If you’re looking for fun things to do in Toronto, look no further than Danforth Avenue. Live entertainment and great food abound in this vibrant area, also known as Greektown in honour of the immigrants who settled it and still run many of the shops and businesses.
Wander along the Danforth, spring, summer, winter or fall, and join the locals in exploring the wide range of shops, boutiques, and restaurants that line the streets of this increasingly gentrified neighbourhood. Whether they’re happily meandering from café to café, or striding purposely as they check off myriad tasks on their to-do lists, the denizens of Danforth have made fun things to do in Toronto part of their daily routine.
But it’s at night when the true magic starts. If you find yourself on Danforth at dusk, you may be intrigued by the festive crowds queuing up in front of the The Danforth Music Hall, one of Toronto’s best spots for live entertainment.
Originally built as a movie theatre in 1919, the building was first known as the Allen’s Danforth after the Allen Theatre Chain that owned it, then, in the 1970s, it was renamed the Music Hall when it started featuring live entertainment. In 2011, the building was remodelled, renovated, and revived as a truly happening spot dedicated to the best of live entertainment and became The Danforth Music Hall. It’s an intimate, architecturally-interesting hall that holds just 1,427 at capacity and draws acts that run the gamut from Canadian and international breakout artists to mainstream commercial pop stars.
Wonder who’s playing? Gaze up at the massive marquee to find out exactly what this much-loved venue has in store for the masses tonight. The nightly artist in residence dictates the demographics. Depending on the night you might find yourself among reverently respectful swayers or an electric throng moving manically to the music.
If you’re craving some fun things to do in Toronto, plan a night out around the Danforth Music Hall’s lineup, and enjoy a pre-show dinner and a post-show nightcap with more music just steps away:
Think global and eat local right across the street from the Danforth Music Hall at the Globe Bistro, which was originally built as a theatre in 1910 and now offers contemporary Canadian, farm-to-table fine dining in a modern, three-level space with high ceilings and a lovely roof deck.
Allen’s, John Maxwell’s tribute to the Irish-American saloons of his native New York, is warm, dark, and a Danforth tradition after 30 wonderful years on this great avenue. Choose from more than a hundred whiskies, beers, and wines and savour super food that’s focused on Ontario-farmed and grown produce. The burger is one of the best in the city and when the weather’s good, find your own piece of bliss on Allen’s backyard patio. Settle into a seat under its majestic trees and sip your drink as the weeping willow forms a sweeping canopy overhead. It’s a major hit come summer when they fire up the outdoor grill and you’ll be spoiled for choice with sides from the top-notch selection of serve-your-self salads.
Barely two blocks from the Danforth Music Hall, Café Fiorentina offers exquisite, accessible fine dining in a low-key, intimately casual atmosphere. Order a la carte, or opt for a three-, five- or seven-course tasting menu, each masterfully created by chefs Tina Leckie and Alex Chong. Their highly stylized s’more, the iconic campfire treat, is served on a polished section of tree trunk with homemade marshmallow and an intense chocolate mousse—worth every calorie whether or not you have fond childhood memories of its delicious ooze.
If you’re looking for a taste of the exotic and a dash of spice, try Sher-E-Punjab, another Danforth institution. Here you can discover authentic Indian home-style cuisine in an exquisitely renovated space. Exposed brick, rich leathers, and Edison bulbs may make you think you’re in a New York City loft space, but the India-inspired art on the walls and the scent of sizzling curry bring you back to reality. Try the spicy lamb chops cooked over a charcoal fire, or for something a bit milder, opt for the traditional tandoori.
The Black Swan Tavern
Just down the street from the Danforth Music Hall, the Black Swan Tavern boasts live, local music ranging from blues to folk to Celtic jams and occasionally even reggae. Pull up a stool, order a pint, and tap into the bar’s homey vibe. Dimly lit and unpretentious, it’s the perfect, laid-back place to end your evening.