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As you walk west along Toronto’s Queen Street, spanning from Bathurst to Duﬀerin, you’ll notice the landscape begins to transmogrify. It goes from a touristy shopping hub to something a little bit more eclectic, art-centric, neighbourly, and relaxed. I’m talking about West Queen West, one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the City. And that’s not because I’ve lived here for six years, it’s why I’ve lived here for that long.
So, to welcome you to the “hood,” I’m highlighting my favourite go-to spots that undeniably contribute to making this neighbourhood a cornerstone of Toronto’s cultural landscape. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can find your niche here.
And without further adieu…
Whether you’re in the mood for a good time, good eats, or even a good sweat, there are so many things to do in West Queen West. What are you in the mood for?
Hidden inside the super chic interiors of the Town Barber, you’ll find Major Treat. This little kiosk expertly brews Sam James coﬀee beans while oﬀering major “treats” like Craig’s Cookies and other fresh pastries, such as croissants and scones.
[Image via Major Treat]
While most know this local Argentinean spot as a winner for Yerba Mate tea, what’s lesser known is how incredible their freshly made empanadas are! El Almacen serves up flavours ranging from cheese and spinach, ground beef, and more. These hot pockets are an explosion of flavour with the perfect flaky crust that doesn’t overwhelm the filling.
[Image via Pinterest]
Sud Forno is an absolute staple bakery in our household. While everything that this authentic Italian bakery has to oﬀer is downright delicious, the thing that always keeps me coming back – aside from their bottled Olive Oil which is a whole other conversation – is their pillowy soft Nutella Bomboloni. And, thankfully, Uber Eats helps satiates this addiction for me when I am tight for time.
[Image via Terroni]
Trend alert! This centrally located spin studio fit with grunge interiors and lockers reminiscent of a high school gym, oﬀers 50-minute class for all fitness levels. 6ix Cycle Spin Studio is a great way to get your sweat on when you’re feeling unmotivated at the gym.
Topping the Best of Canada list several times, this intimate, yet unassuming Queen Street restaurant is often mistaken for a dispensary! Cannis Restaurant oﬀers locally sourced, seasonal tasting menus prepared artfully and served in a sleek, minimalist dining room.
[Image via Toronto Life]
Honourable mentions: Terroni, Le Swan
This newly opened wine bar oﬀers delicious and inventive small plates complemented by a chalkboard menu of regularly-changing wines. Bar Piquette is a must-try!
[Image via Foodism]
This Berlin inspired Beirhalle oﬀers an array of interesting beers on tap along with delicious authentic German dishes plus disco-themed bathrooms that make every visit fun and enjoyable.
[Image via Yellow Pages]
Aside from the stunning facade of this former retail space, Bar Fancy is just a downright cool spot for a date or just meeting with friends. Beaconed by the neon tiger head dancing along the sidewalk, this local spot oﬀers excellent cocktails and non-pretentious snacks.
[Image via BlogTo]
The Drake Underground is an intimate yet multifaceted performance venue. It comes with a reputation for hosting legendary parties, local and international DJs and musicians of every genre. You’ll also find comedy shows, film screenings, and poetry slams—filling the room every night of the week.
[Image via Soundstreams.ca]
Running weekly for almost 20 years, the Gladstone Hotel hosts a fun and shame-free Karaoke night every Friday and Saturday in the Melody Bar. Here, you can channel your inner Madonna, Celine Dion, or even Drake.
[Image via Flckr]
In West Queen West, you’ll find Dynasty, the place to go if you are looking for beautiful and unique house plants. Or, maybe you just need a little plant-therapy. The staﬀ are incredibly knowledgeable, and the prices are fair. It’s hard not to walk out of here with a plant (or two)!
[Image via shedoesthecity.com]
Attracting demographics of all kind, Trinity Bellwoods is regularly filled with families, frisbee goers, dog enthusiasts, and summer-drunk loungers that punctuate the urban neighbourhood surrounding this expansive green space. Great for dog walks, bike rides, drum circles, or just a place to lounge and enjoy a take-out meal from the delicious array of neighbouring restaurants along Queen Street.
[Image via Flckr]
Hidden behind the celebrated French patisserie, Nadege Bakery. This little outpost oﬀers house made ice cream and sorbet using only natural ingredients, and decorated artfully by their famous miniature macarons, completing the perfect ice cream scoop!
[Image via eatnorth.com]
Crispy batter on the outside, fresh and steamy fish on the inside. That’s what you get at Hooky’s Fish & Chips. A simple menu of the classic British fried fare, this is the perfect take out spot to grab and enjoy in the neighbouring Trinity Bellwoods park.
[Image via Uber Eats]
Sensory deprivation tanks have been used for years by athletes and celebrities alike to relax, heal, meditate and get inspired. At Float Toronto, you’ll find float tanks filled with over 1000 lbs of pure Epsom Salt to allow you to “float” in total darkness for 60 minutes.
[Image via Float Toronto]
Set up in a former Buddhist Temple, the Fun House oﬀers immersive and multi-sensory art experiences created by local artists from across the City. It’s definitely a fun date-night idea or Instagram opp.
[Image via BlogTo]
Often topping the “Best Facial” lists in the City, this adorable Ayurveda inspired spa is a safe space. Laya Spa oﬀers Yoga and Wellness classes, RMT massages, holistic healing services and of course, excellent and all-natural facials.
[Image via Laya Spa]
Arguably the best butchers in Toronto, Cumbrae Farms created their own custom butcher with top-quality meat and poultry, house-smoked pork and delicious gourmet items. A go-to spot if you are hosting a dinner party and want to impress!
[Image via designsourceguide.com]
A nail spa that you will go to for the relaxing decor and central location, but you will stay for the expert staﬀ experience and knowledge. Check out Sekai Nails!
[Image via Sekai Nails]
Korean-inspired craft store, Hanji Gifts is a gem that oﬀers intricately made pop-up cards, gifts, and stationery. Perfect for when you want to get something unique for that someone special.
[Image via papertraildiary.com]
An indie book-store that is beginning to expand across the city, Typebooks is the original outpost that has been thriving since 2006. Their artfully dressed windows are always attracting the attention of passersby who are enticed to pop in and explore their curated selection of books both new and old.
[Image via Serah-Marie McMahon]
Do you have a favourite go-to West Queen West spot that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments.
This article is written by Urban enthusiast and food/travel junkie, Jessica Elizabeth Spillas. As the firm’s multi-talented Business Development Manager and Sales Representative, she is able to pair her passionate approach to buying, selling and investing in Toronto Real Estate with her flair for design and digital marketing. With this in mind, Jessica delivers unparalleled service with every interaction and works hard to keep her clients and colleagues organized and working at top-notch efficiency.