By: Jim Bamboulis with Jennifer Renaud
Now she’s bringing her smarts and insights a bit closer to home, closer to her own backyard.
To West Queen West.
Feel of the Area
Several years ago, West Queen West was a strip with plenty of amazing historical landmarks and a few notable joints to have a drink, dance and grab a bite. But over the past 10 years especially, the funk factor exploded. Trinity-Bellwoods Park, one of the best public spaces in the city still remains the centrepiece but overall, WQW evolved into one of the artistic and dynamic hubs in Toronto. This neighbourhood exploded with new condos, boutiques, even more restaurants and arguably one of the largest concentration of art galleries in town, including MOCCA.
As many of you know, Jennifer is an Artist herself. For this article, she listed a bunch of suggested things to see, do and experience in this part of the city. The list was so out of control that we decided to cut it down to the cafe + restaurant scene. So here we go, Jennifer’s 5 must-go-to’s on West Queen West, in her own words.
This bar (map) is a staple in my ‘where should we meet’ repertoire. A perfect spot to wander-in for dinner, drinks and sometimes live music in the back room; there’s a great little patio out back on the 2nd floor. I can go and feel at home whether I’m dressed to the nines or something more casual.
The jewel of West Queen West has got to be Trinity-Bellwoods. I know. But let’s take a moment to look across the street at the White Squirrel Cafe (map) – one of the most conveniently placed
coffee ice cream shops in the city. It’s a cute little stop-in with an even cuter pass-through window to the bench out front, but the best part? They serve Greg’s ice cream. Have you tried the roasted marshmallow yet? What are you waiting for?!
The reason to head to El Almacen (map) is definitely the Yerba Mate. It is served through a metal straw in a traditional gourd that you share with friends, filling up the container before passing it along. It’s a lovely and communal experience and I love everything about it.
Simply: this is the best poutine in the city. Every once in a while I trick myself into thinking that poutine from anywhere else might suffice, but the moment the first bite goes into my mouth, I remember that there is no beating this Queen West gem (map). Both the fries and gravy are made in-house, the curds are shipped-in daily from a farm near Belleville (to, as they say, preserve their squeakiness).
Eating at this place (map) makes my body feel good. Everything is so fresh and lovely and healthy. But leave it to me to find the ONE candy on their menu and fall in love. You gotta try it: it’s maple-glazed roasted shaved coconut. Holy cannoli.
There you go!
Next time you’re in the area, hop into one of these places, drink, eat, enjoy! I want to thank Jennifer for taking time and giving us her top picks. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to just 5 so thank you Jennifer. 🙂
Want to follow Jennifer on social, hit her up on Instagram and keep current on her city and international travels.
Next week, we continue west along the 501 Streetcar Route and arrive in another eclectic neighbourhood in the middle of a massive transition. We talk Parkdale. Until then, thanks for stopping by everyone and happy travels!