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Toronto's St. Lawrence Market - a Backpacker's Food and Culture Destination

by Jennifer Tribe

A perfect destination for backpackers with food and culture on their minds, St. Lawrence Market lies at both the physical and social heart of downtown Toronto.

No matter what the weather or time of year, this two-level indoor market – Toronto’s largest – is always packed to the rafters with vendor stalls and eager shoppers. Nearly every stall has free samples of food or drink and people make their leisurely way through the aisles, soaking up the tantalizing mix of sights, sounds and smells while browsing an astonishing variety of fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy products.

Take time to enjoy the croissants and muffins hot from the baker’s oven, sip a fresh espresso, watch pasta being made, gawk at cheese wheels the size of a car tire, enjoy a tune from one of the many buskers and musicians, or just observe the throngs of people flowing by. On Saturdays, craftspeople also ply their wares, offering jewellery, clothing, candles and other handmade items.

Just blocks from Toronto’s fast, clean subway system and only a few minutes walk from several hostels, the market is an ideal spot for a quick snack, a full meal, or groceries at very reasonable prices. With foods ranging from the everyday to the gourmet, there’s bound to be something for every taste. Try Carousel Bakery’s famous peameal bacon sandwiches – locals and visitors alike line up 15 or 20 deep for this uniquely Canadian fare.

St. Lawrence Market is flanked on Front Street by numerous coffee shops and cafes where locals lounge on patios in the summer months. Don’t miss the C’est What pub, known for their great microbrews, generous food portions and live music shows. Europe Bound, an outdoor equipment store, is just down the block for those travellers in need of gear, supplies or repairs.

A bit further down the street, you’ll also find bookstores and parks for quiet contemplation, as well as theatres and restaurants – popular with Toronto’s arts and financial communities –  for more lively entertainment.

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