Toronto: Favorite Neighbourhoods

29 May

This is a continuation of my Toronto favorites post. Hope this helps you navigate the neighbourhoods further, even though not all areas are mentioned. 

Kensington Market – This is my favorite neighbourhood in the city. I’m a market girl. I love being surrounded by fruits and vegetables (as cheesy as that sounds). There’s lots of colour and life here.  There’s a really good selection of vintage clothings shops (Courage My Love and Flashback are two favorites; Model Citizen is a good choice for modern threads and they have some fantastic jewelry).  There’s also a few cheese shops (because really, cheese and vintage shopping go hand in hand). If you want Latin American fare, pop into one of the shops like Perola and you’ll find a food stand in the back.  Summers mark Pedestrian Sundays – every last Sunday of the month, the streets are closed for dancing and people watching.  Have a sandwich for me at The Grilled Cheese (yes, this does exist). If you manage to get a spot on Ronnie’s Local patio, they’ll personally serve you a sandwich from across the street. Or order an amazing brunch at The Bellevue on the corner of Nassau and Bellevue.

One of my favorite stores in Kensington Market.

Queen Street (West and West West) – yes, it’s not what “it used to be” but there’s still a lot of really cool shops (like Pho Pa and Girl Friday) and art galleries (like Angell). A fun activity: walk one way and take the streetcar back. It’s a great way to see the city and evolution of the strip. Plus, there’s the Trinity Bellwoods Park. Laid Back and gathering place of hipsters who like to play guitar or bocce ball on sunny days. I like how the hotels are accessible. One example is the Gladstone Hotel.  They constantly change up their space with different art installations or have fun events like Tweetgasm every month. Their Karaoke nights on Saturdays are good fun, even if you are watching. Peter Styles, the host, could be described as a “local-ebrity.”

Ossington – a great pop around if you’re walking from Queen West. Two fave vintage shops are here: I Miss You and Vintage Mix One. JacFlash is the outpost for Topshop and Topman without flying over the Atlantic.   Frantic City Books has some great used tomes. The Ossington is a great place for a quick drink. Sweaty Betty’s has been a pit stop for Drew Berrymore – I never really go but their back patio is nice.  “905-ers” tend to infiltrate the bars on the weekends – like LeVack Block and The Ossington. Though I do recommend the Ossington on a weeknight or early on a weekend.  And if you’re a design nerd, there’s also a few shops here for inspiration/investments (Ministry of The Interior; One Twenty Modern).

One of my favorite design shops: Metropolis.  Great for inspiration. 

The Junction – the one neighbourhood I can never seem to navigate without getting assistance. That said, it’s main strip is a cornucopia of inspiration due to the many interior design shops here. (Smash, Metropolis, etc.)  It’s a nice get-away from my nabe on the other side of the city.

Leslieville – A concentrated amount of brunch spots and coffee shops. Fun interior design stores. Specialty shops like Leslieville Cheeseshop (they make grilled cheese sandwiches here for takeaway). Home of Lady Marmelade and Bonjour Brioche (my fave brunch spots in this nabe).  Ceilli Cottage is one of the best pubs in the city and brings back many memories of Ireland. A great walk from The Danforth on Logan past Withrow Park down to Queen and Logan.  The new neighbourhood for newlyweds and burgeoning families.

My favorite salad from Mocha Mocha.  NOM. 

The Danforth – My nabe.  A getaway from the rest of the city. There’s a lot of walk through traffic on this strip. A high concentration of Greek restaurants (hence the name “Greektown.”) but a neighbourhood that is quickly outgrowing that nickname. Maybe it’s because of the boutique shops like Five Oh Seven or the used book store, Re-Reading.  Or the non-Greek restaurants. Mocha Mocha is one of them (they have the best reinvention of a greek salad with warm potatoes and they’ll let you linger).  There is really reasonable sushi around here too (Katsu, Sushi Delight).   My favorite restaurant is Lolita’s Lust (great grilled calamari with pesto). I also like the Auld Spot for a good steak salad (with brie, natch) and Thai Food (Mongkut Thai).  If you want souvlaki or a hearty burger for under $5 you go to Square Boy . You can play pacman while you wait and old Greek men serve you out of this joint that hasn’t left 1980.   Lots of patios for lounging in the summer and souvlaki joints (like Messini) open until 4 a.m., which gives off a very European feel.

Do you have a favorite neighbourhood in Toronto? 

All photos: copyright Natalie Taylor 

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