Meghan Markle's Insider Guide to Toronto
When she’s not starring as paralegal Rachel Zane on USA Network drama Suits, actress Meghan Markle is serving us inspiring food, travel, fashion, and beauty content on her lifestyle site The Tig. Filming the series in Toronto over the past three years, Markle has learned the ins and outs of Canada’s most populous city. Read on for Markle’s guide to her current city, from the park she calls “hipster’s paradise,” to the best new cocktail bar in town.
• Locals call their one and two dollar coins "loonies" and "twonies.” So if a shopkeeper asks you for a looney, they're not looking for a story about your crazy aunt.
• Streetcars are a common mode of transportation and stop throughout the city. If you are driving, pay special attention for the streetcars since they stop rather unexpectedly to allow passengers in and out.
• Order poutine! It's so Canadian. A mix of fries slathered in gravy and sprinkled with (not as weird as it sounds) cheese curds. It's actually so delicious — not to mention a right of passage — and tons of places sell it.
Kensington Market is a local mecca for all things food and fun is several blocks of fishmongers, meat purveyors, mum-and-pop veggie stands, juice bars, and fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Throughout the summer the market has pedestrian Sundays where no cars can pass through it, and it feels like one big block party: bands performing, the smells of every exotic cuisine wafting in the air, and a relaxed vibe that makes you feel that Sunday kinda love.
I call this hipster's paradise. It's a massive park with a huge dog run in the middle, which is ideal for my super active dog, Bogart. But beyond the normal park humdrum (tennis courts and softball field), you'll see people set up stands for the likes of free hugs, yoga in the park, dance classes, and performance art. It's really the mecca for meeting up with friends, throwing a frisbee until day turns to night, and listening to the ambient beat of bongo drums from another end of the park.
The Harbord Room is hands-down my absolute favourite restaurant in Toronto and beyond. The food is just perfect, whether you're craving a crudo plate, a seasonal pasta dish laced with ramps, pesto and a whole lotta love, or the absolute best burger you've ever had. My friend, Natalie, brought me here years ago for the burger (with fries and a bottle of pinot noir), and it remains my most-craved meal. Just go. This one's a no-brainer.
This is a comfortable space with a concise and absolutely delicious menu. I go for the côte de boeuf (all sourced by my favourite meat purveyor in the region, Cumbrae's), relaxed vibe, and great service. Also, they have an open kitchen, which I'm a sucker for, and a great table in the back that would be perfect for a small celebration.
I used to live in Madrid, so my love for Spanish cuisine runs deep. Bar Isabel has a beautiful space with Andalucian tiles that reminds me of long weekends in Seville. Order the ceviche, and if you're a fan of octopus, definitely go for that; it is served whole,with garlicky potatoes that will make you want to fall into a blissful carb coma.
Terroni is a go-to and a standby — a restaurant that you will find me at all the time. There are three locations in Toronto (my favourite being the flagship on Queen Street), but they all get the job done. The pasta always has the perfect bite and the mains are great — order both with a bottle (or carafe) of wine. It's a solid bet for an easy weeknight (or weekend) dinner.
Head here for perfect vintage finds and a staff that makes you feel as precious as a Georgia peach. I go in weekly for inspiration and little additions to my closet.
This is my favourite store for a curated selection of clothes, gifts, jewellery and fragrance. Think Assouline coffee table books, Aviator Nation frocks, and Le Labo, all within the shop that is likely smaller than your bedroom. I love that you don't have to pilfer through racks, and I always find something I love either for myself or my girlfriends.
This shop features a bespoke mix of the best niche designers. Think Wes Gordon, Giambattista Valli, and Prabal Gurung. It's cutting-edge and classic all at the same time.
Holt Renfrew is the ultimate luxury Canadian department store. Go for the shoe department and ready-to-wear collections, and take a mini hiatus to have a glass of bubbles and salad at the store’s lovely restaurant. You can find incredible Canadian designers within these walls; get a gift for everyone back home.
I've loved this teeny tiny space for a few years. They don't serve any drinks with vodka, which I both love and hate all at the same time, but the fact of the matter is they don't need it. The drinks are solid, and the mixologists are as friendly as they come. Ask for Travis.
This place just opened, and I am head over heels for the space. It feels like New York City to me, with a warm feeling that hugs you when you walk in the door, inviting you to stay. Great vibe, adventurous menu, and a top-notch cocktail and wine list. Highly recommended for a nightcap.
Head over to The Tig to read more travel guides for some of Markle's favourite places!
Photographs: 1. Scarleth Marie, 2. The Fairy Trails, 3. Thompson Hotels, 4. The Hardbord Room, 5. Bestellen, 6. Dobbernation Loves, 7. Fantabulous Me, 8. Rowell Photo, 9. BlogTO, 10. Forbes, 11. Holt Renfrew. 12. Porkosity