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Explore the ‘Nabe: The West End

Where to shop, eat and get cultured in Bloordale, the Junction and Roncesvalles

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


Photo by Naomi Finlay.

This area’s 19 design boutiques prove Bloordale, the Junction and Roncesvalles continue to rock. Newcomer Urbanproduct (shown above) is the latest draw. Specializing in creative and collaborative woodwork (made with locally sourced materials), the guys at UP have built everything from bamboo components for a custom wheelchair to hangers made of hockey sticks.


The products in the collage above provide even more ideas of what can be found in this area, including (clockwise from top) Anderssen & Voll’s Min watering can, at Mjölk; the PK10 wooden table, by Pekota Designs; totes by Avril Loreti, at Scout; leather Acapulco chairs, at Green Light District; and antique lights at Queen West Antique Centre.


Photo by Emma McIntyre.

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



“Every morning we get an Americano at Full Stop (2948 Dundas St W). All of the seats are original Eames shell chairs. And there are plenty of them, so we never have to worry about getting a table.” –John Baker, co-owner, Mjölk

MORE MORNING JOE: “Capital Espresso (1349 Queen St W) for a latte and a muffin – raspberry nutella, if they have it that day. The art on the walls is always super interesting. (Tobin Reid was a recent favourite.)” –Micah Lenahan and Paul Mercer, of Smash

“An Americano from Extra Butter (283 Roncesvalles Ave; an Art Deco-style spot with diamond-patterned faux-tin walls) is my favourite. My stall all swears by them too. It’s hard to resist one of their homemade sweet treats.” – Leah Eyles, owner, Scout



Indie Ale House (2876 Dundas St W) has a beautiful wooden fridge behind the bar which they have refurbished for their taps. Our favourites: the tuna tacos, Aubergine sandwich and Fallen Idol sour wheat beer with blackberries.” – Micah Lenahan and Paul Mercer, of Smash

OTHER WATERING HOLES: “Originally the best-kept secret in the Junction, Hole in the Wall (2867 Dundas St W) is located in between two buildings and reminds us of the narrow bars we used to go to in Tokyo. They have a beautiful live-edge cherry bar that is really nice to sit at.” –John Baker, co-owner, Mjölk

“I love The Emerson (1279 Bloor St W) . They’ve named all their cocktails after the other bars in the neighbourhood, which is adorable. The decor is eclectic, with bikes hung on the wall and antiques scattered about, and the music is always great, too.” – Leah Eyles, owner, Scout



Barque (299 Roncesvalles Ave) takes the cake for this one. I always get their smoked brisket eggs Benedict, and, bonus, they play old school cartoons on weekends.” – Leah Eyles, owner, Scout

MORE HOT SPOTS: “The Ace (231 Roncesvalles Ave). It used to be a Chinese restaurant, and the original wooden booths and dark wallpaper have been preserved. It’s the coziest place I have ever been to. Whoever chooses the playlists there is a genius.” – Micah Lenahan and Paul Mercer, of Smash

“For weekday lunches – Himilayan Kitchen (1526 Queen St W). Parkdale has a large Tibetan community, and when my shop first opened here I asked my Tibetan customers which ones were the best and they all recommended this spot. It was my first taste of authentic, home-cooked, healthy Tibetan cuisinie. My favourites are Thali plate with chickpeas and the beef or chicken momo dumplings.” –Ferdinand Suzara, Studio Brillantine



Photo courtesy of TPL.

Conveniently, two of the city’s best contemporary art galleries are neighbours. Clint Roenisch (190 St. Helens Ave) showcases such fresh-faced artists as Jimmy Limit, whose installations have paired lemons with neon pipes. Meanwhile, Daniel Faria (188 St. Helens Ave) represents more established but similarly playful talents like Douglas Coupland.

Art Metropole (1490 Dundas St W) sells limited-run art books, prints and objects, and the light-soaked Bloor/Gladstone Library (1101 Bloor St W; shown above). A 2009 renovation by RDH Architects Inc. – which added a glass cube to the original Renaissance Revival building – turned the branch into the city’s best reading spot.


Photo by Naomi Finlay.

Get used to hearing a lot about Geary Avenue. After artists began converting the street’s old industrial buildings into studios, a cultural boom began. With several new performance spaces and a Dark Horse Espresso Bar set to open this summer, the tucked-away stretch near Dupont and Dufferin is becoming one seriously hip micronabe.

Southwest of here, Sterling Road is another intriguing strip. It’s where several of the city’s top designers – including Heidi Earnshaw, Brothers Dressler, Stephen Lindsay and Fugitive Glue (shown above) – produce their work. Also in the ’hood: axe throwing, circus training and an incredible industrial holdout – Tower Automotive. An upcoming renovation will ready the historic building for its newest tenant, MOCA. The cutting-edge art gallery is set to take over the first two and a half floors in winter 2016.

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