“If people ask me, ‘What do you think could improve in Toronto dining,’ I’d say there’s nothing to improve on.”
Normally on a road trip, I’d be listening to Devil Makes Three and Iron and Wine, but because my friend Nick is in the car, we listen to grunge and some other stuff. Not that I mind grunge, I just don’t think it’s good for road trip music. Okay. Let’s put you in my shoes for a minute, so you can see that bizarre, mind-bending morass of kaleidoscopic culture as you leave the rustpile of Buffalo, New York, and head across the border.
You take the Rainbow Bridge across the Niagara River, trying to steal a peek of Niagara Falls, but you can’t see a damned thing because international borders always make you feel like a refugee escaping Warsaw in WWII. Regardless, the border guys from Canada are usually pretty polite, and you head down the street to see the falls. They’re pretty cool, but you have to look at Buffalo and the city of Niagara Falls, NY on the other side, so you hop back in the car to continue on down the QEW to Toronto.
The countryside isn’t much to speak of, but when you’ve been stuck in Rochester during the winter, anything at all is nice. And in Canada, the roads don’t look like a warzone (I’ve been in a couple of warzones, okay? I know what they look like) and you don’t find colorful tile mosaics composed of household trash decorating the roadways. Instead, you see clean, green and happy, and you wonder why New York is so trashy.
Then you pull into Toronto, and it’s… different. There’s a skyline, and culture, and people are relatively nice, and there’s road construction and food and beer and more culture. And then the really, really bizarre part hits you.
The people here aren’t fat. And they aren’t wearing tracksuits.
End part where you travel in my head; that was my first impression of Toronto. My second impression was the food, and the beer. Sure, you may say that there isn’t any good beer in Canada, and everything in Molson and Labatt’s. Nope, you’re wrong. To prove you wrong, I shall take you down to Roundhouse Park, right across from the Rogers Centre and CN tower.
Therein lies the brewery for Steam Whistle pilsner. Steam whistle makes one thing: pilsner. Their pilsner is awesome. The only US-made pilsner I’ve had that would have challenged it would have to be ‘Hip Czech’ from Victory, and this is a different style, so there.
Three words to describe the tour of Steam Whistle: Best. Brewerytour. Ever.
Okay, so I had to make a portmanteau to make it three words, but whatever. 10 dollars Canadian got me a tour of the whole place and a grand total of six beers, which is awesome because if this were Germany I could barely get one pint for Ten Euro, and Euros are frickin’ expensive.
I loved it, and I’m a beer snob.
Next up, the food. We went to Fionn MacCool’s, and if you aren’t a Dropkick Murphy’s fan or otherwise able to appreciate the name, then shame on you. Hang your head.
Fion MacCool’s had a beer selection that made me want to burn down every place on the East Coast that’s ever thought of calling itself a ‘beer destination,’ plus their bangers and mash were effing amazing. I’d sound the fire alarm first, okay? Don’t look at me like that.
But sadly, my money wasn’t unending, and eventually we had to leave, and now I’m bored and mopey because I’m not in Toronto anymore.
So, to summarize, Toronto has amazing food, great beer (locally brewed and not), nice people and culture. So what the heck are you doing still reading this? Go explore!