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Explore the ‘Nabe: Queen West


Where to shop, eat and get cultured on Queen Street West

Editor’s note: This feature story was published in summer 2015. For up-to-date info about Queen West, refer to our 2016 neighbourhood guide.


Explore Toronto Queen West - Stylegarage

Photo by Naomi Finlay.

Queen West is a promenade lined with 35 design showrooms and boutiques that include big boxes and stalwarts, dives and the divine. Shown above, Stylegarage‘s new Ossington outpost, replete with refurbished flooring, is the perfect backdrop for its industrial-chic wares.

Explore Toronto Queen West -Collage

The products in the collage above provide more ideas of what can be found in this ‘nabe, including (clockwise from top) Shale credenza by Blu Dot, at Urban Mode; Solar Queen by Kikkerland, at Neat; Cyborg Ply chair by Magis, at Quasi Modo; Flocked letter cushion, by Everyday Housewife; New Toronto T-shirt by Shared, at Drake General Store.


Photo courtesy of the Drake Hotel.

Photo courtesy of the Drake Hotel.



Sam James Coffee Bar (3 Ossington Ave) is not a lounging-around spot. It’s for hardcore espresso lovers who want the purest cup.” – Gunnar van Vliet, owner, Planet of Sound

MORE MORNING JOE: “Dufflet Pastries has a great selection of treats to help get the morning going. The smart, clean decor is courtesy of the owner’s husband, architect Martin Kohn.” – Martin Myers, owner, Quasi Modo

“I’m all coffee-ed out lately, but I like to hit up Bolt for fresh juice! The meat locker-y fridge in the back is funny, because they stock healthy veggie juices and kombucha instead of cured meats and pâtés.” –Joyce Lo, co-director, Drake General Store


Sud Forno (716 Queen St W) is my favourite for a slice of pizza. The designers (Giannone Petricone Associates) made great use of steel elements.” – Martin Myers, owner, Quasi Modo

MORE MIDDAY MEALS: “Burger’s Priest. I rave about the Cali Burger to anyone who will listen. It’s not on their “secret menu,” which I think just makes it cooler.” –Joyce Lo, co-director, Drake General Store

County General is a great business lunch spot. It’s relaxed enough for serious conversations but hip enough to impress clients. The Southern-inspired food is exceptional.” – Gunnar van Vliet, owner, Planet of Sound


The Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St W), of course. I prefer to sit in the cafe where the atmosphere is bustling and the art is super fun.” – Joyce Lo, co-director, Drake General Store



345 Modern House, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist and Daniel Faria Gallery. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery.


DL-G15-QW-BellwoodsMOCCA (952 Queen St W), which hosted the recent Douglas Coupland exhibition seen above, loses its lease in August, so check out its final show on Queen West and bid adieu to the longtime neighbourhood staple. After it leaves the area, great art can still be found at photography gallery Stephen Bulger (1026 Queen St W) and contemporary hot spots O’Born Contemporary (131 Ossington Ave), Angell Gallery (12 Ossington Ave) and Cooper Cole (1161 Dundas St W). This May, the latter hosts Road to Ruin, a group show dedicated to capturing the beauty in decay.



Illustrations by Henry Tyminski.

DL-G15-QW-MasseyMassey Hall (178 Victoria St) is being remastered for today’s concert goers. The first phase of a seven-year revitalization by KPMB Architects, in collaboration with GBCA, will add better facilities to the venue. The ongoing Live at Massey Hall concert series offers music fans a chance to see national treasures like the Great Lake Swimmers and new Q host Shad on Canada’s most storied stage for a great price – $18.94 – to commemorate the year the hall opened.


Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.



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