Last year was loaded with new east end arrivals from neighbourhood bistros to breweries and dark and moody bars. Whether it's cocktails and nibbles or getting treated to an amped-up look, here's a roundup of our favourite new spots for snacking, drinking and hanging out in Toronto's east end.
VATICAN GIFT SHOP
The Gerrard strip got a religious-themed gift shop, purveying faith through rosaries, candles and prayer books. But push through the back, and a hidden speakeasy tucked away behind the store is revealed. The Vatican Gift Shop is part speakeasy, beer hall and live music venue, opened by the team behind Pinkerton’s Snack Bar and Poor Romeo.
1047 Gerrard St. E
BLACK LAB BREWING
Black Lab Brewing is the latest brewery to join the fray in the east end and, as its name suggests, you can grab a beer and bring along your favourite furry canine. Inspired by a trusty and loyal black Labrador, the dog-friendly 3600-square-foot space features a brewhouse, tasting room and bottle shop, plus a private event room on the second floor.
818 Eastern Ave.
COFFEE AND CLOTHING
A trifecta of amazing things, Coffee and Clothing is combination vintage clothing store, cafe and roastery. The coffee bar serves up the spectrum from drip to espresso drinks to cold brew. On the clothing side, the selection of men’s and women’s clothing is small but well curated. The shop also has a selection of housewares and decor, made up of vintage ceramics including mugs and dishes, plus textiles and throws.
348 Pape Ave.
Check them out online
Leslieville start-up Funspree has created an on-demand service for people looking to rent things they rarely use — but would love to get their hands on for a few days. Invite your friends for laser tag, host a movie night or slip on an Oculus GO Virtual Reality System. Funspree will lend you the gear, allowing you to focus on having a good time and not worrying about cost and storage.
THE AVIARY BREW PUB
The Canary District got a massive new brewpub in The Aviary, a joint project from the folks behind Longslice Brewery and The Dock Ellis. The brewery and sports bar offers a 230-seat space with nine big-screen TVs to catch the game, plus pool, foosball and a retro NBA Jam cabinet. The Aviary also has a 130-seat beer garden patio right along the Front Street promenade.
484 Front St. E
Outrageously popular from the get-go, pizza night got tickled pink with the opening of this new pizza spot from the Food Dudes. The menu features two styles of 13-inch pies: red or blonde. Five red varieties are coated in Bianca di Napoli tomato sauce and Bella full fat mozzarella before being topped off. Five blondes start with Bella mozzarella, ricotta and olive oil. Two flavours of house-made soft serve ice creams — strawberry rooibos and salted chocolate — round out the offering.
1555 Dundas St. E
In case you didn't know, the only thing that makes a brutal sweat session bearable is chic activewear. And Culture Athletics is a destination for workout wear to make you feel like a boss. The athletic apparel and footwear boutique stocks brands in the running, training and yoga space with men's and women's apparel, footwear and accessories. The shop also offers nutritional seminars, fitness workshops and more.
TINY HOUSE MAMA
Tiny House Mama Beauty + Goods, set in a flowered building in East Chinatown, is a collection of owner Stacey Lipstein's passions brought to life: vintage rugs, pillows and other assorted home decor, paper products and locally produced beauty goods. It’s also where she cuts and styles locks out of a vintage turquoise chair. Shop and get your hair did. Works for us.
652 Gerrard St. E
City Betty, a new market-driven bistro on the Danforth, takes the farm-to-table concept seriously. A changing menu is influenced by California, New York and Ontario to turn out plates matched to the “seven seasons,” as the restaurant puts it. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, there’s also a kid-friendly menu and treats from Glory Hole Doughnuts.
1352 Danforth Ave.
Brickworks Ciderhouse is among the first of its kind in Toronto, a home for its favourites and seasonals as well as experimental micro-batches using rare apple varieties. The bar features 16 taps with 10 ciders and six local beers. The ciders pair up with a locally sourced seasonal menu with dishes such as gochujang-glazed wings, cider-braised Ontario short ribs, pan-seared pickerel and vegetarian rogan josh.
709 Queen St. E.
The street-facing window that in summer unfolds to the sights and sounds of Gerrard is reason alone to dine at Wynona. The restaurant and wine bar — where nearly everything is meant to be shared — has a Mediterranean influence with a menu that’s constantly changing. The modern space is bright and airy with a generous patio space.
819 Gerrard St. E
Dineen Coffee Co.’s Outpost is about as visually stunning as cafes come. The boutique Toronto coffeehouse gutted a corner space on Gerrard St. E and transformed it into a thing of beauty. And the coffee is good, too. From lattes to cortados, they cover all manner of espresso drinks, plus herbal and caffeinated teas and iced drinks. The cafe also has a selection of sweet treats.
1042 Gerrard St. E