Following our 24-hour guides to Berlin and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, we head north to the Yorkville area of Toronto.
While the perimeters of most Toronto neighborhoods tightrope between ambiguous and nonexistent, the markers of the eminent Yorkville area are as clean cut as locals who lunch there. Geographically speaking, this is once you’ve crossed Davenport Road from the north or Bloor Street from the south. Sartorially speaking. this is when the local dogs are dressed better than you. Truth be told, the former crème de la crème of the 6 has been living in the shadows of more southern locals ever since Vogue named West Queen West the second coolest neighborhood in the world.
Fact is, as the third most expensive retail space in North America, Yorkville is the place to be if high-class vibes are what you’re after. On the mink mile, entire museums are dedicated to footwear. It’s the place where the first five-star hotel in Canada calls home. With its timeless charm and luxury offerings, it’s about time we pay homage to the original crown jewel of Toronto. Thus, here is your complete Highsnobiety-approved guide to 24 hours in Yorkville, Toronto. Consider this your invitation to roll out the red, indulge. Be fancy, huh?
Hotel: The Hazelton Hotel
118 Yorkville Ave
Toronto, ON M5R 1C4
Don’t be fooled – in Yorkville the last call doesn’t have to mean the last of the lavishness. Turn down in the grandeur The Hazelton Hotel. Offering 62 spacious rooms and the highest degree of service, a night in the city’s first true luxury hotel is an experience in itself. Blending the sophistication of good design with practical perks (think sustainable practices and a pet-friendly policy) it’s the ultimate hangout of those treat-yourself trips. With that in mind, the in-house spa does wonders for releasing stress and toxins. Naturally, a morning of revitalizing and rejuvenating is the Yorkville way.
Morning Juice: The Good Press
87 Yorkville Ave
Toronto, ON M5R 1C1
If you’re going for the bonafide Yorkville experience, start by swapping out your morning coffee for a cold-pressed juice. Located North of the Mink Mile on Yorkville Ave., The Good Press is a beacon of health and nutrition for yoga-bound locals and tourists alike. Boasting quality, fresh, and organic ingredients (at authentic Yorkville prices) there’s no better place to fuel up for the all the luxury (window) shopping ahead. Made-to-order smoothies, salads, and açai bowls with organic granola and fresh fruit are also on the menu. And if you absolutely need that caffeine boost, the Cashew Latte’s got you covered.
Sight-Seeing: Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1W7
On that organic good good, you can kick it down the street for some high-class sightseeing. Anchored by luxury shops and street style for miles, it’s no surprise that Yorkville plays stomping grounds to the only museum in North America dedicated solely to footwear. Offering four exhibits year round, three of which are limited-time must-sees, The Bata Shoe Museum is a crash course in footwear throughout the ages. And appropriately so; with Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton down the road, there’s no better time to brush up on your footwear expertise. Past exhibits include Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture, otherwise known as a sneaker head’s paradise.
Also try: Royal Ontario Museum
Lunch: Black Camel
4 Crescent Road
Toronto, ON M4W 1S9
By the time lunch hour rolls in, you best believe they’ll be nothing less than (arguably) the best sandwich in town. It’s so good we’ll even venture a block out of the Yorkville hood for it. Steps from the Rosedale subway station, you might miss the Black Camel if it didn’t have so much clout in the sandwich game. Truth be told, the joint has completely sold out of sammies so many times that they’ve taken to Twitter to warm hungry patrons of their supply status. With tweets like “We now have five buns remaining” it’s a hungry local’s play-by-play to navigating lunchtime in Yorkville. Their Pulled BBQ Pork is a cult fave – it’s veggie counterpart being the Roma Tomato, Red Pepper, Arugula, & Eggplant.
Also check out: The Oxley, Holt’s Café, Asuka Japanese Restaurant
Park: Village of Yorkville Park
All-star sandwich in tow, we recommend you park yourself in Yorkville’s famed green space for some top-of-the-line people watching. Tucked just south of Cumberland Street, the Village of Yorkville Park wins at design, innovation, and all-around stylishness. Real talk: the green patch boast three awards and a fan set of the best-dressed park goers this side of the boarder. Covered in flora and fauna, the park is a state-of the art ecological masterpiece.
Blending inner city concrete with exotic plants, the park’s mélange of foliage is a nod to the diversity of the Canadian landscape. Walkways to conjoining pedestrian paths divide the space into a series of gardens. These divisions also mark where Victorian houses used to sit when the village was first founded. Finally, to conclude your history lesson, the park is built over a preexisting parking lot, creating a green space Joni Mitchell would be proud of.
Also check out: Ramsden Park
Coffee: Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
789 Yonge St.
Toronto, ON M4W 2G8
Keep it 100 on your excursion through Yorkville with an afternoon pick-me-up from Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. A shout out to the French novelist and notorious coffee aficionado, Honoré de Balzac, the shop counts nine unique locations from Liberty Village to the Distillery District. Fittingly so, their Yonge Street haunt sits tucked inside the Toronto Reference Library. Drawing inspiration from the Slow Food Movement and traditional European technique, Balzac’s micro roasts 100% Arabica beans by hand in 20-pound batches. Choose from a range of pale, amber, stout, or marble roasts to take home. You might as well sample the dessert while you’re at it…
Also check out: Seven Grams Espresso Bar, Bru Espresso Bar, Aroma Espresso Bar
Shopping: Uncle Otis
26 Bellair St.
Toronto, ON M5R 2C7
Next, head west to hit the racks. Dubbed the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world by Fortune magazine (2008), the Mink Mile is home to many of the country’s flagship luxury boutiques. A stroll from one end of Bloor Street to the other offers a complete A-Z of designer shopping. Of course, a visit to Canada’s leading luxury department store Holt Renfrew is non-negotiable, but we also go weak in the knees for independent boutiques in the neighborhood. Enter Uncle Otis – a mainstay in the Yorkville retail scene for 30 years, and the reason why the neighborhood gents are all so well dressed. Dropping nothing but fire in the form of high-quality goods, the shop stocks brands like Norse Projects, Wings + Horns, Rag & Bone, and Fred Perry. No visit is complete without a peak at their drool-worthy shoes collection. In captoe oxford semi brogues’s you’re a certifiable fresh prince of Bellair (street).
Dinner: Trattoria Nervosa
75 Yorkville Ave
Toronto, ON M5R 1B8
If one word should draw you into the doors and up the stairs to Trattoria Nervosa’s buzzy patio, that word would be: pizza (specifically the kind made in a wood-burning oven). And that’s saying a lot because Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, and Jay once ate here, and we all know the power in name dropping Queen B. Fact is, the bruschetta ai funghi, arctic char, and tiramisu are just that good they can rival a pop diva for our attention. In good weather and with good luck, snag a table on the restaurant’s upstairs patio. The perfect place for post-meal espresso and people watching, the hype will have you feeling like Mrs. Carter.
142 Cumberland St.
Toronto, ON M5R 1A8
End your night in the heart of it all, on one of the four patios at Hemingway’s bar. For coffee we paid homage to a 19th century writer, for drinks we salute a 20th century penman. With three bars and heated patios, the Cumberland street site is an all-year round hotspot. 24 draft beers and a complete cocktail list are available for turnt-up purposes. We also suggest the New Zealand lamb burger, if dinner didn’t fill you up already. Because when in Yorkville…
Hangover Breakfast: Flo’s Diner
70 Yorkville Ave
Toronto, ON M5R 1B9
Follow up your soothing rock treatment with a hangover breakfast to end all hangovers. More chill than chic, Flo’s diner remains a go-to favourite for locals from all over the 6. Just off the corner of Yorkville Avenue and Bellair Street, the diner’s old-school vibes are ironically refreshing in the neighborhood of shiny overhauls and corporate takeovers. Allow their all-day breakfast to solve your post-bar woes. Eggs benny recommended. Waffles non-optional.
Danielle Reynolds for Highsnobiety.com
- Photography: Chris Aznar