There’s no shortage of cool bars, fun restaurants and other things to do in this downtown Toronto neighbourhood.
Let us entertain you! That’s the promise of Toronto’s downtown Entertainment District, which is often best experienced as part of a roving pack of fun-seekers.
Bounded roughly by Spadina and University avenues and Queen and King streets, the Entertainment District is reachable by Osgoode or St. Andrew subway stations, or by streetcar (several lines will get you here, notably the 504 that traverses King Street West).
If you’re game for anything from fine dining to a round of bowling, here’s how you could spend 48 hours with a fun group of people in Toronto’s Entertainment District.
Start by making Friday your Thai day. Khao San Road (11 Charlotte St.) takes its name from a famous Bangkok nightlife street, and like its namesake it tends to fill up. Beware: if you order a “Thai spicy” dish, you are in for a significant heat factor. PAI Northern Thai Kitchen (18 Duncan St.), meanwhile, takes its inspiration from the relatively temperate north of Thailand, and Chef Nuit Regular’s delicious dishes tend to be milder.
Now work off that meal with a bit of active fun. Back in the 1980s to 2000s, this area was known as “Clubland.” That era may be over, but there are still a few dance floors around. The Fifth Social Club (225 Richmond St. W.) is an old survivor, having opened in 1996.
Quirkier options for stand-up group fun include mini-golf bar Par-Tee Putt (26 Duncan St.) and The Ballroom (145 John St.), which has a liquor licence and bowling lanes you can book for a grown-up bowling party (try to book well in advance).
Regroup with the troops for a fortifying brunch at O&B Canteen (330 King St. W.). With bright, high ceilings and a nice patio, this casual restaurant on the ground floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox is like a fancy cafeteria that caters to a huge range of cravings, from avocado toast to steak and eggs.
Now how about a matinee? See our Theatre Lover’s Guide to King West for some options, including theatre and film. Or see if you can score tickets for afternoon ballet or opera at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.).
To go high-end for dinner, the Toronto outpost of the global Momofuku culinary empire occupies a space adjacent to the Shangri-La Hotel (190 University Ave.); two other restaurants occupy three floors of the same building. Head to the acclaimed Kōjin on the third floor for posh and eclectic dishes cooked over an open flame. (Noodle Bar, on the first and second floors, is a casual eatery with bench-style seating, deeply savoury ramen and snack-sized dishes.)
Byblos (11 Duncan St.), meanwhile, offers a gourmand’s tour of the Mediterranean: think Wagyu beef with hummus, or Turkish-style pide with Halloumi and truffle crème fraîche.
Wind down a bit with some quiet culture. For visual art lovers, 401 Richmond (401 Richmond St. W.) is a former industrial building that’s now home to many private galleries. Finish your journey in the complex at the Spacing Store, where you can grab a souvenir of your weekend of entertainment in Toronto.
Getting to the Entertainment District
Osgoode and St. Andrew subway stations, and 501 or 504 streetcars.