My son Peter and I went out in our east end Toronto neighbourhood a few evenings ago, in search of something sweet to eat after dinner. I am telling a tiny white lie because we weren’t really “searching”; we knew exactly what we were after.

My best friend of over 40 years and I have an ongoing argument about the benefits of living in an urban vs suburban neighbourhood. I have lived in both but chose to raise my children in a city neighbourhood. She chose to raise her family in a satellite community west of Toronto and maintains vehemently that life there is exactly the same. She is, of course, bonkers (for many more reasons than just this) – and I will tell you why.

You have to understand, she was a national figure skating champion, so is VERY competitive by nature. Sadly, she has forgotten the old adage – the pen is mightier than the sword (or skateblade) – so without her own website, guess who’s gonna win this round???

She lives in a beautiful place with lots of green space, manicured lawns and great places to go for a stroll or a picnic. As you may or may not know, I love to walk and I go for a walk almost every day. What drives me crazy is that in suburban Toronto, you can go for a walk but often you have no place to walk to. I like having a destination when I go out and about:)

Our destination last week was to ESTIA CAFE on Kingston Road near our house and a piece of yummy baklava. My son Peter turned 19 in May and during his Springtime neighbourhood wanderings he had gone in to Estia and had struck up a conversation with Dennis the Mad Greek who is the owner. Peter subsequently took me there and then took his grandmother there and paid each time. Dennis has baklava and great coffee along with lots of other choices in his cafe and has created a comfortable place to go for a “sit and a sip” and watch the world go by. He had promised Peter that he would have baklava on hand for his birthday. It didn’t happen so when I went in for coffee with a friend one morning last week, Dennis told me to tell Peter to come in and have a piece on the house to make up for it. It was well worth the wait!

In case you are wondering, there is a Starbucks in my neighborhood, which is fine, but when I can support local businesses I do and am happy to do so especially when the product and experience is superior.

Other food places that get honourable mention in my neck of the woods are: The Sushi Hut (ask for May) just east of Vic Park, The Green Dragon (best sweet potato fries and dip ever!), The Feathers (especially if you like English pub fare and scotch) and King’s Diner (ask for Crystal who makes my favourite feta and cheddar omelette to order!)…they are all located on Kingston Road from just east of Vic Park to the first 3 blocks after, heading west and are all on the north side…)

Eating local has been a family tradition since my kids were little and we used to go to Kan Cooks It – where owners Kenny and Gwai tended to spoil their favourite “regulars”. Extra fortune cookies all around for the Kwong kids and a lifetime of memories of Kenny giving you what he thought you should be having which was never necessarily what you ordered. We still chuckle as a family remembering Kenny and Gwai and miss their little diner.

I don’t care what she says, my BFF cannot go for a walk from her suburban house and top the destinations I can find from my city house.

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