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Explore the ‘Nabe: King West

explore Toronto King West

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

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


Photo by Naomi Finlay.

The fashion and finance district is home to 19 design showrooms and boutiques stocked with condo solutions and lighting. One notable stop: LightForm. The retailer’s warehouse digs are stocked with exciting lighting imports from North America and Europe, while Flos’ conjoined showroom is dedicated to ethereal, high-tech wares.


The products in the collage above provide more ideas of what can be found in this ‘nabe, including (clockwise from top) Ingrid chair, at West Elm; Graffiti Dolls lights by Mediah, at Living Lighting on King; Harbor work lounge, by Haworth; Fixie pizza cutter by Doiy, at Spacing Store.


Photo by Tony Lanz Photography.

We reached out to King West design shop owners to find out their favourite places to dine in this part of town – because who would know better? Below: six recommendations sure to point you to the best-looking spots and greatest-tasting eats in the area.



“On weekend mornings, I head to Balzac’s (43 Hanna Ave, Unit #123). The decor reminds me of a French bistro, with a steel bar, great tile flooring and woven chairs and stools.” – Richard Assaly, president, LightForm

MORE MORNING JOE: “I usually stop to get my coffee at Wagamama (766 King St W). They’ve been around since 2000 and make everything (soups, baked goods – even their syrups!) from scratch. Once in a while, I’ll have their delicious ham and cheese croissant as well.” –Amy Kwong, owner, I Have a Crush on You


Wvrst (609 King St W) is the best. I mean, duck-fat fries! Definitely a fun mid-week place to meet friends.” –Amy Kwong, owner, I Have a Crush on You

MORE GREAT MEALS: Caffino (1185 King St W). It’s located in the Toronto Carpet Factory – through an iron gate and courtyard – and the historic building offers some beautiful industrial elements. The ambiance is charming and cozy – especially in the winter months, with the fireplace.” – Jason Stroud, designer, Stroudfoot


UFO Restaurant’s (241 Niagara St) greasy spoon grub. The proprietor has an uncanny memory and calls out the usual orders when regulars come in. UFO is the Cheers of the diner world.” – Jason Stroud, designer, Stroudfoot

ANOTHER SUNDAY HOTSPOT: “The menu at Beast (96 Tecumseth St) changes often and is full of fresh and local ingredients. My fave is the Labatt 50 breakfast, which gives you a bottle of beer and a lot of meat.” – Amy Kwong, owner, I Have a Crush on You



This July, neighbourhood fixture Design Exchange takes a summer road trip away from its historic Bay Street digs (234 Bay St) to open a sportswear-focused show offsite at 39 Parliament St. Including high-tech swimsuits inspired by sharkskin, it’s sure to give your eyes and brain a workout. Next stop: head down to the lakeshore to check out the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay W) and Harbourfront Centre’s Bill Boyle Artport (235 Queens Quay W). There you’ll find cutting-edge contemporary art, including the decoding of the mindset behind WWII visual images, and an exploration of the relationship between land, politics and art by indigenous artists.


Photo courtesy of TPL.


Thanks to KPMB Architects, Toronto’s 99th library is probably its best looking. The Fort York Branch (190 Fort York Blvd) offers high-tech amenities like 3-D printers, a green-screen room and a recording studio – all housed inside of a beautifully angular building with floor-to-ceiling windows and a Douglas fir ceiling. Nearby, tucked under the Gardiner and clad in weathered steel panels, the Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Blvd) tells the national historic site’s story. Designed by Patkau & Kearns Mancini, the new building is a landmark in its own right.



Having already made his mark on Toronto with his renovation of the AGO, architect Frank Gehry is now set to dramatically alter his hometown’s skyline with two waterfall-like glass condos. Last July, City Council voted to move ahead with a Gehry-designed development at King and John Streets. Spearheaded by Honest Ed Jr., David Mirvish, the complex includes a 92- and 82- storey tower, built to incorporate two heritage-designated warehouses and the Princess of Wales Theatre. Glass-faced on opposite sides (one looks north; the other, south), the sculptural towers feature six-storey podiums that will house studio space and a lecture hall for OCAD University, plus a new public art gallery. For the latest updates about the development, follow @MirvishGehryTO on Twitter.

Categories: Neighbourhood Guide


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