Statue of Alexander the Great at Danforth and Logan
A typically bleak walk north on Broadview, next to the noisy Don Valley Parkway, is forgiven once you reach Todmorden Wildflower Preserve (left at Mortimer and Broadview). A pleasant 20-minute walk around the grounds gives no hint of the site's dubious history as a German POW camp during the 1940s. Admire the foliage native to Toronto, but also keep an eye out for scraps of blue or grey denim in the soil, uniforms of young German seamen kept prisoner there.
Stop by the Estonian House (958 Broadview, 416-461-7963) on the way back to the Danforth to see a small gallery of Estonian art and sculptures. In addition to the Esto Café (416-466-8906), serving Le Coq beer, carrot-stuffed perogies and other Estonian foods, the premises inexplicably houses a shooting range.
Turn left at the corner of Danforth and Broadview to walk out of the Baltic toward the famed Greektown, marked by a glut of Hellenic-themed restaurants. A statue of Alexander the Great at Danforth and Logan. The bust of the young Macedonian (or was he Greek? A fierce debate still rages!) is surrounded by a mini-palladium that makes for a perfect spot for a gyro or perhaps a shot of Ouzo.
If Greek booze doesn't suit you, cross the street to try the beverage Greece has been in love with for the last 50 years, the frappé coffee. The foam-covered iced coffee drink made from spray-dried instant coffee can be enjoyed at Café Frappe (519 Danforth, 416-462-0693). (A side note: the Bulgarian version of the frappé substitutes Coke for coffee. Try it at home.)
For break from Greek culture, Cutty's Hideaway (538 Danforth, 416-463-5380) is an upstairs club specializing in Trinidadian (soca, calypso) and Caribbean reggae.
There's also Djerba-la-Douce (1475 Danforth, 416-778-7870), a taste of Tunisia, where layered North African coffee and mint tea are a must.
509 Danforth, at Fenwick, 416-463-5144. This popular bakery and coffee house is home to some of the most sinfully rich desserts on the avenue, cholesterol be damned. Savoury spanokopita, too. Open Sunday to Thursday 9 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 9 am to midnight. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Messini Authentic Gyros
445 Danforth, at Logan, 416-778-4861. This late-night Mediterranean eatery comes up with the most revolutionary idea to hit Toronto since Susur Lee started serving dinner backwards: french fries inside the gyro! Open Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 4 am, Sunday noon to midnight. Average main: $5. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
681 Danforth, at Pape, 416-406-1212. Co-owner and chef Constantinos Carasoulos's venerable no-frills taverna has something almost none of its neighbours still serve - home-style Greek grub. Just like in the old days, ignore the printed menu and point at whatever you fancy on the hot table. Open Monday to Thursday 8 am to midnight, Friday to Sunday 8 am to 5 am. Average main: $12. Licensed. Access: short step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN