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Why these food entrepreneurs are betting on Toronto’s Market Street

Building Toronto’s next great food district won’t happen over night, but a handful of eager restaurateurs hope that by summer’s end Market Street is as synonymous with the city’s foodie culture as The Distillery District or King West.

The heritage buildings that occupy the street to the west of Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market have sat dormant for a number of years, plagued by construction and revitalization projects, but as the dust settles a new generation of first-time restaurant owners are hoping to bring a new identity to the narrow brick paved street.

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The faces of Market Street

Until recently, the historic little street that runs parallel to the St. Lawrence Market on the west side looked for years like an old alleyway or a delivery drop-off zone.

Among its numerous incarnations dating back to the 1800s though, Market Street once housed Toronto’s Armoury Hotel — which eventually became a home for wounded World War II veterans — The Old Fish Market restaurant, RCMP horse stables, a fruit warehouse, an auto body shop and the LCBO’s vintage wine cellar.

Though it sits in the shadow of the giant food and vending behemoth, the newly restored Market Street has quietly become a vibrant hub for foodies that is as eclectic as the St. Lawrence Market and the city itself.

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Notable: Six and a Half New Toronto Restaurants

And guess what? We’ve got 6 and a half new restaurants for you to check out.

In honour of the late visionary developer, the new pedestrian Market Street strip has officially been named Paul Oberman Walk and the opening of these restaurants offers a refreshing facelift to the well-known historic area of the St. Lawrence Market.

Tastes of Market Street offer more than just patios, though. The food ranges drastically from place to place, allowing your taste buds a week’s worth of experience within a few hundred metres.

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BlogTO: Evolution Food Co.

Evolution Food Co. is located midway down Market Street, neighboured by a row of burgeoning restaurants and the St. Lawrence Market. Owner Ian Paech, a former banker and triathlete, wanted to bring quick, clean eating to a neighbourhood where ready-to-eat foods tend be especially indulgent.

Designed by Solid Design and Build, the room consists of a take-away counter, assembly line and seating for 20 inside (double that on the patio). Done up in marble, subway tiles, salvaged woods and exposed brick, the space is outfitted with industrial fixtures and punctuated with sunny yellow accents.

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Globe and Mail: Market Street

Toronto’s Market Street boasts five cheerful restaurants, a bustling coffee emporium and a specialty food store. Its 150-year-old buildings are accented by outdoor patios, the entire street repaved with brick.

It’s a stunning transformation for a historic street along the west side of St. Lawrence Market that for years had been all but abandoned and considered expendable as a wave of redevelopment swept in from all sides.

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BlogTO: Barsa Taberna

Barsa Taberna sits at the north tip of Market Street’s restaurant row that now runs down the west side of the old St. Lawrence Market building. The 85-seat restaurant inhabits a historic building filled with original stone archways and 19th-century beams, with decor that contrasts old world elements with curvaceous bespoke furnishings, 30 foot artworks backlit with LEDs, and rich mosaic patterns.

Patio seating out front will offer room for 75 and its major draw is pitchers of Sangria ($19-$20/half, $33-38/full) in red, white and sparkling Cava variations. Expect to see Estrella Damm, the beer of Barcelona, on tap in the coming weeks.

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Toronto’s 10 Most-Anticipated Summer Openings

A number of exciting new restaurants are about to take Toronto’s dining scene to the next level. When we posted our 2014 forecast back in January, we teased you with the idea of ethnic food trucks, more burgers and creative dessert menus. Nearly five months later, we’re starting to see a wave of new exciting eateries opening from east to west.
Here’s a look at 10 openings we’re very excited about. What’s going to be big in 2014?
Read on to find out.

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BlogTO: Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

Balzac’s has opened its eighth cafe in the burgeoning Market St. area. It’s a suitable place, with its cobblestones, wide patios and plenty of tourists and city dwellers hitting the St. Lawrence Market next door. Like the other locations, there’s a French cafe vibe, thanks to the beautiful tiles and wood, banquettes and cafe tables, and a few Balzac’s posters.

Now that the mini-empire has spent several years dominating Toronto’s cafe scene, they’ve got their branding down. Every square inch is curated, pristine and lovely, with Balzac-emblazoned cups, cards, and posters available for purchase.

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BlogTO: Market Street Catch

Market Street Catch is the latest seafood-centric offshoot from Buster’s Sea Cove owner Tom Antonarakis. The new spot has docked on the newly redeveloped restaurant row that runs along the west side of St. Lawrence Market between Front and The Esplanade. Inside, the 26-seat space by Squarefoot Design is decked out with corrugated metal, a calm sea-themed mural and nautical ephemera. Front windows are open completely to what will soon to be a 14-seat patio – on a breezy day, I swear I can even smell the lake. Upfront, the fresh catch is displayed on ice; orders are taken at the counter and then called out for pick-up at the open kitchen.

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