Queen Street West – 5 local gems…from a local gem!

By: Jim Bamboulis with Elma Mehmedbegovic 

Queen Street West is loaded with restaurants, boutiques, cafes and bars. So many, that it can be overwhelming to really narrow down which ones are the must-hits.

If you’ve always wondered which specific spots to visit, the ones locals always have their eyes, on then keep reading. We’ve done the all the ground work for ya and found someone who can help.

For the inside story about the local gems, we asked… a local gem. At least, that’s what I like to call her. Elma B. moved to Toronto a few years ago from Edmonton and made it a mission to love her new city. She’s in her mid-20s, a Performer and always in the know. She lives and breathes Queen Street West and in this article, she gives us her 5 must-go-to’s in her own words. There’s nothing like an insiders’ POV and advice, especially when it comes to this neighbourhood. Let’s go!

416 Snack Bar

I love this place because it is physically a small venue, but it is always full of people and the music is on point! The menu is small but creative and the mojitos are to die for. 416 (map) is cutlery free, so you have to use your hands to eat, everything is snack size and good for sharing, and it’s in a perfect location for going out afterwards.

Canon Blanc Clothing Store

This is a Parisian clothing and jewellery boutique. Everything’s imported from France, and embodies a truly european identity. The owners are a husband and wife, who uprooted their life to downtown Toronto in hopes of bringing some French flare to North America. Stepping into Canon Blanc (map) is like stepping into Paris!

Cosmos Records

The best place to buy records on Queen West. Not only do they carry all the good vintage stuff, but you can just walk in, pick a record, put on a pair of headphones……and lose yourself in the music. I can’t think of a better way to escape from the crowd and the noise of the city! Cosmos (map) also has a $1 Records, so you can bulk up your collection without breaking your budget.


Forever Young Ink (map) is a tattoo parlour, but one with swag and attitude. The artists are extremely talented at their craft, but getting tattooed here is quite the experience. The waiting room has a TV with video games, good rap music is always playing, and the decor is very urban. The shop is located right on Queen Street, so you can walk by it and witness people getting tattooed. Only on Queen West can you invade someone’s space like that and get away with it.

The Hideout

I love The Hideout (map) because it is a staple piece of Queen West living. Not only is it amazing for the live music that you can hear on weekends, but it is a really fun place to mingle, dance, and hear some good music. I especially love this place during Canadian Music Week, because it allows Torontonians to discover new and emerging artists from all over the country. Getting in during Canadian Music Week is tough, but it is worth the while.

There you have it. 5 locals gems from a local gem. I want to thank Elma for taking time and telling us about her spots. Been to any of her suggested places? Did she miss one? Let us know!

Next week, we’re heading further west along the 501 Streetcar Route. And we talk with another local about her top picks. Stick around for that and learn more about another amazing neighbourhood, West Queen West.

Thanks all and happy travels!


One Comment Add yours

  1. elamintariq says:

    I had a friend who used to visit The HideOut regularly and she loved it! Ill have to visit!

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