The Annex Insider
Secrets of the Annex
The Annex is an integral part of the fabric of Toronto. One of the best in the so-called ‘City of Neighbourhoods’, there’s more to the Annex than student haunts and all-you-can-eat sushi. Take a closer look and you’ll find some unique destinations, exclusive to the Annex. Here are a few ideas for you to make a day of it.
The Royal Ontario Museum stands at the corner of Avenue and Bloor. Its exterior a monument to modern architecture, its interior filled with treasures of natural history, featuring artifacts from different eras in archaeology, palaeontology, zoology, and geology. Soak it all in on a leisurely afternoon, or live it up at a Friday Night Live event.
Bata Shoe Museum
Housing over 13,000 pairs of shoes with 1,000 always on display for the public, the Bata Shoe Museum covers over 4,500 years of footwear. Recognizable shoes from pop stars and celebrities further augment the collection.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
A single projection cinema on the Toronto landscape for over a century, the Bloor Cinema became the home of Hot Docs in 2012. Today known as The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, the theatre plays a steady line-up of documentary films with some independent cult classics mixed in for good measure.
A Toronto landmark in equal parts due to its exterior mural art, and ability to draw a crowd for touring rock acts, Lee's Palace is an Annex destination unlike any other. Steeped in history from launching Canadian talent, and hosting international acts making their Toronto debut before they hit it big, saddle up to the stage on almost any night to see what could be the next greatest emerge.
Waltz into Schmaltz and be seduced by some bagels and lox. These all-dressed bagel options hit the sweet spot between breakfast and lunch, and rival those of Montreal or New York City. Both pinnacles of poppy seed.
A safe haven on lazy Sundays, or for the sleep-deprived, Insomnia serves up some of the best brunch in the city. The menu combines classic brunch dishes and house favourites with fans of both sweet and savoury in mind. The former might opt for 'Heaven on Earth' while the latter will enjoy the Pear Grilled Cheese.
Latin food by way of Britain, with a Canadian passport. Or is it the other way around? Some combination of all the above amounts to the brunch menu at Fanny Chadwick's. Unafraid to shake up the brunch game in a city with its fair share of sure things.
The White Brick Kitchen
On Sundays it's brunch. On any other day it's just breakfast. Brunch at The White Brick Kitchen does deserve its own day of worship. And it's got the line-up to prove it. Don't be deterred. Come early and resolve yourself to share plates. The Sunday Special, 'Scotch-ish Eggs', and Banana Bread French Toast are too good to enjoy solo.
Given its proximity to The ROM, and its name, you'd be tempted to think of Museum Tavern as a tourist trap. Far from it, Museum Tavern is a brasserie style restaurant and bar with classic pub fare that consistently hits the mark.
Classic, refined, yet unpretentious, Bar Mercurio is a favourite among the academic crowd in the area serving up rustic Italian dishes. Some consider it a true hidden gem. You should consider it your next meal.
A petit spot with an equally petit patio on a tiny corner of Harbord and Robert, their small cart sticks out through the fusion of global cuisines in its elegant dishes. Take the decision making out of the equation and make it a weekday destination with their set dinners on Mondays.
Break bread at Fat Pasha over their Middle Eastern and Jewish inspired cuisine. Open for dinner, these lush meals are not for the faint of heart, small of appetite. Like all good comfort food, it's meant to fill you. Try the roasted cauliflower, for a side that eats like a meal.
With one of the best patios on this stretch of Bloor, Hey Lucy is a fine place for a few cocktails on a summer's night. A good thing too, as every Wednesday Martinis are priced at $4 apiece.
Izakaya's are a great place to kick back after a hard day's work. Brimming with energy and shareable plates, it's all about the ambiance at Kinka Izakaya. Grab a pitcher, and a couple of skewers and join in on the fun.
This traditional pub covers three levels and has a patio off the street and on the rooftop. A fixture in The Annex, Pauper's Pub makes a converted old bank its home, and welcomes a leisurely crowd including neighbourhood locals, and U of T graduate students.
The Harbord Room
The Harbord Room makes a great late night hang. In the winter the dining place is a great spot to get cozy with a small group, while the backyard patio is a great idea for a date you don't want to end.
Once known as local favourite Footwork, CODA books dance and electronic acts regularly on weekends. This is an Entertainment District calibre club, so you can hit the dance floor confident in the setlist. But unlike the downtown clubs, there's no dress code, so you're free to come as you are at a moment's notice.
78 years old and still shaking it like a polaroid picture! Rotating theme nights can give you something to plan for, but for a place this full of character, it's never a bad idea to show up with an open mind and let the night unfold.
If this place smells like Teen Spirit, there's a good reason. A student favourite, the music here features alternative, and rock music. Let the old grunge rock fan in you out, if only for an evening.
Start your own dance party at this Korean karaoke joint. Korean karaoke bars different from the open mic nights you might remember from college, as all the singing and drinking takes place in your own private room. Gather a group of friends big or small, time flies when you're belting out 80's hits.