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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Express Your Artistic Side in Toronto


2. Where to Eat

Pho Hung in Chinatown  

Bleary-eyed bohemians and Vice readers recharge on weekend mornings with oatmeal pancakes at Mitzi's Café, a chilled-out refuge of mismatched mugs and a hodgepodge of furniture on a quiet, tree-lined side street in Parkdale.

Toronto's Chinatown stuffs starving artists' stomachs cheaper and more quickly than anywhere else. Vietnamese soups at Pho Hung (350 Spadina Ave.; 416-593-4274) provide lemongrass-scented aromatherapy, while the dangling BBQ pork hides and noodle makers behind the window at King's Noodle House (296 Spadina Ave.; 416-598-1817) beckon to curious passersby. For the best lamb dumplings (a delicacy in Western China and Southeast Ontario), squeeze into Mother's Dumplings (79 Huron St.; 416-217-2008).

With a core philosophy of organic (often local) ingredients served at reasonable prices (appetizers under $10; entrées under $20 CAD), Niagara Street Café provides candlelit romance and a terrific wine list. Sommelier-owner Anton Potvin has a thing for local chanteuse Feist, whose songs occasionally warm the small space, tucked away in the King West neighborhood.

A huge nose sculpture above the door is the only sign for Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant (1220 Queen St. E.; 416-469-5225). The lively Italian spot—located in a converted bank in new "It" hood Leslieville—deals in shared portions, long waits, and killer osso buco.

Published on Dec 13, 2006 as a web exclusive.

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