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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

10 secret spots in Kensington Market you might not know about

Kensington Market is a Toronto neighbourhood full of local treasures. Hidden back patios, stunning artwork, and cultural spaces are just a few of the low-key spots you can find in this storied district, waiting to be discovered. 

Here are some secret spots in Kensington Market you might not know about.

The amazing skyline view from Green P Carpark 68

The multi-floored Green P on St. Andrew, a.k.a. the Kensington Garage, is one of the best spots to park your car when visiting the Market. If you have a moment, head to the top floor of this concrete structure for one of the best views of the Toronto skyline.

The tranquil vibes of Sonya's Parkette

When it comes to green spaces in the Market, Bellevue Square Park is likely the first grassy lawn that comes to mind. But just up Augusta on Oxford is a park named after one of Kensington's first fruit shop owners in the 1930s, Sonya Lunansky, graffiti'd up with some beautiful work by Phillip Saunders and Scieter

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Chill at HotBox Lounge's revived back patio. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

The potio at HotBox Lounge

The iconic potio of HotBox is open once more. After two decades of pioneering for cannabis users' rights, the brand by Abbi Roach has gone legit with the legalization of weed. Grab some pre-rolls for the shop, then head to the classic head shop for the surprisingly serene space in the back. 

The hidden back patio at Tibet Cafe & Bar

Look past the understated entrance to this squat building to find a family-run gem of a restaurant with an amazing back patio. Head to the corner of St. Andrew and Kensington for momos, lasa thupka, and smoothies. 

The sounds of African Drums & Art Crafts

Sitting at the far reaches of Kensington Market on Dundas is this longtime hub for African culture packed with djembes, kpanlogos, dunduns, and other such rhythm-makers, where Owner Saikou has been running drumming sessions and dance circles since 1987. 

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Few people know you can eat your churros and empanadas at the back of 214 Augusta. Photo by Tanya Mok.

The ramshackle oasis of the 214 Augusta backyard 

It's hard to miss 214 Augusta, especially with Pancho's Bakery at the front, churning out addictive churros. This jam-packed food court is definitely a popular spot for grab-and-go Latin American eats, but what few people know is that there's a cozy patio out back that lets you stay a while. 

The historic Kiever Synagogue

This twin-domed place of worship sits tall above the surrounding residences but is fairly overlooked considering its impressive design. Built in the Byzantine Revival style, stained-glass windows and a massive hand-carved Torah ark make this a worthy visit for architecture lovers (and live streamed performances by the Holy Gasp).

The creative energy of Red Pepper Spectacle Arts

If you've participated in the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival in recent years, you have this non-profit community arts space to thank for the looming epic shadow puppets in attendance. Revel in the Kensington spirit with a shadow puppet workshop at this inclusive studio on Baldwin.

The forgotten Kensington Mall

Better recognized as the dimly-lit hallway to Cold Tea, this mall is a vibe all its own during weekdays and weekend afternoons. Head inside this mini market for Himalayan handicrafts from Tibet Lungta and the shop at the back full of knick knacks and dollar postcards.

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It's figurines and porcelain galore at Sasmart Smart Wear. Photo by Jamie Lundine.

The kitschy paradise that's Sasmart Smart Wear

Enter this time vortex across from Bellevue Square and emerge in this sprawling thrift store with more kitschy figurines than you'll know what to do with. One person's dusty junk is someone else's equally dusty but still beloved tchotchke. Shop fast and support if you can — this store's barely hanging in there.

by Tanya Mok via blogTO

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