Kensington Market is one of the most beloved neighbourhoods in Toronto and there are many reasons why. From its multicultural food offerings, vintage and cannabis shops, photogenic street art, to the popular Pedestrian Sundays (aka PSK), the ever-changing area always offers something to do.
1. Drink Craft Beer
Kensington Brewing Co. founded in the market and their beers are brewed right on site. In fact, you can see the brewing tanks as soon as you walk in. We recommend doing a flight so you can try a few different beers. Kensington Brewing Co’s Market Pilsner is an easy drinking beer to start with and there are always seasonal flavours as well. Other fun places in the market to grab a drink include the spacious Trinity Commons and Maison Close for a cozy neighbourhood vibe.
2. Get a Blast from the Past
You’ll find many vintage clothing shops that have treasures from different decades. Courage My Love is a great place to browse for interesting vintage clothing including some repurposed pieces designed in house. Bungalow has a mix of new and old clothing but also a beautiful selection of Mid-Century Modern furniture and home decor. Flashback is the best spot for vintage dresses from different eras, particularly items from the 50’s to the 80’s.
3. Shop Locally Made
Toronto has many local artists and makers and you can see many of the amazing Canadian made products in Kensington Market. Kid Icarus is really great for local art prints, home goods and jewelry. Fresh Collective has many unique items and they only sell clothing and accessories that are made in Canada. Sanagan’s Meat Locker is great for sourcing out some locally made condiments and preserves. Usually on weekends you can see a few street vendors selling handmade goods such as art, jewellery and wood carvings as well. Check out our list for more great places to shop locally in the city.
4. Try Indigenous Canadian Food
Toronto prides itself in its diversity and foods can be found from around the world but it is not common to hear about Indigenous Canadian cuisine. Pow Wow Cafe is a tiny restaurant in the heart of Kensington Market that specializes in Indigenous Canadian dishes. Pow Wow Cafe is known for their Indian tacos which consists of fried bannock (a type of bread) that is topped with beef chili, fresh veggies, salsa and sour cream. Pow Wow Cafe is popular for lunch and brunch and they have vegetarian options as well. Read more about Pow Wow Cafe here.
5. Stock Up on Unique Ingredients
The multiculturalism of Kensington Market can be reflected in the all the different grocers in the neighbourhood. For people who like to cook and experiment with different cuisines, Kensington market is a real gem for sourcing unique ingredients. Caribbean Corner has a great selection of fresh produce and even different hit pepper plants in the summer. Perola’s Supermarket is the oldest Latin American grocer in Canada and you can be sure to find a great variety of dried chilis, cheeses and sauces. Carlos’s House of Spice is the ultimate place for all your spice blends and dried herbs from around the world.
6. Have a Coffee Break
There are several independent cafes that make for a perfect spot to grab a cup of joe and relax. Fika is a Swedish cafe that is in an 18th century Victorian house serving up drinks made with local roaster, Pilot Coffee, and there are Swedish pastries like semlas which are sweet buns scented with cardamom. Little Pebbles is a cafe with a Japanese twist that uses beans from the De Mello Palheta roastery while Moonbean Coffee Company roasts their own beans and offer an impressive tea selection as well. These are just a few of the cafes in the market but if you walk around you are sure to spot others and they are all great.
7. Catch some Live Music
Kensington Market is home to many local artists and musicians and there are several spots to catch some live music. Poetry Jazz Cafe is dim and moody and there are different musicians playing there in the evenings all the time. Supermarket usually hosts a rowdier crowd with a variety of live music throughout the week. The Kensington Market Jazz Festival happens every year in September and it is another great opportunity to watch some musicians at different shops and storefronts. However, on most days where the weather is not too cold, you can find some excellent local buskers playing on street corners in the neighbourhood as well.