There are literally thousands of articles, vlog and blog posts, filters and apps that we can read, access and download to take the perfect Instagram photo. However, these tools only accentuate an already amazing shot within a remarkable setting or against a stunning backdrop. So where are some fantastic spots in which to conduct impromptu photoshoots-for-one you ask? No need to head to a lake of toxic waste in Siberia for eye-catching selfies! These 12 ‘hidden’ Toronto spots will more than suffice and are guaranteed to get you maximum likes.
The Occulus Pavillion aka the Flying Saucer
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Within South Humber Park lies the Occulus Pavillion designed by architect Alan Crossley and built by Toronto Parks in 1959. The location, at first glance, convincingly seems to be from a scene from the second season of Law & Order: SVU. The flying saucer and its graffiti-walled abandoned washrooms are housed in a secluded meadow and seem to beg for a walk-on role in a gory thriller or TV crime drama. However, this modernist masterpiece is an architectural treasure that is sure to add that bit of whimsy to your next IG photo. Bonus: you’ll even get and a few “where the heck is that?” questions in your comments if you’re cheeky like me and refuse to geotag.
Soso Food Club
Note to future Toronto restaurateurs: having great food, cocktails and service are no longer some of the main criteria by which your restaurant will be judged. How Instagrammable it is, I am convinced, now outpaces the once-great cocktail list. SoSo Food Club, a modern Chinese restaurant located on Dundas Street West, seems to have taken all the elements from an influencer’s wet dream and threw them all into the design plan. And, mark my words folks, this is not a complaint. Pastel Formica tables, neon lights, pink leather, arched ‘doorways’, a disco ball — everything clashes together to create one helluva of an optical spectacle.
Upstairs Chosen Vintage is a fantastical space that, in an ideal world, would be the acclaimed final year project for Willy Wonka had he attended Parsons. One can dream. Melissa Ball’s vintage shop is a treasure trove of “gently-loved” clothing and accessories in a space feels like a more relatable version of Cher Horowitz’s closet. Whether you snap a pic amongst the well-curated racks or head upstairs to channel your inner Ziggy Stardust, Chosen Vintage is a must-snap location.
Upon opening the door of this Leslieville restaurant’s powder room, you’re transported to the tropics. The wallpaper, with its flamingos and floral relief, brings a smile to your face as it simultaneously warms your soul. Frankie’s Italian’s backyard patio with its striped awning, wooden trellises and vanilla-strawberry creamsicle-like walls, too, makes for an excellent backdrop for an IG photo.
On a previously iffy corner of Sherbourne Street lies a French bistro that is, in a word, beguiling. Maison Selby is a “stylish and warm” space that looks like the sort of mansion in which your fancy aunt and her retinue of household staff live. Every corner of the Oliver & Bonacini space is Instagrammable. And, this is not hyperbole. During the day, the eclectic wallpapered dining room with its high windows make you feel as if you’re living your best life in an English manor. Who’s that in the corner, Lady Mary Crawley? At night, the lights dim and the effect can be best described as a cozy bordello. On the lower-level is Maison Selby’s speakeasy Sous Sol that is awash with warm red lighting. This area will undoubtedly add another dimension to your IG pics.
Notable restaurateur Jenn Agg is no stranger to creating a stir on social media. Her Kensington Market wine bar, Grey Gardens, too, gets a lot of attention both online and IRL. While its washroom initially made the rounds online as one of the sexiest in the city, it’s the wine cellar and private dining area that’s to die for. The backs of the dining chairs are draped with fur pelts (ohh, luxury), and when the candlelight (ohh, sexy) hits the wall of wine bottles, the whole space becomes the cottage living room that you wished you had. Signal down here can be wonky, so you’ll have to post the pic you snapped once you’re back at the bar drinking a glass of orange wine.
Yes, another restaurant, and there are three more on this list so, buckle up! It’s Boca Raton! No, it’s South Beach! Actually, it’s Toronto. From the minds of chef Victor Barry; restauranteurs Brendan Piunno and Nikki Leigh McKean; and designer Tiffany Pratt came this shrine to pink that administered a heavy dose of “Oh, hello!” to quiet Harbord Village. Whether you chose a seat by the window, along the spine leading to the dreamy back patio, or at the front door, every pic you snap will be IG (rose) gold.
Hearn Generating Station
I’m not saying that you should trespass this decommissioned electrical generating station in Toronto’s Port Lands, but what I am saying is that it makes for one epic photo shoot background. Feel for something derelict to give your pic some edge? Hearn’s got it. Really into post-apocalyptic chic? Yup, Hearn’s got that too. Love how abandoned buildings look when washed in the light of sunrise? You guessed it, Hearn could export that look. Be mindful of uneven surfaces when scaling high fences, rebars that poke out, and such.
It almost seems antithetical for a vegetarian restaurant to be on the same block as some of the city’s hottest clubs. However, Shook Kitchen has been delighting patrons with its Israeli vegetarian menu as well as its interiors. A custom maze-of-a-chandelier anchors the space and perfectly complements the custom art. The area is flush with greenery and stepping off bustling King Street West into Shook feels like coming upon an oasis. Plus, the lighting is spectacular and somewhat magical as it makes both sides your “good side”.
I bet you just said the name of this next spot, out loud, with a German accent. This rooftop space (clearly its seasonal so strike while the sun’s hot) is centred around Hoegaarden beer, but that shouldn’t turn you off. The top of Cube nightclub has been transformed into a lush garden (or is it gaarden?) that’s perfect for all the summery pics that you’ll be posting incessantly every #flashbackfriday come winter.
This Bay Street-located Japanese-Peruvian restaurant is the kinda place that once you step foot in it, you’re calculating the interior design budget, but your brain can’t compute that many zeroes. Not to worry, Chotto Matte is a multisensory distraction that will keep your abacus at bay. The walls are painted in neon; UV lights; imposing art installations; sexy lounge area; and the attractive crowd makes this hotspot, in a word, shutterbait. Go, and get to snapping!
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