Both bustling and naturally beautiful, Auckland is a city unlike any other. There are rainforests to hike; picturesque beaches for relaxing, swimming and surfing; and vineyards to wander through. Its hills, lakes and basins, formed by the city’s 50 surrounding volcanoes, are also there to explore. Here, you can kayak in the morning, shop boutiques and local markets in the afternoon, then savor a slice of meat pie and glass of Sauvignon Blanc at one of the best restaurants. No wonder so many amazing creatives call this place home. We caught up with our new Kiwi pals–the city’s talented indie designers and boutique owners–to get the scoop on the best places to eat, drink and people watch.
WHERE TO EAT
“There are so many places,we have an amazing restaurant scene,” explains Anna Murray of Laing Home. “But if I have to pick, Cassia in Fort Lane for modern Indian and Kiss Kiss in Dominion Road for cheap, tasty Asian fusion.”
“Anywhere in Sandringham is amazing for tasty vegetarian options,” explains Penny Sage’s designer Kate Megaw. “One of my favorite places to share a meal is Saattveek. When you can’t decide what to eat, they ask you how hungry you are, then they bring out plates of everything delicious, and don’t stop until you’re full!”
Kristine Crabb, designer of Miss Crabb, had a hard time deciding but managed to narrow it down to her top three. “My favorites at the moment are Coco’s Cantina, Madame George and Gemmayze St,” she said.
“Well, the obvious favourite is Coco’s Cantina, as it just feels like home,” reveals Greta van der Star, the talented stylist and photographer who shot Yasmine Ganley for our Q&A. “I adore the girls who run it and everyone who works there!” She adds, “I also love Conch which is South American, they do the best tacos and have an outdoor courtyard with booths, so you feel very hidden away.”
Unequivocally, it’s the Orphans Kitchen for designer Kate Sylvester. An multi-award winner restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner including a bowl of potatoes you won’t be able to stop eating.
Ruben Bryant, the owner of Good as Gold, heads to Golden Dawn when in need of a drink. Tucked away, this popular Auckland watering hole has long been a haven for the city’s creative community and serves everything from eclectic cocktails to a vast selection of beers and wines.
Anna also fancies at spot on Ponsonby Road: “Annabelles is the perfect little local!”
“On my balcony watching the cheeky Tui’s—for all you non-Kiwis this is a large honeyeater bird—fight for a spot in a big Pohutukawa tree,” admits Kate. “But If I’m feeling fancy, I like going to the Federal Delicatessen for a piece of cheesecake and an Aperol spritz.”
Sherie and Kate both love to people watch at Coco’s Cantina, especially while sitting at the outside tables.
“Avondale markets on Sunday mornings,” reveals Greta. “It has the produce side—always rammed with people filling their bags and pulling trolleys which offers a mixture of fresh veg and treats such as Samoan banana bread or breakfast noodle bowls. Then the other side is more car boot-style where you’ll see so many interesting people and their dogs rummaging through trinkets.”
Located on the edge of the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv is a haven of buttery beaches and vibrant culture. The Israeli city — nicknamed “the White City” for the surplus of white, 1930s Bauhaus-style buildings that decorate the streets — boasts a unique combination of old and new: thousands of years of history set within a young, modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere. A place you sip black coffee on a storied palm tree-lined boulevard, explore an ancient port and discover a pop-up boutique tucked around the corner of the crumbly walls, stumble across a feminist art exhibition held in a restored Ottoman-era building. Elderly men play backgammon and smoke cigarettes in open-air markets while the latest, hippest restaurant bustles feverishly in the space next door. As such, it’s really no surprise that the city is such a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of creatives, from chefs and architects to musicians, artists and designers. This juxtaposition supplies Tel Aviv — at once a beach town, a thriving arts hub, an inclusive space for both tradition and boundary-pushing ideas — with a spirited energy that fuels the need to discover and rediscover it time and time again.
With that in mind, we asked a couple of our closest local pals to give us the low down on all of their go-to places to eat, beach and sightsee in the colorful, vivacious place they call home.
WHERE TO EAT
“Oasis on Montefiori St,” says Gittit Szwarc, designer behind the multidisciplinary studio Knobbly. “It’s the vision of a mad and inspired chef, Rima Olvera. I’m a food culture skeptic in general — I eat to get through my day, usually while reading/talking/texting. I remember being a little upset the first time I ate at Oasis because I couldn’t ignore the food I was eating the way I’m used to doing. I had to stop and experience it. And the place is designed to support it, dark and minimal with weird murals in the patio from local artist Klone. It’s a place to go to experience food as art.”
The charming Montefiori St is home to another excellent restaurant, this one at a boutique hotel. “Hotel Montefiori is a great option if you’re more into French-inspired classics, and is the place for an over the top breakfast/brunch,” adds Hila Chemony ofVender.
For the best hummus — a classic staple of the Israeli diet — in town, both Gittit and Hila recommend Abu Hassan in Jaffa. “Get the “Hummus Masabakha” (hummus with chickpeas cooked for 8 hours) with a brown egg,” Gittit says. “It’s only open until 4PM, the good stuff usually runs out by 2, it’s super crowded and noisy with communal seating, and you’ll be in and out in 15 minutes — the original hummus experience.” Check out Garger Hazahav (which means “the Golden Chickpea” in Hebrew) in the funky Florentin neighbourhood, too. “They have amazing hummus, delicious sides and a cool casual vibe,” describes Hila.
Unequivocally, the Teder.“It’s located in a courtyard surrounded by a complex with mainly artist and designer studios and there’s always some unoccupied room or corridor being taken over by an exhibition, pop up shop or music label, as well as live shows in the main area,” Gittit says. “You can find a quiet spot to sit with friends or take your drink and walk around to see what’s happening.”
The four-level complex itself is called Beit Romano and, along with the Teder, Hila suggests exploring the whole place. “The Romano restaurant on the second level is a great spot for dinner and drinks.”
One of the most wonderful things about Tel Aviv is its diversity. And the Great Synagogue, built in the 1920s and located on Allenby St, is a great spot to go at night to people watch, Hila says. Have a drink at Port Sa’id just across the street and settle in for the evening.
“Casino San Remo in the Noga District in Jaffa — a cafe by day and bar by night,” Gittit adds. “It’s casual but not too small, so there’s a wide range of people of all ages and walks of life who feel at home there in different hours of the day.”
The White City’s coastline, with gorgeous yellow sand beaches looking out at jewel blue water, is hard to beat. “Beit Haetzel beach right on the edge of Tel Aviv and the beginning of Jaffa is simply beautiful,” Hila says. “If you’re into surfing (or surfers) you should head to Hilton beach, and don’t miss the Independence Garden right above it.”
Gittit recommends the laid back Ajami beach, just south of Old Jaffa.
WHERE TO SHOP
The best shopping district? “The Noga District!” Gittit says. “It’s where my studio is located. Most of the designers’ spaces there function foremost as studios and second as shops, which means you’ll usually be talking to the designer herself when you enter. You can find some conceptual-yet-wearable stuff atMagpie Goose (with whom I share studio space),HOKO, Juliett andNaomi Maaravi, strong clean basics atKAV, and you’ll be breathing sea air the whole time.”
For an eclectic experience, Hila suggests wandering the flea market in Jaffa — the Shuk HaPishpushim. “It is a fun way to spend half a day between the independent designer shops, galleries, cafes and a great place to find flea market finds.”
Noga District, in between Tel Aviv and Jaffa
Flea Market, Jaffa
WHERE TO SIGHTSEE
“Try and find a nice bike (or rent one of the city’s) and spend a day going from the Jaffa flea market and up Rothschild Blvd,” Gittit says. “I feel like cycling is the best way to feel the city.” Another superb way to take in Tel Aviv’s culture is going to watch local bands perform. “There’s some really amazing stuff happening here this year,” Gittit adds. “Girl punk duoDeaf Chonky, glam rock bandthe White Screen, political punk fromAntigona Rex, lots of interesting electronic and stoner rock stuff!”
“Tel Aviv’s historical neighborhoods are absolutely gorgeous,” Hila says. “Neve Tzedek or Old Jaffa are a must, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (and the new wing especially) has great exhibitions throughout the year.”
Neve Tzedek, southwestern Tel Aviv
Old Jaffa, Jaffa
ONE MORE THING YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO
For Gittit, when anyone visits Israel, they must take a trip out to the Dead Sea. It’s a two-hour drive, but so worth it. “It’s such a surreal and intense place unlike anything else on Earth,” she says. Staying strictly in Tel Aviv, though? Find an Airbnb in North Jaffa and make it your home base. “Tel Aviv can be really intense and Jaffa is the more laid back and arty part of the city, so that’s where I tend to spend more time.”
And, before you go, a coast-to-coast walk along the beachfront is essential. “Starting up north at Reding, going all the way through Tel Aviv Port, the boardwalk and into Jaffa’s Old Port and Old City,” says Hila. “Tel Aviv’s beach is always an option, no matter the season, time or mood.”
Richmond, Virginia is a small but mighty city. As the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1780—as well as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War—it’s a town steeped in history, evident in its well-preserved, historic architecture. Now, with a thriving influx of creatives, Richmond has turned into a young community of small businesses, nonprofits and endless opportunities. “Everyone is so creative and supportive of each other,” says Emi Moore, owner of Casa Shop. With more than 20 craft breweries, a ton of amazing restaurants, and beautiful street art on every other corner, there is always something to do and see. Plus, everything is an easy walk or short drive away.
We wanted to get the low-down on the best places to eat, drink and people watch, so we reached out to the people we love most: the city’s boutique owners and designers. Trust us, after this guide, you’ll be bumping Richmond to the top of your must-visit list.
WHERE TO EAT
“My favorite place to eat is Edo’s Squid,” says Kate Jennings of Na Nin. “Butter parmesan spaghetti, eggplant parm, great house wine, and it is accommodating to all diets with wonderful vegetarian and vegan options.”
Emi Moore, owner of Casa Shop continues the Edo’s Squid rave. “They have the best pasta and a cozy candlelit atmosphere. Caroline Young, artist and jewelry designer of Giantlion, admits her soft spot for the restaurant too. “It has been my favorite restaurant for the past 12 years!”
Kristy Cotter, designer of Drift Riot and owner of Dear Neighbor, doesn’t mess around when it comes to places to grab a bite. Here’s her expert list: “Brenner Pass, Metzger, Dutch & Co., Saison, Sub Rosa Bakery and Can Can.”
“Mamma Zu (an old-school Italian restaurant), never disappoints,” declares Deborah Boschen, the founder and owner of boutique Verdalina, which has been one of the city’s source for slow-philosophy wardrobe essentials since it opened its doors in 2013.
Christine Young, the designer behind jewelry line Young Frankk (you know those cult-favorite hand earrings), heads to Brenner Pass when in need of a drink. Their eclectic cocktail menu is sure to satisfy all your fancy drink needs. Think: Tito’s handmade vodka, green chartreuse, cocchi americano, lemon, and pineapple-lavender syrup. Caroline also recommends cocktails from Brenner Pass followed by Mekong for beer.
“Bamboo Cafe is an institution in Richmond with a diverse crowd and a beautiful, old marble bar,” says Deborah.
“I can have a drink anywhere!” Kate admits. But she has three solid suggestions: “Stella’s, which is not only great for cocktails but the food is some of the most delicious Greek dishes ever and they always have impressive specials, Helen’s for a fun night out, and Enoteca Sogno. It’s right in my neighborhood, so I love to enjoy a glass of wine there and the ambiance is lovely.”
Emi reveals a fresh spot to check out. “A place just opened called The Circuit, it’s a bar/arcade combo, which is a new concept for Richmond. I’ve only been once but I feel like it will be my new spot. Plus, they have self serve wine on tap!”
“Quirk Hotel, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for happy hour––very interesting mix of people in the summer, or Can Can at the bar,” Kristy says. Emi also heads to the VMFA. “During the warmer months, they have a beautiful lawn with a great happy hour, it is where you’ll find me (and everyone else in Richmond) on most Fridays.”
Caroline loves to people watch when she goes to concerts. (Who doesn’t?). “Vagabond for live music just about any night of the week,” she says.
It’s all about Carytown––Richmond’s quirky ever-changing neighborhood filled with a ton of shops and restaurants––for Christine.
“If you like to be around a lot of people and want an opportunity to make new friends, I think Lamplighter has a great set up, and always a full patio of people enjoying coffee and fare,” explains Kate. “It’s also right across the street from our shop and our lovely neighbours, Addison Handmade & Vintage and Yesterday’s Heroes.
It may come as a surprise that Vancouver, British Columbia has been ranked by travel experts as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, alongside knockouts like Sydney, Kyoto, and Rome. But with an unrivaled setting of endless mountains and copious amounts of swimmable waters — from the Pacific ocean to local lakes and rivers — it takes the cake as the most stunning, calming metropolitan area we know. Vancouver’s accessibility to nature lets you start your day in the mountains, head to the beach for the afternoon, and end in the heart of a bustling downtown. Not to mention, the air is seriously fresh anywhere you go — like, smell the glacier waters and pine trees fresh. Plus, it also happens to be the home to Garmentory’s Canadian HQ.
As a tourist hotspot, you can no doubt find 100 city guides on Vancouver, but we’ve got one unlike any other thanks to our community of local creatives. (Shop the boutiques and designers right here on Garmentory!). Scroll on to discover the best places to eat, drink, and people watch straight from the city’s boutique owners, designers, and style influencers.
WHERE TO EAT
“Ask For Luigi is one of my favourite restaurants in the city,” says Kleah Graham, co-owner of boutique Charlie & Lee. “Honest, simple, high-quality Italian food in a charming little building,” she explains.“My top list is about 30 restaurants long, though, and I can never decide on an absolute number one! [There’s] an abundance of excellent food in this city.”
Saager Dilawri and Karyna Schultz, owners of Neighbour, a boutique in the historic neighborhood Gastown, also can’t just pick one favorite restaurant. “Too many to name,” says Saager, “but for starters: Ask for Luigi, Savio Volpe, Bao Bei, Carp, The Birds and The Beets and Pazzo Chow.”
Designer Sunja Link and Stephanie Gorrell, owner of Umeboshi also declared their love for Ask for Luigi.
For brunch, designer Erin Templeton likes Alibi Room, a beautiful restaurant in a historic building with over 50 taps of local and imported craft beer, plus delicious, local food. Michaela Smeaton, the designer behind Folk Fortune suggests Teahouse in Stanley Park for brunch.“I’m a vegetarian,” she says, “so I prefer places where I have more than a veggie burger to choose from. Heirloom, East is East, Flying Pig, Meet, and Pizzeria Farina all have good options.” Marie Foxall, the designer behind jewelry line Wasted Effort, offers even more veg-friendly options. “It is a really easy place to be vegan,” she says of Vancouver, “especially with restaurants like The Arbor. It’s like the low-key little sister of The Acorn (which is also amazing), and their deep-fried oyster mushrooms are the stuff of dreams.”
“I love the bar at L’Abattoir,” says Sarah Savoy, who owns the Main Street boutique Much & Little. “Bao Beinever disappoints for a delicious, inventive cocktail,” she adds. Amy Renee York and Noah MacNayr-Heath, the super cute couple behind boutique Nouvelle Nouvelle are emphatic about Boxcar. Located between a pizza shop and popular concert venue, it’s kind of the best place to grab a drink, see a show, then get some midnight ‘za.
Style influencer Kirstyn König has a favorite spot nice and close to her home. “My favourite little neighbourhood gem is Grapes and Soda,” she says, “a natural wine bar that also has an incredible cocktail and dinner menu. It’s a small, intimate space with a speakeasy vibe and is tucked away next door to another must-try restaurant, The Farmer’s Apprentice.”
“Best cocktail stumbling distance from my house is Nomad, with some of the best bartenders in Vancouver,” reveals Alex Chichak of Still Life boutique. “Otherwise, I’d spend every spare summer moment sipping a paloma at El Camino’s.”
Lauren Clark and Lyndsey Chow, the ladies behind vintage clothing and lifestyle boutique Hey Jude, have a very special place to drink. “We’re probably biased but on Fridays we’ll hang and have happy hour at our shop (all are welcome!).” They also suggest, “for a favourite local spot we head to 33 Acres for craft beer and cider. If you’re lucky you’ll hit a night with live music.”
“Coffee shops are ideal places to people watch. I’m lucky to have great ones really close to both my house and my shop: Prado on Commercial Drive and Kafka’s on Main Street,” Sarah says. Amy and Noah like Revolver, a coffee shop in Gastown, for people watching. Grab a seat on one of the benches out front and scope out the local scene (then hit the new Nouvelle Nouvelle location, right around the corner).
Kirstyn heads to the outdoor patio at the Gallery Cafe. “It’s nestled away on the second level of the Vancouver Art Gallery, overlooking Robson Square,” she explains. “Grabbing a glass of wine and basking in the sun after perusing the gallery is one of my favourite weekend activities.” Vancouverite and travel blogger Nicole Wong loves to people watch when she goes to concerts (try the Biltmore to catch emerging acts). “It’s really interesting to check out the crowd and just observe the people who like the same music as I do,” she says.
Marie, of Wasted Effort, has great people watching in her workspace. “From the window of my studio on Columbia Street in Chinatown [I can see] a strange microcosm of humanity, incorporating every element of stereotypical Vancouver life… and it’s endlessly entertaining.”
It’s hard to not love San Francisco. Sitting on it’s very own peninsula up the northern coast of California surrounded by three bodies of water, it’s pretty much a landscape dream. Not to mention, it’s just a drive away from Silicon Valley, a quick flight (or fun road trip) to San Diego, Los Angeles and Arizona. And, in spite of its 40 rolling hills, you can walk or bike everywhere making exploring all its unique neighborhoods easy peasy. It’s really no surprise this cool city is filled with so much creativity and talent. We happen to know some of the best: the boutique owners and designers. Just look at the six rad ladies above, showing off the gorgeous city. These San Francisco designers make the most beautiful clothing and accessories that we obviously love to wear on the daily. We wanted to find out more about the city and the hidden gems no Trip Advisor would know, so we asked all our SF pals for the best places to eat, drink and people watch. You may as well check your Air Miles now.
From left to right: Danielle Colen designer of Waltz,Sharareh Koehler designer of Lotfi, Anna Chiu designer of Kamperett, Nikki Garcia designer of First Rite, Valerie Santillo designer of Kamperett, and Karen Potesta designer of Micaela Greg
WHERE TO EAT
From drool-worthy seafood to the most comforting Italian dishes, San Francisco has absolutely no shortage of good eats. “I have so many favorites! At this very moment it is Cotogna (above). Such delicious Italian food and a really beautiful space. Plus, their cocktails and wine selection are fantastic,” reveals Sydney Pfaff owner of Legion.
Tiffany Tam from Refined also admits that the city is filled with endless gems. “There is so many… it’s hard to pick just one.” But she was able to narrow it down to her top four: Tartine Manufactory, Liholiho Yacht Club, Bellota and Ju-ni. Sharareh Koehler, designer of one of our favorite bag lines Lotfi, also has a soft spot for Tartine. More specifically, “a loaf of Tartine bread.”
Mira Pickett, boutique owner of Mira Mira, has two must-go places. “Traditional Dim Sum is always a good idea, I love Ton Kiang on Geary, and Bar Crudo (above) is probably my favorite spot on earth. Can’t come to SF without having seafood.” Okay, that platter looks amaze.
“If I am going to go out to dinner, I love to go out for sushi, and one of my all time favorite places I discovered when I first moved to San Francisco years ago is a tiny place called Sushi Zone. It is a bit of a hidden gem off of Market Street in the lower part of the Mission. With only two tables and a few seats at the bar, you really have to get there right when they open or be prepared to wait, but everything is so fresh and delicious it is totally worth it,” reveals Valerie Santillo, part one of two of the womenswear label Kamperett. The second design half, Anna Chiu, has more than one favorite spot. “Seed + Salt for clean, organic and locally sourced food that’s quick and easy, Plow for brunch, Rich Table for dinner, Taqueria Cancun for the best burritos.”
“15 Romolo (above), hands down,” reports Sydney. “They make the best drinks around. I’ve lost a lot of hours (maybe more like days) to that bar.” Just by looking at that drink we know that would totally happen to us, too.
Tomra Palmer from Gravel & Gold recommends one of our all time favorite places: “In the park on a blanket on a warm day.” She then added, “But since heat waves are rare here I’ll take a bloody mary at the classic Zuni Cafe or a wildly strong margarita at the dingy but charming Latin American Club. Also, (local tip!) the Local Cellar wine shop has free tastings on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They sell and serve lots of groovy small batch CA wines.” Meet us there.
“Our street is a danger zone. There are two fun bars within crawling distance of the shop. Latin American is a real old school, legit Mission bar. Their margaritas are lethal weapons,” says Mira. Okay, this bar is definitely on our list now.
When looking to grab a drink, Valerie likes to stick close to home. “If I am going to go out for a drink, I usually like to stay in my neighborhood in Bernal Heights. One of my favorite local bars is The Royal Cuckoo. I like the dim, loungey vibe, down to earth atmosphere and their greyhounds are on point. They have a live band (including an organ!) on the weekends and otherwise they only play vintage records which keeps in line with the low-key ambiance.”
Heading over to the Mission district we have two favorite drink spots. Marie Potesta, co-designer of Micaela Greg, choose the ABV. A trendy bar with all your favorite cocktails, beer, wine, plus a beautiful large-scale mural to admire while you sip on your drinks. Danielle went for the Lone Palm. A nice and cozy bar with the best selection of vodka. Sign us up.
“Dolores Park (above) definitely is the place to be on any sunny day. Kooks from every walk of life, all on the same grass. There is an actual map of the park itself, each area is represented by a different SF crew. It’s kind of funny (and sad) how accurate it is,” explains Mira. Daniel, Valerie and Anna also all noted Dolores as their favorite place to people watch. Must be a gem.
Tiffany heads to Hayes Valley: “the weather is always nice there so grab an outdoor seating at a local cafe.”
Sydney suggests, “Washington Square Park in North Beach. I live nearby and it’s always a pretty entertaining people-watching spot. Such an eclectic neighborhood with a lot of characters.” Tomra also loves this neighborhood. “At first glance you might assume it’s overrun with tourists but it’s full of family run, legacy businesses and old timer residents that have been there for many many years, holding down the alternative/outsider vibe of this city.” She has three spots in North Beach to hit up: Washington Square Park, Specs and Caffe Trieste.
Marie is also a fan of North Beach. “Mario’s Cigar bar in my hood in North Beach (above) is a nice outdoor corner spot by the park to sit and watch the summer tourists.” Sharaeh loves to go to Four Barrel on Valencia street. A sleek and rustic coffee shop that specializes in drop coffee. Nothing better than a cup of Jo and some good ol’ people watching.
Toronto has it all: an unstoppable creative scene, bustling neighborhoods that span from one end of the map to the other, and it is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. You can experience different foods and cultures literally within blocks of one another. One stop on the TTC and you’re in Little Italy, next you’re in Greektown. Plus, there are over 140 languages spoken within the city limits. With so much to do and see, we knew a proper edit of the best had to come straight to the source: our boutiques and designers. We asked them to reveal THE best places to eat, drink and people watch in the Six right now. Get your woes ready. (Sorry, we had to).
WHERE TO EAT
“The simple ask of ‘where should we eat?’ when you live in Toronto is a question that could go unanswered for a long, long while; not unlike some of the most complex philosophical questions of our time. The options are plentiful, vast and one could quite feasibly travel their way around the planet on a plate – just eating their way around the city,” explains Bianca Goldman, founder of lifestyle boutique Bibelot & Token. She did narrow down a couple of her favorites though: Superpoint, “for a most fantastic buttery tomato sauce slice”, and Grey Gardens (above) a “new spot that’s a little bit of sunshine on the grayest of days.”
Anne Seally, owner of Task, is all about Bugigattolo Kitchen. A “cozy-tiny place in Liberty Village with an open kitchen and an outdoor patio. They serve Southern Italian food and do all-day breakfasts, lunch, and dinner. The menu changes daily, the food is very fresh, simple and tasty, the decor is laid back and unpretentious, and the service is warm and personal.” She also adds Tori’s Bakeshop (below) to her list of musts. “They have a half dozen tables (the best one being in the front bay window). Along with delicious baked goods and good coffee they also serve light lunch fare (soups, sandwiches, biscuits, etc).”
Lindsay Reeve, co-founder of Undone, narrowed it down to her top three. “I love Bar Isabel. Their sister-shop Raval is sleeker (and the place to go for mid-morning coffee and refined snacks), but there’s something homey about Isabel that just feels right to me. The food is both light and a bit rugged. Then there’s Côte de Boeuf, which opened as a butcher shop but has fully morphed into a local cave à manger. Cheese and charcuterie are the things to get, but they also do a few bistro classics very well. Thirdly, you’ll want to hit up I Love Pho Forever – the place with pink walls and all the plants in the window. Don’t be deterred if there’s a line, it moves fast.”
“If I’m looking for something laid back (or slightly hungover), all day dim sum at Noble on Spadina is my go-to,” admits Elizabeth Arlow owner of Bodega Thirteen. “It’s super inexpensive and in my opinion the best dim sum in Toronto. Definitely get the wonton soup.” We’ll meet you there.
Altaf Baksh owner of the contemporary men’s clothing shop Muddy George swears by Seven Numbers. He promises that, “Mama Rosa will take good care of you” when you go. Bonus: they are on Toronto’s 25 best bowls of pasta list!
Brittany Haavaldsrud founder of Fjordlife loves to hit up La Cubana (below) in Roncesvalles for a Cuban breakfast. She also recommends “Montgomery’s on Queen Street West, Bodega Henriette for brunch, and Figo for the decor.”
Our pals over at Livestock, Kevin Pham and Adrian Campana, gave us a handful of go-to spots based off of various cravings (you’re welcome in advance): Odd Seoul (Korean tapas style), Kingyo (Japanese), Norling (Tibetan), Big Crow (BBQ), Mamakas (Greek) and Milagros (Mexican).
The design duo behind the jewelry line Alynne Lavigne, Eve Tobolka and Alynne Lavigne, love heading to the Rhum Corner (above) for a quick drink (or five). They also admit that when it comes to having a drink they love, “any sunny balcony, front porch, backyard… or park, but that would be illegal (wink!).”
It’s round two for Grey Gardens. Allison Skinner from Distillloves to go there for both their food and drinks. “I love the room – palm print painted cinder block wall, pretty linen towels, farmhouse sinks, pink cookware and brass details. Good crowd too, not douchey.” Well, that’s always a bonus.
Zai Rajkotwala, owner of the dreamy lifestyle shop Easy Tiger Goods, has a solid list of drinks spots: Midfields Wine Bar, Pharmacy, Pretty Ugly, Communist’s Daughter, and Unlovable. Owner ofRoom 2046, Kumala Nio, also chose Unlovable as her favorite place to kick back and have a drink. It must be good.
“We love Midfield Wine Bar,” reveals the team at Mary Young. “They have a great patio (which Torontonians love to take advantage of when we can), a robust wine selection and super friendly, knowledgeable staff.”
The Slip (above) sits on Toronto’s beautiful waterfront at Harbourfront Centre and is one of Adrian’s favorite places to go when craving a good drink. Also on his list are: 416 Snack Bar, Cold Tea and Mascot Brewery – especially the rooftop patio (so good it’s the first photo at the top of our story).
“Black Dice on Dundas West has a great drink selection – my fave is the ‘Cherry Jerry’, Sailor Jerry and cherry coke,” reveals Elizabeth. “They also have an extensive selection of Sake if you’re into that. It’s a smaller spot, self-identified as a ‘Japanese Rockabilly Bar’ but super laidback.”
Brittney has two recommendations: “The Local in Roncesvalles for live music and Hole In The Wall.” If you’re into exposed brick, classic cocktails and a rotating list of craft beers then Hole In The Wall is for you. Plus, they have a small stage at the back of the bar where music starts every night at 10pm. Oh, and delicious eats with a menu that changes weekly.
“Dundas West has a great mix of newer bars, restaurants and shops, but has retained its Portuguese roots – good mix of characters to watch with a coffee,” explains Brittney. She adds, “in the warmer months I’m partial to an iced coffee and a good stoop session. Tucana (above) on Dundas West hits all the marks – female owned (!), staff is super cool, coffee is high quality but affordable, and they have a bench outside.” Bonus: dogs love it too! Altaf also loves a coffee shop for people watching. He often heads to Casa Coffee in Kensington Market.
Kensington Marketis a actually a top spot for many. Anne loves the area for “its eccentricity and quirkiness.” Kevin and Adrian recommend heading there on the weekend. “It’s the best since you get such a variety of people walking through all day and there is live music usually playing.”
“Hard to believe, but I’m recommending the Toronto Reference Library, because everyone now goes there to soak in its post-modern aesthetic,” explains Lindsay. “It was designed in 1977 and supposedly influenced by the hanging gardens of Babylon, but to me it’s pure retro-futuristic paradise. I’m also a bookworm, though!”
“It’s the most obvious answer, but once the sun comes out, even just a little bit, Trinity Bellwoods Park is where a most satisfying cross-section of Toronto is on display at all times,” says Bianca. “Claim a patch of grass, a picnic lunch from Sud Forno, gather a group of friends – and you’ll catch a glimpse of everyone and everything that’s best about this city.” Fun fact: Sud Forno is one of the top 10 most Instagrammable spots in Toronto.
Alynne, Eva, Brittney, and Zai also suggest Trinity as the best place to people watch. Zai particularly loves “a coffee shop near it: Sam James (above).”
Two of Toronto’s busiest spots are also great for people watching. Kumala goes for the Pearson Airport and Allison loves the ferry terminal. “You see all walks of life while waiting for the ferry in the summer—hippies, hipsters, families, couples, loners—all gathered together to take a trip to the Toronto Islands,” she explains.
Brooklyn-based designer Suzanne Rae Pelaez’s pieces are full of delicate dualities. These aren’t loud contrasts or showy displays of diverse influence; they’re quiet but knowing quirks in fabric, silhouette, and historical reference that unfold the longer one’s eyes scan a piece.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the designer herself is similarly nonlinear in both the designing of her collections and her path to fashion-as-profession. Pelaez delivers an idiosyncratic biography, with stints in ballet and economics preceding an education at Parsons and the debut of her collection in 2010. New York City’s Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Portland’s Stand Up Comedy were some of Pelaez’s earliest stockists — not bad boutiques to have on your side — a list that’s rapidly grown longer since the label’s launch of footwear. We spoke with Pelaez about how she went from promising child ballerina to in-demand designer, the commodification of feminism, and how shoes have changed her business.
IN RESEARCHING YOUR BACKGROUND AND YOUR PROCESS I FOUND SO MANY AVENUES THAT I WANTED TO START THIS CONVERSATION FROM. LET’S JUST START FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BRAND, WHICH IS ACTUALLY KIND OF A SECOND LIFE FOR YOU, BECAUSE YOUR FIRST LOVE WAS AS A BALLET DANCER, YES? Well, sort of. I mean, it was my first passion, my first love. My parents are professionals, and the life of a ballet dancer wasn’t exactly supported, if you will. I wanted to be homeschooled so that I could dance professionally in high school — it’s like gymnastics, there’s a peak, and I didn’t want to miss that.
I didn’t want to go to college, but my parents really wanted me to have a proper education. So I never really pursued [ballet] professionally, although I studied very seriously for a very long time. I did my undergrad at Bryn Mawr, and I continued to dance to a little bit; I was a dance minor.
WHAT WAS YOUR MAJOR? My major was actually economics, with dance and art history minors.
OH, WOW. HOW DID YOU WIND UP BEING INTERESTED IN… Designing?
NO, ECONOMICS! Oh, economics. Yeah, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. In retrospect, I would have loved to just have been an art history major, but also, when I went to college, didn’t know that that was a thing. I didn’t have that kind of upbringing. [With my parents] it was like, “Oh, you could be a doctor or a lawyer.” Those were like the two things.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? I grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia. My parents collect art, but it was never encouraged. They put me in ballet when I was younger for my posture, so I would be “poised as a young girl” growing up, and it just so happened that I fell in love with it, and had a natural ability that was able to be nurtured.
SO: THE BRAND. IT’S BEEN AROUND FOR SIX YEARS NOW, YEAR? Our first collection was spring 2011.
YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY SO CLOSE TO IT, IT PROBABLY IS HARD TO FEEL IT, BUT IT SEEMS TO ME – ON THE OUTSIDE – THAT THE BRAND HAS REALLY HIT ITS STRIDE. I’M SEEING YOUR NAME EVERYWHERE.Oh, really? [Laughs]
YEAH! DO YOU FEEL, RIGHT NOW, THAT PEOPLE ARE KIND OF CLICKING WITH THE BRAND, OR THAT YOU’RE KIND OF CLICKING WITH THE CONSUMER?Yes, it does. A little bit. But as you said, I am so close to it that it’s hard to tell.
THE ONE METRIC THAT WE HAVE IN THIS SCENARIO WOULD BE AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF STORES CARRYING IT, OR THE SIZE OF THEIR ORDERS. IS THAT THE REALITY? You know, it’s hard to say. We’ve had certain stockists that picked us up way back when. Stand Up Comedy and Maryam Nassir [Zadeh] were two of our first stores, and we still sell to them.
When I started designing, I didn’t really understand sales, or market, or any of the business side. Even though I had studied economics, my economics was more third-world development and international trade theory. It wasn’t at all finance, or entrepreneurship, or business, or anything like that.
We launched shoes not so long ago, we’ve just shown our second collection of shoes. I feel like that’s helped put us on the map of other people.
THAT’S REALLY INTERESTING. KIND OF LIKE A GATEWAY, AN ENTRANCE TO THE BRAND, AND THEN PEOPLE GET TO KNOW THE OTHER CATEGORIES? Yeah, you know, it’s funny. When we started the shoes, we met a lot of other stores that I had no idea even knew who we were. I send a MailChimp out to make appointments for market, and I never know who’s actually going to make an appointment or not. When some of these stores came, they were like, “Oh, we’ve been such fans of your line. It’s just relatively expensive.” If you’re going to spend, like, $700 on a piece of clothing and people aren’t really that familiar with the name, that’s a big risk for a store.
I feel like with the shoes — I feel like shoes are so popular right now.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE MOST “FASHION GIRL” THING IN THE WORLD, BUT IT DOES, RIGHT NOW, THAT SHOES ARE HAVING A MOMENT.They are! And we don’t really do PR, but since we launched the shoes, WWD, and W Magazine — who I’ve never had a relationship with — and Vogue [have covered the brand]. I feel like we’re constantly sending samples out, I can’t even keep up with it, it’s so insane. I really think that this recent growth spurt is because of the shoes.
It’s been a solid month of holiday craziness and now the world is asking us to put together yet another memorable outfit, this time for New Year’s Eve. If you’re like most of us, you’ve left this to the last minute. Stuck staring at your closet? We got you. To help you out with this painful process we’ve rounded up some seriously rad NYE outfit ideas courtesy of our boutiques and designers. Steal away.
To keep it simple, all you really need is a pair of standout pants. Bonus points if they are gold.
Pick a dress that looks even better when you move and then dance all night long.
Heels aren’t necessary to feel fancy. Pair your sneakers with a luxe pleated skirt and simple tee.
Velvet, stripes and a statement sleeve. Now that’s a hat trick we can get behind.
Bare your shoulders and tie yourself up with a bow like the gift to 2017 you are.
Go classic with an LBJ (little black jumpsuit), then add a pop of unexpected color.
Briana Swords, co-owner of the Brooklyn boutique SWORDS-SMITH, knows that when it comes keeping your sense of style intact in the winter, a coat is not just a coat. Her Williamsburg-based boutique is beloved for not only stocking some seriously special pieces you won’t find anywhere else, but Briana has that special way of finding new talent before they become household names. She also believes in supporting emerging designers that use an inspiration-driven design process and manufacture their products responsibly (we obviously see eye-to-eye on this). So, as the cold officially breaks, we asked her to play favorites. “These are statement outerwear pieces for women who are looking for something unique and special,” she says. “Your everyday coat doesn’t have to be basic because you are not basic.”
“The Xiong coat is one of our best sellers and Reality Studio offers it up in a few colors and fabrications every Fall. This coat makes you feel like you wrapped yourself in a blanket and walked out the door.”
Fall 2016 is shaping up to be an amazing season, filled with trends and textures that we’re obsessing over. It’s proving to be an exciting time for a few of our favorite designers, too, with things like new ventures and first-time fashion week showings. Here are five of our pals that are making some of the most major waves this season.