One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new city is to head straight to the market. I love discovering each region's new-to-me foods and seeing how the locals feed their families. That's why as soon as I touched down in Toronto, I headed straight to the market named by National Geographic as the world's best.
The St. Lawrence Market is the bustling heartbeat of Toronto's downtown. Established in the early 1800's, the building's history is a varied as the vendors that sell their wares inside the vast structure. The market is split into two buildings, St. Lawrence Market South, filled with permanent merchants selling fresh and prepared foods, and St. Lawrence Market North, which houses the Saturday farmer's market and the Sunday antique market.
Over the years, the St. Lawrence Market was not only a place to buy food, but housed the city hall, the police station, and deterred would-be fruit thieves because the basement was home to the city jail. The market also has an unfortunate history of fire and floods, and slowly fell into disrepair in the 1970's, when city officials proposed knocking down the historic structure.
Public outcry against this idea was strong, and Toronto quickly rallied around the remarkable building, securing federal funds for a renovation. From the 1970's up to the present day, the buildings have undergone a massive facelift, making this extraordinary marketplace the world's best place to shop for dinner.
• St. Lawrence Market
• National Geographic's Top 10 Food Markets
(Images: Smith Schwartz)