Kensington Market is a lybrinthe of small markets just west of Chinatown. From butcher shops to vintage clothing, the market has it all. It is a diverse multi-cultural area with exotic tastes, feels, sights and smells.
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In the many years I have spent wandering around Toronto there is one sport in particular that I never grow bored of and is unique to Toronto, and that is Kensington Market. It is a square block of funkified old houses turned into vintage shops, bars, vegan restaurants, and food markets. All manner of artists, punks and freaks seem to spend time wandering here. You can find all different mixes of cultures sitting next to each other; A Jamaican store right next to a Chinese store next to an east Indian shop etc. I have even seen a coffee shop ( Kensingtons) that was featured on the popular tv show: Restuarant Make-Over.
Kensington market is one of those rare jems that has yet to be reproduced in any city I have visited as of yet. Kensington hides away from those not in the know; smartly hidden away behind Spadina street the main drag running through China town. Who would think that in the heart of china town would be the biggesst hippy vintage neighbourhood collective in the city.
Directions to this gem are as follows: From Union station take the younge/university/spadina line ( there are only two subway lines- the green and the yellow- you want the yellow line) to Osgoode( 2 stops from union). Follow Queen str. West to Spadina. Turn right onto Spadina and take it to Dundas. Turn left onto Dundas and the first street on the right is Kensington Ave.
There are lots of other ways to get there from various points in the city but this one is the easiest for me to describe in detail.
It's a withered telephone pole covered in ads, carvings of who loves who, and who will show you a good time if you call the number shown.
It's above the signs and far above my head. Someone in the Bohemian district of Toronto also thought like me: in which way shall I go that I might see something new?
It can be dizzying at times, but I don't mind vertigo.
Kensington Market is just West of Chinatown, near a stretch of the University of Toronto. Basically, this is the place to go once you've run out of money exploring the rest of Toronto. The restaurants are cheap and varied - serving everything from organic macrobiotic food (Raw! Raw! Raw! on Augusta Avenue) to giant hunks of vomitacious meat (Barberian's Steakhouse on Elm). Since the city is populated by people from so many different backgrounds, its chock full of all sorts of things to eat.
It's not just about eating yourself silly, though. The college kids provide a real source of entertainment. The University of Toronto is one of the prettiest campuses I've ever seen, and their involved student body keeps interesting things happening there. The shows put on at the college theatre are professional quality at a fraction of the cost, and the college gallery shows some pretty heavy-hitter artists without the crowds and snobbishness of in-town galleries. Also, apart from the college there are several little hole in the wall clubs and theatres. Just look amongst the wheat-paste covered flyers that entrench every telephone pole, and you'll find something interesting to do.
The best churches are here, too. I have kind of an obsession with old churches, and these were some of the best I've ever seen. I think that's primarily because they are not shrines to former houses of worship, but still in use. They are real - with presence and weight. http://www.historyoftoronto.ca/history/churches5.html is an excellent website on the area's churches, if you want to check it out.
This head shop has an excellent variety of stoney products, notably, dread tea shampoo, Canada puffy slippers, and cute cannabis panties. Then, head to the back to the Rocah-a-Rama café. The service is horrendously slow and food is decent, but it is one of the only places to smoke in Toronto. Heavy traffic at 4:20pm, of course.
The greatest place to buy stinky cheese! Why? Awesome selection, knowledgeable service, and John (not sure if that’s his name.) He wrote a guidebook on Toronto and is the man to ask questions about your traveling needs. Also, try the Quebec goat cheese. Tasty…
Kensington Market could be compared to for instance Camden Town in London. It's the student's and hippie's area in Toronto.
Here you will see loads of peculiar shops like: Courage my Love". You'll come across flamboyant cars, strangely decorated buildings and unusual street art. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Kensington Market is located between Dundas and College, west of Spadina Avenue.
Kensington Market - This funky and eclectic area sits right behind Chinatown in downtown Toronto near Dundas and Spadina (an easy walk up from Queen St. West if you are in a true shopping mood). It is a mix of second hand clothing shops, small jewellers, quaint cafes and restaurants, bakeries and fruit and vegetable stalls. This market is one of three in downtown Toronto and the only one that sells clothing. If you are looking for a bargain, are on a vegetarian diet, or are just looking for an area to explore for a couple of hours, you've found it!
Kensington Market is a great place to get to if you're in the area. It's about two and a half streets filled with incredible second-hand and food stores. It's a little tricky to locate, a little south-west of Dundas and Spadina. Enjoy!
Kensington Markets are really fun. It's nice to stroll around in the sun, outside people houses lines of clothes make a technicolour of fabric and bricks and mortor. Check it out!