Greektown in Toronto
Greektown, also called "the Danforth", is a district in Toronto.
Going East on Bloor Street by subway, bus or car, you cross the Prince Edward Viaduct made famous by the Michael Ondaatje book In the Skin of a Lion. This bridge was, until recently, also infamous for having a high suicide rate. The city installed barriers to prevent people from jumping off the bridge into the Don Valley below. After you cross the Don Valley the street name changes to Danforth and there are lots of Greek restaurants. The main section of restaurants and cool shops is between Ellerbeck and Pape with Carrot Common (at Chester subway) being ground zero.
The best way to get there from downtown is to take the Bloor Danforth subway - get on the very front of the subway and look out the front window for a cool view of crossing the bridge. Kids love it.
Alternatively, there is the bike path along Bloor which ends at Broadview/Danforth. This route allows you to stop in the middle of the Prince Edward Viaduct for a spectacular view of the Don Valley south to the lake including all the skyscrapers of downtown. Or another bike route is to travel along the Don bike path from north or south and exit the path at Pottery Road (long uphill warning) with the reward of Dairy Queen at the top of the hill. This DQ has one of the best views of the city. From the DQ head south on Broadview to the Danforth and then to the east.
By car - assuming you are coming from another city - take the 401 to the DVP, head south on the DVP to the Bloor exit. Exit and follow the road up the hill and you will come to a light - turn left. You are at CastleFrank subway and about to cross the bridge which will become the Danforth once you pass Broadview.
Just to the north of Danforth on Playter crescent is the old Playter farmhouse - one of the original houses from when the area was settled. It was still in the family until 2006, when it was sold. It has not been turned into any kind of museum.
Nearby is Todmorden Mills, an early settlement area near the Don River. Go north on Broadview from the Danforth, turn left at Pottery Road (at the Dairy Queen), down the big hill, then turn left at the bottom and find a parking spot. There are some old houses which are well preserved and complete with furnishings. In behind the houses, there is a circular walking path that crosses over an old bend in the Don River that has been cut off from the main flow by the construction of the Don Valley Parkway.
The best thing to do on the Danforth is to find a sidewalk cafe and sit there drinking coffee, wine, beer and eat Mezes. There are plenty of options here and they all are well worth it.
Taste of the Danforth happens the second weekend in August. During this event, the Danforth is closed off to vehicular traffic and there is a massive street party. Don't drive and hope to find parking. Take the subway to either Broadview, Chester or Pape. Of course there is a Greek theme with tons of BBQ'ed souvlaki but there is other types of food too. There are midway rides for kids too. Last year there were almost a million people on the street and it was very festive. There are 2 stages. The main Greek stage is at Logan.
At the west end of the area there is a very popular Book City in the Carrot Common area which is great for hanging out. Also within the Carrot Common is a cool rock store where you can buy all sorts of crystals and there are some telescopes there too.
South of the Danforth at Withrow is the large Withrow park, which has a great area for young 2 - 9 year old kids, an area to let dogs off leash and a skating rink in the winter.
Olives, Feta (at Alex Farms cheese store - an adventure in cheese!), Greek flags in case Greece does well in "football". Also, there is the hot sauce store at the lights near Carrot Common, plus a fair amount of home furnishing stores.
Many many great restaurants - most come for the Greek food.
- Allens, 143 Danforth Avenue, 416 463 3086, . Great food and bar with a superb selection of beer. Try another from Unibroue such Fin de Monde or Maudite for real beer. Live Celtic music on weekends.
- Astoria Shish Kebob House, 390 Danforth Avenue, 416 463 2838, . One of the better Greek restaurants around.
- Avli, 401 Danforth Avenue, 416 461 9577, . Greek cuisine.
- Brussels Cafe, on the north side of the Danforth near Broadview. Great Belgian food: mussels, frites and beers.
- Lily, 786 Broadview Avenue, 416 465 9991. Great Japanese food.
- Mariko, 353 Danforth Avenue, 416 463 8231. Good Japanese food and has an all you can eat sushi offering.
- Omonia Shishkabab, 426 Danforth Avenue, 416 465 2129.
- Ouzeri, 500A Danforth Avenue, 416 778 0500, . Generous portions of Greek food in an elegant setting.
- Pan, 516 Danforth Avenue, 416 466 8158, . An older establishment with Greek cuisine.
- Pappas Grill, 440 Danforth Avenue, 416 469 9595. Greek food.
- Sher e Punjab, 351 Danforth Avenue (on the south side across from Carrot Common), 416 465 2125, . Great Indian food in a nice family atmosphere. Try the lamb saag.
After dinner, the wide sidewalks lure many locals out for a casual stroll up and down the streets. It's a great way to spend a summer weekend evening.
Ouzo - available at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) outlet, south side of the Danforth near Ellerbeck.
The closest hotels are at Yonge and Bloor and are rather expensive.
There is also one Bed and Breakfast, just east of Pape and Danforth on Langford Ave.