East vs. West

Ossington vs. the Distillery District: which is best for a day of walking and shopping?

EAST VS WEST: WHICH SIDE OF TORONTO RULES? AN INTELLIGENT DISCUSSION ON A NOT SO IMPORTANT TOPIC November 12 at the RC3 Presentation Centre (King East and Lower River), starts at 6 pm. Free, limited seating. EastVsWestToronto.ca


Vogue – bible of all things cool – just named West Queen West one of the world’s hippest neighbourhoods. The Ossington strip between Dundas and Queen plays a major role in that.

Lazily stroll through indie galleries and check out stores full of homegrown goodness like Crywolf, Philip Sparks and Victoire Boutique.


The closest you’ll get to a big-box store is Tiger of Sweden, whose perfectly tailored suits make Ossington a great destination for both sexes.

Lost & Found is another dude destination, with racks full of quality, sustainable wares. Guys looking for hard-to-find designer labels may want to check out Jonathan + Olivia.


Tired from all that shopping? Fuel up at one of the strip’s indie restaurants, some of the town’s best. We can never resist Pizzeria Libretto’s wood-fired oven pizzas or an indulgent brunch at the Saint Tavern. Another must-try on weekends is Dakota Tavern’s all-you-can-eat bluegrass brunch accompanied by live music.


Finish your day off with a trip back in time via Ossington’s superior vintage shop scene, which includes I Miss You, Rescue Vintage and Silver Falls.


Getting home is a breeze (at least when the TTC decides to cooperate). The strip is sandwiched between the Dundas and Queen streetcar lines and also has multiple stops on the 63 Ossington bus route that runs from Liberty Village to Eglinton West Station.

The Distillery District

This historic neighbourhood tends to get written off by locals as a tourist trap, but the Distillery has seriously stepped up its shopping and restaurant games in recent years.

Gallery junkies could spend days here. Proof Studio, Arta, Thompson Landry, Corkin, Julie M. and Eskimo Art Gallery are just some of the spaces to explore.


The district is home to one of our favourite vintage shops, Blackbird Vintage, full of awesome clothing and accessory finds from decades past.

Gotstyle’s two-storey store for men and women is a great place to find homegrown brands like Jenny Bird and Michi amongst shelves of designer denim and luxe suits. Hoi Bo is a go-to for made-in-T.O. bags, and local designer Jessica Rose’s romantic womenswear is available her quaint boutique.


Are shoes your thing? Then don’t miss Heel Boy’s newest location that weighs in at 1,350 square feet, including brands like Steve Madden, Aigle, TOMS and Nine West. Footwear freaks also love Canadian retailer John Fluevog Shoes.

There’s even something here for the kids: Mini Mioche’s kids’ products and clothing are Canadian-made from start to finish using organic cotton and low-impact, non-toxic dyes.


You’re not going to go hungry in the Distillery. Stop in at the Mill Street Brew Pub for a beer and some comfort food, or class it up at the newly opened Cluny Bistro. We love Pure Spirits Oyster House for their seafood mac and cheese and the Sweet Escape Patisserie for a quick lunch or snack.


Keep an eye out for seasonal markets that bring even more local retailers and artisans to the Distillery. The Toronto Christmas Market kicks off on November 28 and isn’t to be missed. (We suggest avoiding weekends though, because it does get busy. )

If you time it right, you can finish off your day with a show at one of the neighbourhood’s three theatres: the Young Centre, Dancemakers and Ernest Balmer Studio.

Photos by R. Jeanette Martin


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