So you’ve decided to visit Toronto and enjoy it’s #2 outdoor attraction (second only to The Beaches Jazz Festival, according to their site). Regardless of who tells you their numbers are numero uno, Toronto Pride reels in a crapload of cash for the city (The Gay Community has it’s own subsection on Toronto’s tourism website – take THAT Caribana!). It’s a good idea to research your options before opening your wallet and organize your fun before hitting the street.
That’s where I come in! Hello tourist! So glad I could help!
You may recall my article last year: Pride Tips for Out of Towners. I’m bitter happy to report that not much has changed. The bar you are drinking in will have a draconian liquor inspector grumpily wander through to see if they can make some money in fines. And some circuit party will try to seduce you with their glossy posters of near-naked men, but there will be a chance that you choose incorrectly and spend $95 to find you’re not at the “A-List” bash and wind up with a crowd that looks more at home at a Phish concert. The Parade tips still hold true (early, sunblock, elbows), as do the street crowd crush. Don’t forget that “bagging and bedding a Torontonian” is still a bit like coaxing a snipe out of the bushes. We seem to have tightened our shy little cocoons around ourselves during this long, cool spring! All I reported last year are still valid tips. Take heed!
At this time I need to reiterate my number one peeve about Pride: You should NOT, repeat NOT eat at any restaurant on Church Street during Pride. Eat from a hot dog cart (blarg!), bring your own food, starve, devour your travel companion or gnaw on your own foot. Do not eat at any Church Street restaurant.
Wait… I think I need to nail that home:
DO NOT EAT AT ANY CHURCH STREET
RESTAURANT THAT IS LOCATED ON
CHURCH STREET DURING PRIDE
Got it? Just want to let you know. All restaurants will take you in their arms, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, thrust a pre-set menu in your hands and then jizz in your face while rifling through your wallet for your cash. And not in a good way.
Here’s a list of restaurants that are off the strip and worth your money:
Daybreak – This place is popular, pricey but has big portions. At the corner of Carlton and Church, just outside the Village.
Studio – When Daybreak is full, two doors south is this crumbly greasy spoon. Cheap alternative great for breakfast.
The Coachhouse – Same as The Studio, but over on Yonge and Wellesley. Greek twist on a diner.
Chew Chews, Johnny G’s and Gourmet Burger – Three Cabbagetown options that are a little walk away from the Village.
Sizzler – Late Late night burger place with baby sized meat patties at Yonge and College. Not much to look at but BABY SIZED BURGERS!! Late at night!!!
Olympic Pizza – Been in the village forever. Consistently good but unremarkable Italian food the recipe for a great restaurant!
Tokyo Grill / Okanomi House – uncommon Japanese food (read: NOT sushi).
Ginger – Not the one on Church, but over at Yonge and Bloor, there’s an outlet that will most likely not fuck you for cash. Great non-restauranty hot and sour soup.
Oja Noodle House – Right beside a pricey “EggRoll” restaurant. Dishes more authentic and way cheaper. Charles and Yonge.
That’s a good start. Yonge at Bloor has had an explosion of Asian Fusion dining places. All seem “good” if not a bit dollar-y.
New tips? Got a couple!
In some cases it’s polite to ask if you can take pictures of random hot guys/gals/gender-fucks, but in most cases it doesn’t matter – cameras are everywhere during Pride and if you’re shy, stay the fuck home! But asking for a photo is not only as polite as a Canadian in a foreign land, it’s an excellent way to break the ice. So if you do go this route, may I suggest little business cards with your Twitter/Flickr/Facebook page URL on it so you can ensure your subject can view your work later when they’re at home slathering on the aloe vera. And for those people you were jokingly taking a picture of (“Good lord that outfit!! I must ridicule it online tonight!“) and get caught doing so, may I suggest a separate card with www dot lemonparty dot org on it.
Street Escape Routes
I failed to mention last year that to avoid the crush that is the uncomfortably crowded street in front of Woodys and the parking lot Beer Tent (Church and Maitland), the Pride Committee has smartly enshrined the alleyways behind these two venues open for easier access past this bottle neck. There are similar North-South routes between East-West streets if you need to dash up Church Street. Any Pride volunteer will gladly point them out.
Keep your cell phone charged. The crowds are so large you will want to know where your friends are. Twittering may not be such a good idea since it goes down more often than a career drag queen 2 days before rent is due. Thankfully iPhone users will have MMS texting by then and you can send your friends your location (or trick’s face) for group approval.
Please take some time to consider what you will wear. Feather boas are for straight boys who were dragged to Pride by their girlfriends. Outrageous drag is fine, but consider it will be hot and you may be outside for some time. Melty creatures does not equal funny drag. You’ll scare children. May I recommend something clever yet not too noticable…
Whatever you do, enjoy your Pride. If you see me, say Hi!