Skip to main content

I was telling a friend about a new café in Kensington Market the other week. The vibe of the place was new-Nordic, I said – bright, clean lines, pale wood floors and crafty, modernist touches, so that it felt like something out of Dwell magazine or Kinfolk. They had butter tarts from the pastry chef at Splendido restaurant, killer ice-cream sandwiches and ginger snaps that were shaped like show horses.

It even had a craft table where young, pretty moms in yoga gear could sit around doing jigsaw puzzles, sipping loose leaf tea.

My friend, looking more and more alarmed as I continued, interrupted. "That's not the real Kensington," she told me. Which is a pretty common reaction when Torontonians talk to Torontonians about Kensington Market.

The neighbourhood, shaped over the last 130-odd years by wave after wave of new residents, has never been just one thing, because it has never stopped changing. The real Kensington, whatever that is, means something completely different in nearly every Torontonian's mind.

And yet for chefs and food lovers the world over, that near-constant flux has made it one of the most unique, most infinitely assorted, most densely packed urban grocery and eating districts on the planet. Nowhere else can you buy a proper Chilean empanada stuffed with beef and boiled egg and raisins a few doors down from a Salvadoran grocer and a sustainability-minded fishmonger and a Hungarian palacsinta crepe spot, and a vegan soup joint, and a Jamaican-Italian shop that serves tri-colour pasta with Parmesan cheese and coconut milk. Keeping up with it all can be a full-time job.

Whatever it means, the market is an unbelievably tasty place to wander.

Here are five of Kensington's best new(ish) spots to eat and drink – for now at least.

ClickTap any marker to see more information.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.