Hottest Travel Destinations of 2012
If all you know of Toronto is that it’s clean, safe, and able to double for New York City on film, then you haven’t been here in a while. The city has undergone a dramatic change in the past few years, led by remarkably hip restaurant, fashion, and nightlife scenes. Three locals give T+L their take on Toronto’s new style. —Jonathan Durbin
Cameron Bailey, Codirector of the Toronto International Film Festival
What characteristics would you identify as uniquely Torontonian?
We’re voracious cultural consumers. To be well-versed in both vintage dub reggae and different kinds of hot sauces from Asia is totally normal here.
Where do the film-industry players hang out during the festival?
The Hazelton Hotel’s One Restaurant (416/961-9600; dinner for two $250) is the hot spot. Locals like quieter places; Bar Italia (416/535-3621; dinner for two $95) is where director Atom Egoyan eats.
Has the city upped its style game?
Men’s style here used to be jeans and a lumberjack jacket. Now there are boutiques and tailor-made clothes.
The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 6–16).
Matt George, Owner of the Men’s Clothing Boutiques, Nomad, and the Speakeasy-Style Goodnight Bar
What would you say is changing the city’s sensibilities?
There’s a huge community of new immigrants. We’ve got the largest Indian, Pakistani, and West Indian populations outside of London, creating a melting pot of ideas.
What are your favorite restaurants?
I love Woodlot (647/342-6307; dinner for two $75) and the Harbord Room (dinner for two $125). They’re real Canadiana—traditional and contemporary food. My go-to sushi spot is Sushi Kaji (416/252-2166; dinner for two $220) in a suburban strip mall in Etobicoke.
Emily Haines, Lead Singer of the Canadian Rock Band Metric
What do you think is driving the city’s recent transformation?
Torontonians are great travelers. We’re aware of what’s happening internationally and bring these things back—but make them our own.
Where do you like to see music?
And for a drink afterward?
If I tell you then I won’t be able to go anymore! If forced, I’d say Communist’s Daughter (647/435-0103; drinks for two $12). They serve pickled eggs.
Metric’s as-yet-untitled fifth album will be out this spring.
Who It’S For: Film-industry types; foodies; tastemakers and fashionistas.
When To Go: April/Oct.
How To Do It: Fly in to Pearson International or the Toronto City airport.
Exotic Factor: Familiar