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QUOTED: Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, on Toronto’s nightlife

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. (Image: Denis Coderre/Facebook)

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. (Image: Denis Coderre/Facebook)

“There is a nightlife in Montreal. The only reason there is one in Toronto is because there’s a half a million Montrealers who have moved there.”

Denis Coderre, mocking Toronto’s 2 a.m. last call during his announcement of a pilot project that will allow bars on two Montreal streets to serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m. The notion of extending Toronto’s last call to 4 a.m. has been floated from time to time. Here’s what 2014’s crop of mayoral candidates have had to say on the matter.

The Dish

Drinks

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Should Toronto have a 4 a.m. last call? These people certainly think so

The term “world-class city” gets thrown around a lot these days—especially in Toronto, which seems haunted by it—but it tends to mean different things to different people. For a group of scrappy fun-lovers that have started a campaign called Extend Last Call T.O., being world class amounts to one thing: extending last call to 4 a.m.

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The Informer

Features

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Best of the City: our indispensable list of all that’s excellent in 2013

Best of the City 2013

City hall is a circus, our roads are chronically clogged and the Stanley Cup continues to elude us, but our economy is booming like never before. By almost every measure—condos, five-star hotels, restaurants, population—we’re seriously flush, and the competition for our cash is heating up. There’s a dish for every craving, a service for every crisis, a product for every whim. Restaurateurs one-up each other with 20-course tasting menus and foie gras everything. Clusters of new boutiques have materialized in the Distillery District and the west end, selling rare Japanese labels and ethical selvage denim. Facialists treat our skin with diamonds and sapphires, and our malls have received makeovers befitting Versailles. We want for nothing—except maybe a little guidance on what to do with all that expendable income. The following pages comprise the absolute best of dining, drinking, shopping, pampering and carousing in the city—an exhaustive guide to all the things you never knew you needed.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The city clamps down on the Parkdale party scene with a new Queen West restaurant cap

Parkdale

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Over the last five years, the stretch of Queen West between Dufferin and Roncesvalles, once known for drugs and prostitution, has become a lively late-night destination with new bars and restaurants drawing crowds from all over the city. The proliferation of booze and trendy food has earned the strip the nickname “Partydale” and with it the ire of city councillor Gord Perks, who’s been lobbying for over a year to put a cap on new restaurants, which he blames for rising noise levels, carousing drunks and unruly swarms of young people “who wear hip clothes”. Last Friday, city council responded with a by-law that divides the Queen West strip into quadrants and restricts new restaurants from opening in any quarter where they’ll account for more than one in four businesses. The move, which comes on the heels of similar initiatives in Kensington Market and Trinity Bellwoods, has provoked predictably indignant responses with some critics even grumbling about a war on hipsters. [The Globe and Mail]

The Dish

Restaurants

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Adam Vaughan proposes a Parkdale-style bar ban on Kensington Market

Adam Vaughan

(Image: BriYYZ)

Once quaint and charmingly grungy Kensington is rapidly gentrifying. New gourmet food shops, including Thomas Lavers, Hooked and the refurbished Sanagan’s, are bringing in an artisanal ethos; new indie coffee houses are popping up alongside neighbourhood spots; and trendy new bars and restaurants, like Via Mercanti, Thirsty and Miserable and Cold Tea, are bringing with them a boozy evening social scene that’s troubling residents, and Adam Vaughan. His objection: the influx of watering holes could drive up rents and force out the market’s mom-and-pop food stands. The city councillor is currently advocating for a staff report on the feasibility of restricting the number of new food-and-drink spaces, something similar to the restaurant moratorium in Parkdale, which could soon become permanent. Of course, Vaughan had to make the point with his standard rhetorical swagger: he equated evil bars to evil Walmart and dubbed the transforming market the “Kensington Entertainment District.” [CBC]

The Dish

Restaurants

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Five exclusive Toronto spots ideal for landing a top-notch client

Toronto Life Eating and Drinking 2013: Power Bars

(Image: George Pimentel Photography)


1. Soho House

Just getting inside this new private members’ club is sure to impress the person on the other end of your handshake. A corner table is the ideal spot for clandestine negotiations over a couple of Soho Mules ($12), made with vodka, lime juice, ginger syrup and soda. 192 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-7646.

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The Dish

Closings

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Queen East bar The Avro is closing in April

Avro owners Bruce Dawson and Rachel Conduit (Image: Courtesy The Avro)

Riverside’s The Avro is shutting down after three years on the strip, following a request from its landlord for double the rent. In a farewell note on the bar’s website (complete with a ticking countdown clock), the owners reminisce about the comedy shows, indie film shoots and video game tournaments they hosted, and, naturally, draw comparisons to the demise of the place’s famous namesake. The Avro’s last service will be on April 26, and as promised, there are no plans to reopen at a new location. [The Avro]

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Northwood, a new Christie Pits café and cocktail bar

Introducing: Northwood

Name: Northwood
Neighbourhood: Christie Pits
Contact info: 815 Bloor St. W., Facebook page,  @NorthwoodBloor
Owners: Richard Pope (co-owner of Mr. Pong’s) and Andrea Reynolds

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Hitch, a cozy new Leslieville bar named for an irascible literary gadfly

Introducing: Hitch

Name: Hitch (yes, after writer and noted drinker Christopher Hitchens)
Neighborhood: Leslieville
Contact info: 1216 Queen St. E., 647-351-7781, facebook.com/HitchLimited, @hitchlimited
Owner: Douglas Tiller, co-owner of Mercury Espresso

The drinks: A small selection of classic cocktails, like old fashioneds ($11.50) and manhattans, ($11.50), as well as craft beer (Duggan’s, Beau’s, Mill St.), wine and a wide range of bourbon.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Five spicy, soul-warming Toronto cocktails to lure you out of hibernation

Winter Cocktails


These Toronto cocktails, loaded with spices, fruits and syrups, are perfectly calibrated to take the edge off a cold, dreary February.

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The Informer

Features

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Memoir: when I moved away from my overprotective parents at age 17, I was primed for trouble

Memoir: I spent my teen years willingly obeying my conservative, overprotective parents. When I left home to attend university at 17, I was primed for troubleI grew up in sleepy, suburban Calgary. My parents are conservative, first-generation immigrants from India—hovering, hyper-vigilant, you-can’t-go-to-the-mall-without-me parents. I spent my teen years obeying the rules; recklessness was something I always admired in my classmates but never dared myself. I didn’t have a sip of alcohol until my last semester of high school, and my parents never even bothered to give me a curfew. I was always home.

At 17, I was accepted into the journalism program at Ryerson University, a school with enough legitimacy that my parents were okay with letting me move to a faraway city unsupervised. For me, it meant an opportunity to finally rebel. And yet, when I arrived at Ryerson, I mostly kept to myself. I got into a relationship with the first boy who looked at me twice and rarely left his side. I called my parents once, sometimes twice a day.

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The Informer

Features

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Year in Review: Read all of Toronto Life’s cover stories from the past 12 months

In the past year, Toronto Life rated the city’s best new restaurants, talked to Rob Ford’s inner circle and examined crumbling condo towers. We got the lowdown on bidding wars, ranked the city’s VIPs and, of course, came up with a raft of reasons to love Toronto. Below, the full list of the year’s cover stories, and where to find them online.

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The Dish

Openings

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Year in Review: all 161 new restaurants, bars, food shops and food trucks we covered in 2012

When historians of Toronto’s food scene (should they ever exist) look back on 2012, they’ll wonder how so many new restaurants, bars and food shops could possibly open in 12 short months. The incomers colonized new retails strips, filled in the gaps in existing ones, and, in the case of Roncesvalles, revivified a neighbourhood that had lived through a particularly painful two years of construction. For dedicated diners (and humble food editors), it was equal parts thrilling and stressful to keep up with it all. Below, the 161 new places we Introduced in 2012:

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Sabai Sabai, a new Northern Thai restaurant and bar on Church

Introducing: Sabai Sabai

(Image: Renée Suen)

Sabai Sabai is a new Thai spot just south of Ryerson from first-time restaurateurs Jason Jiang and Seng Luong, who’ve partnered with Jeff and Nuit Regular of Khao San Road and Sukhothai fame. The restaurant’s name translates roughly to “Everything’s chill,” which more or less sums up the relaxed vibe the owners are trying to cultivate. The room evokes Thai bars of the 1930s, with vintage prints and collages plastered all over the smoky blue walls and Southeast Asian cocktails dispensed from the long blond wood bar. Nuit Regular presides in the kitchen, where she cooks some of her favourite casual Northern Thai comfort foods not offered at her other restaurants.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Archive, a casual new wine bar on Dundas West

Introducing: Archive

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Unlike the tony wine bars of yore, which targeted the suits-and-heels crowd, Archive, which opened last month, is situated on the more dressed-down strip of Dundas West that’s home to The Black Hoof and Saving Grace (the bar’s next-door neighbour). The owners, brothers Joel and Josh Corea (Pizzeria Libretto, Ortolan), took over the exposed brick–clad space formerly home to vintage shop Apt. 909, and outfitted it with custom banquettes and high school science lab stools as well as a series of wine maps and charts, to create what they hope will become a cozy after-work destination.

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