By: Jim Bamboulis
Riverside is an amazing place. There aren’t too many neighbourhoods in the city that pack so much in such a small area. Along Queen Street, Riverside stretches for only about 10 blocks. It’s the birthplace of one of Canada’s most iconic cultural television shows of all time, home to several key landmarks, loaded with restaurants and one special personality. With that, let’s go!
Feel of the area
During the day, it’s pretty quiet. Despite it being about 2.5 kilometres from downtown, it feels like you’re in a small village. Neighbour knows neighbour. This is the perfect area to sit, read a book, take a walk, browse an antique store or boutique, hit the spa and eventually get lunch.
At night, Riverside gets festive. Young and old come together to eat and drink in one of the more jammed packed restaurant strips in Toronto. In this area, we’ve got everything from upscale pub experiences to some of the best middle-eastern food in the city. And considering how many quality restaurants there are here, the competition to produce consistent quality is fierce. These restaurants mean business and they work hard to earn your dollars.
Start with the Food Scene!
And the way you start your food day on the right foot is by taking a trip to Bonjour Brioche. Part bakery, part cafe, BB is your go-to spot for fresh bread, pastries, sandwiches, brunch. Just note that if you’re thinking about hitting it up for brunch, get there early. The place is small and the wait can be long.
Every year, the good people of Riverside throw a little festival. It brings the best of the community to the street for good eats and beats. It’s just too bad it only lasts for one day. But regardless, the restaurants in the area keep on producing amazing food all year round. And the variety that you can find here is pretty awesome.
Ruby WatchCo, owned and operated by award-winning Chef Lynn Crawford has been in the neighbourhood for a few years. Others that have made their new home in Riverside include Tabule Restaurant which serves up mean middle-eastern, La Carnita gives you Mexican, AFT is for smokehouse lovers while Boots N’ Bourbon and Prohibition Gastrohouse are both upscale pub joints.
But you can’t talk about the food scene here without mentioning Dangerous Dan’s. Menu items here include the “24oz Bulls Balls Burger”, “Coronary Burger Special” and the “Quadruple C” (Collosal Colon Clogger Combo) which is a 24oz burger served with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon, and 2 fried eggs. You also get a large shake and a small poutine for $26.95. Good luck with that one.
Stay for the History
Riverside is home to a great, big piece of Canadiana. If you’re a kid of the 80’s and 90’s and grew up anywhere in Canada (or even the world), then you probably watched at least one episode of the Kids of DeGrassi Street, DeGrassi Junior High or even DeGrassi High.
This was a groundbreaking show that told the story of a diverse group of kids growing up on DeGrassi Street. The show has won a pile of awards and more importantly played a huge role for any kid growing up in Canada. It tackled issues like teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and gay rights. This, at a time when many of the issues weren’t really talked about publicly. Although serious and relatable, the show was funny. This is arguably one of the greatest songs of all time.
Riverside is a neighbourhood that’s being evaluated as a potential Heritage Conservation District. So that said, it’s loaded with landmarks worth noting and visiting. Among them, the New Broadview Hotel at the corner of Queen East and Broadview, The Opera House, And Postal Station G. Click each picture for a description of each.
George Iliades’ Broadview Beauty Parlour
George Iliades. Husband. Father. Barber. Actor. For the past 50+ years, George has operated his barber shop in the heart of Riverside.
He left Greece at 18 and came to Toronto in 1963. Over those years, he’s built a reputation for exceptional cuts, and inviting sense of humour. Besides that, if there’s anyone who can speak of Riverside and how it has changed over the years, it’s George. His story has been covered by everyone from The Toronto Star to local Greek newspapers.
He has received a scroll from the City of Toronto, a plaque from the Riverside Business Association, Certificates from Mayor Rob Ford, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
On top of that, he hasn’t changed the charm of his shop much. If you love vintage looking unisex barber shops, then drop by and get a cut. Just do it before August; the man needs a vacation too!
Riverside. 10 blocks of eats, art, history and change.
Did we miss something about Riverside that you feel we should have included? Let us know. Otherwise, if you want more information about the area including festivals, check out this site.
Thanks all and happy travels.