If you are an avid shopper like me, you’ll love the Toronto shopping scene. It’s diverse and caters to all types of shoppers. Toronto malls also provide some much-needed entertainment during the winter months when it’s too cold to stay outside for too long.
Here’s a list of the best places to shop in Toronto with suggestions on what to buy and where to eat. Happy Shopping!
1. Eaton Centre
Eaton Centre is the most popular place to shop in Toronto. It’s a huge shopping mall with more than 230 retailers. It’s centrally located at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas, smack in the middle of Downtown Toronto and has great access to the subway and streetcars. So, it’s very easy to get to. However, this also means that this shopping mall is usually crowded on weekends. So, it’s best to shop here mid-week.
Eaton Centre Stores – What to buy?
Buy casual wear from Scotch and Soda, ALDO, Call It Spring and Zara. For luxury brands, visit the topmost floor of Eaton Centre . My favorite brand shops are Michael Kors, Coach and the British brand, Ted Baker. The Apple store is also located on the same floor. If you want to buy electronics other than Apple, visit BestBuy or The Source.
Across the bridge, at Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay, you can buy more designer labels. If you are shopping for wedding dresses or bridal accessories try Kleinfeld’s at Hudson’s Bay.
Where to eat?
There’s a food court at the lowest level of Eaton Centre serving food from various cuisines. There’s also Richtree Natural Market Restaurants on the ground floor of Eaton Centre closer to the Queen Street exit. At Hudson’s Bay, there’s also Pusateri’s. However, if you are looking for restaurants, there’s Joey Eaton Centre located near the Dundas Street exit, Akashiro By Sushi Q located in the food court, and Lena restaurant serving South American cuisine.
Eaton Centre Hours
Eaton Centre is open from 10.00 AM to 9.30 PM on weekdays, 9.30 AM to 9.30 PM on Saturday and 10.00 AM to 7.00 PM on Sundays. Holiday hours differ.
220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1. Map
2. Yorkdale Mall
Yorkdale Mall is my second favorite shopping mall in Toronto after Eaton center. The shopping mall is spacious with 40 ft wide halls and 27 ft tall ceilings giving it a luxurious feel. It’s also less crowded than Eaton Centre. The only drawback is the location. Yorkdale mall is located in the northern part of Toronto which is far away from the core of the city. Sure, there’s a subway station right next to it. However, it’s still a longish ride to the mall from downtown.
What to buy?
October’s Very Own (OVO)
October’s Very Own (OVO) is a brand owned by the Canadian rapper, singer and songwriter, Drake. You can find the flagship store of OVO at Yorkdale mall where you can shop a range of casual wear all with their signature owl logo on them. A new store of OVO has recently opened at Toronto Eaton Centre (Aug 2019) as well.
The most popular shops in Yorkdale mall, especially in winter, are Canada Goose, Moose Knuckle and Mackage, which sell high-end winter jackets. The jackets are so in-demand that you may have to stand in line for an hour to get inside during peak shopping hours.
Yorkdale Mall is the place to go if you are shopping for ultra-luxurious watches. You can choose from many high-end brands like Piaget, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin, IWC Schaffhausen, and Cartier.
Where to eat?
Yorkdale mall has a food court on the topmost floor, which is usually very crowded. If you are looking for restaurants, there are plenty of options too. There’s Jamie’s Italian and Joey’s Yorkdale restaurant; Both of these have an exterior entrance. Inside the mall, there’s Bazille restaurant and Habitat inside Nordstrom, Moxie’s Classic Grill, Laudree and others. My favorite is the RH Courtyard Cafe where you can sit beneath olive trees inside the mall! You can find the RH Courtyard Cafe near the J2 entrance.
Yorkdale mall hours
Yorkdale mall is open from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm from Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 9.00 pm on Saturdays and from 11.00 am to 7 pm on Sundays. The mall is also open on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. The opening and closing times on these days differ from normal times.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON. Map
Another area known for luxury shopping in Toronto is the Bloor-Yorkville area. It’s so popular that you can sometimes spot Hollywood celebrities in this area. My number one go-to departmental store in this area is Holt-Renfrew on Bloor Street. You can shop everything from makeup to designer dresses, bags and shoes in one place. On occasion, there are some great sales and discounts available.
Other designer shops in the same line-up are Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, and Hermes. If you saunter onto Yorkville street, you’ll find more brands like Christian Louboutin, Chanel, and Yorkville Village – an upscale shopping complex. A recent popular addition to the shops in Bloor-Yorkville is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.
What to buy?
I am a big fan of the Netherlands brand, Wandler. I like the simple clean lines of the bag which come in distinctive shapes. You can buy these bags on the topmost floor at Holt Renfrew.
Go designer for a lower price tag at Nordstorm Rack. You can’t miss the store, it looms large across from the Bloor-street subway station and occupies the lower floors of the One-Bloor Condominium building.
Where to eat?
Yonge Street, which runs perpendicular to Bloor Street, has a number of restaurants lining both sides of the street. I particularly like Korean BBQ Grill, where you can grill your own meat and get a shot of Soju. The trend on Yonge Street, in terms of restaurants, is certainly leaning towards Asian or Asian-Fusion in recent days.
Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area, Bay Street #310, Toronto, ON. Map
4. Queen Street West
Queen Street West is the best place to find unique boutiques, Canadian designer brands and pop-up stores. The pop-up stores keep the shopping scene fresh bringing in the latest in trends and fashion.
What to buy?
If you are a winter-sports, hiking and climbing enthusiast, then you will appreciate the winter-ready gear of Arc’teryx. You can find their brand store at 339 Queen Street West. You can also find them at Yorkdale mall.
Find some rare collectible shoes, skateboards, and T-shirts from brands such as Nike, OVO and Supreme all neatly wrapped in cellophane and displayed with the sign “Don’t touch”. Though the shoes and skateboards are too expensive to be actually bought, it’s still fun to visit the store and marvel at the collection.
Where to eat?
Ricarda’s Mediterranean Restaurant
This restaurant located at the corner of Peter and Richmond St. serves one of the best risotto I have ever eaten complemented by the perfect tomato chutney. If you visit on a Sunday, you can enjoy a delicious All-You-Can-Eat breakfast, which is slightly on the expensive side, but totally worth it!
The part of Queen Street West starting from Yonge Street to Trinity Bellwoods Park. Map
5. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is an eclectic neighborhood with vintage shops, restaurants, and bars. People’s opinions are usually split when it comes to this area. Some would describe the area as dingy, unkempt, an area in need of serious policing whereas others would say that it’s ethnically diverse with interesting specialty shops and restaurants. In my opinion, the truth is a bit of both. If you look past the shortcomings of Kensington Market, you’ll enjoy shopping and dining in this area.
What to buy
Kensington Market is known for vintage clothes and accessories. Since I have never shopped vintage before, I wouldn’t know what to recommend from personal experience. However, for people who are interested in vintage, there are plenty of shops here.
Artisinal Chocolates and Macaroons
Kensington Market is home to many specialty shops. One of my favorite specialty stores in Kensington Market is CXBO chocolates. These artisanal chocolates are beautiful to look and delightful to eat.
Another specialty store I like is DaanGo. Located right opposite CXBO chocolates, this shop caught my eye because of the colorful macaroon display. Popular cartoon characters such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger and others adorn the macaroon shells. If you think this is cute, wait till you see the Lucky duck almond dacquoise and Tira-Meow-Su creations. These are just too cute to eat!
Where to eat
Film Cafe By Eative
Film Cafe is a film-themed, self-service restaurant serving all-day Japanese breakfast. It’s not immediately evident that the restaurant is self-service. The menus are placed near the staircase leading up to the seating area or you can directly order at the counter. Your food will be served to you at the table when it’s ready. On my visit to the cafe, I tried the Kyoto breakfast which had Tamago Yaki, Japanese-style thinly rolled eggs, Shrimp Tempura, Onigiri purple rice balls, and Edamame with miso soup.
Hanabusa Cafe serves the fluffiest pancakes I have seen. These delicious pancakes which look quite thick and heavy at first glance, melt in your mouth and are consumed in seconds. The texture of the pancake is different from a normal pancake and it reminded me of Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake, a popular Japanese Cheesecake in Toronto. The cream and fruit toppings were delightful too. However, I was not quite as taken with my matcha green tea which even though was cute to look at, didn’t taste as good.
Kensington Market occupies the block starting from the intersection of College Street and Spadina Avenue and goes up to Bathurst Street. You can enter the Kensington market from Augusta Avenue on College Street. Map
6. Distillery District
The Gooderham and Worts Distillery was the largest whiskey distillery in the world circa 1860. Now, it’s a cool, hip place to shop, eat and enjoy art. I particularly like the cobblestone streets and the fact that many shops have not gone overboard with renovations and modernizations. So, you can experience a good blend of historic and modern vibes.
What to buy in Distillery District?
John Fluevog Shoes
Designed by Jon Fluevog, these shoes are one of the most distinctive shoes you’ll ever find. Owning a Vog, as they are called, is like owning a piece of art. What sets them apart from other shoes is their bold colors, design and distinctive heel shape. The only other location in Toronto where you can find John Fluevog shoes is at 686 Queen St. W.
Local Arts and Crafts
If you are looking to buy local art and crafts, you’ve come to the right place. There are many art galleries to choose from such as Jason Leo Bantle’s wildlife photography gallery called All in the Wild, Arta Gallery, Beauchamp Art Gallery, Corkin Gallery, Thomson Landry, and Gallery Indigena. You can also see some artists at work in their studios at Artscape Distillery Studios when they have an open house. You can buy their creations at the stores in the same building.
Where to eat in Distillery District?
There are a variety of restaurants and cafes in Distillery district with patio seating that you can enjoy in summer. If you are craving Ramen, try the Boku Noodle Bar. For some authentic Mexican with a modern twist, try the El Catrin. For some sweet and savory chocolates with unusual flavors, visit SOMA Chocolate makers.
Distillery District, Old Toronto, Toronto, ON. Map