60 Kensington Ave., Kensington Market
The name is local slang for the alcohol concealed in teapots served in Chinese restaurants after last call at the bars. But here at Cold Tea in Kensington Market, everything is all out in the open—and it’s packed to the rafters. Some call it hipster utopia, where young Toronto creatives gather for locally pressed cider and cans of Ace Hill Pilsner. The tiny kitchen churns out endless supplies of dumplings and also plays host to a rotating cast of restaurant pop-ups (check Cold Tea’s Instagram for the latest collaborations).
Witches Brew Kombucha (Closed)
160 Baldwin St., Kensington Market
In Kensington Market, Kombucha taproom The Witches Brew uses ancient fermentation techniques to create their live drinks—all small batch, served in biodegradable cups or reusable glass bottles with names like Divine Intervention and Embrace Me. Your body will feel better after a glass of their thoughtfully crafted blends infused with cardamom, hibiscus, and ginger. Trust.
28 Kensington Ave., Kensington Market
This beautiful, Scandinavian-style café centers around the Swedish tradition of fika—which essentially means taking a break through the day for a coffee and ideally sweet snack. The interior is an oasis of Scandi calm—all bleached wood and greenery. (There's even a sweet nook lined with old books.) The menu is a healthy but deeply delicious mix of Nordic granola with stewed fruit, banana on toast, and signature Swedish treats like cinnamon and cardamom buns, alongside inventive riffs on classics, like lavender-infused brownies and chamomile cookies.
Blackbird Baking Co.
172 Baldwin St., Kensington Market
While this bakery looks fairly nondescript from the outside, rest assured Blackbird churns out the best bread in town. With British chef April Bloomfield (also of NYC gastropub the Spotted Pig) as an investor, no stone is left unturned in the quest for the perfect slice. Blackbird uses only the freshest stone-ground unbleached flour—older flour really does have a negative impact on the taste—made from a heritage Canadian grain called Red Fife. (Traditional fermentation methods are used to give the sourdough that signature sourness.) Lines wind down to the street come the weekend for Blackbird's baguettes, focaccia, spelt, and sesame loaves as well as its flaky pastries. For the ambitious at-home baker with room to spare in their luggage, bags of the custom flour are available for purchase.
199 Augusta Ave., Kensington Market
The latest offering from renowned Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg is located in hypertrendy Kensington Gardens and happens to be one of the prettiest dining rooms in town. (It's all grey marble and brass accents.) The menu is inventive and fish-centric, with plenty of lighter comfort food—delicate razor clams in an herbed broth topped with charred smoky onions or seared scallops and sunchokes. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, the small plates are reason alone to drop by—take a seat at the bar, peruse the substantial natural wine selection, order a dozen oysters, and settle in for the night.
After undergoing a full hipster-inflected gentrification, this part of town is packed with some of the city's coolest bars, eateries, and shops. A maze of streets and alleyways is packed with brightly hued Victorian-era houses and standouts including April Bloomfield's Blackbird Bakery and Oddity Kombucha.
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