I grew up in Australia, but for the past decade I’ve called Toronto my home. Recently, one of my younger, hip cousins flew into the city to pay me a visit. As we were making plans for her stay, she told me that she really wanted to see Toronto’s “famous underground city.”
For a few moments, I went quiet. Then I blurted out: “Oh, you mean the PATH!” At first, I was confused. Why would she want to see where I eat my lunch?
Then I did my research. Turns out, the PATH is the largest underground shopping complex in the world (according to the Guinness World Records, no less). If you walked through every tunnel, you would pass through 30 kilometres of underground retail and entertainment. All told, there are more than 1,200 restaurants, shops and services. I started to understand why the PATH would be a pretty unique attraction to foreign visitors.
Over the past half-decade, I’ve noticed something else about the PATH: it has gotten a lot cooler. The fashion and beauty shops are trendier; the restaurants and coffee shops have stepped up their game. Now, you can shop for new shoes and meet your Bumble date for a quick drink without leaving the underground.
But it’s easy to get caught in a routine, always hitting up the same spots. So here are my favourite places in the PATH that are worth a detour from your usual route.
For coffee: Sam James Coffee Bar
Arguably the best coffee joint in the city, Sam James made a smart business move six years ago when it opened a new location in the Sun Life Financial Building, right next to St. Andrew Station. It’s literally the first thing I see when I get off the subway in the morning. The line is often long, but it moves fast.
For workouts: Equinox
Yes, this gym is expensive (membership rates start at $181 a month), but the facilities are state of the art and, best of all, the bathrooms are stocked with Kiehl’s products. The location in Commerce Court is both convenient and comfortable: the club provides a welcome change to the other overcrowded, big-box gyms in the downtown core. It also caters to worker bees with classes that run throughout the day, allowing you to work out before, during or after office hours.
For skincare: Deciem
You’ll find this self-proclaimed “abnormal beauty company” in the Exchange Tower. In recent years, it has gained major traction in the beauty industry thanks to its bestselling product line, The Ordinary, which includes everything from moisturizers and antioxidants to sunscreen. The entire line is no-frills and budget-friendly. Deciem has six stores in Toronto, but its PATH location is particularly gorgeous.
For lunch: Assembly Chef’s Hall
So this recommendation is technically above ground, but I don’t care. The Assembly Chef’s Hall, which opened last year next to the Richmond Adelaide Centre, is by far the best PATH-accessible dining experience. The dining hall is home to 17 of Toronto’s top chefs. You can eat at Tachi (for a 30-minute stand-up sushi meal), Little Khao (for Thai food from the people behind Khao San Road) and Nutbar (the second location of the Summerhill superfood café). Assembly also boasts an impressive outdoor patio (go quick, before it gets too cold!) making this epic food hall feel like a mini Chelsea Market, right in the heart of downtown.
Emma Gregg is an in-house counsel at Travelers Canada. She writes about both interior design and culture for Precedent and PrecedentJD.
This story is from our Fall 2018 Issue.