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Explore the ‘Nabe: King East


Where to shop, eat and get cultured along King Street East

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



Photo by Naomi FInlay.

King East is home to 45 design showrooms and boutiques that specialize in beauty overload – and sticker shock. One notable stalwart: Kiosk, a three-storey architectural tour de force designed by Omer Arbel.  Dramatic staircases lead the way – with intermittent pauses on floating glass landings – to elegant vignettes arranged with pieces by all the best European manufacturers.


DL-G15-KE-ChairThe products in the collage above provide more ideas of what can be found in this ‘nabe, including (clockwise from top) the Scopas pendant, by Artemide; B2 kitchen workshop, by Bulthaup; Horse lamp by Moooi, at Klaus; Jerome sofa, by Montauk Sofa; 194 9 tables by Cassina, at Italinteriors.


We reached out to King East design shop owners to find out their favourite places to eat in this particular part of town – because who would know better? Below: five recommendations that will point you to the best looking spots and greatest tasting menu items in the area.


Tandem Coffee (368 King St E). I love the small vintage section in the back that sells flea market finds.” – Klaus Nienkämper, president, Klaus

MORE MORNING JOE: Caffe Furbo (12 Case Goods Ln) in the Distillery District. The art-filled space has rotating exhibitions, comfy mid-mod furnishings and good tunes.” –Allison Skinner, owner, Distill Gallery



Betty’s (240 King St E). The decor is gritty and hasn’t changed in 20 years – which is why I love it. Sometimes the pictures on the wall change. That is about it. Thomas is a great host and the draft beer selection is nicely varied.” –Allison Skinner, owner, Distill Gallery


Mangia e Bevi (260 King St E). They are customers of mine (the restaurant is filled with Emeco’s Navy 111 chair) and the pizzas there are A+.” –Klaus Nienkämper, president, Klaus

ANOTHER MID-DAY MEAL: Get a take-away egg, cheese and spinach crepe from Cluny Bistros (35 Tank House Ln) boulangerie. The décor is incredible – it instantly transports you to Paris – and the baguette is the best in the city.” –Allison Skinner, owner, Distill Gallery



Illustrations by Henry Tyminski.


DL-G15-KE-SoulpepperWell-known for its Victorian-era industrial buildings, the Distillery District is also home to one of the city’s top destinations for international contemporary art: Corkin Gallery (7 Tank House Ln). Operating inside a converted tank house, the multi-level space showcases works like Thaddeus Holownia’s documentary-style shots of modern-day Paris.

A LITTLE BIT DRAMATIC: Summer programming at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Ln) includes a second run of theatre troupe Soulpepper’s award-winning 2014 hit Of Human Bondage, a story about the search for love and beauty.






The Distillery District’s outdoor sculptures (don’t miss I.T., Michael Christian’s giant spider-like creature stationed near Parliament St.) now include a riff on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. Romantics are invited to secure a lock to a nine-metre-long steel sign that spells out “Love.”

BEACH-Y KEEN: At Church and Front, a new public art piece sends passersby back in time to when the corner once met Lake Ontario. Designed by Paul Raff Studio, Shoreline Commemorative (seen above) marks the site with stepped limestone topography and a two-toned glass orb that depicts the horizon line where water and sky intersect. How fitting that it be the signature art piece for the Berczy, a condo development by ERA Architects and Young + Wright/IBI Group Architects, which incorporates several historic properties.


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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