illustration by julia rothman
oh, canada! today’s toronto city guide update comes from angelune des lauriers, a lover of art & design, and a contributor to the toronto craft alert (a community hub and online service for craft, DIY and design related activity happening in Toronto). by day, angelune works in drinking water protection and today she shares with us all of the new and old marvels of this beautiful lake-side city. thanks angelune!–stephanie
CLICK HERE for the full toronto guide after the jump!
Hi – Angelune from the Toronto Craft Alert here to update the guide for my fine city. I really love this city, I came here in 2002 to go to university and never left. Toronto is known as a city of neighbourhoods, and each these feel like a small city within a large one. You can spend at least a day checking out shops and trying the local cuisine in each of the districts described below.
To update the Toronto Guide, I relied equally on my own travels and great local publications such as Design Lines Magazine, Now Toronto, and BlogTO‘s neighbourhood guides. For more information on local galleries, check out Slate Art Guide and BlogTO’s gallery guide. (If you see something missing, please let us know in the comments!)
—LESLIEVILLE/QUEEN STREET EAST—
I love spending time exploring this area of the city. It seems that every time I wander over, something new has popped up. To keep tabs on new shops and cafes, check out the neighbourhood guide.
Hardware: Rustic, hand and custom made dining tables from salvaged woods are a staple. The owners partner woods-y furniture with modern light fixtures and gorgeous accessories such as mercury glass, feathers, and woven baskets.
Pazo: Mid-century classics, modern contemporary and offbeat accessories make their way to this chic spot.
Handmade Cabinets: Custom made cabinetry with a refined, rustic look; also refurbish and restore.
Machine Age Modern: Another haunt for retro pieces and recognizable names like Eames, Knoll and more.
Ethel: Storefront window always features one or two unique pieces of mid- century superstar furniture; the store has nothing but.
Festoon: Recently moved to a bigger space down the street, a testament to their success; unique gifts, accessories, affordable reproductions and local artists represented.
G.U.F.F.: antiques and Scandinavian modern furniture
Zig Zag: the website says it all; modern finds for those who are more daring; check for latest inventory online as well
Flik and Company: Twist to modern country; have sister store across the street Pied-A-Terre, where the influence is more French Country.
Green Tea Design: Asian inspired contemporary furniture, including kitchen units; ship anywhere in the world.
Dragon Heir: Antique and reproduction Asian furnishings and accessories; mandarin club for those who want to learn more about culture and language.
Up to You: Cute designer objects and accessories.
Natalie Roze & Co: Mostly clothing, but stop in for contemporary crafts and local handmade accessories and gifts.
Parts Gallery: original contemporary art
Loic Gourmet enviro-conscious gourmet take out.
Edward Levesque’s Kitchen: thoughtful fare, local suppliers, fair prices.
Pulp Kitchen: great vegetarian menu, snacks to go.
Pop Bistro: rural French bistro.
Tomi-kro: Asian flair, a la carte
Real Jerk: Caribbean flavors a mainstay in this hood
Bonjour Brioche: another staple but for breads and pastries
Altitude Bakery: known for amazing pies
It’s the Icing on the Cake: you name it, they’ll make it; outrageously detailed cakes for any occasion
Leslieville Cheese Shop: artisan cheeses from home and around the world; classes and workshops held periodically
—THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT—
A slice of Europe in the downtown core, this recently refurbished neighborhood of galleries, fine restaurants, specialty shops and cutting edge design continues its renaissance with more shops, more residences to come. This area is so has been used as a backdrop for so many Hollywood films, you might recognize some of the buildings.
DOM toronto: Exclusive rep for Valcucine, high-end Italian kitchens; great for ogling
Bergo Designs: contemporary, award-winning artisans in accessories, jewelry, and home decor
Akroyd Furniture: bespoke furniture from gorgeous woods, hand-crafted in studio.
Cabinet: custom Canadian-Made furniture including spectacular pieces made from historic lumber
Artemide: classic lighting
Fawn Ceramics and Gallery: beautiful tiles, ceramics, textiles; my favorite place of all.
Elizabeth Munro Design: gorgeous flower arrangements at reasonable prices
Tenacious: textile-based home d?cor and other items.
Upside Dive: sweet vintage furniture at great prices.
Blue Dot Gallery: contemporary pieces from local artists
Channel Gallery: affordable, Canadian art
Corkin Gallery: national and international, photo-based artists
Distill: different mediums all from emerging artists
Red Eye Studio Gallery: all local painters, variety of styles
Sandra Ainsley Gallery: major contemporary artists from around the world with all glass exhibits; worth seeing but don’t take kids!
Thompson Landry Gallery: strictly French Canadian artists; wide/wild variety of styles
Boilerhouse Restaurant: chop house with varied menu; best jazz brunch in the city;`contemporary Euro design, 22 ft wine rack, worth seeing.
Archeo: updated Italian food; innovative design, perfect hideaway patio.
Pure Spirits: Oyster bar and restaurant; huge selection of oysters, nice range menu.
Mill Street Brew Pub: attached to the brewery; worthy artisan beers; upscale pub grub
Perigee: based on Japanese concept of Omakase (trust me); open dining layout; major splurge, but worth every penny.
Balzacs: in-house roasted coffees, great desserts, romantic setting
Soma: the place to worship chocolate; Mayan hot chocolate is best in town.
Brick Street Bakery: British style bakery with pot pies, interesting sandwiches, daily stews and specials, gorgeous pastries.
Terroni Adelaide: An century-old courthouse renovated into a modern italian restaurant serving thin crust pizza and hand made pasta.
A bit north of the distillery district, but a new japanese pub garnering amazing reviews Guu Izakaya
Stop for coffee at B Esspresso Bar.
A unique multi-cultural neighbourhood best traveled on foot or bicycle. All summer, the streets are closed to motorized vehicles on the last Sunday of the month for live music, dancing, street theatre, games and the occasional barbecue.
Bungalow: vintage clothing, retro furniture, home and fashion accessories
Good Egg: mostly kitchen and cooking-related books and accessories, source for Le Creuset pots and pans.
Blue Banana Market: a bit of everything, from rugs to mugs, kitchen, bathroom and other home accessories.
Green Light District: modern home furnishings
Function 13: Design, art and technology store and gallery
Kid Icarus: contemporary crafts, art prints, stationery, and handmade toys
You don’t need this guide to find food in Kensington Market… walk a few steps and try food from any number of countries, or find a patio for a cool drink in the summer.
—QUEEN STREET WEST/TRINITY BELLWOODS—
Queen Street is a major shopping area of the city, but it’s character changes from east to west. The combination of government, high culture and brand name shops have pushed galleries and independent retailers farther west. Textile shops dominate the strip on the edge of the Fashion District, but beyond Bathurst is where design gets interesting. Galleries, designers and vintage shops have staked their claim in the Trinity Bellwoods area, named for the enormous park which is a restful spot after shopping and a dog’s delight for meeting other four-legged friends.
Atomic Design: decorative Scandinavian art glass and 20th-century industrial furniture
BLVD Interiors: affordable modern and contemporary furniture
Morba : A treasure trove of mid-century to modern furniture and accessories: a source for film crews and stylish locals.
Urban Mode: Created by an artist and interior designer, a great source for Canadian and international furniture and home accessories and one of the oldest contemporary stores in Toronto
Commute Home: original wood and metal designed furniture, lighting and accessories mixed with vintage pieces such as medical and photography equipment
QuasiModo: furniture and accessories by all the heavy hitters of 20th-century modern design
The Paper Place: the source for handmade paper to make love notes, d?cor and craft projects
Ella & Elliot: beautiful modern furniture for kids and the people who live with them.
Planet Kid: For all things kid, from clothes to toys and furniture.
Timmie: Everything for design lovers who also love dogs.
Kol Kid: for kids, but one of the only places you can find Tord Boontje lamps
Neat: storage essentials, and pretty non-essential objects
Bookhou Home: modern handmade art and design
Made: source for up and coming furniture, lighting and home accessories
Paloranta: specializes in Scandinavian art and furnishings, local source for Marimekko home goods
hmmm, after checking out Narwhal Art Projects, go west!
Clafouti: French patisserie
Nadege: French bakery with beautiful macarons and other treats to make your mouth water
Fresh: Local vegetarian chain and juice bar
Bar_One: casual Italian and best cappuccino in T.O.
White Squirrel: named after the legendary white squirrel of Trinity-Bellwoods Park, coffee, pastries, sandwiches
Terroni Queen W: traditional southern italian food in a relaxed atmosphere
Czehoski: a once boarded-up Polish deli beautifully transformed into a restaurant and bar serving simple, delicious food. Great back patio in the summer, and 2nd floor fireplace in the winter.
—WEST QUEEN WEST/OSSINGTON—
A small strip in the heart of the Portugese area of the city, has changed dramatically over the last 2-3 years, as many galleries, restaurants and artists took over pre-war buildings mixed in with Portuguese bakeries, fruit markets and vietnamese soup joints.
Virginia Johnson: textile designer influenced by Mother Nature’s shapes and bright colours
Ministry of the Interior: specializing in original, cutting-edge design; the best in modern wallpaper, furniture, accessories, and lighting. Also a gallery featuring everything from furniture from Brooklyn to wall stickers from France.
In Abstracto: a mix of Canadian, Italian and Scandi mid-century furniture and accessories
C1 Art Space: gallery, shop, studios and classes
Casuccio Gallery Canadian and Cuban artists
MOCCA Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
The Dakota Tavern: country, bluegrass and folk music nightly and bluegrass brunch every Sunday
Pizza Libretto: gourmet pizza
Cafe 668: vegetarian asian fusion
Luna Cafe: just off the main drag, great for brunch
Sweaty Betty’s: friendly wee bar w/backyard patio & occasional writers’ rant afternoons
Cafe Bernate: stylish fair-trade coffee and sandwich shop with plethora of veggie options
The Beaconsfield: French style snacks and dinner with infusions of global ingredients
Poutini’s: a Canadian classic served with new toppings
The Drake: Not just a hotel, cafe, restaurant, roof top bar, lounge, exhibition or performance space, The Drake’s unique mix of accommodation, food, drinks and art has helped revitalize the way west strip of Queen Street. With monthly artists-in-residence, art exhibitions and the site of music, comedy and fashion shows, The Drake was just chosen as one of the top 500 hotels by Travel & Leisure Magazine.
The Gladstone Hotel: A restored Victorian hotel which has gone full circle from elegant accommodation for travellers run by a single parent & 13 kids to an artist-designed hotel rooms run by the Zeidler family 115 years later. A venue for all forms of art from displayed to performance, The Gladstone Hotel acts as a gateway to Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, providing short-term artist studio spaces, exhibition space, and overnight accommodations for travellers seeking more than a chain hotel. Also hosts several art and design festivals, including Come up to my Room (see D*S coverage of 2009 CUTMR).
An area that has transformed in the past years, the edge of Parkdale has seen it’s long ago glamour found again. A neighbourhood that had been a crown jewel of the city at the beginning of the 20th century, Parkdale lost its lustre in the 1970s. Its resurgence has been predicted for awhile, but the wheels are turning with the re-established hotels of the area into art havens, and a gentrification that isn’t cookie cutter.
Studio Brillantine: edgy, unusual, whimsical modern design objet from Alessi, Phillipe Starck, Barbapapa, Georg Jensen and Isamu Noguchi.
The Workroom: amazing fabrics and other supplies, you can also work on your own home decor projects in one of their classes or sew-by-the-hour.
Designer Fabric Outlet: fabrics, window coverings and hardware
Coriander Girl: seasonal flowers, handmade and vintage vases, and other nice things
Hawk Eyes: vintage finds and furnishings
Black Pug DMK: friendly owner with a well-curated collection of vintage and antique pieces.
Gallery 1313: Artist-run centre
Gallery DK: Photography and photo-based art
Avenue & Davenport: where interior designers go to shop, high end showrooms for lighting, tiles, flooring, etc.
TORONTO BUILDINGS TO SEE INSIDE AND OUT
AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario: the recent expansion was designed by Frank O. Gehry
CN Tower: hard to miss, it’s really really tall, and it’s all lit up at night!
OCAD – Ontario College of Art & Design: a retrofit designed by Will Alsop expanded the college in 2004 by adding a black-and-white checkered elevated building that is held up by eight brightly coloured stilts
ROM – Royal Ontario Museum: a controversial giant crystal grows out of the original museum building.
Toronto Design Exchange: located in the former Toronto Stock Exchange building, great exhibits of international design and a permanent collection of Canadian design classics
401 Richmond Building: As the name suggests, this meticulously maintained former warehouse is located on Richmond St West, in the fashion district. Home to a wide variety of artists, galleries, indie media companies, theatre companies, collectives and more, the 401 is an absolute buzz of creative activity. Regular tours, sample sales, shows and gallery openings, mean it should be on every Torontonian’s radar. Take a break and sip a tea on the green roof with its fantastic view of the downtown skyline.