Nothing beats an evening at the theatre. Except maybe an evening at the theatre preceded or followed by dinner, drinks, and/or a spot of shopping. Each week we will share our top picks for enhancing your theatre experience at venues across the city.
This week: Tarragon Theatre
Founded by Bill and Jane Glassco in 1970, Tarragon is known for its development, creation, and encouragement of new work. Currently led by artistic director Richard Rose and managing director Andrea Vagianos, Tarragon also has a focus on long-term dramaturgy, tailored to the play and playwright. Playwrights who have premiered their work at the company include Morwyn Brebner, Michael Healey, Daniel MacIvor, Hannah Moscovitch, Morris Panych, and Judith Thompson.
Dining & Drinks
Fun, flavourful, a no-brainer. There’s a reason for the constant bustle of happy, satisfied customers at this Middle Eastern gem. And that reason is the roast cauliflower. Also everything else on the menu. Also the patio out back, the cool interior, the… you know what? Just go.
Address & Hours: 414 Dupont St. Walking distance to the theatre: 3 minutes. Lunch – Wed-Sun: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.; Dinner – Mon-Sun: 5 p.m.– 10 p.m.
Chadwick’s Craft Kitchen and Bar
Might not be the healthiest, but who needs health when it tastes good, right? Chadwick’s has a “sharing is caring” kind of menu, making it a great spot for groups who are looking for a place with a fun vibe and some fusion goodness. And if you love it, you can spice up your home pantry—and delight your dinner guests—with a bottle of one of their house-made hot sauces or condiments.
Address & Hours: 268 Howland Ave. Walking distance to the theatre: 3 minutes. Lunch – Tues-Fri: 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Dinner – Tues-Thurs: 5 p.m.–11 p.m., Fri: 5 p.m.–12 a.m., Sat: 6 p.m.–12 a.m., Sun: 6 p.m.–10 p.m.; Brunch – Sat-Sun: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Playa Cabana Hacienda
The Playa Cabana restaurants are always a sure bet, and Hacienda is no exception. My top recommendation is the churro poutine, but I guess if you’re the kind of person who needs “real food” or “a proper meal” or whatever, then I vote for the fish tacos, or any of the crispy tacos—fine! all the tacos—and definitely lots of guacamole. Plenty of options for gluten-free and dairy-free folk, and it’s all served in a rustic, relaxed atmosphere.
Address & Hours: 14 Dupont St. Walking distance to the theatre: 17 minutes. Sun & Tues-Thurs: 12 p.m.-10 p.m., Sat: 12 p.m.-11 p.m., closed Mon
Pour House Pub and Kitchen
Described as a high-end pub, this recommendation comes from an actor who is a Tarragon vet. Apparently, along with the aforementioned Chadwick’s, it’s where all the Tarragon actors eat. So if you’re into spotting some hot Toronto theatre celebs, this may be the place for you. If you’re into a trendy place with live music, a rooftop patio, and yummy grub, well… it offers that too.
Address & Hours: 182 Dupont St. Walking distance to theatre: 11 minutes. Mon-Fri: 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sat-Sun: 10:30 a.m.–2 a.m.
A classic diner that’s great for a pre-show bite, a post-show bite, or even a bite when you get hungry in the wee hours of the morning as you lie awake unable to get the performance you experienced out of your head. Sit at the counter for a casual, comforting, and always-tasty meal.
Address & Hours: 474 Dupont St. Walking distance to theatre: 4 minutes. Open 24/7 baby.
Shopping & Activities
One of the things I like best about Tarragon is its confidence. What I mean is… it’s not exactly near anything else, but it knows that what it has to offer is good enough to attract audiences without them needing any other reason to be in the area.
That being said, if you’re willing to walk a short distance, there’s a lot to see, and a lot to do. Are you looking to make a day of cultural activities? Consider Casa Loma, “Canada’s foremost castle”*, which is right around the corner. Take a tour, stroll around the grounds, or try one of their escape games for a bit of excitement and adventure.
If museums are your thing, head down to Bloor Street, where the Bata Shoe Museum and the ROM will welcome you with beautiful things to see and interesting things to learn.
Fancy a spot of shopping? Bloor has that too. Juxtapose Cards & Gifts is delightful, full of cards and soaps and trinkets you don’t necessarily need but will definitely want. BMV books is the best if you like secondhand books, especially ones that look brand new.
Snakes & Lattes is great for a bit of fun on a rainy day (or any day really), and the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema never fails to have a film on offer that will entertain, and provoke thought and discussion.
*As stated on the Casa Loma website. Meaning and accuracy are subjective.
Transit & Parking
Tarragon Theatre is located at 30 Bridgman Ave., at the intersection of Howland Ave.—one block north of Dupont Street and two blocks east of Bathurst Street. Ample parking is available in the evenings across from the theatre on Bridgman Ave., but Tarragon asks that you book your parking space online.
From Dupont Station, walk west along Dupont St., turn right on Howland Ave. and walk one block north.
From Bathurst Station, take the 7C Bathurst bus to the first stop north of Dupont St. (“Bridgman Avenue”) and walk two blocks east on Bridgman Ave.
I’m loving this series by Hanna Antaki (although maybe I spend too much time in restaurants and theatres!!!) For this article, though, I think she missed a couple of real institutions in the area.
* Nord Bistro (in the former Tournesol space) – a really great choice. Friendly efficient service, interesting wines and daily specials http://www.nordbistro.ca/
* Aviv Restaurant – great Mediterranean food at a very reasonable price point. In past seasons (I am not sure for this year) a Tarragon ticket gave an extra 15% off. It’s a basement location, so the ambiance isn’t great, but we always find it a great spot to catch up before our plays