An Afternoon in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville Neighbourhood

Gravel Plot with Birch Trees at Yorkville Park in Toronto, Ontario

It’s always fun to be a tourist in your own city! I’ve been to Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood in Toronto so many times for events, food and coffee, but I never really knew much about the neighbourhood.

I got to spend an afternoon in Yorkville and had the chance to really explore the area, starting with a delicious lunch followed by a walking tour. Here you’ll learn about some things to do, where to eat and places to stay in Yorkville.

An Afternoon in Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario including Sassafraz Restaurant, On The Town Tours, Village of Yorkville Park, Four Seasons Hotel and The Hazelton Hotel.

Sassafraz Restaurant

Website / Address: 100 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A6

We started with lunch at Sassafraz Restaurant, which re-launched in October 3, 2018. Serving for the past 20 years, this historic Yorkville restaurant has been re-imagined with a new design and market-driven menu.

Exterior of Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
The sophisticated green sage exterior replaces the previous bright yellow exterior. Only the doors have the iconic yellow, paying homage to the restaurant’s 20-year history.

You have the bar and lounge area when you enter, followed by the dining room when you turn left. The best spot in the restaurant though is by the living wall, which is beautiful and has ample natural light for taking photos.

Living Wall at Sassafraz Restaurant in Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario
Living Wall

Executive Chef Geoff Webb has been working at Sassafraz for 13 years and has re-created the menu to an internationally inspired Canadian cuisine using seasonal and sustainable ingredients.

Chef Geoff Webb with Travelling Foodie Raymond Cua at Sassafraz Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario

“Internationally inspired” is really emphasized in the dishes as we started with the ceviche, burrata salad, roast chicken breast and salmon.

Salmon, Chicken, Ceviche and Burrata at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
On the table: Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche, Beet & Burrata Salad, Cape D’or Salmon, Harrison Co-op Roast Chicken Breast

The perfectly cooked Cape D’or Salmon has Asian influences with the use of soba noodles, ponzu soy and enoki mushrooms.

Cape D’or Salmon at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Cape D’or Salmon ($26) – chilled soba noodle, ginger ponzu dressing, pickled enoki

The fall dish, Harrison Co-op Roast Chicken Breast, brings a Spanish flair with the red pepper romesco and Spanish chorizo. Harrison Co-op is a group of farms in the Niagara region that raise chicken.

Roast Chicken Breast at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Harrison Co-op Roast Chicken Breast ($26) – new potatoes, yellow pepper romesco, Spanish chorizo, cherry tomatoes, olive

A very unique take on Mexican ceviche is the Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche which has a yuzu-based secret sauce that you’ll just have to try! Interestingly, it also has forbidden rice, a historically rare black rice that is forbidden to eat except by the Chinese emperor.

Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche ($21) – plantain, corn nuts, coconut black rice
Beet & Burrata Salad at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Beet & Burrata Salad ($16) – wild flower honey, orange, marcona almond, watercress

Their drink menu ranges from cocktails, wines and beers, to healthy juices and smoothies. The mimosa is quite strong. If you want a drink that’s insta-worthy, get the Badass Mojito.

Mimosa, Mojito and Kale Juice at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Badass Mojito ($12) – Wray & Nephew white overproof rum, fresh apple juice, muddled raspberries mint and lime, soda water

As everyone else ordered salad, I opted to try the Cod n Chips after learning that they use line-caught cod from Fogo Island! What made it even more special is the ginger batter the use on the fish – it was surprisingly delicious!

Fogo Island Cod n Chips at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Fogo Island Cod n Chips ($26) – caper remoulade, coleslaw
Acorn and Butternut Squash Salad at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Acorn and Butternut Squash Salad ($15) – smoked duck (King Cole Ducks), baby kale, sunflower sprouts, dried cranberries, pepitas

The must-try dessert here is the Lemon Crème Caramel, which was so smooth and creamy. The lemon was a refreshing welcome to balance the sweetness.

Creme Caramel at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Lemon Crème Caramel ($12) – grapefruit orange salad, lemon granita
Caramelized Banana at Sassafraz Restaurant - Toronto, Ontario
Caramelized Banana ($12) – coconut pastry cream, pineapple, phyllo crisp, passion fruit sorbet
Flourless Chocolate Bar at Sassafraz Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario
Flourless Chocolate Bar ($12) – crème fraîche, raspberry sorbet, almond nougatine

Executive Chef Geoff Webb Sassafraz Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario

On The Town Tours

Website / Address: Various locations
Price: From $26.21

After all that food, going on a walking tour was a great way to digest. We did the On The Town Tours’ Discover Yorkville walking tour with guide Jane Herman, who is the President & Founder. Jane is a wealth of information on Yorkville’s history, architecture and culture.

Alley Sculptures at Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario

The Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood is now known for being a glamorous and upscale shopping district with over 700 designer boutiques, trendy restaurants, luxury hotels and world-class galleries.

Old York Lane in Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
Old York Lane

But the neighbourhood is actually very historic. Yorkville was established as a village in 1830 by William Jarvis and Joseph Bloor, became an incorporated village in 1853, and annexed into Toronto in 1883.

Old York Lane painting at Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
Old York Lane opened in 1957

Once a mecca for hippies, Yorkville is losing its historic charm and character. New constructions are taking over the village, replacing the old Victorian houses with high-end condominiums.

Il Posto Courtyard in Toronto, Ontario

You’ll get to visit a lot of places throughout this 1.5-hour tour. This includes popular ones like the Village of Yorkville Park, which is a local hangout spot, and the Yorkville Village, which used to be Hazelton Lanes that had a skating rink back in the 80s.

Church of the Redeemer Anglican at Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
Church of the Redeemer and the Four Seasons Renaissance Centre. Due to financial difficulties, the church lands were sold to developers that built the Four Seasons Renaissance Centre on them.

Used to be a parking lot, the Village of Yorkville Park completed in 1994 with eleven distinct garden plots based on the Victorian row houses that once stood on the same land.

Pergola at Village of Yorkville Park in Toronto, Ontario
Metal, vine-covered pergola
Boardwalk Garden at Bloor-Yorkville Park in Toronto, Ontario
Elevated boardwalks crossing a wetland garden

The tour also brought us to some back alleys and hidden gems that I never knew about. It’s really quite interesting what you’d learn and see when going on a walking tour like this.

Gallery Gevik at Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
Gallery Gevik features a variety of artists that range from high realism to lyrical abstraction, and a growing collection of important historical works.

Bear Sculpture at Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario

Sculptures around Bloor-Yorkville area in Toronto, Ontario

Heliconian Hall at Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
With a stage, exhibit space, and fine acoustics, the Heliconian Hall has served as a centre for artistic activity, promoting the place of women in the arts in Canada.

Public Library in Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario

We also checked out two hotels in the neighbourhood: Four Seasons Hotel and The Hazelton Hotel.

Sculpture inside Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario
Four Seasons Hotel lobby has high ceilings with hanging sculptures
Cafe Boulud Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Yorkville in Toronto, Ontario
Four Seasons Hotel has Café Boulud, Chef Daniel Boulud’s French Brasserie
Cafe Boulud Interior at Four Seasons Hotel Yorkville, Toronto, Ontario
Cafe Boulud’s dining room has a vintage-inspired ambiance envisioned by London-based designer Martin Brudnizki.
Lobby at The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, Ontario
The Hazelton Hotel is downtown Toronto’s first true luxury hotel in Yorkville

Hope this gave you an idea on how to spend an afternoon in the historic Yorkville neighborhood! What are your favourite things to do and places to eat in Yorkville?


Huge thanks to the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) for organizing this afternoon tour. As usual, reviews and opinions are entirely our own.

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