Neighbourhood Feature: Parkdale, Toronto

Parkdale is a melting pot of Caribbean communities, Tibetan immigrants and trendy Torontonians, each lending the westerly neighbourhood a distinctive flavour—and colourful characters—you won’t find anywhere else. Walking distance from hotels like The Drake and The Gladstone, it’s become a haven for vintage, vegans and vices (the bars are some of the best in the city): just don’t dare utter the word ‘hipster’ until you’re well out of earshot. Here’s where to eat, drink and shop along Parkdale.

 

EAT

 

Grand Electric 

1330 Queen St W.; grandelectrictoronto.com

The title of Toronto’s best taco is an often debated (and slightly touchy) subject, but Grand Electric is an uncontested frontrunner. Punchy flavours infuse every dish, from the citrusy-with-a-kick ceviches to the Morita salsa and mayo-drizzled Baja fish taco. String-lit and picnic-tabled, it’s the kind of place you can leave your Jays cap on and lick your fingers like no one’s watching (because no one is).

Grand Electric

 

Chantecler 

1320 Queen St W.; restaurantchantecler.com

The tattoos and toques behind the bar lend a little Canadiana to this cozy French restaurant. Highlights include the tuna confit polka-dotted with lemon aioli, the can’t-believe-it’s-not-lobster butter poached shrimp, and the mesmerizing cocktail choreography (try the equal parts frothy and photogenic Social Blender).  

Chantecler

Chantecler

Chantecler

For brunch and burgers, hit up Harry’s Charbroiled. If you’re in a meatless mood, vegan junk food joint Doomie’s will satisfy even your most carnivorous cravings. And for dessert, a fluffy Milk and Cookies doughnut from Glory Hole will never let you down.

 

DRINK

 

Dumbo Snack Bar 

1704 Queen St W.; dumbosnackbar.com

A new addition to the neighbourhood’s late-night scene, Dumbo is a homage to both gritty Brooklyn dive bars and grown-up gimmickry: cocktail ‘pitchers’ are served in antique teapots, a darkroom-esque pink glow blankets the bar, and a downstairs photo booth sends GIFs to your phone. In the summertime, the back patio (prime real estate in patio-starved Parkdale) will host outdoor movie nights where guests can tune in via Bluetooth headphones.

Dumbo Snack Bar

Dumbo Snack Bar

 

Plentea Tea Bar

1205 Queen St W,; facebook.com/PlenteaTeaBar

A sleek, two-storey tea emporium on the corner of Queen and Dufferin, Plentea’s spicy-sweet smell alone will make you a regular. The canisters of dried herbs and spices that line the back wall aren’t just for show: each tea and tea latte is made to order, with nary a pre-blend on the menu. Order the Salted Caramel Chai Matcha or the silky Black Velvet tea latté, expertly poured from two feet up.

Plentea

Plentea

Other worthy contenders: For a candlelit date over smoky cocktails, try Pretty Ugly Bar, and for a night of drinks and dancing with girlfriends, opt for Miss Thing’s.

 

SHOP

 

Crown Flora

1233 Queen St W.; crownflorastudio.com

Even if you aren’t in the market for a fiddle leaf fig, the Pepto-pink painted Crown Flora flagship is worth a stop—if just for the ‘gram.  

 

In Vintage We Trust

1580 Queen St W.; invintagewetrust.com

Pick up pretty much any piece in In Vintage We Trust, and the owner will tell you a story about it. A streetwear collector’s must-stop, this sports-centric vintage trove is the best place to find a signed jersey, normcore Patagonia fleece or a perfectly worn-in bomber jacket.

Have arm space for a few more shopping bags? Peruse local wares and indie artisans at the Toronto Designers Market, and find street style-worthy pieces at clothing boutique Frances Watson.  

Toronto's Designer Market