Kensington Market is a cluster of gritty Victorian era houses re-purposed into an eclectic collection of grocers, restaurants, cafes and bars. The mishmash of shops reflects Canada's diversity which gives it it's unique, Bohemian charm. In 2006, Kensington Market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
Kensington Market is a rectangular plot bounded by College Street in the north, Dundas Street in the south, Spadina Avenue in the east and Bathurst Street to the west. Most of the shops and activities are down the middle of the rectangle along Augusta Avenue and two side streets - Nassau and Baldwin. (Nearest subway stations are Queens Park and St. Patrick.)
Come with me as we explore Kensington Market from the junction of College and Augusta - heading south along Augusta. Spend 2 or 3 hours here and grab a bite as you go 😄 Many of the businesses here are decades old quaint mom and pop shops while new trendy eateries are sprouting up in the market all the time.
Wanda's Pie in the Sky is a popular place for traditional homemade pies, sandwiches, cheesecakes, rainbow cakes, puddings, biscuits and other artisanal bakes. Some say Wanda's have the best pies in Toronto.
The Urban Herbivore serves organic salads, vegan sandwiches, vegetable soups and other healthy, flavourful yet filling vegetarian meals.
More on The Urban Herbivore 👈
Romeo's Fruity Fruits is a popular juice bar. As you make your way down Augusta Avenue, you will find most of the houses dressed with colourful and bold graffiti art.
Big Fat Burritos serves meaty as well as vegetarian burritos and hard-shell tacos - quick affordable bites for hungry visitors.
Oxford Fruit - your friendly neighbour fruit store. Fruits are fresh but I read that prices are slightly premium. Oh well, location, location, location.
Another view of Oxford Fruit with the "Garden of Eden" mural (my take lah). It's actually a depiction of Sete Cidades in Portugal.
Krepresz serves good coffee and bites with a taste of Hungary. The Hungarian family that owns this little cafe serves Hungarian style savoury or sweet crêpes. Krepresz is famous for their paprika chicken stew crêpes. You can also try Kürtőskalács or Hungarian chimney cakes which are perfect with coffee.
Making chimney cakes at Krepresz 👆
TOPGUN Steak named after the Hollywood movie serves beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetable sandwiches. They use Halal certified rib-eye or strip-loin steak for their burgers.
Eative Film Cafe serves gelato, gimmicky "dragon's breath ice cream", sorbets, Japanese egg rolls, pastries etc to go with their coffee and smoothies.
Perola Supermarket is a little grocer where folks come to stock up on hard-to-find Latin American food products.
Canada's finest on patrol down Augusta Avenue.
Segovia Casa Del Chorizo. Segovia Foods.
We come here for their South American bites 😃
All kinds of South America puffs and pies in the warmer.
This one is called "chicken ball". It's savoury-sweet chicken stew with cheese wrapped in a ball of corn paste and then fried to a crisp outside.
Wafels & More for authentic Belgian waffle fans.
What more does Wafels & More offer? 👆
Then, there is Casa Coffee. Founded in 1963, it is said to be the oldest coffee shop still in operation in Canada today.
The veranda and window seats are popular perches to chit chat with friends, and have a cuppa while watching the daily parade celebrating Canadian diversity along Augusta Avenue.
Casa Coffee is a coffee shop - not a "hipster cafe". Just nice and hot coffee to warm the body and soul on gusty cold winter days. The latte tastes nice but not made for Instagram 😃
Roach O Rama is the go-to place for the city's potheads.
Roach O Rama sells marijuana and cannabis paraphernalia. It also has a lounge known as Hot Box Cafe inside where clients can smoke their bring-your-own marijuana or cannabis.
Next door, is 4 Life Natural Foods.
4 Life stocks a huge range of organic foods in its spacious, neatly laid out shop.
Further on south is Pow Wow Cafe which serves indigenous Indian style tacos and dishes. Pow Wow Cafe is owned by chef Shawn Adler from the Ojibway tribe.
Banh Mi Bar is a place for Vietnamese style subs - fillings such as roast pork belly and Vietnamese ham with vegetables sandwiched between crispy mini baguettes.
Garden art at one of the houses along Augusta Avenue.
Carlos' House of Spice stocks spices, peppers, herbs, oils and sauces from around the world. A popular shop with home cooks.
Hungary-Thai - what's that? The bistro has a mixed menu of Hungary and Thai dishes - more Hungarian, based on online reviews.
Done with Augusta Avenue, we explore the side streets Baldwin and Nassau. This military surplus store is on Baldwin Street.
Genuine World War II gas masks. During my younger days, I would have snapped up these curios right away. Now, I put them back as I can't think of a use for them at the moment. How age makes one overly practical 😂
Coral Sea Fish is one of the few fishmongers at Kensington Market.
Fishmongers here gut, scale and clean your fish at your request.
These fish are called Caribbean Snappers here (known as Ikan Kerisi in Malay).
Essence of Life Organics store with wide range of organic and natural foods.
The same spot on Kensington Avenue, 30 years ago. The shops have changed but that Mona Lisa mural is still here - OK her fruit basket has grown quite a bit 😄 Essence of Life Organics was then occupied by a Chinese art shop 😄
Sanagan's Meat Locker is a butchery offering fresh poultry and meats from small farms in Ontario. It has a charcuterie offering smoked meats and sausages. It also has an in-house deli serving sandwiches.
Cheese Magic is a cheese lovers' paradise for their artisanal cheeses.
Mare Pizzeria for freshly made and baked pizzas.
Sold in slices as well, so the crispy pizza is a good quick bite on the go.
Golden Patty is a Jamaican eatery good for quick bites and take outs. The store serves Jamaican staples like jerk chicken, Jamaican style curry chicken, ackee fruit and salted cod fish, ox-tail, Jamaican patties (pastry stuffed with chicken or fish), Trinidadian Doubles, spice buns, coconut drops, tamarind balls etc. All things which I haven't tried before and must come back for 😄
Opened in the 1970s, family run Global Cheese is a cheese stockist at Kensington Market considered among the top cheese shops in Toronto.
Opened in 1978 by Jamaican-born Ms Yvonne Grant, Caribbean Corner is a well loved fixture in Kensington Market. It's a small mom and pop type West Indian grocer stocking spices, oils, herbs, sauces and other essentials used in Caribbean home cooking.
Baldwin Street connects to Spadina Avenue which is the core of Toronto's downtown Chinatown - that's another story for another post 😃
👍👍👍👍 This is just a quick survey that hardly scratches the surface of Kensington Market. Torontonians will tell you many of the little secret delicious places that I missed - come and find out for yourselves. Funky Kensington Market have a certain magnetism that will draw me back many more times, knowing that I will always stumble upon some unexpected delights.
Date: 2 Mar 2017