Enjoy the city’s culinary delights, from street eats to fine dining. Here are some of the options near the conference venue, listed by price range. (For more options, visit NOW Magazine’s guide or download the iPhone app — choose “Downtown” as the neighbourhood.)
This 1950s-style diner at Victoria and Shuter (just across the street from Li Ka Shing) is a Toronto institution. Choose from breakfast platters, “franwiches,” soups, and much more.
You don’t usually hear “food court” and “swanky” together, but the Toronto Eaton Centre has really upped its game with Urban Eatery, which is located on the lower level. This sprawling food court has the usual suspects like McDonald’s and Sbarro, but you’ll also find gems like Amaya the Indian Room, Urban Herbivore (vegetarian), Mucho Burrito, Liberty Noodle, and Big Smoke Burger.
Druxy’s is the place for big salads with lots of stuff in them. It’s also famous (self-reported) for its delicious (verified) deli-style sandwiches. Just walk south on Victoria to Queen Street.
This mom-and-pop diner at Dundas and Mutual is no-frills but friendly. It nails the classics, like breakfast platters, hamburgers, and Reubens, and the prices are a steal.
Cool coffee shops
There are about a dozen Starbucks within walking distance of Li Ka Shing, but if you want a more refined brew, head to Rise Espresso at Dundas and Mutual, Balzac’s on Gould Street (in Ryerson’s Image Arts Building), Panera at Yonge and Gould, or Dineen Coffee Co. on Yonge near Adelaide.
If you’re running late, why not grab a double wheatgrass Sonic Soy with a Warrior booster? Just a three minute walk from the conference venue.
Grab a $3 hot dog from the beloved cart at Ryerson University on Gould Street, or keep an eye out for Toronto’s trendy new food trucks, which offer everything from cupcakes and coffee to smoked-meat sandwiches and poutine (and we love their names: Fidel Gastro’s, Rome’n Chariot, and Mike’s Dog House, to name a few). There’s even an iPhone app to track their locations.
Toronto is crazy for ramen: bowls filled with steaming, salty pork-bone soup, chewy noodles, slices of pork, and assorted toppings. This Japanese comfort food is available at Santouka (Dundas, west of Church), Raijin (Yonge and Gerrard), Kenzo (Dundas west of Bay), and Sansotei (Dundas, west of Chestnut). Lineups are common at Santouka and Sansotei.
The conference venue is just a block away from Toronto’s oldest restaurant. This old-school diner is a popular place to have brunch, lunch, and dinner. The New York Times recently gave the restaurant’s revamped dinner service a rave review.
There’s something for everyone at this fun restaurant, near Yonge and Dundas at the Atrium on Bay. We love the brunch platters, but you’ll also find lunch and dinner fare, plus a menu of health-conscious selections by Rose Reisman. Pickle Barrel also offers a gluten-free menu.
Head south on Church Street to find this beautiful gem of a restaurant, with its enticing flavours, extensive menu, and efficient service. Go for the lunch specials — the portions are generous, and the priciest option is still under $11.
This Japanese restaurant on Adelaide, just west of Church Street, stands out among Toronto’s many sushi joints because of its Robata Bar, or grill, but you can also enjoy sushi, hot pots, and more.
Casual French dining, about a 10-minute walk from the conference venue. Enjoy classics such as French onion soup and Crêpes Bretonnes, plus steak, duck, seafood, and pasta dishes.
Enjoy the Moroccan cuisine, the exotic décor, and (awesome!) entertainment from belly dancers.
The food and wine are simply divine at La Bettola, located at Victoria and Adelaide (south of the conference venue). Dine on antipasti, salads, pizzas, and more.
This (literal) underground hot spot on Wellington, west of Church Street, is a modern bistro with creative dishes like lobster and prawn spaghettini in cognac and chive sauce, and truffled goat cheese poutine with seared foie gras.
And in case you enjoy the Toronto fare just a bit too much, we’ve got your workout needs covered. Check out these nearby gyms to keep your abs tight and your heart pumping.
The Yoga Sanctuary. This popular yoga studio is a few blocks north on Yonge Street. The 10-minute walk is a nice warm-up before you land at this ultra-zen, third-floor studio. (Do you need yoga pants? Stop at Winners across the street, on College.) Drop-in sessions are $18. When’s savasana? Directions.
The Yoga Lounge. This studio at 103 Church Street, just a few blocks south of the conference venue, specializes in tension-melting hot yoga. Enjoy the spa-like atmosphere and emerge totally relaxed. Drop-in classes are $20. Directions.
GoodLife Fitness. If you prefer a classic workout with treadmills and weight machines, GoodLife is the chain of choice across the city. Directions. (Shortcut: cut through Toronto Eaton Centre to avoid exerting yourself on your way to the gym.) There’s another massive GoodLife at Yonge and Dundas, and another on Yonge just south of Richmond. All locations offer group classes.