Welcome to Toronto: History of Science Society Annual Meeting

Downtown Toronto during the day. Roy Thomson Hall is in the foreground. Photo by Benson Kua.

Toronto, Canada, 9-12 November 2017

Toronto is a vibrant, dynamic, walkable city. Those willing to explore will soon see why Toronto was named the world’s most diverse city by a 2016 BBC study, and one of the world’s most livable cities by The Economist in 2015. There are culinary delights, public spaces, cultural spaces, and much, much more. What follows is a short introduction to the environs of our hotel and the city beyond.

The conference hotel is the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel (123 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2M9, Canada), which is across from Nathan Phillips Square, between Bay Street and University Avenue. This centrally located property is connected to the underground and its dozens of places to eat and shop and features the largest indoor/outdoor heated pool in downtown Toronto (don’t forget your bathing suit). There are lots of things to do and see in the vicinity of the Sheraton, with excellent restaurants to be found in every direction.

1. Eating Near the Hotel:

Coffee/Breakfast:

  • Starbucks (Queen and Bay)
  • Tim Hortons (65 Queen St, east of hotel; Richmond, just west of University)
  • Sak’s Food Hall (basement of Hudson’s Bay building, Queen and Yonge)
  • The Senator Restaurant (249 Victoria, south of Dundas) 1940s style diner with vintage decor
  • Fran’s Diner (200 Victoria Street)
  • Le Petit Déjeuner (King East, east of Jarvis)
  • Panera Bread (Yonge, just north of Dundas)

Lunch:

The Eaton Centre Food Court (north end of mall, just south of Dundas) is likely your best option for variety, proximity, and price. Bannock (Queen and Bay) has some grab and go options as well as table service. Sak’s Food Hall (see above) is a good option. If you walk north on University to Dundas Street, and then go east along the south side of Dundas towards Bay, there are a variety of excellent ramen places (Toronto is experiencing a ramen renaissance): best options are Sansotei (worth the wait) and Kenzo. For Korean, there is Kimchi Korea house. Lots of other options along this strip: Middle Eastern, Szechuan, Thai, burgers, etc. If you’re willing to go a bit further, the Village by the Grange at Dundas and McCaul has some good food court options, but they are likely closed on Sundays. The Senator (above) is a nice spot for lunch.

If you walk west on Queen West for 10-15 minutes, past University, you’ll find a number of sushi places and other spots along Queen, east of Spadina. Recommended: The Queen Mother, Me Va Me, The Rivoli, La Carnitas (on John), Hosu Bistro, Café Crêpe, Little India, Pho Vistro, Tohenboku Ramen, Korean Grill House, Banh Mi Boys.

Dinner:

An easy walk from the hotel:

Higher End ($$$$)

  • Canoe (top of TD building, 66 Wellington Street)
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Richmond and University)
  • Nota Bene (Queen, west of University)

Mid-Range ($$$)

  • Bannock (Queen and Bay) Canadian classics
  • The Keg (165 York St)
  • Barberians (Elm St) classic steakhouse with a huge wine list
  • Trattoria Mercatto (north end of Eaton Centre)
  • Momofuku Daishō (University south of Adelaide) upstairs; can reserve set feasts for large groups
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar (University south of Adelaide) excellent ramen!
  • John and Sons Oyster House (Temperance, just west of Bay)
  • Drake One Fifty (York, south of Richmond)
  • VOLOS (York and Richmond) higher end Greek food
  • Terroni (Adelaide west of Victoria) lovely Neapolitan pizza
  • Reds Wine Tavern (Adelaide west of Bay)
  • The Queen and Beaver Public House (Elm, east of Bay, north of Dundas)
  • The Burger’s Priest (Adelaide west of University) reportedly the best burgers in town

Cheaper but Excellent ($$)

  • Sansotei (Dundas between University and Bay)
  • Kenzo (Dundas between University and Bay)
  • Spring Rolls (Dundas and Yonge)
  • Smoke’s Poutinerie (Adelaide, west of University)

Cheaper still but Good ($)

  • Salad King (340 Yonge St. upstairs)

2. Dining Further Afield:

If you’re willing to walk a bit, hail a cab, or Uber it (or use public transit!), here are some areas with excellent dining options and places for cocktails and snacks:

Queen West, King West, and environs

Higher End ($$$$)

  • Lee Restaurant (King and Bathurst) by celebrity chef Susur Lee
  • Le Select Bistro (Wellington, south of King, west of Spadina) a personal favorite

Mid-Range ($$$)

  • The Queen Mother Cafe (208 Queen St W) Asian fusion
  • The Rivoli (334 Queen St W) great for drinks and some interesting veggie options
  • The Rex Hotel (194 Queen St W) beer and excellent live jazz!
  • La Palette (492 Queen St W) French bistro
  • Epicure Cafe (502 Queen St W)

Downtown

  • Sabai Sabai (81 Bloor St E) Thai and Laotian $$
  • El Catrin (18 Tank House Lane) Mexican, Distillery District $$$
  • Lola’s Kitchen (634 Church St) $$-$$$

Vegetarian

  • Fresh (147 Spadina Ave) $$-$$$
  • Saigon Lotus (6 St Andrew, just west of Spadina) $$

Baldwin Street (between Beverley and McCaul)

  • Café la Gaffe (24 Baldwin St) charming French bistro $$$
  • Margaritas (14 Baldwin St) $$
  • Bodega (30 Baldwin St) French $$$

Chinatown/Kensington Market and environs

N.B. Many restaurants in Chinatown and smaller places in Kensington Market do not take credit cards. Kensington market has dozens of excellent, small, reasonably priced takeaway places and food stands along Kensington Street and Augusta Street. Some are only open during the day. Some high points are Seven Lives Tacos (fish tacos); Junior’s Empanadas; Rasta Pasta; Otto’s Berlin Döner.

  • Rol San (323 Spadina Ave) $$
  • Asian Legend (418 Dundas St W) $$
  • Mother’s Dumplings (421 Spadina Ave) $$
  • Dumpling House (328 Spadina Ave) $$
  • Supermarket (Augusta south of College) $$-$$$
  • King’s Café (Augusta) East Asian vegetarian $$
  • Bar Raval (College and Bathurst) top-notch cocktails $$
  • Frank Restaurant (in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Dundas and McCaul); named after Frank Gehry $$$
  • Woodlot (Palmerston, south of College) $$$

Dundas West (west of Bathurst)

  • The Black Hoof (Dundas and Bellwoods) “nose-to-tail” dining $$$
  • La Campagnolo (Dundas and Euclid) Italian $$$
  • Enoteca Sociale (Dundas and Dovercourt) Italian, boasts a cheese cave! $$$
  • The Lockhart (Dundas at Dufferin) and Harry Potter-themed cocktails and tasty tapas
  • The Lakeview (Dundas at Ossington) vintage diner $$

Ossington Avenue between Dundas and Queen

This area has become hip in the last five years, some excellent restaurants along this strip. A short cab ride, or take the 501 streetcar west along Queen to Ossington and walk North. Worth the trip. Recommended:

  • BQM (210 Ossington Ave) burgers $$
  • Union (72 Ossington Ave) excellent locally-sourced meals $$$
  • Pizzeria Libretto (155 University Ave) delicious Neapolitan pizza $$-$$$
  • Salt (225 Ossington Ave) tapas and wine $$$
  • Mamakas Taverna (80 Ossington Ave) gourmet Greek food $$$
  • Rashers (182 Ossington Ave) bacon sandwiches! $

Entertainment District (King, between University and Spadina)

This is the theatre district and most places err on the touristy side, but some great spots such as:

  • Elephant and Castle (212 King St W) pub $$
  • Penelope (225 King St W) lovely Greek food $$$
  • Canteen (280 Spadina Ave) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox $$$

Queen West West (Queen Street, west of Bathurst)

  • Drake Hotel (Queen and Beaconsfield) $$$
  • Gladstone Hotel (Queen and Gladstone) $$$
  • The Beaver Cafe (Queen and Gladstone) $$$
  • Terroni (Queen and Bathurst) $$$
  • The Paddock (Bathurst, south of Queen) $$
  • Poutini’s House of Poutine (Queen and Dovercourt) $
  • Wvrst (King and Bathurst) $$
  • Grand Electric (Queen, west of Dufferin) tacos and a mile-long bourbon list $$
  • For delicious eclairs check out Nugateau, on Queen west of Bathurst

For more on dining in the city, check out the bar and restaurant guides of Toronto Life magazine and NOW magazine.

3. LGBTQ+ Toronto

Toronto is a very LGBTQ-positive city. The historic gay and lesbian district, otherwise known as “The Village,” is on Church Street, north of Carlton and roughly south of Isabella. Notable spots here are:

  • Smith (553 Church St) French and cocktails $$-$$$
  • Spirits (642 Church St) pub with good beer and decent food $$
  • Café California (538 Church St) great patio for people watching $$
  • The Hair of the Dog (425 Church St) north of Carlton $$
  • Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church St) free wifi

But there are now queer-friendly spots all over the city:

  • Wish (3 Charles Street W) $$
  • 7 West (7 Charles Street W) $$
  • The Beaver Cafe (Queen West at Gladstone) great food and cocktails $$$
  • WALYA (996 Queen East at Carlaw) karaoke! $$
  • Lipstick and Dynamite (Queen and Ossington) $
  • The Fountain (Dundas near Dovercourt) $$
  • The Gladstone Hotel (Queen West at Gladstone) historic, wonderfully restored; karaoke and a great restaurant $$

Queen West West boasts several good spots: http://www.queerwest.org/guide2.php

For weekly events: https://www.dailyxtra.com/topic/arts-entertainment

A great LGBTQ+ bar and club list can be found here: http://www.seetorontonow.com/toronto-diversity/bars-and-clubs/ – sm.00009gf3dw13umdoystncxxp0kqry

4. Pubs, Bars, and Watering Holes

  • The Duke of Richmond (Eaton Centre)
  • The Horseshoe Tavern (Queen and Spadina)
  • The Queen and Beaver Public House (Elm between Bay and Yonge)
  • The Elephant and Castle (King west of University)
  • Imperial Pub (Dundas east of Yonge)
  • The Oxley (121 Yorkville)
  • The Three Brewers (Yonge, south of Dundas)
  • The Wheat Sheaf (King and Bathurst) pub food; Toronto’s oldest bar
  • Sweaty Betty’s (Ossington north of Queen)
  • The Wallflower (Dundas east of Lansdowne) a local fave
  • The Communist’s Daughter (Dundas and Ossington)
  • Cameron House (Queen west of Spadina)
  • Prenup Pub (College and Henry)

5. Gems:

For those of you in need of distractions or breaks from sessions, here are some of Toronto’s highlights:

Within easy walking distance of the hotel:

  • BCE Place (181 Bay St)
  • Art Gallery of Ontario and Grange Park (317 Dundas St)
  • Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) (100 McCaul St)
  • Chinatown/Kensington Market
  • Yonge Street (Toronto’s answer to Times Square)

A longer walk:

  • Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
  • Yorkville and Toronto Reference Library
  • University of Toronto downtown campus, including Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (120 St George St)
  • Steam Whistle Brewer/Toronto Railway Museum (255 Bremner Blvd)

Further afield:

  • Ontario Science Centre (770 Don Mills Rd)
  • Aga Khan Museum (77 Wynford Dr)
  • Distillery District
  • St Lawrence Market (93 Front St E)
  • Harbourfront (235 Queens Quay W)
  • Fort York (250 Fort York Blvd)
  • Toronto Islands
  • High Park (873 Bloor St W)

6. Some Useful Information

Tipping: Gratuity is usually included for parties of six or more but it’s best to ask. Standard rate is 15%-20%.

Safety: Toronto is a safe city, but please use common sense.

Weather: November can be chilly in Toronto, similar to Chicago in climate. Be prepared for lots of things—we suggest bringing layers. A winter coat would be advisable.

Transit: The closest subway stop to the Sheraton is Osgoode Station (Queen and University). Local cabs are fairly easy to find. Uber has a presence in Toronto if that’s what you prefer. For public transit (the TTC), it’s easiest to purchase a Presto card and use this to pay. Fare is $3.25 for adults, $2.10 for seniors; or $3 and $2.05 with a Presto card. Children under 12 travel free.

Easiest travel from airport to hotel: take the Union-Pearson Express train from Pearson to Union Station for $9 (with a Presto card) then take the subway (University-Spadina line) north to Osgoode Station. Hotel is a short walk west along Queen. Cabs will be about $50 with tip.

And Don’t Forget: 11 November is Remembrance Day, and downtown Toronto will feature multiple activities to commemorate the occasion. Shops and restaurants will be crowded.