THE WREN 1382 Danforth, 647-748-1382, thewrendanforth.com
A short amble down the Danforth between Greenwood and Coxwell, a stretch of dismally unpopulated spaces, reveals just how enthusiastically the Wren's been received since it opened this summer.
Inside it's full and warm. The dining room has both communal and booth seating, and the stools at the L-shaped bar continue along the wall and up to the front window, making space for drinks and snacks. An old but vibrant Coca-Cola mural, chipped free from layers of plaster, is hard to ignore.
More restaurant than bar, the Wren gives obvious love and attention to its drinks list.
There's a fair selection of craft taps (mostly from local breweries like Spearhead, Great Lakes and Kensington Brewing Co.) because Blue and Canadian just aren't cutting it anymore, even on the Danforth.
Cocktails ($8) like the Hop-A-Rita (tequila, lemon, honey and thyme with Cameron's RPA) and the Apple-Fennel G&T (gin, house-made apple-fennel tonic, pear bitters and pickled fennel) complement the from-scratch Southwestern menu.
The Wren is a family-friendly zone, serving its east-side demographic to a T. Since I'll need a daily drink - at bare minimum - to preserve my sanity if I ever have children, it's good to know that cool, friendly spots like this exist. Baby can have its iPad, one parent can have a cocktail, the other can exhale, and everybody wins.
Will the rest of the 'hood follow suit by gussying up its image to cater to demand? After witnessing what's become of Dundas West in the past few years, we'll never say never.
Hours: Monday to Friday 5 pm to close, Saturday 11 am to 2 am, Sunday 11 am to midnight.
Accessibility: No barrier at entrance, washrooms in the back on main floor.