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Neighbourhood Guide: Parkdale

Parkdale is a neighbourhood often over-looked by visitors to Toronto, but full of many animated hangouts for locals in the know. We’d like to shed a light on this eclectic area which has been resistant to the change of heavy gentrification, while still adopting many trendy new ideas and venues. You’ll find that Parkdale is a hip and gritty stretch along Queen St. West spotted with top-notch dive bars, Tibetan restaurants,  tiki venues, and droves of vintage stores and antiques. 

Parkdale may be rough around the edges, but can offer up some true treasures for those looking to explore a spunky hood.

Check out our video to get the vibe, and click the links below to find out more about each spot:

Coffee

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Capital Espresso is likely where you had your first coffee in Parkdale, and where you should if you haven’t yet. They keep it simple with well-pulled espresso and daily pastries, including a bacon and cheese scone. Regardless of who you are, you’ll feel comfortable sipping your brew in this unpretentious, yet charming haunt.

Stepping into the Tempered Room is like entering a little oasis for the pastry lover. Any proper coffee break is enhanced by some baked goods and you can find masterfully made French classics in the display case. From sweets like financiers, eclairs, and cakes to quiche and the indulgent croque monsieur. 

Food + Drink

This unassuming Tibetan restaurant has only a few items on the menu, but do them all well. Discover the tasty momo: a Tibetan dumpling filled with chicken, beef, or veggies. They’re cheap and served up fast with soy, or a house-made spicy sauce. Careful, it’s addictive. The hot buttered tea, with origins in the Himalayas, gave birth to the bulletproof coffee trend. A surefire hangover cure.

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The Skyline has been around since 1965. It’s had a face lift, but the neon sign and many of the original finishings were kept, so the retro vibe is fully  intact. You’ll find all the diner classics here, but the owners have added some fresher, modern fare to the menu to appeal to a new generation. We love this spot for brunch, and because its one of the few places in the city where you can still order a fat slice of pie with ice cream. 

What can we say, the name is just so cheeky! Glory Hole serves up freshly-made doughnuts. So fresh that if you go too late in the day, they may have sold out! Find signature flavours like the London Fog, stuffed with earl grey cream, Toast + Butter, or perhaps even the Hibiscus Glaze. They also have vegan options year round with a big focus on seasonality, so visiting the Glory Hole will never get old. 

Street-style Mexican tacos on 100% corn tortillas for roughly 5 bucks a pop. Choose from smoked pork belly, Baja fish, roast chicken, or some mouth-watering veggie options like roasted poblano and cauliflower. Grand Electric has their own house beers on draught and a serious collection of bourbon behind the bar. You can round out your meal with fresh guacamole and ceviche. 

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Guu

“Irasshaimase!” yelled in unison by the staff is the first thing you’ll hear when you enter Guu.  In Japan, Izakaya culture is fun and boisterous with small plates, cheap beer, and warm hospitality. Choose from dishes like Karaage fried chicken, Takoyaki balls, torched sushi, and noodle dishes. All the dishes are full-flavour and easy to share. Itadakimasu!

Founded by Craig Pike using a cookie recipe taught to him by his mother as a youngster. Craig has made good use of this dough, wrapping it around peanut butter cups, snickers, Oreos, and more. With more than a dozen freshly-baked flavours on any given day, it’s hard to to stop at just 12. Be sure to order a shot of organic milk with your cookie: a cute touch that brings out the kid in you. 

A French dining bar that is a favourite among those in the restaurant industry. You can enjoy French classics like gougères, chicken paté, and entrecôte without the stuffy white-tablecloth service. The wine list dotted with unique finds, and a dynamic cocktail list makes this an equally formidable place for drinks. 

Miss Thing’s is a Hawaiian restaurant and cocktail bar featuring contemporary and classic Hawaiian and Asian dishes. Fronted by Chef Michael Sutherland alongside head barman Robin Wynne and his playful tropical cocktail list. You can’t leave the building without ordering the pineapple fried rice with braised pork belly. Honestly, you should dine with a group and just order the whole menu. 

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Shopping

Toronto Designers Market is dedicated to creating a clean, affordable space for young designers and entrepreneurs to sell their products to the public without having to spend thousands of dollars on their own storefront, or lose half to consignment. Under one roof there are 30 different designers ranging from furniture and household items to clothing and jewellery.

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One of the few comic book shops in Toronto’s west end. This family-run shop is full of charm and passion. Alongside the Marvel and DC collections West End Comics stocks smaller publishers and the newest single issues. Vintage collectables, board games, and figurines are also available.  

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This curated design shop stocks international houseware brands, award winning design and museum objects, personal accessories and fun collectibles. Since 1997, Studio Brillantine has been a destination gift shop in Toronto. Brands represented are Alessi, Georg Jensen, Iittala, Comme des Garçons wallets, Issey Miyake BaoBao, Vivienne Westwood accessories. The collection is rounded-off by Tintin, Moomin, Barbapapa, Kidrobot, Japanese collectibles and blind boxes.

Vintage Shops

Parkdale has more vintage shops than any other neighbourhood in Toronto. 
Check them out here:
+ Three Fates
+ Public Butter Vintage
+ In Vintage We Trust
+ 96 Tears Vintage
+ House of Vintage
+ Stella Luna
+ Common Sort
+ Black Diamond Vintage

Beer + Nightlife

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With a nearly unmarked front window, you could just walk by without noticing Pretty Ugly Bar. That would be a shame though because they are one of the best cocktail bars in the city. The staff here rotate through full-day ice shifts, freezing and cutting different styles of ice for your shaking and stirring pleasure. That’s how much love is put into their libations.  Explore the list of proprietary cocktails, taste mezcal, or ask the bartenders to concoct you something special. Come to drink, enjoy the music, and make friends.

An extension of the Shameful Tiki Room in Vancouver, they hope that you’ll enter and be swept away into an immersive tiki world of bamboo and palm trees.  Sip on fruity drinks like the Blue Hawaii or something that packs a punch like the Rum Barrel. The real fun, however,  is in ordering a bowl that comes with straws for 2, 4, or more! Expect smoke, flames, and lights as the Volcano Bowl erupts on the way to your table. Island-style grub is available when the drinks whet your appetite. 

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