Shopping at Kensington has become one of my favourite things to do early Saturday mornings. Prior to this, the bulk of my grocery shopping was done at Maple Leaf Loblaws – which I still have a soft spot in my heart for – however I have come to realize how outrageously expensive it is compared to what I can get at Kensington.
Here’s the thing – shopping at Kensington Market is actually AMAZING and can take the same amount of time it takes you to shop at a big grocery store, but you can get WAY more stuff for HALF the cost. Not only that, the stuff I’m getting is actually better in terms of quality (locally sourced, hormone free, sustainably raised, etc).
Here’s my guide for tackling Kensington because it can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with where to go. The key difference is that unlike a big box grocery store that’s got dozens of aisles, the things you need to regularly get (i.e. protein, cheese, fruits & veggies) are spread out across different shops along the streets of Kensington.
Please use my exact routine below as a guide for you to experience Kensington on your own terms! Note: Shopping in Kensington is also amazing for anyone who likes to snack while they shop! If you see me there next time – don’t judge me if I’m stuffing my face with food.
1. Jimmy’s Coffee (191 Baldwin Street)
I always start my voyage to Kensington with a trip to Jimmy’s first to get caffeinated! Nothing makes me happier than starting the weekend off right with a great cup of java, and Jimmy’s NEVER disappoints!
2. SNACK TIME! After getting my coffee, I always like to indulge in a treat to start my day. The following are places I’ve indulged in for my treat, I highly suggest you try any or ALL of them:
Patty King (187 Baldwin) – best beef patties EVER! Seriously! But they have tons of other patties too: chicken, goat, vegetarian, etc. They don’t call ’em the king for nothing!
My Market Bakery (172 Baldwin Street) – baked goods galore!! SO many it makes my heart sing. I always get the Portuguese egg tarts here, and they’re a steal for $1.00 a pop vs. Le Gourmand (so bougie) charges close to $3!
Panchos Bakery (214 Augusta) – I get their churros here. DIVINE. You even pick what you want your churro filled with and can watch them inject your churro with your desired filling. I always choose dulce de leche 🙂
Ok – after I’ve taken care of 1) Coffee and 2) Snack then it’s on to actually doing some legit grocery shopping! Lets continue…
3. Sanagon’s Meat Shop (176 Baldwin Street)- owned by Peter Sanagon who they dub the “Ethical Butcher” – this place is for SERIOUS carnivores! I trust everything that I buy here as everything is locally sourced. All their meat and poultry is provided by small Ontario farmers who ethically raise their animals. Going here reminds me of grocery shopping with my mom when I was a kid, when we could go and have to get a ‘number’ from a little dispenser and then you wait until your number is called before you’re served by someone. Straight up old school style here but don’t be fooled – the staff KNOW THEIR stuff.
I don’t even have to QUESTION anything I’m buying here. If you’re ever having a barbecue, this is the place to get quality cuts of meat. Ever since Dan & I started shopping here, we’ve also been more adventurous in our cooking because there’s just all these different types of meats that we would normally not be inclined to buy at a regular grocery store.
4. Global Cheese Shoppe (76 Kensington) – anything and everything cheese here. No more shopping for overpriced fromage at Loblaws! I can get the exact same cheese for almost half the cost here – and the taste is WAY FRESHER.
5. Kensington Fruit Market (34 Andrew Street) – this place is the bomb for anything and everything fruit & veggie related. I love cooking with leeks and when I would get it at Loblaws it would cost $4! That’s crazy if you think leeks are the equivalent of an onion! Here – Leeks are $1.99. NO CONTEST
6. Hooked (206 Baldwin Street) – I had been taking a holistic nutrition workshop for the past 6 weeks and the instructor RAVED about getting her seafood from Hooked. There’s only 2 locations in Toronto and one of them is in Kensington (YES!). The seafood here is way more expensive than what you get at Loblaws BUT all their seafood is guaranteed to be fished with ethical and sustainable methods – Oceanwise certified. This place is owned by professional chefs who bypass the traditional supply chain and just buy directly from the producers so they know exactly where their fish is caught.
Below are also two of the best places in Toronto to get all things health or organic related! Products I purchase from either stores include: vitamins, supplements, spices, gluten free flour/anything, spices, organic chocolate, organic ANYTHING:
7. Tutti Frutti (64 Kensington Ave)
8. Essence of Life Organics (50 Kensington Ave)
BREAK TIME!!!!! Ok so I’ve taken care of all my grocery shopping for the week and now I’m HUNGRIES again. BACK to the snack train – here are 2 favourites I’ve recently visited that I MUST add to my rotation. Note these are better as breaks for lunch:
Seven Lives Tacos (69 Kensington Ave) – TACOS TACOS TACOS for $5. SOOO good. I have only been here once and got the blackened mahi mahi taco and now I must go back to try all of them. I take my tacos seriously – addicted to Grand Electric and La Carnita – BUT I have to say 7 Lives definitely measures up to these heavy contenders. TRES delicious to end your Kensington grocery trip with a little taco reward.
Rasta Pasta (61 Kensington Ave) – best jerk chicken ever. This tiny little place PUNCHES your face with the overwhelming smell of jerk chicken as soon as you step in. Get the Jerk Chicken Lunch special – rice with beans, some veggies and succulent pieces of jerk chicken that they place directly in your container from the barbecue – all for $5.00! You can’t beat it. Note: man in the above pic is the one on barbecue duty! Sir – you KNOW what you are doing. #thatsall
Ok I know I had been raging earlier about the difference in price (not to mention quality) btwn shopping at Kensington vs. Loblaws. So just as a simple exercise, I included what I got on a recent grocery trip I took at Kensington – the grand total being $85. Compare everything I got below with getting the equivalent at Loblaws which normally would set me back btwn $150-$200! #WINNERWINNERCHICKENDINNER
Sanagon’s Meat Shop ($30)
– 3 beef siracha sausages
– 2 chicken breasts
– 200 grams of roast beef
– bundle of pepperettes
Global Cheese shop ($18)
– Applewood cheese
– Goat milk’s feta
– Container of organic sun-dried tomatoes
– 2 slices of cod
Kensington Fruit Market ($24)
– 2lb bag of carrots
– 2 sweet onions
– bag of arugala
– mushroom buttons
– large zucchini
– 1 yellow + 1 red pepper
– baby bok choi
– thai chili