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24 Hours in Toronto with @MissRebeccaJ

November 2, 2019

An empress with her gin — Empress Gin, naturally.
An empress with her gin — Empress Gin, naturally.

By Dick Snyder

Since she landed in Toronto some four years ago, Rebecca Felgate — or @MissRebeccaJ as she's known to her 100,000+ Instagram followers — has established herself as an expert on the cultural fabric of Toronto. She sure gets around — if there's something interesting happening, she's likely to be there.  And she'll get there by foot, thank you very much, as walking is her preferred method of locomotion. This means she's seen more of the city than many Toronto natives. Being a busy social media influencer — she just finished running the social media for Toronto Life's Cocktail Week — Drink Toronto asked her for her tips on devouring the city. Naturally, we want to know about her top spots for eating, drinking and entertaining rounds of friends and family who come to visit from the U.K.

What do you love about Toronto?

How hungry everyone is! I used to live in London and I strongly uphold that Toronto is a better city for food. Everyone I encounter here is just so willing to eat and try something new. I love it! Also people in both the food and drink industry and entertainment industry seem pretty friendly and welcoming; I still can’t quite believe that your male family members don’t need to have been a member of a freemanson-esque cult for the best part of a millenia in order for you to get by. How refreshing.

The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Club. (Photo: Courtesy Rex Hotel)
The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Club. (Photo: Courtesy Rex Hotel)

Your best friends arrive for a wild weekend. Where do you take them for fun and good times?

Friday: Greet the gang of wayward rapscallions with a welcome cocktail from my bar cart. My go to is an Empress Gin martini with a twist, because it’s purple, delicious and insta-worthy. My friends and I are, at the same time, both high-brow and totally basic. Go figure. If I am generous, I’ll then pour them a glass of cava as I give them approximately one hour to spruce themselves up and get out the door. We would then march forth to The Rex for jazz and more martinis. If they were hungry perhaps we would head to WVRST first. It rhymes, and it is always a good shout.

On Saturday we would have brunch and head to Ward Island. It’s always summer in my daydreams, so we’ll sit on the beach with a cheeky bottle of something chilled from the Niagara Region (shh, don’t tell the lifeguards) and lollop about in the water if we get too warm. After returning home and de-sanding, I would take them out to my favourite cocktail bars in the West End, including Project Gigglewater, Miss Things Hawaiian [check out how to make Miss Things' Old Fashioned], Pray Tell and Bar Raval.

Alfred Siu, owner of Project Gigglewater, wants to make you a smart cocktail. (Photo: Dick Snyder)
Alfred Siu, owner of Project Gigglewater, wants to make you a smart cocktail. (Photo: Dick Snyder)

What’s your favourite neighbourhood to hang out in?

Dundas West. In my humble opinion, this is the best stretch of the city for drinking and eating in interesting, independent spots. Hanmoto, Paris Paris [Drink Toronto recommends the steak tartare], Project Gigglewater, Mahjong Bar, Founder Bar, Black Dice Cafe—all of my favourite places to be are in this neighbourhood. Plus I live nearby so it’s pretty easy to stumble home.

Steak tartare at Paris Paris. (Photo: Dick Snyder)
Steak tartare at Paris Paris. (Photo: Dick Snyder)
Founder Bar. (Photo: @FounderBar)
Founder Bar. (Photo: @FounderBar)

Best grab-and-go bites or snacks?

Surprisingly for a busy-bee, I actually HATE eating on the go. Eating is seating. That’s what I say. Okay, I just made that up, but whatever, I am sticking with it. I will absolutely not eat and walk, ever. My boyfriend considers this to be infuriating and bougie. Maybe it is, but I will die on this hill. If, by chance, I can take a picnic blanket and a couple of beers to said hill/park, I would happily “grab-and-go” with a portion of Bobbie Sue’s Mac and Cheese on Ossington. For ice cream, I’ll  sit on the pavement outside Bang Bang. You can try and move me, but unless I’m done with my scoop of smores flavour, I am not going anyway.

Lounging and hanging out with your honey?

The Hole in The Wall is a cute spot for drinks and it has a small but delicious menu, too.



The Caledonian College Street

Where do you go for a big splurgy dinner?

Get me to a tasting menu! My two favourite places to splash my cash when I am feeling like a big baller are Actinolite on Ossington at Dupont and Bar Isabel on College at Roxton. You can actually get a tasting menu from $60 at Bar Isabel, but you can pitch your budget higher if you want a more grandiose experience. The cocktails alone are worth splurging on.

Quick ones:

Pints: Bandit Brewery, Shacklands Brewery and Leftfield Brewery! What can I say, I am a brewery gal! Get me a flight! Pronto!

Cocktails: I have mentioned a bunch, but I think Cocktail Bar on Dundas and Bellwoods Avenue. Order the Absinthe Whip. No questions asked.

Breakfast/brunch: The Starving Artist. The potato waffles are literally what my savoury dreams are made of.  If I’m in the business for an elevated brunch, I would head to The Chase Fish and Oyster. Cheese Scones. Order them. For me. Thanks.

Sweet treats: Nadège for macarons, Nugateau for éclairs, Glory Hole for donuts!