An insider's guide to Toronto with Matt Galloway
Matt Galloway knows Toronto. Four years of covering the city as host of Metro Morning (and Here & Now for six years before that) will naturally make you a bit of an expert on our hometown. But Galloway doesn't just know Toronto because of what he does, but because of who he is: a proud Torontonian.
When you talk or listen to him, it becomes obvious very quickly that he has a deep affection for his city. The word "love" comes up a lot. So does the fact that it's a city that never fails to surprise him. "I've been here for 25 years, but there's always places in the city that I'm stumbling upon. I'm constantly amazed with some of the places I find."
I sat down to talk to Galloway about his beloved Toronto, and what spots he has come to know and love most throughout his time in the city - as a bicyclist, a coffee drinker, and reporter.
You get up really early - 3 A.M you've said - to get to work. Are there any parts of the city that you really love to see at that time in the morning?
Going along Harbord is great because the bakeries there are starting to bake things and it smells lovely at 3:45 in the morning. I love [Grange] Park. In the morning it's just completely still and there's nothing going on. It feels like you're sneaking into something.
Where would you take someone in Toronto who is aspiring to work in radio or media?
We're in the business of storytelling. The city is filled with amazing, untold, great stories in corners of the city that many people don't go to or are unaware of. [So] I send people to Thorncliffe Park all the time that are new here. You go there and you hangout for like half an hour? You meet people and you come back with a half a dozen amazing stories.
Do you have spots in Thorncliffe Park you love in particular?
The community opened a tandoor in the park. It's an amazing thing - an oven but also a gathering place for the community. It completely changed the park. It's a hoot to hang out there and eat. I also go up to Bamiyan Kebab whenever I'm there. Excellent Afghan food. And just north is the new Aga Khan Museum. The collection is incredible and the building itself is a work of art.
You live in the Christie Pits area. What are your favourite neighborhood spots?
The Contra Cafe. It's become a kind of center of the neighborhood. I run into all these people who are there that I never would have otherwise known lived in the neighborhood. It's become a little bit of a town square in a big city.
What about restaurants?
Rikishi. My wife and I have been going there for a long time. It's a great sushi restaurant. We've gone enough that we kind of know every single thing on the menu. I'm always happy when I'm there.
I love my grocery store, Fiesta Farms, which is around the corner from my house. I'm there almost every day it seems like. If you like to eat like I do, it's one of those places where you're always surprised by what you find on the shelves.
Are there any places near the CBC building where you work that you love?
I will go to Sam James in The PATH because that's sensational coffee. They really know what they're doing. Life is really too short for bad coffee.
I've heard you're a big Toronto sports fan. Especially the Toronto FC. Do you have any favorite bars or pubs you love to go to before or after a game?
I was a huge fan. We had season tickets for five years, but then we gave them up because the team has been terrible. But on the way down we [used to] always stop at the Cadillac Lounge.
What about watching sports? Where do you like to go for that?
If we're watching football, we often end up out at The Dizzy.
If you had to pick three Toronto locations that you couldn't live without, what would they be?
The mouth of the Humber River, at the foot of the Humber ravine, right by the footbridge that looks out onto the city. That's my favorite part in the whole city. The ramp that goes down into Milkman's Lane in the ravine in Rosedale. It's like secret Toronto. You just disappear from the city in the city.
And the third place? Again, Thorncliffe Park is an extraordinary place. There's something amazing about going and meeting people who have given up everything and decided they're going to change their life and come to another country. People talk a lot about what makes the city special - all the diversity, and the fact that people come from all over the world. You see that there.
Coffee shop: Sam James.
Brunch: We don't really do brunch, but we went out for a lovely long lunch the other day at Edulis. It's the opposite of brunch. We sat and ate for four hours and it was insanely great.
Restaurant to take someone from out of town: Cava. It's great food, but it's also really fun. We've taken a lot of people there.
Museum or Gallery: I go to the Art Gallery of Ontario all the time. I make sure I have time to just sit for fifteen or twenty minutes in the Galleria Italia. That's one of my favorite rooms in the city.
Bookstore: Type is great. I buy a lot of books at Type. But I really miss bookstores. I miss the fact that in my neighborhood I can't wander down and find books at the last minute in reading desperation.
Movie Theatre: Because I've been going forever, and I love what they've done with it: The Hot Docs Cinema.
Music or record store: I went back into Play De Record a while back for the first time in forever. It was fun to go back because it reminded me of why I used to buy Vinyl, and why I loved going there every Thursday when they'd release new record and everybody would kind of be streaming in at about 5 o' clock and it would just be madness.
Clothing store: Theodore1922.
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