From old favourites to new dining destinations, here’s where to brunch, caffeinate or wine and dine in the east end.
Though we’re forever chasing shiny new food trends, Toronto is still a brunch town at heart, and Leslieville is still the epicentre of all things egg-based. Classic spots like Bonjour Brioche (812 Queen East, at Degrassi, 416-406-1250, bonjourbrioche.com) and Lady Marmalade (898 Queen East, at Logan, 647-351-7645, lady-marmalade.ca) remain popular draws for omelettes and croque-madames or homestyle scrambles and Benedicts respectively.
If you want a new-school take on brunch, complete with trendy touches like poached eggs on kale or Middle Eastern fusion-polenta dishes, head to the brand-new Ashdale Brunch and Espresso (1560 Queen East, at Ashdale, 647-479-8170, facebook.com/AshdaleBAndE).
Craving meaty sandwiches for lunch? Cult favourite gas bar Leslieville Pumps (929 Queen East, at Carlaw, 416-465-1313, leslievillepumps.com) does great BBQ sandwiches at a steal, Chilean spot Completo (5 Coady, at Queen East, 416-901-9233, facebook.com/Completotakeout) is a new favourite, and Rashers (948 Queen East, at Morse, 416-710-8220, rashers.ca) has made a name for itself on bacon and peameal sammies. Belmonte Raw (1022 Queen East, at Boston, 647-340-1218, belmonteraw.com) brings in healthy eaters looking to get their greens in the form of fresh juices and lunch boxes (or sate sugar cravings with rich little carob truffles).
Leslieville is one of the most caffeinated neighbourhoods in Toronto, with Remarkable Bean (1103 Queen East, at Caroline, 416-461-9111), Tango Palace (1156 Queen East, at Jones, 416-465-8085) and Te Aro (983 Queen East, at Booth, 416-465-2006, pilotcoffee-roasters.com) all within a few short blocks of one another.
A few savvy bars have also blended that relaxed coffee-shop vibe with the need for a convenient local watering hole. Boxcar Social (4 Boulton, at Clark, 647-344-4530, boxcarsocial.ca), which recently expanded from Rosedale into Riverside, shows off roasts from outside the GTA by day, and wine, beer and whisky by night. Further east, Crate (1402 Queen East, at Greenwood, 647-352-1402, cratetoronto.com) is a cafe offering brews and sandwiches by day and cocktails, tapas and beer come happy hour.
Not content to dominate when it comes to brunch and coffee, Leslieville is also an ideal spot for date-night dining. Celeb chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby Watchco (730 Queen East, at Broadview, 416-465-0100, rubywatchco.ca) is still held in high regard for its nightly chef’s menus of seasonal cuisine, Tabülè (810 Queen East, at Boulton, 416-465-2500, tabule.ca) presents some of the city’s best Middle Eastern food in a cozy, intimate environment, and Eastside Social (1008 Queen East, at Boston, 416-461-5663, eastsidesocial.ca) aims to give a modern twist to Maritime cuisine.
For a more laid-back (but no less worthy) dining experience, there’s the original location of Queen Margherita Pizza (1402 Queen East, at Vancouver, 416-466-6555, queenmargheritapizza.ca), whose Neapolitan pies can now be found all over the city, or Aft Kitchen and Bar (686 Queen East, at Broadview, 647-346-1541, aftbar.com) for barbecue and hip cocktails (smoked peach bourbon lemonade, anyone?) that you can enjoy late into the night.
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