Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Favorite Restaurants in Toronto

As you may have noticed, I was in Toronto for quite a while. Which means… I got to eat a lot of food when I was there. Although I don’t have in depth discussions about taste and texture, here’s my list of favorite restaurants (in no particular order).

I’m getting a bit hungry just thinking about them…

Playa Cabana

This restaurant is so consistently good that I just keep coming back to it. I found this spot a trip ago (see Top 3 Spots from Toronto Trip #3), and I just got hooked. I also tried the other affiliated restaurants because they have slightly different items on the menu. I liked them, too, but I liked Playa Cabana’s selection the most.

Madrina

I love this place because everything. This place serves amazing drinks and also amazing food and it’s located in my favorite place in Toronto, the Distillery. This place probably the best pulpo we’ve had, and I am never disappointed when I come here.

Mamakas

This place made me appreciate Greek food for real. No, not fast slow food Greek salads, but actual dishes that you take your time eating and savoring the taste. Y u m. Because this place is so amazing, it does get crowded. We lucked out and found seats on the day we went here, but we’d conditioned ourselves to be ready to eat elsewhere before we even tried. We didn’t even have to wait! So worthwhile.

Casa Manila

If you are somehow craving for Filipino food, this is the place to go. I admit that it’s a bit of a trek to get there, but it was worth it. And yes, you can trust me (and my family) when it comes to judging Filipino food. We ordered these and even ordered extra dishes to take home. Yup, we liked it that much.

PROJECT:FISH

Wow, this place was amazing. We went here during my last weekend in Toronto, and I guess we unintentionally saved the best for last because this was my best sushi experience during my grand detour. We mostly went for aburi style nigiri, but we also tried other dishes. It was such a great dinner that I miss it already.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Westcott Vineyards

It was recently National Rosé Day (second Saturday of June), and here I am talking about the place that made me appreciate rosé: Westcott Vineyards. I really liked their pinot noir rosé. It was very light and refreshing.

Approximately two hours away from Toronto, Westcott is pretty much an outdoor venue and that it’s away from the city. (Hello, fresh air!) The dining area is covered, but it’s basically a tent, so there’s a natural breeze. And then you can hang out on the lawn/grass and enjoy the sun.

The tasting room is the only area with a real roof, and it’s actually quite homey. It gets natural light, too. On the day we were there, they were preparing bottles for their rosé event for that evening.

Also, their food is amazing. We ordered pulled pork, beef tartare, and “Ontario-style” Hawaiian pizza for our “mains” and then panna cotta and berry tart for dessert. My favorite dish was the pulled pork, but I guess it was also the most familiar one to me. Their pizza had cheese curds in it, which reminded me of poutine.

PS: The bottle of pinot noir rosé retails at ~CAD23, which is on the lower end of pricing. Dine-in bottle service, though, is twice as much.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Montreal in Small Plates

When we were in Montreal, we made it our mission go visit small plates style bars around the city. We wanted to do small plates style so that we could order various small plates and share the food. This worked out quite well; we were able to enjoy the place, the food, and the drinks without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of food in front of us.

The one craving we weren’t able to satisfy was churros. A tapas place we tried going to was too busy, and another one was not yet serving dessert because they were still only serving salty dishes. Nevertheless, we made the most out of our trip and enjoyed our small plates tour.

We made it to five tapas places. My favorites were Biiru and Bar Henrietta.

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A Night in Poblacion

Down to my last weekend in the Philippines, I convinced my sister to take me out, even for an early night, as I had to be awake by 6am the following day. With only a few hours to kill, we went to Poblacion.

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San Francisco: Coffee & Tea in the West Side

Recently I found myself in a slump. At my lowest, I was binge-watching shows during the day (a sunny one, mind you) instead of taking nice walks around the city. So, in an effort to be productive one weekend, I packed up my kindle, my Moleskine, and my Swell bottle (am I proving to be too millennial? How about too SF lifestyle?) and walked to a nearby coffee shop—away from the tv.

I love exploring the city and finding new spots. My favorite kind of spot: coffee & tea. What makes me like a certain spot? Well, for reading, I have three parameters:

  1. Taste: If I can finish the drink I ordered, we are good. I’m not the pickiest person, but sometimes I just have to accept that I don’t like something.
  2. Space: Are there enough tables? Are the tables big enough to set my drink and my kindle plus my notebook and pens (and pencil case)? Is there enough space that I won’t feel ashamed of staying too there long?
  3. Relief: Please tell me there’s a restroom and that it’s clean because I will be sipping on my beverage(s) and will eventually need to relieve myself.

The fourth parameter is Connectivity i.e. wi-fi availability, but I don’t usually bring my laptop to coffee shops, so consider it a bonus, a cherry on top (although I hate preserved cherries on desserts), if they do have wifi. That said, I don’t think I’m asking for very much especially if I’m being charged ~$5 per beverage.

Here’s a list of some cozy and possibly underrated coffee shops in the west side in case anyone else is also in a binge-watching slump like me:

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