With only two weeks left in this
fair freezing city of Toronto, I thought it was time to take note of the places and spaces that have become my spots over the decade I’ve called this collection of streets and buildings and people home. While I have been anxious to leave it for some time, there are many reasons I’ve lived here for so long. The city is vibrant, exciting, and filled to the brim with wonderful people that are up to wonderful things. There’s nowhere else in Canada I’d rather be, and despite my excitement and eagerness to discover all that London has to offer, a piece of me will always belong to TO.
So without further ado, here is my Toronto:
COFFEE & SWEETS
Crema Coffee – 3079 Dundas St W
In the years I lived in The Junction (an impossibly cute neighbourhood in Toronto’s West end), Crema was home. Delicous espresso based-beverages, easy-on-the-eyes baristas curating a playlist of indie pop and rock that would inevitably make it’s way onto my iTunes, and an assortment of baked goods impossible to resist. An almond milk latte (iced in the summer!) and pumpkin muffin became the only way I was willing to start my days.
Glory Hole Doughnuts – 1596 Queen St W
Where to even begin with this spot? These hand-made gourmet pastries should possibly be illegal. They are sinfully decadent. Owner Ashley Jacot De Boinod was clearly sent by the devil himself in a successful mission to tempt me away from every diet I’ve ever attempted to go on. PB&J Doughnut? Excuse me a moment, I think I need to take a walk to Queen West…
Nirvana – 434 College St
Nirvana is my place. It is always my first recommendation for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, first dates… The first word that comes to mind when I think of Nirvana is eclectic. From the kitchsy decor to the food itself, this place is all over the map. The menu will pretty much satisfy any craving you could possibly have. Thai? Their pad thai is a must. Pasta? plenty. Breakfast? you’re set til 4pm Burgers? obviously, why wouldn’t all of these things exist on the same menu? Their service is notoriously slow, but you forgive it because the staff are so cool you just want to hang out with them when their shift is over. There are drink specials every weekday, not that it’s necessary as their entire menu is dirt cheap. The most expensive food item is $9.95. Oh, and their bottomless coffee is brewed with cinnamon. ‘nuff said.
The Bovine Sex Club – 542 Queen St W
This one is no contest. A Queen West staple, The Bovine Sex Club is home. I became a regular at this dark, rock & roll dive at the tender age of 17 (and was barred for two years when they found out – sorry Darryl!). Of course, I later tended bar here for 2+ years. The staff and patrons are my family.
At first it’s intimidating – lit only by strings of Christmas lights woven through a ceiling of chain link, a couple candles, and 4 TV screens playing obscure horror films. The bar will be lined with aging punk rockers in leather jackets. On stage – a band with loud guitars and more impressive haircuts than me. You could spend years looking at the assortment of knick knacks and oddities hanging from the ceiling and the walls, and still discover something new on every visit.
The new rooftop Tiki bar brings in an entirely different crowd, but no matter which level you’re on, Jägermeister flows like water. I will miss this place more than any other.
Tip: Do not order anything more complex than a gin and tonic – this is not a cocktail lounge (there were two martini glasses on premises at one point, but I broke one).
The Horseshoe Tavern – 370 Queen St W
Just a few blocks down from The Bovine, you’ll find The (Legendary) Horseshoe Tavern. Everyone from The Rolling Stones to your neighbour’s uncle has played here. The sound is always amazing, the staff are legends, there’s an aging poster for Bye Bye Birdie affixed to the ceiling above the checkered dance floor. What more could you ask for? Tuesday nights are Nu Music Night – where you can catch great indie acts for free while sipping a Labbatt 50.
Trinity Bellwoods Park – between Queen St W and Dundas St W at Gore Vale Ave
Summer in Toronto = Trinity Bellwoods. It is the place to spend a lazy afternoon in the sunshine with friends. On a hot weekend you’ll be hard pressed to find a patch of grass unoccupied by a hipster picnic, an impromptu acoustic jam, or a game of croquet. It’s such a popular meeting spot that one clever Torontonian created a map dividing the park into zones so you no longer have to stand on your blanket, waving a hand in the air while you shout into your phone “Can you see me? I’m in the purple dress, kind of near the tennis courts, by that weird tree!”