Toronto Weekender: September 15th through 18th, 2011

With TIFF 2011 bidding us goodbye on Sunday, there’s sure to be a lull this weekend as the celebs head out of town and the movie-goers and star-watchers head back home. Yeah…right. We live in Toronto, the only Canadian city who’s name basically imbues a sense of “something to do” – actually, Toronto originated from Taronto, which referred to a channel of water, but you get our point. So grab your smartphone and start filling up your weekend schedule. In the immortal words of Snoop Dogg, and comic strip Cathy for that matter, “It’s tight. Yo.”

Tonight you’ll want to take a trip out to 992 St. Clair West (we know, we know, it’s north of Bloor, forgive us) and pull up a seat at the latest Toronto smokehouse, Hardy’s Hogtown Brasserie. Awash with quaint details and immediately homey and inviting, Hardy’s is a perfect spot for some BBQ deliciousness. PS The cheese for the mac is smoked in-house. Yeah, it’s amazing. Afterwards, head east to Yonge and north to Eglinton and hit up Coco Rogue for some spectacular, we’ll say that again, spectacular chocolates and sweet martinis. Yes, it’s a night of indulgence, live a little.

Ah Friday. The night we’ve been waiting for since, well, last Saturday. Tonight’s a special one. Head over to the Drake Hotel and grab an amazing meal in their new Chinatown dining hall. Chef Anthony Rose’s latest menu is awash with contemporary takes on our favourite greasy Chinese food…but don’t expect an oily and over-salted dish. Prime ingredients and attention to detail abound here. Try a Lotus Blossom martini, they’re perfection in a tumbler. (Call ahead and make reservations though, you might be lucky enough to snatch yourself a spot.) Afterwards, head over to the only party tonight worth checking out: ours. That’s right. Notable is throwing a so-long TIFF party at The Hoxton, and the room will be filled with TO’s finest YPs swaying to the beats of some of the city’s best DJs. (RSVP to to get reduced cover before 11:30pm.)

We’d normally suggest heading out for brunch on Saturday, but since you’ll have been partying hard till 4am the night before, have a morning in, and head out mid-afternoon to White Squirrel Coffee Shop at 907 Queen West and grab a sammie and much-needed espresso. Then, join the art crowd for the Queen West Art Crawl and take in an afternoon browsing shops and sites with over 500 artists displaying their wares. (We’ve heard from previous years some are open to bargaining, so bring you p-p-p-poker face.) At night, celebrate Oktoberfest early at WVRST with some of the city’s absolute best gourmet sausages, duck fat fries, and a superstar beer list while DJ Mike Tull keeps the beats prime.

On Sunday, lace up your best walking shoes and join a notable mission to stand up and put an end to human trafficking. Oliver and Bonacini Events at the Toronto Board of Trade are hosting the 2nd Annual Walk for Freedom. Register for the 5k, and head over at 10am for the free breakfast pre-walk. This event will take you through the afternoon, and after, since you’ve earned it, head home, get cleaned up, and mosey on over to Briscola on College for some fine Italian dining. You can handle the carbs, we promise.