Empanadas and Storytelling in Kensington Market


Have you ever been to a show where people step up to the microphone and tell a story? These are true stories, meant for adult ears only?

I ask because, until recently, I had not. Sure, I’ve heard stories told by friends and family, through lyrics by musicians, read by poets, recited by actors in plays, and expressed through jokes, but this show that Nick and I saw recently, at the invitation of our friend Meghan, was a type of entertainment that was new to me. And I totally loved it.

It was part of the Toronto Fringe Festival and was held at Handlebar at 159 Augusta in Kensington Market.

But first, let’s talk about the delicious dinner we had before the show …

We ate at Jumbo Empanadas at 245 Augusta. Ok, so this turned out to be an evening of firsts for me, as I’d never had an empanada before either. But, I’ve always wanted to try one, so the restaurant was my choice. Meghan had been there before, so gladly agreed, and Nick had also never tried them so was keen as well. From what I understand, there are few places better to have them in Toronto than at this place.


I had the Vegetarian Empanada, which was filled with mushrooms, onions and spinach. Nick and Meghan went for the beef one that was stuffed with a mixture of seasoned ground beef, olives, hard boiled eggs and raisins. Each came with some handmade spicy salsa. We also shared a big bowl of salad, which was topped with perfectly ripe avocado slices and an oil and vinegar dressing.



We were there near closing time, so it wasn’t crowded but I’ve read that it gets very busy. It’s no wonder because the food was really good and the prices very reasonable. I look forward to going back.

From there, we had a five minute walk south to the venue …




Inside Handlebar …






The storytellers were part of a group of 12 performers called Pressgang Theatre, led by Graham Isador. He opened the show and introduced the concept : Five storytellers would take the stage in turn, each telling a 10 minute story, with the stipulation that they be completely true. They had no written notes or props.

This was the final show of the 12 night run, and for each show there’d been a different theme for the stories. On that evening it was “Love” — I can’t say that they each stuck to the theme though, as a couple of the stories were decidedly not love stories. Regardless, each was excellent and kept the audience completely engaged.


↑ Graham Isador ↑


↑ Faisal Butt ↑


↑ Rhiannon Archer ↑


↑ Jillian Welsh ↑


↑ Glyn Bowerman ↑


↑ Marsha Shandur ↑

Some stories were funny, and some weren’t. One had me digging around in my bag for something to dry the tears. All-in-all, it was a great and memorable show.

Thanks for checking out my post,
xo loulou