There's nothing quite like travelling the world—not only does it give us a chance to experience different wonders and cultures, but it's also an excuse for us to taste and smell different flavours that are otherwise foreign to our senses.
But that of course, takes time and money—something the average Toronto busybody may not be able to spare so easily.
Lucky for us then, that Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world; with an extremely diverse demographic and more than 140 native languages and dialects spoken just within the Greater Toronto Area, this potpourri of a place is a great starting point as any to experience the world on a typical day in the city.
Toronto's Ethnic Neighbourhoods
Toronto's long history of immigration has often led to the development of ethnic neighbourhoods or enclaves around the city. These neighbourhoods, built by generations of proud immigrants are what give Toronto real estate and lifestyle their distinct multicultural character today.
For anyone living in Toronto, visiting these districts is like signing up for an international buffet of sorts (after all, what better way to understand one's culture than to have a taste of their culinary heritage?).
This allows the epi-curious to sample and add varieties of authentic ethnic cuisine onto their plate (or palate).
So maybe you can't afford to take that trip to Rome and do as the Romans do, just yet. Why not take your palate out for a little trip around the world on weekends? Here are just a few examples of exotic destinations you can visit, without ever having to pack your bags and head for Pearson Airport:
One of the largest in North America, Toronto's Chinatown stretches along Spadina Ave and Dundas St West. Among a multitude of Chinese businesses, you'll find seafood and fruit markets, bakeries, and of course, restaurants. The area is just within walking distance from the always-exciting Kensington Market, so you can easily make a whole day out of your trip. A smaller, but no less charming East Chinatown lies in the neighbourhood of Riverdale in Toronto's East End.
Also in Riverdale is Toronto's Greektown, which spans a portion of Danforth Ave, roughly between Chester and Jones. You'll find specialty shops selling Greek pastries, imported cheese, traditional Mediterranean ingredients like grape leaves and exotic olive varieties, along with bakeries and tavernas.
Along Bloor St West, just west of the famous Honest Ed's, you'll have plenty of food to sample in Koreatown, whether at an eatery, bakery, or grocery. Come nightfall, you can try and distract yourself from the effects of overeating and sing your favourite tunes in one of the local karaoke bars in town. Seaton Village and The Annex are among the neighbourhoods near Koreatown.
Also offering Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi fare, Little India along Gerrard St stretches east to west from Coxwell to Greenwood. The famous Gerrard India Bazaar, said to be the largest in North America, sells beautifully-woven textiles, jewelry, exotic South Asian spices, and of course, edible delights. You'll find East Chinatown just close by on the same street.
Just a few blocks directly south of Koreatown lies Little Italy, shared between the Palmerston and Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhoods. With an array of trattorias, cafes, bars, nightclubs, butcher shops, cheese shops, seafood markets, and the finest imported ingredients from the Mediterranean, you could easily spend a day and a night here. The heart of Little Italy is College St, but if you can't make it out this far, try paying a visit to Corso Italia in Midtown, the other Little Italy.
At times considered a part of Brockton Village in Toronto's West End, Little Portugal is a neighbourhood in its own right. Although predominantly a residential area, there are businesses and eateries located along College and Dundas with a bit of Portuguese, and more recently, Brazilian flavour. The southern end of Little Portugal also overlaps with the always-funky Queen St West neighbourhood, so there's extra incentive to make it out to the area.
"If you're ever in the Thunder Bay area, try and make a stop at Little Finland along Bay St!"