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Best of: Toronto

Hi everyone, and welcome to Toronto!  Toronto is one of the most beautiful, diverse, and unique places you will likely ever visit.  From the vibrant food scene, to the lively shopping districts, you are bound to find something to love.  Along with some friends and fellow Canadian bloggers (their twitter handles are all linked below, so check them out for some more amazing content), I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to shop and eat in the city, to make your stay even more enjoyable.  And if you’re planning on spending a bit of extra time in the city, and are looking for some other things to do, then don’t forget to check out Vogue’s Guide to Toronto: Canada’s Cultural Capital.  Even though I was born and raised in the city, I found some interesting places I’ve never been. 

Hi everyone, and welcome to Toronto! Google Maps Multiple Markers
Main Areas of the City

CF Toronto Eaton Centre
The Eaton Centre is located in the heart of Toronto. With over 235 stores, restaurants and services, it’s a perfect place to kick start your vacation.  It has a flagship Sephora, Mac, H&M Beauty department, and a newly opened NYX.  There is also a flagship Hudson’s Bay, a Canadian department store featuring mid-luxury brands, and the first Saks Fifth Avenue in Canada.  And as a bonus, there is an Inglot store hidden away right at Yonge Dundas square behind the Hard Rock Café.

Bloor-Yorkville Looking for some higher end options?  Yorkville is home to stores like Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.  It also has the Canadian equivalent of Saks or Neiman Marcus: Holt Renfrew.  Brands like La Mer, La Prairie, Charlotte Tilbury, Jo Malone, and Tom Ford have exceptional counters right near the entrance.  There is even a (gorgeous) display of Louboutin lipsticks and nail polishes.  Yorkville is home to some of the best upscale restaurants, spas, and boutiques the city has to offer. 

Queen Street West Looking for some more eclectic, less mainstream places to spend your time?  Then Queen Street is a great place.  Vogue named this stretch of road the 2nd of “15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World”.  There is a great combination of larger labels and stand-alone stores, and it seems to get more unique the further west you travel.  There are café’s like Nadege (where you can get some of the best macarons), shops like Jacob & Sebastian, The Cue Apothecary, and NYX, all of which (and a million others) are sure to appease your shopping needs. 

Beauty Stores

Shoppers Drug Mart
Essentially the Canadian version of Ulta or Boots.  There seems to be a store on every corner (like a Starbucks).  They carry brands like Smashbox, Urban Decay, Chanel, Guerlain, and Cargo.  But Shoppers also carries a wide variety of affordable options, like Rimmel, Maybelline, and Canadian exclusives like Annabelle, Marcelle, and Quo.

FTB Beauty (797 King Street West)
An independent beauty store that focuses on carrying brands that are hard to find in Canada, this is a must shop place for all your beauty needs.  They carry brands like Barry M., B.H. Cosmetics, L.A. Girl, Milani and many more.  Recommended by Miranda @Mirandachan

Blur Makeup Room (313 Queen Street West)
Are you a professional makeup artist looking to stock up on your kit and make the most of the exchange rate?  Blue Makeup Room is a fav of makeup artists and beauty guru’s alike.  They have shadow shields, special effect paints, and everything else you may need.  Recommended by Julie @SwatchandReview

Cosmetic World (623 Yonge Street)
While not much to look at from the outside, this store is one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, according to Flare Magazine.  It’s been around since 1976, and occupies over 8000 square feet of prime real estate.  There are a ton of options for hair and nail related products, and tools.  Recommended by Jilly @KireiMakeup

Kryolan Makeup Store (110 Lombard Street)
Another professional grade retailer, Kryolan is a world renowned brand that offers over 16,000 products and accessories, and has some of the most intense colour payoff of any brand.  They carry everything from eye makeup to face and body, hair effects to airbrush machines.  Recommended by Jilly @KireiMakeup 

Green Beauty Stores

The Detox Market (420 King Street West)
If you live in L.A., chances are you’ve already heard of this green cult-classic.  The store carries all eco-friendly products that are amazing quality, non-toxic and very on trend.  The store features favourites like RMS Beauty, Kjaer Weis and W3LL PEOPLE, as well as lesser known brands like Acquarella, Yuni Beauty, and Urban Moonshine.

Jacob & Sebastian (622 Queen Street West)
A favourite of many bloggers, Jacob & Sebastian is home to luxury skincare, makeup and body products, with a focus on eco-beauty.  They have Tata Harper, Malin + Goetz, and Mario Badescu.  They have some fun products, including Marvis toothpaste, Baxter of California men’s shaving sets, and grapefruit deodorant cream (crazy, right?).

The Cure Apothecary (719 Queen Street)
A self proclaimed natural boutique, The Cure features items for the skin and hair that can seamlessly be incorporated into your existing routines.  They carry things like Old Factory Soap Company soaps, Skin Essence chocolate and mandarin hand balm, and anything else your inner tree hugger could want.  Recommended by Jennifer @VibrantVVBeauty

The Big Carrot (348 Danforth Avenue)
If you’re willing to take a bit of a journey east of the downtown core, then you won’t be disappointed.  The Big Carrot is technically a grocery store that has secured a coveted spot in a niche market.  The beauty section is in its own spacious room, and they carry a huge range of products including harder to find brands like Graydon and Living Libations.  Recommended by Jennifer @VibrantVVBeauty

Food: Café’s

Toronto has some of the best cafes and restaurants you can find.  Don’t believe me?  A few weeks ago, Vogue did yet another write up on our amazing city, focusing on the “11 Reasons Foodies Should be Flocking to Toronto”.  While there are a million and one places to eat, I’ve included some of our favourites.  Don’t forget to check out the Vogue list for some more amazing options.

Colette Grand Café (550 Wellington St.)
One of the most Instagrammed café’s in Toronto, Colette is a blogger favourite.  Whether you want to grab a few macarons and coffee, or if you want a full lunch, Colette is the place to go.  Focusing on French food, there is an array of options, like omelette du jour, duck confit, and French onion soup. 

Le Gourmand Café (152 Spadina Avenue)
While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, this café serves some delectable finds.  You can grab some baked goods (often fresh out of the oven and perfectly gooey) and a beverage, or you can sit down and enjoy something more hearty (think homemade chili, smoked salmon sandwiches, or a salad bar with a million options).  The eclectic nature of the shop will delight anyone who needs a break from a day of networking and exploring.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
Balzac’s have opened quite a few locations across the city and beyond in recent years, and their rapid success is understandable.  Each location has its own unique vibe.  They carry their own brand of premium coffee in a variety of roasts; all milk products are organic and locally sourced.

Dineen Coffee Co. (140 Yonge Street)
Located near the Eaton Centre, Dineen operates in one of the oldest buildings in the city, with spectacularly tiled floors (#ihaveathingwithfloors), floor to ceiling windows, and red leather banquettes.  It is the perfect place to appease your dietary and aesthetic needs.  They serve everything from brownies to tarts, yogurt to quiches, and a selection of hand crafted sandwiches.  Recommendation by @Desireelaw

Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake
Noted as being one of the best places in the city to get cheesecake, Uncle Tetsu’s is often lined down the block.  Unlike some of the other places on the list, this one speaks for itself.  Don’t forget to stop by before the end of your vacation to try it out!  Recommendation by @Desireelaw

Food: Restaurants

There are 6 locations across Toronto (and even a few in LA now).  The restaurant features fine Italian food and offers a wide arrange of options.  There are 29 “pizze” options, what seems like a million pastas, and other authentic dishes, Terroni is perfect for that true Italian experience right here in Toronto.  Recommendation by Julie @SwatchandReview

St. Lawrence Market
My personal favourite place to east when I’m out, the St. Lawrence Market is the Number 1 Food Market in the world, according to National Geographic.  There are places like Buster’s Sea Cove, an amazing seafood vendor; Uno Mustachio, which has amazing meatballs and veal eggplant sandwiches, Eve’s Temptations, who has some of the best macarons in the city, hands down.  The vendors serve everything from local favourites (peameal bacon) to authentic culturally diverse cuisine; flower booths to cupcake stands.  Take a wonder around and be amazed at all the hidden gems.

CN Tower: 360 Resteraunt
Located at the top of the CN Tower, this restaurant offers 360-degree views of our beautiful city.  And if the view wasn’t good enough in itself, the restaurant features Canadian ingredients and wines.  While not the cheapest place on the list, this place features premium ingredients prepared by acclaimed chef Peter George.

Little Fin (4 Temperance Street)
Situated beside Dineen, Little Fin belongs under the Chase Group: the same franchise that operates Colette.  As you can tell from the name, the restaurant focuses on fish-based dishes.  With mahi-mahi, crispy haddock sandwiches, and lobster poutine (#canadianeh), it’s one of the best places to go for a quick, but delicious meal.

Food: Vegetarian and Gluten-Free

Fresh (147 Spadina Avenue)
A gluten friendly favourite with approximately a million+ options (give or take).  They have fruit smoothies, immunity shots, power shakes, and veggie juices; tacos and burgers, fresh bowls and wraps.  There are 3 locations in the downtown core, so it’s as accessible as it is delicious.  Recommendation by Jennifer @VibrantVVBeauty

Urban Herbivore (220 Yonge Street)
For the environmentally friendly consumer, Urban Herbivore uses 100% petroleum free, biodegradable food packaging, cutlery made of corn, and sugarcane constructed bowls.  Everything on the menu is plant based, and is predominately gluten free.  Great for the vegetarians and food lovers alike.  Recommendation by Jennifer @VibrantVVBeauty