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Adventure | A Guide to East Toronto

Adventures, TorontoLesley PocklingtonComment
Adventures | A Guide to East Toronto by Swell Made Co.

Adventures | A Guide to East Toronto by Swell Made Co.

Since 2007, East Toronto has been my home. I love East Toronto. While there have been some breaks (I am currently in Peterborough, ON), I'll always be an East Ender. I know every East End street, I have defended it fiercely over the years, my son was born there, and every time I arrive in the East End, I just feel a sense of calm. It's my happy place.

You may think you know Toronto's East End; but do you, really? It's a part of the city that sometimes lays low. You have to dig a little  deeper to truly know it. Come east of the DVP with me, as I take you on a guide of my favourite spots in the neighbourhoods including The Beaches, Leslieville, and Riverdale. The Danforth and Little India and everywhere in between. Welcome to the beloved other side.


Bodega Henriette | Cafe, shop bar and eatery on Gerrard Street East, Toronto.

Bodega Henriette | Cafe, shop bar and eatery on Gerrard Street East, Toronto.

Often considered "lacking" in the culinary department, I'm going to challenge that. It's not the case, at all. Sure, you'll find Toronto chainlets like La Carnita, Sweet Jesus, Tabule, Queen Margarita Pizza, Dark Horse and Box Car Social (all wonderful) and other transplants in these 'hoods, but here's where it's really at.


EAT + DRINK

The Shore Leave
Head to the Danforth's Tiki style bar for in-house tropical drinks and snacks. This spot promises a fun night out. Bring a group of friends and share a punch bowl. It might be quiet on the outside, but it's buzzing and warm inside.

Bodega Henriette
Tucked away on Gerrard Street East this local coffee shop, convenience shop, bar and eatery is as sweet as they come. Delicious food and drinks with chic decor keep the locals coming back to this spot on the corner. Try their other corner spot, Eulalie's, mentioned below.

The Green Wood
You'll find this hip spot Queen Street East just before Coxwell. Brunch to dinner options are served here, as well as items to grab on the go. It has a comfy and bright California vibe and loads of fresh options made with love.

Lake Inez
In Little India, you'll find Lake Inez. A mix of Asian street food and craft beer that just works so well. If you're familar with the Wren on the Danforth, you'll love this spot. Just look for the unassuming, but welcoming, door to find out what's inside. You'll enjoy it. Guaranteed.

Eulalie's Corner Store
Just a few doors up and over from Lake Inez, Eualalie's Corner store is another neighbourhood secret that offers delicious in-house cocktails and casual eats. I love the chicken and waffles, and the flamingo wallpaper. Start or finish your night here.

Maha's
Egyptian brunch is a must-try at Maha's on Greenwood. This place is always packed, so be prepared to arrive early or wait. It's worth it. Traditional Egyptian food paired with a honey cardamom coffee is the best way to start any day. Just not Wednesday, because Maha's is typically closed.

Lady Marmalade
A mainstay in the East End on Queen Street East, Lady Marmalade is another delicious brunch spot offering savoury and sweet waffles, Eggs Benny (with mango and avocado, yes!) like nowhere else. Plus, more! Again, be prepared to line up Portlandia style unless you arrive early.

Tori's Bakeshop
Now available in the Canary District, Tori's originated in the Beach neighbourhood on Queen Street East. Natural, organic and vegan baked goods that will blow your mind can be found all day. Having lunch? The coconut bacon BLT is the BEST. You may bow down and never go back to real bacon. 

Godspeed Brewery
The long anticipated Godspeed Brewery is finally open on Coxwell south of Gerrard. You can buy local brews at the retail space and the unpretentious brewpub is scheduled to follow soon.

Left Field Brewery
The established East End brewery, Left Field, offers craft brews inspired by a love for baseball. With names like Wrigley and Maris. High on hops, they offer distinct beer that can stand on taste alone. 

The Green Wood | Queen Street East, Toronto.

The Green Wood | Queen Street East, Toronto.

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant | Art Deco Architecture in East Toronto.

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant | Art Deco Architecture in East Toronto.

There's so much to see and do in this part of the city. Toronto truly is a "City of Neighbourhoods" which all have their own distinct personalities and flavours. Its' what makes Toronto, so Toronto. Come to the East End and you'll a chill and relaxed vibe. Soak it in all year round at some of my favourite spots.


SEE + DO

Beaches Boardwalk
See what all the fuss is about on the Beaches Boardwalk. It turns out, it's worth it, right? Stroll a long the shores Lake Ontario and the city's most beautiful beaches on the Boardwalk from Woodbine moving east. A Great Lake in the city! How lucky are we? Want to head further east? The Scarborough Bluffs are equally stunning, but may I suggest choosing a weekday visit? Unless you love crowds.

Glen Stewart Ravine
A hidden gem and perfect way to discover Toronto's green spaces, the Glen Stewart Ravine is a place that feels miles away from Toronto. Soaring trees and bubbling creeks follow you on your walk as you pass happy dogs and neighbours. 

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant
A pristine example of Art Deco architecture, you must visit this gigantic space on the shore of Lake Ontario. Tucked away at the end of Queen Street East (where the streetcars turn), you can wander the outdoor space surrounding this gorgeous building. Better yet, come during Open Doors TO for a peek inside. It's fascinating to think this type of architectural detail was dedicated to a water treatment plant.

The Broadview Hotel
The newly refurbished building at the corner of Broadview and Queen (formely Jilly's) is about to have its official grand opening as The Broadview Hotel. This beautiful boutique hotel features a roof top restaurant, and terrace and cafe and bar to enjoy brunch to dinner. Every ounce of this space is stunning and definitely worth visiting, or booking a room for a little staycation.

This hotel will transform the East End. Just think of it as the West End's Gladstone Hotel with a similar style and vibe that's be designed just for the East End. Queen East will rival Queen West with this new neighbourhood gem. 

Riverdale Park on Broadview
The best views of city (aside from the Island) can be enjoyed from this rolling and expansive green space. Grab a coffee from Rooster Coffee House on Broadview and enjoy a good book or some simple downtime in this relaxed space in the middle of it all.

Danforth Music Hall
Some of the city's best musical acts perform at the casual Danforth Music Hall. This is my favourite spot to see live music in Toronto. Mostly because it's close to home, but also because the vibe is so chill. See your favourite bands here first in the "intimate" atmosphere. If you're looking for a place to eat before a show, Seven Numbers offers up a pre-show Italian family style meal. Mmmm.

Little India
Little India or The Gerrard India Bazaar is one of my favourite 'hoods in the East End. It's teeming with good food, eclectic finds, spice markets and fun events. If you're up for Indian food, my two favourites are Lahore Tikka House and Udupi Palace (vegetarian). After dinner, grab Kulfi pops from any convenient store and stroll around. You'll also find recently rooted restaurants and shops mentioned above and below.

Collected Joy | Kingston Road in Kingston Road Village, Toronto.

Collected Joy | Kingston Road in Kingston Road Village, Toronto.

Birch & Co. | Gerrard Street East in Toronto.

Birch & Co. | Gerrard Street East in Toronto.

Some of Toronto's best brands and shops are located in the East End. Here are just a few of my favourite spots to pick up all kind of goods. Small is the new mall. Avoid the crowds and shop local at these sweet shops.


SHOP LOCAL

Birch & Co.
Owned and curated by East Ender, Tanya, this sweet shop has perfect finds for gift and home. Lots of local goods can be found in store.

Collected Joy
In Kingston Road Village you'll find one of my favourite shops, Collected Joy. Everything in store truly brings you joy. From the huge stationery wall to the local goods from brands like Lovefresh, Dalish, Akai Ceramics and even Swell Made Co. Grab a caramel at the counter. They're the best. 

Good Neighbor
Found in a tiny house at Carlaw and Queen, is this hip boutique for men and women. They also have gifts, housewares and cute things for kids. Come for the fashion, stay for the best sneaker collection in the East End.

Token
Token in Riverdale has cute and quirky gifts and a great record collection. You'll know you're there when you can't stop staring at the hologram wallpaper as you walk in. Tiny, but fierce; this shop is a gem.

Black Rooster
Straight out of the pages of a magazine (literally), Black Rooster has everything for gift and home with an extra bit of panache and style. Top-quality furnishings that are made to last are their specialty.

Queenie's Cards
Newly opened, Queenie's cards is a bubblegum pink shop full of fun at Coxwell and Danforth. Longtime lovers of Queenie's cards (and so much more) will find her entire line a long with other cute Kawaii inspired brands like Pusheen and Pocky.

Toronto Yoga Mamas
This zen yoga and learning space for mom and baby is also home to a lovingly curated gift shop. you'll find the best local goods in  skincare, nursery decor and baby fashion. I can never say no to a tiny baby bathing suit!

Enjoy the East End, swell friends. Did I miss anything? Just let me know by commenting below.