Born in France and now based in Toronto, Xavier Guidis is always on the hunt for hidden gems in the city so that he, as chef concierge at the St. Regis Hotel, can help guests make the most of their time in Toronto. Here are some of his favourites.
Check out the big details of Little Canada
Located by Yonge-Dundas Square, this attraction opened during the pandemic and is still under the radar for many. It is as it’s called: a miniaturized model of the country. The details are incredible (the miniaturized version of Scotiabank Arena has the venue full of fans and Fred VanVleet on the big screen), and there’s a scavenger hunt you can participate in as you make your way through the experience. “It’s Canada under one roof and really cool for both children and parents,” he says. “When I was there I felt like I was a kid again, and every guest I sent, they love it.”
Taste a tipple (or two) Bar Pompette
“Led by a young team from France, they have an amazing selection of wines, digestifs and cocktails. It reminds me of my country,” Guidis says. This walk-in only cocktail bar may be in Little Italy, but the atmosphere is French through and through. They have a leafy back patio perfect for spending a lazy afternoon sipping cocktails and light bites made at their sister restaurant next door. Guidis highly recommends the jambon beurre sandwich.
People-watch from the patio at Chotto Matte
If you didn’t spend time on a patio, did you really participate in summer in Toronto? Guidis’s recommendation for a hidden gem of a patio is in a spot many wouldn’t think of – the Financial District. The menu is Japanese-Peruvian fusion, with small bites and sharing plates as a specialty. And the space is filled with lush foliage, putting the jungle in urban jungle. “You’re right in the craziness of downtown, but in this patio you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else. It’s a really cool spot, and the food is great too,” he says.
Get the lay of the land on the Chopsticks + Forks’ Great Canadian Food Tour
“‘What’s Canadian to eat and where can I find the best places to try it?’ This is one of the most commons questions we get as hotel concierges,” Guidis says. “This tour is a great way to meet a local who can really show you cool places that you wouldn’t find by yourself.” The tour visits six different spots in in Kensington Market to showcase the many different things that qualify as Canadian food, from poutine to Montreal-style bagels to Ontario sour cherries.
Relax at a regal Symphony in the Gardens
Running Monday evenings through the summer until Sept. 5, these outdoor concerts in Casa Loma’s estate gardens are an escape while being in the heart of the city (and you’ve got a great view of downtown’s towers as the sun sets). “It’s very enchanting, and each week it’s a different theme, from Abba to Édith Piaf,” Guidis says. There’s also an option to add on a prix-fixe dinner from BlueBlood Steakhouse, the on-site restaurant.
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