Live Like a Local: Toronto, Canada

steven bereznai


What neighborhood are you in?
The Garden District, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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What do you do for a living? 

Writer/author. Currently promoting my best-selling dystopian novel I Want Superpowers that recently won the New Apple Literary Award for Young Adult Science Fiction.


Where in your neighborhood can you go for a romantic dinner? Grab a quick bite? To Party? 

Quick bite: Tacos 101. Minimal seating, great salsa verde. Love the carnitas.
Romantic dinner: I can't remember the last time I went on a romantic dinner (insert sad face). A higher end pub is House on Parliament; the chain restaurant option is the Keg Mansion (points for historic value as it's one of the remaining mansions from a time when they lined Jarvis Street, and they consistently make a solid steak. Ask your server about the resident ghost). For a more foodie experience, I would go west to Ossington Street (10-15 minutes by car) and check out Union.


To party: Closest option in my hood is the Church and Wellesley Village, about a five-minute walk. For stand and model: Woody's (great place to get your night started or stick around for best ass or chest contests), drag queens: Crews and Tango, for twinks (and their admirers): Buddies in Bad Times (Saturday nights), leather and kink: the Black Eagle, electronica/take your shirt off: Fly 2.0.


To catch a live show: Buddies in Bad Times (check their website for what's on)

My favorite urban gem in my neighborhood: The Allan Gardens Conservatory. I've had many a romantic walk along its paths, which connect the six greenhouses filled with colorful plants and flowers from around the world . The desert/succulent section is my favorite. It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days a year. Right outside is a dog park and children's play area.

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Friend visiting out of town? Where would you bring him/her? 

I like taking people to Sugar Beach for the artsy pink metal parasols. From here you can head east or west along the lake shore bike/walking path. Steps away, there's a beautiful whale mural by the artist Wyland on the still operational Redpath Sugar Refinery. Breath in the smell.


What makes someone a local in this destination?

You're in the know when you refer to the fast food burger joint Harvey's at Gerrard and Jarvis as "Hooker Harvey's." For a variety of reasons (including the Internet), the sex trade has (mostly) disappeared from this corner, but was infamous for a long while (I still recall coming home alone from the Barn gay bar back in the day to cat calls of "want a date?" It was salt in the solo wound! :). Newer residents might not get the "Hooker Harvey's" reference, but seasoned Torontonians will nod in understanding. 

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If you had to give a visitor one keepsake from the destination, what would it be?

A T-shirt reflecting the hatred Torontonians have for raccoons.


What do you dislike most about the destination?

Toronto has many interesting neighborhoods, is wonderfully multi-cultural, boasts the Toronto Film Festival, but sometimes I feel like it plays it a little safe in terms of architecture, design, and fashion, and could do with more flare (which is ironic as I could use a Queer Eye makeover). 


Alive, dead or fictional – who is your favorite local? 

Scott Thompson. He brought the lisping, mincing character of Buddy to life in Kids in the Hall, and has been making me laugh in everything he's been in ever since. 
 

Intro Photo: Lucas Murnaghan taken at University of Toronto, which has an Olympic sized 50m pool, and is the home of Toronto's LGBTQ swim and water polo clubs.

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