No one, more than Canadians can relate more to the Game of Thrones motto Winter is Coming. For House of Stark it’s about warning and constant vigilance; preparation for danger ahead. For us, it’s more literal. Winter is actually coming. It’s cold and it sucks and we hate it. Almost as much as we hate the extreme heat in the summer. As soon as August hits, I scramble to soak up as much summer as I can get to last me for the coming months of being bricked into my home to avoid snow (and polar bears), with only Netflix for company. I’ve put together a Summer Eating Hit List, my personal selection of spots that maximize the the good weather. Goodbye beach body. Hello winter padding!
Kensington is like being instantly transported to a hippie town where people wander and take their time perusing the unique stores and ethnically diverse food spots. Start at one end of the street and eat your way to the other side, only grabbing small snacks from each place to try as much as your stomach will allow.
Rasta Pasta (61 Kensington Ave.) - Jerk Chicken or Oxtail
Seven Lives (69 Kensington Ave.) - Cactus, Mushroom + Cheese Taco
The Dirtybird (79 Kensington Ave.) - The ODB, boneless dark meat piled on a maple buttered waffle with a tangy sauce
Patty King (187 Baldwin St.) - Callaloo Double Patty
Sweet Olenka's (225B Augusta Ave.) - Salted Caramel or Peppermint flavour
Wanda's Pie in the Sky (287 Augusta Ave.) - Key Lime, Banana Cream, +/or Coconut Cream Pie
#LifeHack: Go for Pedestrian Sundays which is the last Sunday of the month in the summer (next one is Aug 30). They close down the streets so you don’t have to worry about getting run over by a car while you’re distracted by that first bite of taco.
Travelling in the winter months is my way of remembering that the world wasn’t always covered in snow and slush. Your only priority is to chill in a hammock with a margarita and enjoy the weather. Lately all of my trips have been Latin-centric (Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua) so to satisfy my wanderlust when I’m stuck behind a desk, I hit up these gorgeous patios for salsa music and tequila shots.
Valdez (606 King St W.)
Go for the vibrant rooftop patio atmosphere and the top shelf tequila in cactus-shaped shot glasses!
Eat: Get the award-winning Guacamole, Duck Chaufa (Latin-style fried rice, I dream about this dish), Abondigas (beef meatballs with queso oaxaca), and any of the ceviches (obviously).
#LifeHack: You’ll definitely need a reservation to get a prime spot, either on the rooftop where they serve a more bbq-style menu, or the chef’s table where you can see all the action in the kitchen.
La Libre (14 Dupont St.)
This is an outdoor patio bar that shares an address with Playa Cabana Hacienda that makes you feel like you’re out for a night on the town in Mexico! I’ve only been here for drinks but I loved the vibe and the decor is insane.
#LifeHack: Since Playa Cabana is right next door the proximity to their Tres Leche cake is a plus.
El Caballito (220 King St. W.)
On the appropriately named El Patio you can enjoy a bucket of Coronas (because one is not enough) and tacos from the food truck kitchen under strung up lights. Cute, secluded rooftop area with bright yellow picnic tables and long, high tables for larger groups.
Eat: Get into the Latin moood by ordering fish tacos and a bucket of Coronas!
#LifeHack: Ideal for after work snacks and drinks or meeting up for a date.
Nothing epitomizes summer more than heating up those BBQs and getting your grill on. Sure, meat sweats is not super pleasant in the summer but you can go guilt-free because it’s all protein and no carbs, right?
Electric Mud BBQ (5 Brock Ave.)
Owned by the same people responsible for Grand Electric, this place is definitely better in the summer because of the increased outdoor seating. Plus, barbequed meats always taste better in the sunshine. This place will satisfy your craving for meat and hip hop music.
Eat: I can’t get over the Crack Rolls. They mix meat drippings into the butter making it a vegetarian’s nightmare.
#LifeHack: Seating is limited so go in groups of 2 or 4 and grab a picnic table outside!
Big Crow (176 Dupont St.)
In the winter it has a cozy sitting-by-the-fire log cabin feel and there’s plaid as far as the eye can see. In the summer, they open it up to the wild and it’s like you’re at a huge, outdoor bbq.
Eat: Smoked Mozzarella + Roast Garlic bread, Pork Belly (obviously), and the Baby Back Ribs. You have to try the ice cream sandwiches if only for the novelty that it’s literally a sandwich, as in, on buns!
#LifeHack: Pretty much anything you order here is a win so I try and get as many dishes as possible so go in a group. Unless you want to eat it all yourself. No judgement.
^Big Crow in the summer (Photo: Karen N. on Yelp)
Obviously not my entire list of places I'm going to eat at but the ones that are even better in the summer!