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: Soulpepper
Soulpepper, Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company, is housed at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto’s Distillery District. North America’s only year-round repertory company, Soulpepper commissions new works, devised creations, and Canadian translations and adaptations, as well as offers as a training institution for young artists called the Soulpepper Academy, community engagement programs, and more.
Dining & Drinks
Perfect for a quick bite. Perfect for delicious food (with gluten-free options). Perfect for a clean, welcoming atmosphere. Tip: the Chef’s Sampler makes for an excellent starter if you’re a group, or an excellent meal for single, hungry people.
Address & Hours: 494 Front St. E. Walking distance to the theatre: 7 minutes. Tues-Thurs: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri-Sat: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
El Catrin Destileria
The place to go if you’re looking for a top-notch margarita, guacamole made fresh at your table, or simply somewhere with a great vibe and décor. It’s spacious; perfect for groups, and their staff is extremely accommodating to customers with food intolerances. And did I mention they have a delicious margarita? Worth saying twice.
Address & Hours: 18 Tank House Lane. Walking distance to the theatre: approx. 42 steps. Mon-Thurs: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri: 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m., Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
If you really want to feel classy (after all, you’re seeing a play, this isn’t a movie or a ball game), then we recommend Cluny Bistro, a chic restaurant with stunning décor and a European feel. The food is excellent—try the steak frites—and the service is impeccable.
Address & Hours: 35 Tank House Lane. Walking distance to the theatre: approx. 34 steps. Mon-Thurs 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat: 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Mill Street Brew Pub
A bustling pub with a great selection of craft beers, Mill Street is perfect if you’re after a relaxed atmosphere and some hearty grub. Fun fact: Mill Street’s Original Organic Lager was the first organic beer to be brewed in Ontario.
Address & Hours: 21 Tank House Lane. Walking distance to the theatre: approx. 50 steps. Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Thurs: 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Fri: 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat: 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Healthy, filling, tasty. Impact Kitchen’s mandate is simple: to offer a space where customers can feel confident that the food they’re eating supports a healthy lifestyle for their mind and body. They’re an entirely gluten-free kitchen, with paleo and vegan options. Tip: ask for their house-made hot sauce to add some zip to your dish.
Address & Hours: 573 King St. E. Walking distance to the theatre: 9 minutes. Mon-Fri 8 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Shopping & Activities
Toronto’s Distillery District is a lovely area to poke around, whether you’re seeing theatre or not. It has a constant peaceful bustle to it and feels secluded and removed from the intensity of the city. The artist retail spaces in the Case Goods Warehouse building are great, especially if you’re on the hunt for something uniquely “Toronto.” And if you’re looking to buy something for the home, check out Bergo Designs.
If you’re in need of a pick-me-up as you wander the cobble streets, check out Arvo Coffee and SOMA Chocolatemaker. To be frank, the pleasure of warming up with a cup of SOMA’s drinking chocolate is reason enough to leave your house and brave the winter. Don’t forget to check out the Love Locks installation, on year-round.
Transit & Parking
Soulpepper’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts is located at 50 Tank House Lane in the Distillery District.
- Don Valley Parkway to Richmond St. exit, west on Richmond to Parliament, south on Parliament to Mill St. (one block south of Front St.), then left onto Mill St.
- Kingston Road to Eastern Ave. Turn south on Cherry St. to Mill St.
- Queen St. East to Parliament then south on Parliament to Mill St. then east onto Mill St.
- QEW east to Gardiner Expressway.
- Take Jarvis St. exit, then North on Jarvis St. to Front St.
- East on Front to Parliament St.
- South on Parliament to Mill St., east onto Mill St.
Take subway to Castle Frank station on the Bloor line. Connect to the 65A Parliament bus. Exit at Front St. and walk one block south to Mill St., and then walk east towards the Distillery District. Or, take subway to King Station on the Yonge-University line. Connect to the eastbound 514 Cherry streetcar or the 504 King streetcar.
Take the eastbound 514 Cherry streetcar, exit at the Cherry St. Loop. Take eastbound 504 King streetcar to Trinity St. Walk two blocks south on Trinity St. to Mill St., then enter the Distillery District.
Agree with much of this list, but as someone who sees LOTS of shows at Soulpepper that usually involve dining, I thought I would weigh in. A fifteen minute walk with much better food than any restaurant on this list is Ardo on King St (http://www.ardorestaurant.com/ ) Great staff, outstanding food and great service. We used to really like Cluny, but in our last visits the service has always let us down in the latter part of the meal. We end up dashing out the door in a sweat to get to the show on time, even though it is literally across the street. And we’ve had great first experiences at the new tapas restaurant in the distillery, across from Balzacs, Madrina (https://madrinatapas.com/)