The It List 2009

by Ondine Cohane

Toronto, Canada

Fans of this indie-minded city have always enjoyed foraging for its underground ethnic restaurants and digging around one of the latest artsy neighborhoods to sprout up like mushrooms. But nowadays, Toronto is showing a bit more swagger. The Toronto International Film Festival is a big reason for the city's swelling reputation: The event is a growing counterpoint to Cannes and is increasingly scoring blockbuster premieres like Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. There's some showy architecture here now as well. Daniel Libeskind's glass-and-metal extension to the Royal Ontario Museum (pictured) last year has become a must-stop—don't miss C5, the restaurant on the fifth floor where gourmets congregate for the six-to-eight-course tasting menu. Local son Frank Gehry has just completed a multimillion-dollar home for the Art Gallery of Ontario, the city's most ambitious project in years. Meanwhile, though the Hazelton is currently the It Toronto hotel, with a Mark McEwan restaurant and stunning lap pool, other big players, including Gansevoort and Thompson Hotels, have projects in the pipeline. (Travelers who want fashionable digs for less should check out the Drake and the Gladstone, where rates dip below $200 a night.) Music fans should head to the Sound Academy, where homegrown talent such as the Stills, Feist, and Broken Social Scene—all signed to the city's pioneering Arts & Crafts label—play regular gigs. To round out the Toronto-is-cool experience, stop at Madeline's, the latest restaurant from chef Susur Lee, who's on the verge of star chef–dom: He's just opened a place at New York's Thompson LES. Too much wattage for you? Take a stroll down Ossington Avenue and wander among the vintage shops, galleries, cool cafés, and ethnic neighborhood joints.

NEXT: Paris of the Middle East...or South Beach? >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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