Updated: May 1
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? This walk includes 18+ outdoor food vendors + a giant boulders + a hidden façade.
I was walking downtown recently before a show, looking for some good street food. On my way, I was thrilled to find a place I often drove by but never had the chance to visit: the outdoor World Foodmarket (335 Yonge Street).
This tiny cluster of food trucks/containers is open year round.
I didn’t realize that this tiny cluster of food trucks/containers was open year round, at least from 11:30 am to 11 pm every day. (Note that not all vendors are open all time.)
There obviously is less action in the winter but as soon as the weather allows, the place is buzzing with customers. No surprise there, considering the market is right across the impressive modern building of the Student Learning Centre (part of Toronto Metropolitain University, formerly called Ryerson University).
There are around 20 vendors with ordering counter facing the picnic tables in tiny market square or Gould Street. (Yep. Their Christmas decorations were still on when I visited in April.)
After carefully considering the offers of each vendor, I went for Samba Brasil Eatery’s mushroom savoury pastry, which was ready in 10 minutes. It was love at first bite! The thin-crust pie nicely wrapped in its checkered paper had a wonderful texture.
As I was sifting through their social media, I found out that the landlords (who ever is behind this initiative) pay attention to ensure that the mix of vendors is as eclectic as possible. When there’s room for a new vendor, they are on the lookout for any exotic option that is non competitive to their other vendors. Which means that there is lots of reading involved when you want to choose which delicacy to prioritize!
I returned after going to a movie at Cineplex Yonge-Dundas on Dundas East, around the block. I wanted to try the crêpes at Brunchin’ but was distracted by their yummy cajun spicy fries. My son went for an intriguing mozzarella Korean hotdog at Kordog and discovered it definitely would not do on a first date!
While you’re there
While the spectacular Student Centre is an obvious stop to visit while you’re there, there are many hidden gems around the food market, especially along Gould Street. Here’s a 1.2 km circuit to explore the surroundings.
Just past Victoria Street awaits the Devonian Square with its giant boulders. In late spring, these are surrounded by a pond, which turns into a rink in winter. I’ve seen art on the large rocks when the pond was dry.
Just east of the square, the Image Centre greets us with light installations reflecting in the pond. The building hosts the great Balzac’s Image Arts café.
Walk to 40 Gould Street and turn into Kerr Hall courtyard for more urban gems. If you look through the windows of the historic house in the middle of the place, you’ll see… the sky and realize it’s just a façade! There’s a series of beautiful relief carvings on one of the buildings on your left. You won’t be able to see them in the evening but the square is well lit and it makes for a lovely evening stroll, making you forget you’re in Canada’s biggest city.
When exiting the courtyard onto Gould Street, walk down Bond Street past the lovely church, and turn right in the first lane. You’ll reach Victoria Street Lane and its line-up of giant bike murals. Keep going to Dundas Street and walk towards Yonge Street.
Now that’s a busy intersection! One of the few in Toronto where you can cross diagonally (called a pedestrian scramble).
One never knows what kind of action awaits around Yonge-Dundas Square. On the south-west corner, I can usually count on a couple of religious fanatics competing for my attention over the loud music from the Cineplex’ speakers and whatever is happening at the square. Never a dull moment!
A bit of urban history
I love using the “See more dates” option on Google Street View. It allows us to go back to 2007! Doing so for the location of the current World Foodmarket, I was reminded that there used to be a Sam The Recordman where the modern building now stands.
The World Food Market location has had many incarnations. In 2007, it was the address of Mr Hi-Fi store, which turned into an Urban Behaviour in 2009 as the foundations of the university building were being erected.
By September 2015, the Student Centre opened its doors while the empty lot across the street was trying to find its purpose as a patio event space. In 2017, it was called the 335 Beer Garden. By 2019, its vocation as a world food market was established.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.
Nathalie's guides are available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.