Toronto Recommendations – Tips & Places To Go

I just got back from a couple of days in Toronto and what a place. Literally every food from every culture at relatively reasonable prices, and a great vibrant culture with a to of great record stores.

Invisible City is an absolute must. Loads of left of center disco selections alongside great reggae and all points in-between. I only had 45 minutes but I left with 15 or so 12’s that were all very reasonably priced. Not one made me think I’m overpaying for it.

They closed at 6 so when I did get off work I scampered into Sonic Boom where they were having a 20% off sale so I picked up all the things I’ve missed on Kalita, Be With, and best of all picked up the Beautiful Swimmers Test Pressing comp sampler for the princely sum of $1 Canadian. I think that’s free.

The next day on my lunch hour I had 30 minutes at Cosmos and picked up a couple of vanguard disco releases, none of which broke the bank.

All in all I came home with about 25 records for about C$10 each.

But honestly, if you’ve never been you really should. Easily my favourite city in North America by quite some way.

What other cities around the world that aren’t the LA, NY, London, Berlin of this world are worth going to?

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São Paulo.

Valencia

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Definitely the best city in Spain.

When in Valencia it’s worth getting the train and checking out Alicante too.

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Istanbul is my favourite city on this dear Earth. The food is cheap and incredible. Such a beautiful mix of cultures and history. And it’s a living and breathing history.

Great to hear you had a nice time in Toronto, @Casual!

I know Gary and Laura from IC, they’re lovely peeps. Still haven’t got my arse down to IC, but after what you’ve posted it sounds like I need to… and Sonic Boom, for that matter. Haven’t been record shopping in years…

I live about an hour west in Hamilton, which historically would get shat on by Torontonians (although not Gary, who’s from here - as are a surprising number of Toronto-based DJ types I got to know after moving across the pond!). While I woudn’t say it’s any kind of rival for Toronto, it’s a smaller city (~500k) but big enough to be interesting. And Baldelli played at an amazing little spot (~200 people, wicked sound system) about 3-4 years ago… still not quite sure how that happened, but not complaining.
One thing I love that we have that Toronto lacks - some proper green space. The Niagara escarpment is literally five minutes walk in front of my gaff, and you can just feel like you’re away from it all in minutes. Half an hour’s drive towards Niagara, and you’re in wine country, and can buy peaches from roadside honesty boxes, etc. Which feels pretty fucking Balearic even more than a dozen years of being here :wink:

If you ever get the chance to return to Canada, definitely try and visit Montreal. It’s amazing.
Great for eating, drinking, record shopping… and just walking around and taking it all in.
Don’t worry about not being able to speak French, if you can manage a few words with an English accent that really will be appreciated and most people would probably switch to English because Quebecois French will be near-impossible to understand!

My wife is from Quebec and I get to hear Québécois all day long at home, it’s impenetrable as you say. Tabernac is all I’ve picked up and it makes me as popular as you’d imagine in Montreal.

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St Petersburg, Florida is really underrated.

Great art (Chihuly, Dali), cute walkable downtown, one of the best record digging spots (Bananas) a short drive away, great beaches on the Gulf coast, proper barely touched old school slightly down at heel but laid back vibes in Gulfport. There’s a great beer scene in the Tampa Bay area as well, The Ale and The Witch downtown was always a consistently great bar that somehow managed to get the feel of a decent juicer; they know and love their beers and it’s all micro and a lot of it local.

If you’re planning a trip to Florida anyway, the best way to do it is to spend a couple of nights in St Petes before flying home from Tampa (far less hassle than Orlando, and makes for a great bonus minibreak of sorts).

We used to do this when visiting the in-laws in Florida in the ‘before times’. Just typing this out is making me feel that a return trip some time would be a joy…

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“Bon Cop Bad Cop” taught me all (i.e. what little) I know:

(although the original French-language 19-2 when it was on Netflix was even better - cos on Netflix you could switch between French and English subtitles… where I learned that a proper Montreal style drawn-out “Câlisse!” sounded very much like a Mancunian “foooookin’ell” - which was then confirmed by some Quebecers I met who turned out to be huge JD/NO/Manchesterphiles in general… that turned into a fun evening!)

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I’m off to Lisbon soon. Would love to hear any shouts for great bars, restaurants, cool stuff to see and do. And record shops or other music related stuff of course.

Obrigado!

If you like mint copies of Brazilian records you are in luck.

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Try VAGO in Lisboa. @vago.lisboa on instagram.

A friend of mine is a partner in this, as he is in a “sister” bar here in São Paulo. Proper soundsystem, proper drinks.

Another friend of mine runs Amor Records there, good shop, too!

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Thanks Mario much appreciated