Hangout Handbook Filling Up in Toronto with BADBADNOTGOOD
In our annual Hangout Handbook, Exclaim! asks some of our favourite artists to discuss their favourite hometown haunts. Here, BADBADNOTGOOD saxophonist Leland Whitty outlines a perfect day in Toronto.
When we are in the city, our days usually start the same way: whoever wakes up first texts everyone else to figure out what time we will meet at our studio, and who will pick up the first round at Sam James Coffee Bar (several locations). Definitely always start your day here.
On a day off, after one or two hits of caffeine, hunger eventually strikes and a choice cure is brunch at Maha's (226 Greenwood Ave). Located on a residential strip among a row of houses in the east end of the city, this place is a family affair. There is no better feeling than being greeted by Maha's own daughter and son (co-owners of the spot), who will take your order back to Maha herself to cook up some authentic Egyptian cuisine.
Since Maha's brunch will leave you feeling extremely full (but satisfied), why not walk it off? Head down to the docks to take the ferry to Toronto Island and explore some of the many beaches that never seem to get too over-crowded.
After taking the Island ferry back to the city, let's do a bit of shopping. Cosmos Records (652 Palmerston Ave.; 607A Queen St. W.) is guaranteed to supply you with quality vintage vinyl, especially Brazilian, jazz and soul. Continue shopping along Queen and pop into F As In Frank (418 Queen St. W.), a reasonably priced vintage clothing store that I never leave from empty-handed.
Shopping will rev up your appetite, so grab a spot on the patio of The Fish Store (657 College St.). The brown rice (actually purple) meal with grilled fish and veggies may sound blasé, but this Korean-infused fresh fish market is a staple in our diet and the flavourful, fresh meal never disappoints and keeps us healthy.
Happy hour is upon us! If you fancy a cocktail, stop by Linwood Essentials (930 Queen St. W). Try the Oaxaca Old Fashioned (a Mexican twist on my favourite drink) or a Mint Julep (garnished with what seems to be an entire mint plant). If you're looking for a place more like your grandma's living room, swing by Bathurst Local (322 Bathurst St.), which is very hidden along a row of houses, and order your cocktail through a little window for a throwback to Prohibition.
All that alcohol should be soaked up by a dinner, so let's get dressed up and visit Bar Isabel (797 College St.) for some Spanish tapas (try the sweet breads). Anything you choose on the menu will be amazing, and the small plates make it easy to try everything.
After dinner it's time for some fun, so head to Bowlerama (five GTA locations) for a '90s flashback of bowling, arcade games, very cheap beer and greasy fries. Stay as long as you like because it's open all night, but don't forget to head out for a drink after.
Now sufficiently fuelled up and ready to party, head to the Cameron House (408 Queen St. W.) to dance. Anyone remotely in the music scene in Toronto has either played a show at the Cameron House or knows a friend who is playing. It's a community for musicians, plus the music is fun and easy to move to. There are two stages and usually a full lineup; it's sure to please everybody tagging along. Most of the bartenders (and owners) are musicians and are known to join the bands onstage for a song or two.
Since your hunger is clearly insatiable tonight, after a night of bowling and dancing, make one final stop at Owl of Minerva (700 Bloor St. W.) in the heart of Koreatown for some pork bone stew, or beef bulgogi on rice. Open super late, the kimchi will (maybe) help prevent a hangover.
Sit in Christie Pits Park to digest and reflect on all our city has to offer, and let tomorrow morning's fresh cup of Sam James coffee fill your dreams.
Leland Whitty officially joined BADBADNOTGOOD earlier this year; IV, his first album as a full-time member, is out now on Arts & Crafts.