Kensington Market, one of the city’s most unique neighbourhoods, is known for its colourful streets and artsy community. Located near Spadina and College, Kensington or “the market” is an enclave of independent retailers with a funky retro vibe. The streets are filled with a collection of vintage clothing stores, bulk food shops, butchers like Sanagan’s Meat Locker and Blackbird Baking, the new bread haven on Baldwin Street. Don’t expect to find a big box store or Frappuccino in the vicinity, the residents are a passionate bunch who embrace smaller businesses and have protested against a Starbucks and Walmart in the past. The neighbourhood is always changing and filled with surprises including an impromptu performance by the Tragically Hip outside of Supermarket Restaurant and Bar.
There’s much more to love about the area. Here are five other highlights from Kensington Market.
1. There’s really good coffee for only a buck
Casa Acoreana Cafe is a family-owned shop at the corner of Augusta and Baldwin with delicious cheap coffee for just $1.00. The tiny space began as a grocery store in the 1960s before turning into the coffee/bulk store it is today. Most locals don’t even know its name but it’s a staple in the area and always packed with coffee drinkers. There’s a walk-up coffee window and seating outside.
2. The Night Market/Pedestrian Sundays
In the warmer months, the streets are closed off for Pedestrian Sundays, the popular car-free street event. The month of December brings the Winter Night Market, where retailers open late during the holiday season for additional shopping.
3. Hidden laneway houses
Most Torontonians might not realize the hidden houses tucked away in Kensington’s back alleys and laneways. There are some modern abodes on Leonard Place, an unpaved street nearby the market, and a row of brightly coloured cottages on Kensington Place. Down the road, there are other unique homes including a semi on Bellevue Avenue with a full-size Toronto Maple Leaf moose on the roof, once part of the city’s Moose in the City program.
4. Try a cooking course
There are plenty of new cooking courses around the area. Good Egg, the kitchenware store offers custom classes including a knife skills course taken by some local Toronto celebrities. Down the street, Hooked, the fresh fish shop offers filet classes, amongst others, at one of their locations.
5. There’s free air in the market
Who doesn’t love free air? Free bike air, that is. Cyclists can fill up their tires in front of Bikes on Wheels at no charge. In a city of cyclists, there’s plenty of bike parking on the streets.
What are your favourite hidden gems in Kensington Market. Let us know.
Photo via Wikipedia