There’s a stretch of restaurants and bars on the south side of King Street, west of John Street, here in Toronto, that I generally try and avoid. I won’t name names, but if you’re from Toronto, you know what I’m talking about. With all due respect to the business owners, I think of this stretch as tourist row. All cities have them. Usually the identifying marker is a human on the street with a menu trying to entice you to come inside and eat. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I can appreciate good street hustle.
But whenever I’m traveling and trying to find a place to eat, I’ll often think to myself, “Oh man, is this the (insert city name here) equivalent of tourist row? I see people on the street with menus in their hands. Could be.” This is one of the reasons why I like Time Out’s recent “definitive list of the planet’s cultural and culinary hotspots.” They surveyed over 27,000 city dwellers in order to figure out where locals actually want to hang out. The result is the 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world.
I am somewhat embarrassed to say that, I think, I’ve only been to 6 of them. I have work to do. But Toronto does make the list — once — and it is none other than the Junction. Their recommendations, here. However, one thing they did miss was the Union Pearson Express. That is the way to get to the Junction from Union Station and it is, clearly, still under the radar for most. The number one spot on their list goes to Arroios in Lisbon, which is actually beside where I stayed when I was there this summer. Damn that city is cool.
For the full list of neighborhoods, click here.
Full disclosure: I am not a neutral observer. We are developing in the Junction. And I am moving to the Junction (and trying to pretend to be cool).