Even though the last day of Summer has already come and gone there is still plenty of time left to enjoy the beautiful outdoor spaces we have in this city. Scarborough is home to some of the best natural scenery, trails and waterfront in Toronto and this is a great time of the year to take it all in before it's covered in snow.
Now this wouldn't be a proper Local Vibe post without a food angle so I'm going to combine the beauty of both the natural landscapes and the best surrounding food options in this edition.
The Scarborough Bluffs always get the most attention but it is far from the only natural attraction in the area. Scarborough boasts the most scenic shoreline in the city with the Bluffs being just one part of that. Lets take a look at five of the best and most picturesque places to visit and then where to find some incredible food nearby.
Rouge Beach Park
195 Rouge Hills Dr, Scarborough, ON
The marsh and wetlands area at the mouth of the Rouge River are the highlights of this park and walking the boardwalk is a great way to take in the scenery and wildlife in the area. Past the marsh is also a swimmable beach and a walking/cycling trail that continues West for a few kilometres and eventually joins the Highland Creek trail system. It's a great place to go for a ride or walk, take in the sunset or even fish in the marsh!
Port Union Bakery
61 Undercliff Dr, Scarborough, ON
You'll find all of the bakery staples like fresh bread, buns and plenty of sweets at the Port Union Bakery but the star items are their Filipino Empanadas and Asado (pork buns). The empanadas come in chicken or pork varieties, plus a dessert version filled with pineapple. My personal favourite, the Asado, is a pocket of slightly sweet minced pork baked into a dinner roll (pictured above). At a cost of only $1 to $1.50 each these are some of the best bang for your buck snacks around.
Simply Frosted Cupcakery
5550 Lawrence Ave E #5, Scarborough, ON
This "Cupcakery" tucked in the corner unit of a plaza at Port Union and Lawrence is the perfect place to treat yourself after spending some time hiking along the waterfront. They feature a large selection of cupcake flavours for walk-in customers and an even larger selection for orders. A Dulche de Leche cupcake from Simply Frosted goes great with a cappuccino from Mr. Beans Coffee just a few doors down.
The Guild Inn Estates
201 Guildwood Pkwy, Scarborough, ON
This is the perfect spot to both take in some natural scenery and Toronto history. This historic property dates back to 1914 and has changed hands and purposes many times over the years including stints as a seminary, an artists colony and a PTSD hospital following World War 2.
Long time owners Rosa & Herbert Clark began collecting pieces of historic Toronto buildings as they were being torn down to make way for new development in the 30's. Now the Inn's grounds feature numerous pieces of Toronto's architectural history as well as many other sculptures and art pieces surrounded by gardens, woodlands and views of Lake Ontario.
The Suya Spot
269 Morningside Ave, Scarborough, ON
Not too far from the Guild Inn is the perfect spot to get your fix for some West African flavours. Suya is a preparation of grilled meat cooked on a skewer that's popular throughout the region. It's flavours comes from ground peanut, hot peppers and various other spices.
Suya Spot serves up your choice of Suya meats along with Jollof rice and fried plantain. Jollof is a rice dish stewed with tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilies and spices. It's the perfect accompaniment to go with the spicy Suya and the sweet plantain. Pictured above is the Chicken and Goat Suya combo.
They also add some of their house made pepper sauce on the side. BEWARE! This hot sauce is no joke! I think of myself as someone with a pretty high spice tolerance and this stuff is way to high on the heat meter even for me to handle.
Another option to try here is the Waakye, a dish of rice and black eyed peas, served with goat stew, a boiled egg and noodles.
3222 Eglinton Ave E, Scarborough, ON
Also in the area you'll find this old school stop for German comfort food. If you are in the mood for Beer and Schnitzel this has been the place to go in Scarborough since 1965. Aside from a variety of schnitzels, there is also German sausage, smoked pork chops and goulash on offer. You can't go wrong washing any of these down with an extra large 1 litre stein of German beer like Erdinger Weiss or Radeberger.
Rosetta McClain Gardens
5 Glen Everest Rd, Scarborough, ON
Named after one of the original owners of the land that the park sits on, Rosetta McClain Garden features winding pathways, elevated views of the lake and a manicured circular garden surrounding a large boulder fountain. It's always a peaceful oasis in the city. As an added bonus for those exploring the area, just east of the park entrance there is a steep old utility road that leads down to a lake side trail.
1466 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, ON M1N 1R6
The original Kingston Road location of this small chain has been a Scarborough go-to for authentic Thai street food for years. Named after a gigantic weekend market in Bangkok, Jatujak does great versions of classics like Pad Thai and Khao Soi. Their Lemongrass chicken wings always impress as well.
1666 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, ON M1N 1S5
The Birchcliff is the perfect stop to get your caffeine fix during any expedition in Scarborough. Their baked goods are too good to pass up while you're there, especially their butter tarts that are provided by the butter tart queens from Maple Key Tart Co. (pictured above)
The Scarborough Bluffs
Bluffers Park - The southern end of Brimley Road, Scarborough, ON
Scarborough Crescent Park - 61 Undercliff Dr, Scarborough, ON
Cathedral Bluffs Park - 24 Lyme Regis Crescent, Scarborough, ON
These lakeside cliffs are Scarborough's most famous landmark and also the origin of its name. Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, dubbed the area Scarborough as the cliffs reminded her of her North Yorkshire, England hometown of the same name. This ancient shoreline of a glacial lake dating back to the last ice age now provides families and outdoor enthusiasts with plenty of places to hike, swim and picnic while enjoying the incredible views.
Enjoy the beach, boating and trails of Bluffers park at lake level or take in the views from almost 25 stories up at Scarborough Crescent or Cathedral Bluffs Parks.
PI in TO
2478 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, ON
This gem on Kingston Road specializes in Lomi Batangas, a popular egg noodle dish from the Philippines. These noodles are swimming in a thickened broth that comes stacked with toppings. Even the small, or snack sized (pictured above), is a generous portion. The bowl comes overflowing with shrimp spring rolls, chicharron (crispy pork skin) and fish balls.
It also comes with a small side bowl with a lemon wedge and a chili pepper. The idea is to make your own sauce to enjoy with your Lomi by mixing some fresh lemon and soy sauce and then crushing the chili to give it some heat. The traditional way to enjoy it is to mix small spoonfuls of your sauce with spoonfuls of soup as you eat.
This warm, thick soup seems like a great pick-me-up as the days start getting colder. It would be the perfect finish to a walk along the Bluffs on a brisk fall day.
Art of BBQ
Kingston Rd and Sharpe St, Scarborough, ON
This make shift BBQ spot that has taken over a tiny parking lot on Kingston Road may not be here for long as the pitmaster is searching for a more permanent location heading into the Winter months.
While he is still around, this is the ideal spot to pick up some smoked ribs, pork butt or chicken before or after a trip to the Bluffs. Prices are fair and portions are very generous. Most importantly all of the meat is smokey and delicious. Check out my previous post with all the details about the Art of BBQ HERE.
Feel like some wings after spending a day exploring the Bluffs? You're in luck as there are two great options that both offer weekly wing specials.
Tara Inn (Mondays 2 for 1 wings)
2365 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, ON
This neighbourhood favourite has been serving big juicy wings in Scarborough for over 30 years.
Victorian Monkey (Tuesdays wings & fries special)
2386 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, ON
This wildly decorated tavern also serves up some great wings and offers Jenga and trivial pursuit cards as well a full size shuffle board table to pass the time while waiting for your wings.
R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant
2701 Queen St E, Scarborough, ON
Sitting in the very Southwest corner of Scarborough this almost 80 year old water treatment facility still provides a large portion of the water supply for the city and looks great doing it!
This heritage building has won numerous awards for its art deco design and has been used in a number of film and television productions. It often portrays a prison or an asylum and has done so in productions such as Half Baked, Strange Brew and Robocop: The Series among others.
Aside from the beautiful architecture, the rolling green hills and lake views make this a great spot to soak up some sun in the Summer.
2222 Queen St E, Toronto, ON
While these are very definitely two completely separate restaurants I've chosen to lump them together here because they might be the best two restaurant combo in the city to share a roof.
Kyouka's excellent chicken based ramen keeps the seats filled along with starters and sides like Karaage Chicken Wings and Donburi. It's a great place to get your East End ramen fix and get a quick, high quality meal.
Xola serves up traditional Mexican classics right next door. Some of the stand outs on their menu include the duck confit taco, a bright pink beet ceviche and their grilled octopus (pulpa asado). Another highlight are the grasshoppers, a not so common ingredient in Toronto, that are featured on several menu items to add some crunch. Xola also features a solid line up of Tequila, Mezcal and Mexican beers.
998 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 1T2
This brand new restaurant just north of the RC Harris plant specializes in making fresh batches of wood fire baked Somun bread throughout the day. This Bosnian bread is something like a pita but with a crustier exterior to balance out it's soft pillowy interior.
Their menu offers a number of sandwiches combining their fresh Somun with Ćevapi, a tiny kebab like sausage made with minced beef, veal and lamb. The Loaded Cevapčići (pictured above) adds onion, pickle, hot peppers, kajmak (a creamy cheese) and ajvar (a roasted red pepper sauce) to the mix with incredible results.
If you want to keep things simple you can also just enjoy your somun with the kajmak cheese and some plum spread or just take some plain somun home to enjoy later.
Hopefully you'll find some time to explore some of these places this fall, and get a good meal in the process.
Did I miss any favourite Scarborough landmarks or any other restaurants nearby? Let me know!