Toronto Weekender: August 2 through 6, 2012

Another long weekend is upon us. Booze runs, BBQs and beaches sounds good to us, but if you’re looking for a bit more to hop up your extended respite, take a peek at what we’ve got below…

From the owners of Betty’s comes the Pacific Junction Hotel, an eclectic and island-inspired restobar in the spot previously occupied by Brad Long’s Veritas (236 King Street East). Offering up intriguing plates (poutine spring rolls, anyone?), tequila aplenty, and seats made from old tubs, Pacific Junction Hotel is an interesting new spot to say the least, and an awesome way to set the tone for your weekend.

Found at 725 Queen Street East, Riverside Public House has some noteworthy pedigree: the menu was crafted by Top Chef Canada contestant Dustin Gallagher, and co-owner Nav Sangha counts Wrongbar and The Great Hall to his name. Offering up haute comfort food for the working class (read: the dishes are actually quite affordable), Riverside Public House also houses live music and a cocktail list developed by Matty Gregoris (ex-Susur). 

At Yonge and Dundas Square, Virgin Mobile’s Indie Friday Series continues with the Magnificent 7’s. From their Winnipeg home, the Magnificent 7’s have traveled thousands of miles, touring incessantly. This 5-piece band features the incredible vocals of stand up bassist Ida Sawabe, Guitarists TJ Blair and Matt Magura, Old Time fiddling of Andy Bart, and machine gun banjo picking and deadly slide guitar of David Nishikawa. Not too shabby a way to spend a Friday evening.

A new lunch and brunch spot has hit the city, at 1108 St. Clair Avenue West. Emma’s Country Kitchen is bringing home cooking to your restaurant table, with classic dishes like Grams used to make. With a retail component – they sell the same baked goods you can order up, in addition to home-made frozen meals – Emma’s Country Kitchen is a slice of old-school Canadiana for multicultural Toronto. Sounds perfect for a long weekend Saturday brunch, non?

Ah, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade, aka what everyone is still calling Caribana and will likely do so for years to come. The big day is Saturday, filled with gyrating ladies scantily-clad in island attire, gents busting moves that seem gravity-defying, and music that’s unparalleled but once each year. It’s a fete of epic proportions, and one worth checking out.

Downsview Park. Saturday and Sunday. Deadmau5. Steve Aoki. Kill the Noise. Avicii. Krewella…need we go on? The VELD Music Festival – borne by INK Events – is a two-day EDM fest featuring some of the world’s best electronic music DJs and talent. The big names hit the main stage, while the more up-and-coming folk will be technifying the Bacardi Tent. Hit it up one day, or do a two-fer and head to Downsview twice. 

The Rogers Cup kicks off on Saturday, bringing with it just over a week of competitive glory. Tennis lovers and neophytes alike can get in on the action. Bonus, if you steal a couple kids this weekend families get in free…just sayin’. 

Big news: One of our favourite spots, The Combine Eatery, has just launched brunch. Why’s it big? It’s Southwestern! One of the few spots in the city to offer us some deliciously fresh brunch with vibrant flavours and subdued Southwestern spice, The Combine Eatery’s new menu is definitely one for the books. PS The bacon-rimmed bourbon margarita would be perfect to pair with the poblano eggs Benny…

Movies in the Park is on again this week at Riverdale Park, this time showing Back to the Future. This free ‘screening’ is a perfect TO pastime. Grab some food, bottle up some sangria, nab a blanket to lay on, and head into Riverdale Park at dusk on Sunday night to check out a film beneath the cover of the night sky.

Lakeshore Mardi Gras runs Friday through Monday, where singles, couples and families will enjoy the refreshing open-air ambiance of the community-based event that draws its inspiration from the world famous Mardi Gras held annually in New Orleans. Sample a wide variety of cuisines while enjoying Dixie, Jazz and Blues bands, buskers performing dazzling displays of entertainment, interactive games, a midway, and market vendors offering arts, crafts, jewellery and more. 

Eyes on Queen West hits the Gladstone’s Ballroom again for a night of all-Eyes-glory. Eyes referring to Gladstone Bartender Stephen Eyes, of course, who took to the stage years ago with his interactive live late night talk show Eyes on Toronto. This event features the man himself, with interviewees Ennis Esmer and Joe Dinicol, comedians Debra DiGiovanni and Trevor Boris, musical guest Vag Halen with special guests JAT, and burlesque superstar Mena Von Fleisch.

Photo courtesy Emma’s Country Kitchen