With the glorious weather continuing into September, and hopefully October, I try to think of different activities that will keep me outside; knowing full well that once those sub zero temps take hold I will rarely venture outdoors for long. And while I love spending time on my boat, walking my dog along the various Toronto beaches or attending one of the many cultural festivals happening in Toronto; I also want to try something different. That is how I leaned about Bria Weaver and her Food Nook Tours.
Now in its second year of operation, Food Nook Tours is a two-hour walking tour of Toronto’s west end neighbourhood of Roncesvalles. It highlights both the well known joints but also takes you to some of those off the beaten track.
I recently sat down with Bria and asked her about why she created Food Nook Tours and what someone can expect on an afternoon of exploring this eclectic neighbourhood. If you are wanting to book a tour, Bria can offer you a group tour on Sundays at 2:30 or you can coordinate a private tour (what a great way to kick off a GNO or a special bday celebration for your BFF).
What made you decide to start food nooks?
There were multiple different reasons, but one of the main ones was to show off Roncesvalles. It is a village inside the city, tucked away beside High Park. I have so many friends come visit me in Roncey (it’s nickname) and are surprised by all the amazing food options here.
What places do you go to and why?
We visit Chocolateria, Fantail, The Mercantile, De La Mer and Barque’s Butcher Bar. Which means a chocolate shop, a bakery café, a pantry (foodie heaven) store, a fish market and a bbq smokehouse.
I chose them because they are all independent shops, with high quality and often creative food and they are each different from each other, so guests get to experience a variety of flavours.
They are also the places that I like to shop. I often will do some shopping when I’m on the tour. This week, while on the tour I picked up popsicle moulds from The Mercantile and candied salmon from De La Mer that is so good, that I often eat it straight out of the package with the fridge door open lol.
Do you switch up the places you visit?
No, I feel that the shops, who I call my partners, are so great and compliment each other that I do not feel the need to look elsewhere.
Have you been on food tours before?
Yes, I was a professional backpacker in my early 20s and had the chance to experience a few food tours while abroad. People often will go on food tours when travelling, but it is a lot of fun to try a food tour in your own city. You never know what gems you will uncover. I’ve had tour guests, multiple times, say that they had walked past one of the tour stops in the past but didn’t go in because they weren’t craving chocolate or bbq ribs, but once they learned about the shop and had a chance to sample some of their food, they will definitely be returning and were so happy to learn about this place.
What is the best reaction you have seen by a participant on a food tour?
I once had a British couple come on the tour and the woman tried a butter tart for the first time and loved it. Her reaction was pure joy and surprise. I actually have the video on Instagram @foodnooktours if anyone wants to see it.
Overall, I love when people’s eyes light up when they try something new and love it or find a sauce that they didn’t know they could find in stores.
Are there plans for expansion?
Maybe. I expanded last year into a different neighbourhood, but the tour and partners weren’t gelling the same way Roncey did. I have contemplated other neighbourhoods. If I do, it would most likely be next spring.