian friendly treats that are as satisfying for your eyes as your belly!! It is great place to hang out with friends, fill up on delicious food and enjoy a zen atmosphere.
Need a present for that hard to buy for person? Have a recipe that calls for a spice that just can’t be found? Looking for those unique tools to make your job in the kitchen easier then the Mercantile shop on Roncy is the perfect shop for you. This store is a hidden goldmine of all things culinary. Unique treats, must have spices and an old friend or two can often be found on these shelves. A store not to be missed.
If it’s a taste of the sea that you fancy, De La Mer in Roncesvalles is the place to go!! Unlike your traditional fish market that is loud, chaotic and fishy smelling, the store offers a classier way to buy fish! Their goal is to offer a large selection of organic, naturally raised, sustainably caught, and farmed fresh seafood and fish options. With excellent knowledge of their product, how to prepare it and the best ways to serve they offer tips for the best meal from under the sea!
The last stop on the tour was a smashing success. The front of the shop offered fresh, prepared meats that were mostly gluten free (happy dance!). Things from pulled pork to steaks, they offer everything you need to throw the perfect summer BBQ. If you are looking for someone else to do the cooking, they offer a bar and full menu options. Chicken wings with a wide variety of sauce and shakes and smoked olives are a few of my favourite dishes!!
If you want to expand your Toronto knowledge and see what the Roncevalles Ave neighbourhood has to offer, I highly recommend you give food Nook Tours a try!
To book your own tour, visit the Food Nook Tour Website or contact Owner & Lead Tour Guide, Bria Weaver, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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