Think of a game—really just about any game—and there's a good chance that Mystery Room Board Game Café has it. That's because the largest board-game facility in Toronto has hundreds of board games, from Battleship and The Settlers of Catan to chess and Chinese checkers. And what's more is that it has everything necessary for a successful game night. Tables and chairs? Of course. Air to breathe? Yes. Knowledgeable helpers who can assist you in choosing a game? You bet. Snacks? Just look at the menu of sandwiches, salads, and pastas topped with meatballs or Italian sausage—all of which go great with bubble teas and soft drinks.
Jennifer Best couldn't sleep. A bout of fibromyalgia was keeping her wide awake, and though she experimented with allopathic and naturopathic sleep remedies, it was no use. Then she tried something new: a tea blend called Sweet Dreams. The brew was so effective that not only did it give Jennifer some much-needed shut-eye, but by morning it had inspired her to change careers. She explored the local loose-leaf-tea market and was amazed to find how many good varietals were out there, varietals she thought others might appreciate the way she had appreciated Sweet Dreams.
Jennifer started small, founding Steeped and Infused in 2007 as an online store that sold 20 different teas. But her fan base blossomed, and today the website—which now sells roughly 70 varieties. Like the queen's childhood toy box, her inventory includes everyday black, green, and rooibos teas, but also features yerba mate and pu-erh—a centuries old Chinese blend made from high-quality large leaves. She complements these with a small selection of accessories, such as tea filters and mesh steeping balls.
Iron Rose Tea Gallery is just that—a sort-of gallery filled with teas and treats that are almost too beautiful to drink or eat. Jars marked with rainbow-colored labels brim with exotic tea blends in flavors that range from classic earl grey to honey pistachio biscotti ceylon or toasted caramel rooibos. Behind glass display cases, artisan pastries tempt sweet teeth, as does the selection of Belly gourmet ice creams, which are produced from only natural ingredients—like real milk, egg yolks, and vanilla—in nearby Muskoka. Of course, Iron Rose Tea Gallery is a real gallery as well—while they sip, guests can peruse a curated collection of photography, eyeball jewelry from local artists, and marvel at the rare scones kept behind glass.
Owned by the W Burger Bar crew, College Station Cafe opens up for breakfast, but the staff is up long before breakfast hours, baking bread and pastries in-house to fuel the day ahead. Their efforts yield five types of bread, including white, multigrain, rye, french baguettes, and Montreal–style bagels, that guests can order individually or sample in various sandwiches. Guests can wrap their mitts around jerk chicken sandwiches topped with mango salsa, roasted vegetable sandwiches paired with pesto and goat cheese, or grilled rainbow trout sandwiches lined with chipotle mayo and tartar sauce. In the morning, the staff offers up quiches, breakfast sandwiches, and locally roasted coffee warm enough to wake guests up or thaw a frozen windshield.
Here's a tip for the next time you're in downtown Toronto: take some time to visit The Strathcona Hotel, even if you don't actually need a place to stay. Just off the lobby is The York Street Café, where chefs elevate comfort food to a gourmet level. For breakfast,in addition to an elaborate wholesome buffet breakfast, a la carte options include eggs benedict with peameal bacon or smoked salmon. Lunch and dinner bring even more options, from lobster grilled cheese to lamb burgers topped with feta and sun-dried-tomato pesto. And on weekday evenings, guests can enjoy a cozy ambiance in the lobby lounge while sipping a locally brewed craft beer or glass of Niagara region wine and nibbling from small plates at the tapas bar.
At Paint Cabin, seemingly disparate elements come together to form one cohesive new hotspot. Its concept: an art studio that also happens to be a coffee shop, bake shop, and bar. Here, visitors tap into their inner Picasso thanks to workshops in everything from watercolor fundamentals to woodcut art. And accompanying them in their sessions is rich espresso, free-flowing wine, and baked goods, including apple crumble, almond croissants, and chocolate banana cake, from local bakeries.