Neighbourhood Guide: 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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.