Toronto Underground Market (TUM)

Over the past couple of years, Toronto has seriously upped its game in the culinary world and has cemented its title as a première foodie city. Homegrown chef talent has come into full bloom, critically-acclaimed chefs from other cities have opened restaurants in Toronto, and innovative pop-up dining experiences have all lent to our burgeoning food scene. In my humble opinion, the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) is also contributing to its development in a big way.

TUM is a monthly food market showcasing a rotation of approximately 30 vendors, including established chefs, home cooks and entrepreneurs. The event is housed at Evergreen Brick Works, where each vendor sets up a booth and sells a few specialized food items, usually priced in the $3-6 range. Admission for the event is $15, and tickets notoriously sell out within hours of going on sale. It’s a 19+ event and there are drinks for sale too, usually featuring an Ontario-based winery and brewery.

I attended the first ever TUM event just over one year ago, and admittedly, didn’t think it was so awesome. Having returned this past August, I was amazed to see how the the event has improved in every capacity. It was better organized, the quality of the food was much higher, there was more variety and for the most part, the lineups were not intolerable for popular vendors.

Some vendors are mainstays at TUM, so don’t miss out on Comida Del Pueblo’s jalapeno cornbread grilled cheese sandwiches, the creative rotation of Hot Bunzz, Rock Lobster’s mini lobster rolls and La Carnita’s tacos (fun fact: La Carnita began as a pop-up stand at TUM before they opened a permanent restaurant!).

Now that TUM has my “awesome” stamp of approval, I’m urging you to go – but not without some tips for conquering the inevitable craziness that always transpires at TUM events.

  1. Plan to go with group of friends who enjoy sharing and whom you don’t mind sharing with! The portions are quite large and you want to try as many different dishes as possible, right?
  2. Go early! TUM is usually from 6:30 – 11:00, but I would suggest arriving around 5:45 pm and getting in line for two reasons: the popular food sells out by around 9:00 and you want to avoid lines for the really popular vendors.
  3. Divide and conquer. Maps will be handed out showing vendor locations while you wait in line, so you can figure out your plan of attack! Split up your group to hit different vendors and meet up to share the goodies.
  4. Be hungry. Very hungry.
  5. Bring tupperware (or buy TUMpperware there!). Inevitably, there will be leftovers that you won’t want to throw away!
  6. Try and leave room for dessert.
  7. Dress warmly in the winter months.
  8. Talk to strangers and make friends, particularly to find out what food shouldn’t be missed!
  9. Either ‘like’ TUM on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to stay informed about upcoming events and ticket sales (November event details are being announced tomorrow!).

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