Queen West


Critic’s pick

NNNNN Brunchalicious

NNNN Eggs ‘traordinary

NNN Quiche me quick


$ Under $15 per person (minus alcohol)

$$ $15 to $20 per person (minus alcohol)

$$$ Over $20 per person (minus alcohol)



(1263 Queen West, at Brock, 416-516-2798) Zeni Ashine’s modest Parkdale café may not look like much from the street, but its barred storefront gives way to Toronto’s only vegetarian Ethiopian eatery. Once inside, find a quirky room where the welcome is warm and the all-day $12 breakfast platters layered with injera flatbread range from gently spiced to incendiary. Best: start with sweet banana soup with grapes continue with lifelike faux scrambled “eggs” made from processed chickpeas and mined with depth charges of minced chilies smooth fava bean purée, the only thing “foul” it’s name crushed cream of wheat kinche with cinnamon ripped pita “salad” drizzled with spicy vegan butter to drink, strong Ethiopian coffee. Open Sunday 11 am to 9 pm. Access: two steps at door, three steps to washrooms. Rating: NNNN $


1645 Queen W, at Roncesvalles, 416-537-4893. Plastered with Easy Rider posters, Peter Morrison’s always busy all-day bruncheonette attracts an arty crowd for its ecclectic mix of Tex Mex morning classics and Euro-centric staples. Best: Huevos Divorciados, two eggs topped with both red and green salsas and sided with refried beans, chunky guacamole, rosemary-tossed home fries and toasted baguettes spread with homemade ancho chili jam soft-boiled eggs sided with toast soldiers with salad or fries mini Belgian waffles topped with strawberry compote, blueberry coulis and whipped cream on the side, cinammon toast to quaff, jumbo Bloody Caesars. Open daily 9 am to 5 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN $$


478 Queen W, at Denison, 416-504-5127. Toronto’s most sophisticated vegetarian resto, Stephen Gardiner’s darkly romantic storefront made its name – no less an authority than VegNew dubbed it one of the 14 hippest eateries in North America – with a menu of self-described “herbivorous cuisine” that’s not only reasonably priced but damned tasty to boot. Bonus: all mains are $9, sides $4! Best: wheat-free spelt, barley and berry-infused waffles topped with stewed seasonal fruit and organic maple syrup scrambled Tofu Rancheros with new potato home fries, roasted tomato, salsa, guacamole and house-baked toast seared corn fritters stuffed with zucchini, sweet potato and spinach squeezed-to-order juices. Open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN $$


100 Sorauren, at Pearson, 416-588-1234. Show up early – 9:15 am, say – if you expect to score a 50s formica-topped table in this kid-friendly café without waiting in a long line. The cramped storefront may often be chaotic, but its legion of loyal fans – that’s them in the queue – like it like that. Best: from a menu that changes weekly, perfectly poached eggs with roasted red peppers and chèvre over cornbread prosciutto, asparagus and Provolone omelettes sided with herbed home fries oatmeal buttermilk pancakes topped with pumpkin custard, toasted pumpkin seeds, real maple syrup and whipped cream. Open Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. Licensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, two steps to washroom on same floor. Rating: NNN $$$


892 Queen W, at Crawford, 416-532-0452. Long before it was a shopping mall, Queen West was a strip of retro-fitted luncheonettes like Damian Heath and crew’s endearingly quirky café. Untouched since the 40s and outfitted with its original wooden booths, lunch counter and bar stools, the room’s the perfect setting for grub as old-school as the decor. Best: to wake up, half a grapefruit with brown sugar continue with Hangtown Fry, a smoked Oyster Boy oyster frittata coupled with crisp home fries and homemade seven-grain toast the inevitable eggs Benedict unusually topped with spinach and mildly smoked trout or spicy capicolla mussels du jour. Open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3:30 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN $$

Also in the area…

Cadillac Lounge

1296 Queen W, at Grove, 416-536-7717. This hard-rockin’ saloon in gloriously ungentrified Parkdale features vegetarian-friendly dishes like huevos rancheros with salsa picante alongside cardiac killers like the Fat Elvis Favourite. Open Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. $

Drake Hotel

1150 Queen W, at Beaconsfield, 416-531-5042. Jeff Stober’s esteemed funplex offers chef Anthony Rose’s au courrent carte – veggie breakfast burritos, Southern fried chicken with pancakes – in its chi-chi dining room and lounge as well as its curbside café. Open Sunday 11 am to 4 pm (dining room and lounge) Monday to Friday 8 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm (café). Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. $$

Fresh by Juice for Life

894 Queen W, at Crawford, 416-913-2720. Ruth Tal Brown’s hallowed veggie valhalla adds vegan scrambled tofu ‘n’ mushroom wraps sided with baked home fries as well as almond-crusted whole wheat pancakes dressed with fresh fruit to its health-conscious carte on weekends. Other locations: 326 Bloor W, at Spadina, 416-531-2635 147 Spadina, at Queen, 416-599-4442 Open Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free (Queen, Bloor) one step at door (Spadina). $$

The Gladstone Hotel

1214 Queen W, at Dufferin, 416-531-4635. Chef Marc Breton’s homespun menu spotlights locally sourced ingredients, most of them organic. Service in the venerable Victorian’s café can be a bit scattered, but, then, aren’t most of us at this time of day? Open Monday to Friday 7 to 11 am, Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 4 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. $

Mitzi’s Sister

1554 Queen W, at Fuller, 416-532-2570. Sibling to Mitzi’s on Sorauren this rootin’, tootin’ watering hole offers a menu similar to sis’s without the annoying wait in line. Open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. $$

Poor John’s Café

1610 Queen W, at Callender, 647-435-2688. Low-profile neighbourhood spot comes complete with Goodwill castoffs – velvet settees, formica dinette sets, Danish modern coffee tables – and an Indo-inspired card. French toast with chai-poached pears, anyone? Open Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. $

Prague Fine Food Emporium

638 Queen W, at Palmerston, 416-504-5787. If Czehoski’s butcher shop down the block can be reborn as a hipster meat market, than we’ll cut this durable deli some slack over its choice of new name. One thing that hasn’t changed: an Old World mitteleuropean bill of fare – kielbasa, palancinky, hot cakes – that’s as filling as it is tasty. Open Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 7 pm, Saturday 7:30 am to 6 pm, Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. $$

Queen Mother

208 Queen W, at Duncan, 416-598-4719. Now celebrating its 30th year, Andre Rosenberg and David Stearn’s idiosyncratic café continues to provide Asian-inspired and vegetarian-friendly eats that never break the bank. Open Sunday 11:30 am to 4:30 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. $$

Shanghai Cowgirl

538 Queen W, at Bathurst, 416-203-6623. The Bovine’s kid sister, this too-cool diner comes outfitted with art deco booths, Alice Cooper on the jukebox and a flashback card of greasy spoon classics that guarantee a full house round the clock. Open daily 10:30 am to 4 pm. Licensed. Access: short step at door, washrooms in basement. $$

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