Some kids grow up in places called “suburbs” where the only market they get to cruise through is the supermarket, and pretty often it’s with their mom. Now, we all know moms are the best, and that there are worse places on Earth than a supermarket, but let’s get down to brass tacks here and talk about one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the city: Kensington Market. If you like vintage clothes, neat coffee shops and watching hipsters hang with hippies, than you’ll love this gem located west off Chinatown.
To get to Kensington Market, take the College streetcar to Augusta Avenue (one stop west of Spadina) and walk south.
Kensington is kind of unofficially divided into three sections: restaurants and boutiques along Augusta, food shops along Baldwin, and vintage stores along Kensington Ave. In addition to this list, you should pop your head in to this delicious South American boutiques that line Augusta, try all the yummy bulk barns along Baldwin, and grab berries or other treats from the open-air fruit and veggie markets!
Here are places you should definitely explore.
For great vintage, go to Kensington Ave. There are about fifteen vintage stores on this one block that have everything from gently used pink chucks to the cutest 1960s sundresses and racks and racks of denim cut-offs.
Here are some of our favourites:
Exile (22 Kensington Avenue, 62 Kensington Avenue)
Exile is great at Halloween, and awesome in between. This is the place for your vintage basics: Levi’s, plaid shirts, denim jackets, fur coats, leather coats, jerseys, and more, as well as costume-y items year round, like fishnets, wigs, and more.
Flashback (25 Kensington Avenue)
Great for shoes.
Sub Rosa Vintage (16 Kensington Ave)
It’s rare if there aren’t ten things you’d want to buy immediately upon arriving. A very well-curated shop, indeed.
Dancing Days (17 Kensington Avenue)
The usual vintage fare, plus hammocks and other hippie paraphernalia.
Courage My Love (14 Kensington Avenue) At Courage, racks of beads and jewellery, incense and knickknacks hang alongside cashmere sweaters, vintage lingerie, Victorian-style button-ups, and the owners often have stories about the items, like a dress that used to belong to her mother, or a luchador mask he picked up on his travels in Mexico.
Sole Survivor (16 Kensington Avenue)
Get your shoes fixed by an awesome lady cobbler!
The Grilled Cheese (66 Nassau St.)
Mmmm. The Grilled Cheese features mouthwatering sandwiches with crazy combinations, and a fun atmosphere—picnic benches on the patio in the summer, and a retro vibe inside.
My Market Bakery (184 Baldwin St.)
The counters are positively bursting with really tasty treats, including sugar cookie blue jays and Bee Sting bars—the lovechild of baklava and shortbread. The shelves are full of loaves, Montreal bagels, and other tasty treats.
Big Fat Burrito (285 Augusta Ave.)
The place to go for delicious Sweet Potato burritos (Seriously, add sweet potato to everything.)
Moonbean Coffee (30 St. Andrew St.)
This is a hustling and bustling coffee shop that captures the spirit of the market. Tea, coffee, ice cream-y treats, and delicious food.
Hot Beans (160 Baldwin St.)
The most delicious vegan burritos, tacos, and donuts in the city. Yeah, donuts.
Kos (61 Bellevue Ave.)
This is the place for super cheap greasy-spoon breakfast with your best friends.
iDeal Coffee (84 Nassau St.)
A great coffee shop with an excellent front patio that has a communal vibe.
Wanda’s Pie in the Sky (287 Augusta Ave.)
Best croissants ever, plus delicious vegetarian lunch options, sweets, and, oh yeah, PIE!
OTHER BOUTIQUES WE LOVE
Model Citizen (279 Augusta Ave)
Quality Canadian clothes and accessories, and on-site silkscreening workshop. If you love having stuff that no one else owns but everyone will want, head to Model Citizen.
Bungalow (273 Augusta Ave)
Awesome vintage and new clothing and accessories
Kid Icarus (75 Nassau St.)
This is the place to get quirky birthday cards, pretty wrapping paper, and cool band posters.
Blue Banana (250 Augusta Ave)
Literally everything under the sun – except blue bananas. This is a sprawling market-style space with handcrafted and quirky goods.
Good Egg (267 Augusta Ave)
If you love to cook, or know someone who does, or you just like fun items, Good Egg is the store for you.
Sonic Boom (201 Augusta Ave.)
RECORDS! Proclaims the light-up sign above Sonic Boom, and that’s what you get. Vinyl, and music books.
Check out Kensington Market on Sundays in the summertime for full reign of the streets on foot, buskers, passing drum parades, delicious treats to sample along your walk, and some really killer people watching.
- Don’t go late at night
– There are some sketchy characters in the park
- Hot summer day = fish is smelly.