I rarely take trips during the summer, mainly due to the cost of travelling during high season, and also because there is plenty to do right here at home in Toronto. When the city isn’t shut down due to a P-word, summer in the city is lively and filled with opportunities to do one of my favourite things: eat! There are several food festivals or food-related events that are hosted in Toronto throughout the year, but most of my annual must-go food events are scheduled when the sun is shining and the mercury is up.
📌 Canada Day weekend, Centennial Park
There is a big Ribfest every early July over Canada Day long weekend at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, a suburb in the west end of Toronto. It is hosted by the Rotary Club and has been a tradition for over 20 years. General admission is free, although they also have some kind of VIP Experience that will cost you up to $50 (for what, I don’t know). Mr. Chuckles and I have made the trek out to the ‘burbs for the past couple years to enjoy some pretty tasty ribs and then watch the impressive fireworks show. Our go-to vendor is Jack on the Bone, named for the inclusion of Jack Daniels whiskey in their signature sauce. This is definitely a well attended event; we even met the mayor there the first time we went. However, we have generally found the venue large enough so that the lines aren’t too crazy.
📌 Late July, Little Tibet, Parkdale
I mentioned the Momo Crawl in my last post about Toronto. A couple years ago, we found out about this little event hosted by Students for a Free Tibet that takes place in the Little Tibet area of Parkdale, which is just a short distance from our neighbourhood. For $25, you get a Momo Passport that grants you a taste of momos from ten different restaurants as you walk your way through Little Tibet. For those who are unaware, momos are a delicious type of East and South Asian steam filled dumpling, popular across the Indian subcontinent and the Himalayan regions of the East-South Asia border. I recommend trying them with a glass of mango lassi or po cha (Yak butter tea). So good!
Taste of the Danforth
📌 Mid-August, Greektown
The heart of Toronto’s Greektown is on Danforth Avenue, between Chester Avenue and Dewhurst Boulevard, in east Toronto. Every year, this stretch of street gets shut down for 2.5 days to host the Taste of the Danforth, probably one of the city’s largest food festivals. Needless to say, it gets really, really crowded. I have only attended it once in my entire life living in Toronto, and the only thing I recall eating there was a baklava ice cream.
Waterfront Asian Night Market
📌 Mid-August, Ontario Place
Instead of fighting the crowds on the Danforth, we have opted for the Waterfront Asian Night Market instead for the past few years. This event originally took place in the parking lot of a T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street and was insane the first time I went. Fortunately, they have been able to change venues recently and it now happens at the more spacious grounds of the old Ontario Place. They have quite a good turnout of vendors, with some of our favourites being the tea eggs, grilled oysters, and Thai iced tea from Nam Wan.
Canadian National Exhibition
📌 Last two weeks of August until Labour Day, Exhibition Place
I’ve mentioned the CNE before as an annual tradition in Toronto. ‘The Ex’ is a fair that takes place during the final two weeks of August every summer, the largest in Canada and sixth largest in North America. It is steeped in history, originating in 1879 as an event to promote Canadian agriculture and technology. Nowadays, many people attend to test out the quirky and bizarre gastronomy found in the Food Building. In 2019, the top items to try included the ramen burger, s’more fried chicken sandwich, deep fried Monte Cristo, and Hong Kong style French toast curds, amongst other wacky creations.
Unfortunately, I don’t think a single one of these events is happening this season, but I’m sure to be back next year when things return to some semblance of normal.
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