Toronto, Canada
Rachelle, 30
Designer & Artist
see her Toronto city guide

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japanese food museums boutiques café distillery architecture gift shop

What do you do and why do you do it?

I'm a designer that enjoys crafting solutions for a myriad of sectors. I mean, it's kind of hard to explain what I do 'cause I feel like I do a bit of everything! You see, I was trained as an industrial designer, this means I design and build my own products and furniture (pretty fun, until you realize your living room suddenly has 5 desks). On the other hand I am also a graphic designer that develops brand identities, messes around with digital animation and illustration. Oh, and I also make mixed media artworks. I do all of this 'cause I love history, problem solving, and trying to figure people out.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

If I really want a good cry I'd listen to something by Sigur Rós, or maybe Ludovico Einaudi's "The Earth Prelude," The Album Leaf's "Twentytwofourteen" and "Big Light" by Houses. Yep. Get your Kleenex ready.

What are the best TV shows of all time?

Cosmos (both the original Carl Sagan and the Neil deGrasse Tyson remake). Other than that I don't actually watch that much TV. I like Homeland and like everyone else, I watch Game of Thrones... but I will be the first to admit I am totally lost in the series and maybe care only 38% of the time about what's happening on screen. Gasp!

Name some spots in Toronto that are good for a Tinder date.

Back in my Tinder days I'd be a huge advocate for grabbing a coffee and heading over for a walk around town (seriously anywhere works, except maybe a desolate park), through a street festival or some other scenic stuff, and then either skipping out real easy or walking some more to extend the date. Other than that I'd suggest going for the messiest food you can think of, real sloppy nachos or tacos (Sneaky Dee's), or something else that will leave food in your teeth and grime on your face. Makes the awkward first date more awkward, which means the two levels of awkward cancel each other out and results in a truly laughable Tinder fiasco.

Who’s your hero and where in Toronto would you take them out for a serious hang?

As corny as this sounds I'd probably say my dad's my hero and for a serious hang, I'd take him for an early morning spandex bike ride around town, as that's both what we enjoy best. We'd stop for a post-ride coffee at Fix Coffee + Bikes.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Ha! Fabulous right? I don't shop all that much, instead I am very good at mixing and matching my existing closet. I buy all of my clothes in person, usually randomly, as I come across them. I can't remember the last time I purposefully went out for a clothing-centric shopping trip! And here's another confession... I've never bought anything online, only a camera case. That's it. I know once I start buying online it'll be the death of me, so I ain't starting!

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

Um, well, there was this really filthy stinky building and parkade I had checked out in Chinatown (roughly around Spadina + Dundas). I don't think I ever want to venture near that building's garbage bins, parkades, or staircases ever again, although the rest of Chinatown is worth wandering through.

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

I don't get to cycle as much as I used to in my previous hometown of Edmonton. So I'd say "go for a mid-day spandex cycling ride through the city." It's just too dangerous to ride real fast on your bike with all of the traffic and pedestrians.

What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in Toronto and where did you get it?

I eat anything. So instead of decadent I'd probably go for an extreme dish in Toronto. I really enjoy tripe at dim sum restaurants, but I haven't had any in Toronto yet. Like I said, I'm quite the adventurous eater, my theory is "if it isn't good they wouldn't have put it on the menu!"

Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in Toronto that you particularly like?

I haven't explored Toronto enough! There are some in Koreatown, but of course I don't remember the names of them as I was simply following my much cooler friends around.

What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in Toronto? How much did it cost and what did you get there?

I haven't been out for some fine dining in Toronto yet, I don't go to spas and most hotels I stay in are not considered luxurious. So man, I suck at answering questions tonight don't I?

What restaurant in Toronto looks crap, but the food’s amazing?

Sneaky Dee's looks pretty dirty and sketch, but the food is pretty great. Don't know if it's "ammaaaaaazing" per se, but it's definitely worth trying out.

Where can you get the best cocktail in Toronto? Which one do you like?

There are so many good cocktail bars around Toronto! So hard to pick just one. The Drake Cafe has some nice ones, as does the Grand Electric. Unfortunately I do not know the names of the cocktails I had. I usually pick them on a whim. Truth is I have yet to have had a bad cocktail, but then again that may just be because I am no cocktail connoisseur, so they all taste great to me. All I know is that I tend to avoid the ones with egg whites, as I find it always has a slight smell of dirty dish towel. I'm fancy like that...

Where would you take your partner in Toronto if you wanted to really pamper them?

I'd probably have to suck it up and take him to a Raptor's game! Oh Lordy... (love you)

Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?

Oh the eternal question of "what is Canadian food anyways?" So I am French Canadian, and I lean heavily towards poutine and maple syrup candies. I really can't think of anything else that you could only get in Canada. Perhaps the only good Cheezies: Hawkins Cheezies! These red and white bags are most likely available in other countries, but best to buy them in Canada and enjoy Cheezies as they are meant to be eaten, crunchy!

What’s the one place you think is overrated in Toronto?

A Blue Jays' game at the Rogers Centre... sorry! It ain't for me. (Major Disclaimer: I've never been but also have no interest in going, so I have a totally biased answer. For all I know it could totally be the bee's knees.)

What’s the one place you think is underrated in Toronto?

I'd say Old Toronto and the area North West of the Distillery District. I love the architecture and I feel this area of town doesn't get much hype even though there seems to be a few decent stores and restaurants. I'd go there more for a round of sketching old architecture.

What are the Toronto spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

As a first time visitor I'd highly suggest hitting up the ROM if you're remotely interested in life. Honestly, it has everything in there... well, the Met in NYC has more, and so does the British Natural History Museum and stuff... but count your blessings! The ROM has historical artifacts, dinosaurs and many other great exhibits. Helps if you're super nerdy. Otherwise snap a photo of the CN tower to, you know, really prove you were in Toronto.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Toronto. How do you spend it?

If it was my last day in Toronto I would want to soak up as much of it as possible. All of the streetcars, busy shopping streets, financial district towers, historical architecture, collector lanes, train yards, night lights, and everything. For that reason, as controversial as this answer might be, I'd want to be driven all over town, so I could quickly see all of the neighbourhoods one last time and bid them all farewell.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Tokyo! I've only ever been once but it still haunts my mind. I don't know if it's the quiet energy of the city... or the courteous manners of the Japanese... or the pairing of history with technology... or the gardens... or the food... or the stores... or all the Kawaii knick-knacks to be found left, right, and centre... or maybe it was the temples? I really can't pin point a single reason for loving Tokyo the way I so do. My best bet is because I visited it alone, and really enjoyed the mystery of discovering a city all by my self (honestly, I think I spent many days without uttering a single word).

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