People who live in The Beaches (don't @ us — the City of Toronto refers to it as The Beaches, not The Beach) beam with pride when describing the neighbourhood's village vibe that is just steps from the lake.
It truly feels like a town within a city. Close to four kilometres of sandy shoreline run parallel to Queen Street East, the main artery of the neighbourhood. While the area typically lures visitors for volleyball, picnics and ice cream on the boardwalk, it has some legitimate gems that beckon for a visit, year-round
Who knew that The Beaches is home to Toronto’s first vegan cafe? For seven years, Tori's has been serving some of the city's prettiest baked goods — in a spot that is equally pretty — that just happen to be organic and vegan. They also have a fantastic selection of dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free and gluten-free treats, both sweet and savoury. Their vanilla donuts are (almost) too gorgeous to eat and their vegan broccoli and cheese scones are perfect to grab-and-go for a walk along the water.
2188 Queen St. East
Located above a book store, Afterglow is easy to miss when walking along Queen St. East. Upstairs, the sprawling studio (more than 3,000 square feet) is flooded with sunlight and good vibes. It’s here that you’ll find classes for every level and interest, from hardcore HIIT to beginner yoga. Look for workshops on arm balances, wellness and even body-positive classes for teens. The studio attracts some of the city's most sought-after instructors. Plus, it’s got a cute little shop that sells beautiful greeting cards, gorgeous candles, cozy blankets, cute yoga and lounge wear and an impressive selection of natural brands like Aromacentric, Way of Will and Routine.
2034 Queen St. East
For six years, Xola has been packing its tiny dining room with devotees coming for its delicious Mexican food, often with a lineup snaking out the door onto Queen Street. Run by two sisters from Vera Cruz, Mexico, Xola serves up perfectly tart margaritas (no bar lime here, these are made with fresh lime juice) and tacos that fans with tell you are some of the best in the city. Start with an order of the cactus guacamole.
2222 Queen St. East
While this bustling outpost doesn't have the hipster trappings of some west-end ramen spots, its food is outstanding. The Beaches location is the first for Kyouka, with a second in Markham. Kyouka actually first opened in Tokyo (after its founder participated in an esteemed Japanese ramen competition). You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Shoyu Ramen with kelp stock is beyond delicious. Also, their chili paste is not to be trifled with.
2222 Queen St. East
A recent addition to Queen Street East, Grasshopper is a darling spot for dinner or weekend brunch. The space is striking with a moss wall and endless rows of plants. The menu (which happens to be vegan) is a perfect mix of savoury Asian flavours and hearty comfort foods. It has a little cafe area with great drinks and gorgeous Japanese baked goods.
2252 Queen St. East
This cute cafe is always packed — the throngs of dogs waiting outside is a good measure of how long the line up will be! Bud's moved into its current location after moving down the street from its original spot and this space is a vast improvement. The light-filled cafe is always bustling with people lining up for Cut Coffee and breakfast sandiwhiches from its sister cafe, Porch Light. They have a nice selecton of coffee wares (grab a Chemex, Hario grinder or some fancy Minor Figures oat milk). Definitely get one of their famed pop tarts for some excellent people watching on their benches out front.
1966 1/2 Queen St. East