Last year was loaded with new east end arrivals from decked-out restaurants to divey bars and fresh-look salons. 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.
All of the elements of a stellar house party — steady drinks, bangin' tunes, good times — come together at this artsy East Chinatown bar that feels more like a rec room. VHS projections flash onto the back wall where a pinball machine lights up. Inventive cocktails are poured along with bar snacks like pickled eggs or birthday cake with lit candle served on a Spice Girls plate.
600 Gerrard St. E
This loud and raucous snack bar burst onto Gerrard St. earlier this year and the city quickly took notice. The industrial-antique room is filled with a rotating playlist of '90s music nostalgia, which pairs nice with a long list of classic cocktails and a shifting lineup of local tallboys. The true standout of Pinkertons, however, are the Asian-inspired small plates. Absolutely delicious and conveniently served late into the night.
1026 Gerrard St. E
MAPLE LEAF TAVERN
The Maple Leaf Tavern, one of Toronto’s diviest bars, was revitalized beyond its original with the efforts of proprietor Todd Morgan along with chef Jesse Vallins. The reimagined space opened after a two-year renovation to welcome people in for dinner, brunch or late-night signature cocktails and snacks around its gorgeous wraparound bar.
955 Gerrard St. E
Toronto brewers Simon DaCosta and Jon Hodd finally opened their own brewery and tap room in Leslieville, and it's quickly established itself as a neighbourhood hotspot. The Queen East brewpub offers a selection of interesting, approachable beers but its seasonal menu of snacks, shared plates and delicious mains are just as noteworthy. They've also got a bottle shop for brews on the go.
1177 Queen St. E
From the owners of JustB Salon, which is right next door, BSIDE Beauty has set up in Leslieville offering a range of luxe grooming services including manicure, pedicure, makeup, lash extensions and brow touch-ups. With an a la carte menu that lets you pick and choose services and select add-ons, BSIDE Beauty aims to be a one-stop shop for touch-ups on the fly or a pampering session.
1148 Queen St. E
Bodega Henriette is a mini market stocked with grocery essentials — milk, eggs, baguettes and fresh produce. Coffee and fresh pastries are the order of the mornings, sandwiches are served over lunch and a dinner menu with cocktails, craft beer and wine sets the mood of the space come evening. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., complete with French toast, waffle benedict, smoked salmon croissant, omelettes and a BBQ peameal sandwich.
1801 Gerrard St. E
LLOYD'S ON QUEEN
With a late 2016 opening, Lloyd's barely snuck onto this list, but we're sure glad it did. This low-key Leslieville bar is small and cozy, but its drink list is anything but modest. Check it out for classic cocktails, craft and domestic beers as well as a variety of bar snacks. Expect banter and wise cracks from the bartenders in a good-times atmosphere.
1298 Queen St. E
After a successful run as a pop-up eatery serving up Korean fusion., Kaboom Chicken put down roots in Riverside last fall. Known for its Korean twist on the American classic fried chicken, Kaboom Chicken is also Toronto's only place to tuck into a ramen burger, a mash-up anchored by boneless chicken thigh with bibimbap toppings served between two crispy noodle buns. If you're looking for crispy, intensely flavoured chicken and gochujang-sauced goodness, this is your place.
722 Queen St. E
AAA PUBLIC HOUSE
AAA Public House, the sister spot of Little AAA and Triple A Bar, brought its Texas-style barbecue to East Chinatown. Its handwritten menu offers Austin-inspired specialties like smoked beef brisket, dry rub ribs and chicken and waffles, plus sides like maple beans, coleslaw and mac and cheese. The space is stacked with arcade games and has a killer side patio for warm evenings.
598 Gerrard St. E
Open for brunch and dinner, plus late-night shenanigans, Janie Jones is a Brits-on-holiday themed spot with a menu of comfort fare with a signature exotic spin. The decor is heavily influenced by '60s and '70s mod, rudeboy, reggae and British punk rock. The cocktail menu includes a build-your-own lineup of fine gin and alternative tonics. Bottles and cans of local and imported beers are also in order, and the bar has its very own custom cider, Janie Jones' Two Stroke Scrumpy.
1030 Gerrard St. E
What are your favourite new east end spots? Let us know in the comments below.