Whether you’re a native Torontonian, new to the city, or visiting from UTM or UTSC, the area surrounding the St. George campus has plenty to offer. If libraries and lecture halls fail to inspire you, head to a local coffee shop where you’re certain to find your muse for that ENG140 essay surrounded by fellow aspiring literary geniuses. To celebrate (or mourn) the results of your first paper, head to one of the bars in the area, because at the end of the day, drinks and nachos can make almost anything better. When you’ve exhausted the areas immediately surrounding campus, branch out and explore the many unique corners of this diverse city.
154 Cumberland Street
Remarkably affordable for its swanky Yorkville location, Shogun is a great place for lunch or dinner after a class on the east side of campus. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to dine with Richard Gere (or, at least, his photo).
656A Spadina Avenue
Located just a few steps from campus, Cora Pizza is a cheap, deliciously greasy staple among U of T students. Its late-night hours make it ideal fuel for long nights of studying at Robarts.
326 Bloor Street West
One of several in the city, Fresh’s Bloor and Spadina location is constantly packed with lovers of healthy and delicious eats. The portions are huge, and you can’t help feeling like you’re doing your body good with their largely organic, vegan fare. With dine-in and take-out options, Fresh is perfect for dinner with friends or food on-the-go. Try their $7.50 smoothie and treat special, available weekdays from 2:30 pm–5:30 pm, for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Future Bakery & Café
483 Bloor Street West
Its prime location near some of the most frequented Bloor Street West bars makes Future Bakery a great place for 1:00 am cake. It’s also a favourite student spot for cheap breakfast.
7 Charles Street West
Located near the east side of campus, 7 West is a great place to grab a bite with friends. The café’s three levels mean that there are almost always seats available, and the menu has a variety of options to please any palate. The best part: it’s open 24/7, 365 days a year.
115 Harbord Street
This place has been around since 1945, and its longevity is really no surprise. With delicious baked goods and prepared food items, you can’t go wrong. Stop by for a sandwich or an entire loaf of bread — those three-hour lectures can really drag on — on your way to class.
8 St. Andrew Street
Offering delicious Korean fare, good service, and located a short walk from campus, Ka Chi is an excellent spot for lunch or dinner with friends. Their prices are also well-suited to a student budget.
The Original Gyro Grill
4 Walmer Road
This relatively new Annex joint serves traditional Greek food, with creative twists on old classics. The food is delicious, the staff is warm, the portions are huge, and the price is right; it’s essentially a student’s dream restaurant.
Coffee and tea
It’s no surprise that caffeine is the go-to fuel for the young academic. Luckily, the Toronto café scene is varied and often exceptional. These coffee shops are not only a great place to get your mid-afternoon jolt, but also boast prime off-campus study spaces — just bring headphones and a fully charged laptop battery.
426 College Street
This College Street favourite not only features delicious coffee, but also a great variety of gelato. Although often busy, the seating in the back is fairly quiet and regularly populated by work-focused students.
Seven Grams Espresso Bar
131 Avenue Road
Although a bit of a walk from campus on a cold winter day, Yorkville’s Seven Grams offers a delicious variety of coffee and loose-leaf tea. The comfy, inviting downstairs seating and quiet atmosphere, perfect for a coffee date or study session, make it worth the walk.
Moonbean Coffee Company
30 St. Andrew Street
This Kensington spot is hard to beat and wins the award for best beans. It’s worth investing in a coffee pot to be able to brew your own at home. Sitting at the café is also always a treat; the staff is warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable.
Bicerin Espresso Bar
37 Baldwin Street
Located in Baldwin Village, Bicerin Espresso Bar serves up coffee that is both delicious and beautiful. If latte art doesn’t pique your interest, it also has free Wi-Fi and plenty of power outlets.
There are plenty of options for alcoholic beverages in the area surrounding campus, with venues ranging from classic pubs and questionable dives to cozy conversational joints. While you’re sure to quickly discover the Brunswick House, the Fox and Fiddle, and the Madison Avenue Pub, here are a few lesser-known watering holes and a couple of must-try classics.
581 Markham Street
This restaurant and bar is nestled in a refurbished Victorian home on Markham Street, just a short walk from campus. It’s a favourite among students, with a variety of craft beer and well-priced eats. The patio is a great place to sip sangria and people-watch in the warmer months, and the upstairs room is spacious for larger get-togethers.
431 College Street
While this joint is far from a well-kept secret, it’s a staple that demands mentioning. A classic, albeit rather grungy, hangout, Sneaky Dee’s is a great spot for drinks with friends after a long exam. Its nachos are some of the best in the city, and it offers food and drink specials each night of the week. Ignore the stickiness of the floor and enjoy.
416 Snack Bar
181 Bathurst Street
This Bathurst and Queen spot is a bit of a trek from campus, but it’s definitely worth the walk. An ode to Toronto, both the food and décor are based on the city’s history and diversity. The drink menu is sophisticated and the food is delicious, but snack-sized — so if you’re craving a huge meal, this probably isn’t the place for you. 416 can get a little pricey, but it’s definitely a spot to tick off of your Toronto checklist.
60 Kensington Avenue
You can’t help but feel cool as you walk through the secret entrance to this Kensington bar. With a substantial patio, great drink deals, and dim sum appetizers until the wee hours of the morning, Cold Tea is a must try.
Academics might be an important part of university, but so is having fun. Toronto has endless options for entertainment, from theatre and slam poetry to rock climbing and bowling. Here are some entertainment spots around campus at which you can take a well-deserved break.
Castle Board Game Café
454 Spadina Avenue
This spot is one of several installations in the board game café craze. Similar to Snakes and Lattes, Castle Board Game Café is large and generally lacks the lengthy wait time that other board game venues always seem to have. The spacious location is ideal for larger groups on a quest to conquer fantasy worlds. That being said, Snakes and Lattes, Snakes and Lagers, and Bampot House of Tea & Board Games are great alternatives.
471 Bloor Street West
Whether you’re searching for some recreational reading or a copy of T.S. Eliot for your English lit seminar, BMV Books has an incredible selection and even more impressive prices. The majority of its books are new — or close to it — but they’re generally 50 per cent cheaper than the prices at the big chain stores. Also check out Eliot’s Bookshop, Balfour Books, and Ten Editions Bookstore.
Kula Yoga Studio
304 Brunswick Avenue
This yoga studio, located in the Annex, is a great place to drop in for a little body-mind relaxation and rejuvenation. It offers discounted rates for students, as well as select $8 classes that change daily. It prides itself on being a welcoming space for all, and boasts several positive space initiatives — including queer yoga, a gender-neutral changing pod, and classes for all body types and skill levels.
Hey Lucy Café
440 Bloor Street West
$4.50 martinis on Wednesdays
Insomnia Restaurant & Lounge
563 Bloor Street West
$4 Steam Whistle on Tuesdays
298 Brunswick Avenue
$3 rail drinks Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Nirvana Restaurant Bar Lounge
434 College Street
Sangria Sundays: $4.75 for a pint,
$ 14.50 for a pitcher