Food & Drink

Toronto's Wes Marskell shares how to act and eat like a local

Published On 08/09/2013 Published On 08/09/2013
Wes Marskell

Toronto rockers, The Darcys, know how to make good music. They also know where to eat, drink, and party, and've played pretty much everywhere in Toronto that does those things. Wes Marskell, the band's drummer, sat down with Thrillist to dish on the best the city has to offer.


Favorite Restaurant
Tacos El Asador. The best fish tacos I have ever had. Burritos are solid, good soup, and they make a great scrambled egg breakfast with beans, avocado, and plantain. On the cheap side and always busy.

Credit: Yelp

Best Cheap Eats
Buk Chang Dong Soon To Fu. Not the prettiest but the best Dolsot Bibimbop in the city. Usually made with beef but they also do a great veggie option. Comes with unlimited tea, side dishes, and all the kimchi you can eat for under $10 with tax and tip. I also love that they sell Bud for $3.50.

Best Food Truck
The Hula Girl Espresso Truck. Trucks aren't big in Toronto yet, but this one is cool as it's essentially a mobile cafe.

Best Burger
Burgers are the "it" food in Toronto right now. Many swear by The Burger's Priest and Holy Chuck, but I still think Stockyards is putting up the best burger in the city.

Best Brunch
Farmhouse Tavern. This place is great if you feel like spending money. The brunch burger has a duck egg on it, and both the kale and trout Bennys are awesome. The Ace has a great pork belly, kimchi, and egg breakfast, as well as a good Benedict, and I often find myself eating eggs at Zocalo.

Best Donuts
Paulette's Original Donuts and Chicken. I'm not really into donuts... but if I'm going to eat them I want to go all the way down the road. It's not quite Roscoe's, but these donuts and fried chicken are still a wonderful thing. Next to Mercury Espresso Bar, which is handy for waking back up after the meal.


Best Cocktail Bar
The Northwood. New, somewhat affordable, and one of our friends is always spinning records in the back. Not yet the new hot spot, so you can still get a table relatively easily. Great cold-brew coffee from Toronto's Pig Iron roastery.


Best Beer Bar
Bellwoods Brewery. Great patio, snacks, and lots of seasonal beers that are subtle and delicious. When you leave, you can buy beer to-go from their adjoining shop that's open later than any of the city's beer stores.

Best Outdoor Spot
The Don Valley Brick Works. There's a fire-pit amphitheater overlooking the city. Essentially you can walk around in the middle of the city and feel like you're miles away from everything. Nice for a bit of an escape.

Mercury Espresso

Best Coffee
This is tough and really depends where you are. If you're in the northwest, Crema pulls one of the bests shots in the city. Capital is good if you're in the southwest. Sam James is a lock for central-north, and south-central is a tie between Crafted and RSquared Cafe. Mercury is the best if you're in the east-end.


If You Have a Free Afternoon…
Spend $10 to sit in the 500s at a Blue Jays game. The Jays usually lose... but you're almost guaranteed to see a fight in the stands.

Best Comedy Club
Comedy Bar. Every night of the week you can see sketch, improv, and stand-up comedy. Two long-running shows worth seeing are Laugh Sabbath (stand-up) and Catch 23 (improv).


If You Have a Hangover...
Get the Huevos Divorciados from Easy Restaurant. It's big and comes with lots of bread. If it's going to come back up, at least it's tasty going down. You're close to the lake, so you can go for a walk along the water if you're feeling particularly resilient after a long night.


Coolest Street
Queen Street. It's a bit of a cliche but, if you're new to Toronto, it's definitely worth walking end to end. I also like Churchill Ave with its cute houses and steep hill. Feels a bit like you're in Nova Scotia. Good for getting coffee and taking a babe for a walk.


Best Concert Venue
Lee's Palace. Great sound, great sight lines, and it still feels intimate. The Horseshoe is always good, and I am really feeling Black Box Theatre.

Best Veggie Restaurant
Fresh. With soon-to-be four locations, Fresh is a consistent and reliable source for vegetarian or vegan food in Toronto. Great juices, burgers, and salads.


Favorite Annual Event in Toronto
Field Trip. We played Arts & Crafts' first annual Field Trip Festival this year with Broken Social Scene and Feist, and it was an amazing experience. Really excited to see what they'll be doing with the brand in the coming years.

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1. Tacos El Asador 690 Bloor St W, Toronto, M6G 1L2

Ever find yourself craving Mexican food in Koreatown? Well look no further than Tacos El Asador. This small, family-owned resto offers traditional handmade tacos and Salvadoran fare at prices that won't break the bank.

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2. Buk Chang Dong Soon To Fu 691 Bloor St W, Toronto, M6G 1L3

When it comes to trying Korean food in Koreatown, you have many options, and the best of those options is Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu. Although the name is practically longer than the menu (seriously - they only serve 10 dishes), the tasty food proves that quality is much better than quantity.

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3. The Burger's Priest 1636 Queen St E, Toronto, M4L 1G3

The Burger's Priest isn't a restaurant - it's a religion. It's about redeeming the burger from sinfully over-processed and over-spiced frozen patties, and bringing it back to pure fresh ground beef and simple toppings. Order "The Pope" from the secret menu - you won't actually receive Pope Francis, but you will get a double cheeseburger with two roasted portabello mushrooms, which is the next best thing.

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4. Holy Chuck 1450 Yonge St, Toronto, M4T 1Y7

With over 25 signature burgers, 15 shakes, and 10 fry options, Holy Chuck is not your typical burger joint. Get their classic namesake burger or, if you're feeling fancy, the "Holy Duck Burger" - a single patty with foie gras, truffle oil, and Canadian maple syrup. Wash that down with a bacon, fudge and sea salt shake, and don't leave without trying the deep-fried Nutella lollipops for a fantastic meal that may or may not end with you in a sugar-and-fat-induced coma.

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5. The Stockyards 699 St. Clair Ave W, Toronto, M6C 1B2

A BBQ /comfort food joint, The Stockyards whips up burgers, sandwiches, and fried chicken for lunch and dinner 5 days a week. The wait can be long at this small spot, but the food is definitely worth it. Stop by in the morning for potentially life changing fried chicken and waffles.

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6. Farmhouse Tavern 1627 Dupont Street, Toronto, M6P 3S8

Farm driven food and hospitality are the hallmarks of this tavern. The menu, inspired by homegrown ingredients of rural Ontario, is written on a blackboard, and craft beers flow freely from the full bar. Be sure to make a reservation if you want to get a table!

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7. The Ace 231A Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, M6R 2L6

Great drinks are a constant at The Ace -- the full bar opens at 5pm and stays that way until closing (whenever that is). There's also great comfort food -- steak frits, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits -- as well as a peanut butter icebox pie that's like Reese's on steroids.

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8. Zocalo 1426 Bloor St , Toronto, M6P 3L5

This intimate wine bistro serves seasonal farm-to-table fare any time of the day. Zocalo's rustic wooden interior doubles as the perfect coffee cache or date spot to cozy up with candles and a glass of vino.

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9. Paulette's Original Donuts & Chicken 913 Queen Street East, Toronto, M6P 3L5

A question as old as time: will it be donuts, or fried chicken? Grandma Paulette bakes both with homemade love and, lucky for you, she won't make you choose. Oh, and there's catering available to service all your baked goods and fried bird needs in large quantity.

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10. Mercury Espresso Bar 915 Queen Street East, Toronto, M4M 1J4

Mercury Espresso Bar takes their bean brewing seriously. Each cup is handcrafted and served to drip or frothy perfection. This neighborhood coffee shop prides itself on serving quality caffeine from all around the world, with baristas that are the van Goghs of bean slinging.

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11. Northwood 815 Bloor Street W., Toronto, M6G1M1

Toronto's Northwood is the kind of place you could spend all day in—sipping their signature cold brew iced coffee in the morning, snacking on sandwiches or charcuterie for lunch, and transitioning to craft cocktails and local beers at night. Its friendly atmosphere invites customers to stay as long as they need, be it for studying, hanging out with friends, or partying (depending on the time of day). The cocktails list is always seasonal and inventive, often utilizing housemade infused spirits and local mixers. An outdoor patio expands the seating area in the warmer months, adding a breezy summer vibe to this casual, cool neighborhood hangout.

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12. Bellwoods Brewery 124 Ossington Ave, Toronto, M6J 2Z5

Small-batch beer and quality food have been Bellwood’s mission since opening in 2012. This craft brewery has a rotating list of taps highlighting their own creations as well as those of other local brewers which changes seasonally or according to demand. Reserve bottles, kept back from popular batches or brewed specially, are available for a higher (but worthwhile) price. The candle-lit bar setting and patio adorned with fairy lights befit its hip Ossington location, as does its long wait at peak times, but the food and the drinks are stunning. Small plates and snackable bar food keep the focus where it should be—on the beer.

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13. The Don Valley Brick Works 550 Bayview Ave., Toronto, M4W 3X8

A century-old quarry that has been converted to a recreational park and eco development space, The Don Valley Brick Works features parks, trails, boardwalks, ponds, gardens, and other greenery. The area has dozens of workshops and community festivals, as well as outdoor projects and activities for kids and families, making it one of the top geo-tourism hotspots in the world.

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14. Crema Coffee Co. 53 Bloor St East, Toronto, M4W 1A9 (Junction Triangle)

With multiple locations across Toronto, Crema Coffee Co. brews a mean cup of espresso. Accenting the natural flavors of the beans, some talented baristas showcase their skills by serving up lattes and macchiatos that bring out the natural sweetness and flavors, so you won't be needing any cream or sugar.

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15. Capital 1349 Queen St W, Toronto, M6K 1M1

The brainchild of three friends and talented coffee craftsmen (and woman), Capital serves up homemade pastries and artisan espresso drinks with rich and smooth flavors. The brick walls, oak tables, and constant flow of caffeine make it one of the city's best morning hideaways to churn out some work or catch up with friends.

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16. Sam James 297 Harbord St, Toronto, M6G 1G7 (Queen St West)

A popular java joint in Toronto's Bickford Park neighborhood, Sam James Coffee Bar has been abuzz with claims (from patrons) that they make the best cappuccino, nay, the best coffee in the city. Chances are your skepticism will be wiped out by that first sweet, sweet sip.

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17. Crafted 135 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, M6J 2Z6

Enjoy top-notch freshly roasted coffee in a welcoming atmosphere. Your novel is also begging to be written here.

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18. RSquared Cafe 668 Queen St W , Toronto, M6J 1E5

A versatile coffee shop, RSquared Cafe serves not only premium coffee but cold drinks such as the locally acclaimed raspberry lemonade. Sandwiches made with the iconic ciabatta bread also abound.

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19. Comedy Bar 945 Bloor St W, Toronto, M6H 1L4

Comedy Bar is, as you might've guessed, a comedy bar. Enjoy fantastic entertainment like stand-up, improv and sketch comedy from the best Toronto has to offer. There is also a full bar, meaning you'll have a great time no matter who's onstage.

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20. Easy Restaurant 1645 Queen St W, Toronto, M6R 1B3

Named after the iconic Peter Fonda-headlined classic, Easy Restaurant gets a million stamps approval off the bat. They also earn it by serving incredible sandwiches and breakfast, including the almost unfair West Coast Toast, featuring poached eggs and topped with black caviar.

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21. Lee's Palace 529 Bloor St W , Toronto, M5S 1Y4

Lee's Palace is a legendary concert venue in which a who's-who of pretty much any cool band you can think of either have rocked, or will most likely rock there.

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22. The Horseshoe Tavern 370 Queen St W, Toronto, M5V 2A2

A bar & concert hall rich in history, The Horseshoe Tavern has been providing Toronto with prodigious rock talent since the 40's. Chances are you'll witness another special band while enjoying a brew.

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23. Black Box Theatre 1087 Queen St. W, Toronto, M6J 1H3

The Black Box Theatre, housed within the Great Hall Downstairs, hosts some of the finest bands in North America and worldwide, year in and year out.

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24. Fresh 147 Spadina Ave, Toronto, M5V 2L7

Fresh has been serving organic, tasty vegetarian meals and drinks for almost twenty years. They serve a vegan chipotle bacon burger that is sure to splendidly confuse even the most carnivorous of people.



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