I have been contemplating moving for the past few months for a number of reasons. I live in the East end of Toronto and almost all of my friends live in the West, making the travel to be social often an irritating ordeal. I also have never lived in any other part of Toronto (with the exception of a three month stint in Little Italy over a summer in university) so I think it might be an interesting change of scenery. And finally, the apartment I live in, although it possesses many great qualities, is unbearably cold over the winter months and after freezing for most of last winter I vowed it would be my last in the space.
However, now that the summer is here I am falling in love all over again with my neighbourhood, which is making me rethink leaving in a major way.
So as an ode to where I live I have compiled a list of my favourite places in my hood. It is a pretty long list but I am not convinced of its completeness…I may have to add to it soon!
Food & Drink
Globe Bistro – I will admit I have only eaten here once and it was with a Groupon promotion, but I cannot imagine that it will be my only time. I loved the atmosphere and most importantly the food! Not your everyday dinner spot, but would be great as a treat. I hear that their brunch is delicious AND that they have an amazing rooftop patio…dang! I guess since my birthday passed already I may have to pony up and pay for my own bill next time, but if my first visit was an accurate yardstick for how well they do things, I will be more than happy to spend some serious dough on another wonderful experience.
Sushi Delight – My go to sushi spot. Reasonably priced, always fresh, nice decor. Good stuff all around.
The Old Nick – This pub is my local favourite brunch spot. Super yummy food, great morning-after Caesars, and friendly staff! This is also a great place to come for a drink or two in the evenings and often features live music.
The Only – Half coffee shop, half bar this is my local watering hole. I also recently found out that there is a hostel on the second floor! Super chill vibe, tons of great beers, AND you are encouraged to bring your own food to snack on from one of the local eateries! I have yet to try it, but it seems that the Danforth Pizza House is a crowd favourite among the regulars.
Serano Bakery – this is one of the best places to get desserts around these parts. Tons of selection and everything is always super fresh and delicious. And the prices can’t be beat! I have walked out of here with a box of pastries before just waiting for the cashier to yell after me that they had made a mistake.
The Big Carrot – The first time I ever came to this store all I could think was “wouldn’t it be great if ALL (super)markets were like this?!” … well if they carried the same products, but for lower prices that would be the dream. Although I can’t afford to do all of my grocery shopping here (sigh…someday) I love treating myself to the products they carry. Organic produce, eggs and dairy. Some of the best bread and baked goods in the city courtesy of St. John’s Bakery. What I call “happy” meat and eggs coming from animals that were raised by responsible and ethical farmers. An amazing Body and Beauty section, and an equally great Dispensary staffed by some of the most knowledgeable people I have encountered in terms of being able to answer my health-related questions. Oh and the Juice Bar for my I-don’t-feel-great-I-think-it’s-time-to-splurge-on-a-freshly-juiced-concoction-to-help-my-body-out juice.
Strictly Bulk – although they also have two locations on Bloor West, I am super fond of this one. They have everything I ever need to experiment with cooking and baking, including the ingredients that I find in healthy/vegan/gluten free/you name it recipes that make me scratch my head. They also carry a great selection of coffees, teas, cleaning products, Guelph Soap Company stuff, AND gummy juice berries, which my friend and I are convinced are good for us since they contain real juice!
The local fruit and veggie stands – None of these independent fruit and veggie stands have websites but they are an essential part of my thrifty, but healthy, eating. Two of them are located at the corner of Danforth and Logan, while the few others I visit are further north along Pape. Super cheap and (mostly) fresh, often featuring organic and local produce. I always end up walking out of these with may more than I wanted to get, especially in the summer!
Riverdale Park – Spanning both East and West of the Don Valley, this park provides what I think is one of the best views of the Toronto skyline, especially at night. I plan to have a sunset picnic on the slopes leading down to the park from Broadview Avenue at least once this summer.
Withrow Park – This park contains lots of open green space, tennis courts, a hockey rink, a baseball diamond, a dog park, a soccer field…what else could you want?
Crema Coffee – The latest addition to my favourite Danforth spots, this place has amazing coffee and luckily can be found in three other locations in the city should I ever get stuck in a different neighbourhood needing a caffeine fix! Not only is the coffee great, the baked goods are delicious, and the staff is always very friendly. This location is currently curating a Tintype portrait exhibition of Danforth community members. Below each portrait is a little quote from the individual about what makes this such a great community to work and live in. It is this exhibition that largely inspired this post in fact!
Riverdale Perk Cafe – Nestled on a quiet residential street just south of Withrow this used to be my favourite place to go to read a book and drink some coffee on weekday afternoons when I was working in restaurants and would have random days off. Now I tend to go there to pick up coffee or some other drink to take to the park. But if you do decide to stay in the summer months, they have a very cute patio!
Rooster Coffee House – Due to its location on Broadview, I don’t visit this place nearly as much as I should. Great vibe, great coffee, an amazing view of Riverdale Park and the city skyline… Oh and I remember the first time I ever came here I had some sort of plum danish that I had a brief love affair with. Delicious!
Global Pet Foods – Yes, they have locations all over Ontario, but how can I not think that the Danforth location is the best? The staff here are super friendly and were especially understanding when, as a first time pet owner, I came in with my myriad of questions about what to feed a cat. Three years later I still utilize them as my resource for all things feline, and I am happy to report that the super healthy (no Fancy Feast here) cat food they carry leave my cat Billy smacking his lips after each serving!
Toronto Public Library (Pape/Danforth branch) – I suppose the only real reason this branch is my favorite is location, location, location. A frequent stop on my errand-running walkabouts I love that my nerdy obsession with reading can be fed so conveniently…and for FREEEEEEEE! Libraries fo’ life!
Whether I end up moving or not, I think that the Danforth and surrounding area will always have a special place in my heart!
I realized after the fact that this list, with the exception of Serano Bakery, does not really have any Greek restaurants on it. The embarrassing truth is that despite my 4 year residency in this neighbourhood I haven’t actually tried a lot of the Greek restaurants, and the ones I have tried were good, but not ones that I am super keen on visiting again. There are others however, which I have not yet tried that are looking quite promising so I will have to write about them when I go!