From a variety of new restaurants and bars to salons, markets and art studios, change continues to sweep Toronto's east side and 2015 was rampant with new arrivals. 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.
Airy cafe by day, cool booze hangout by night, Boxcar Social serves killer espresso, and highlights a thoughtful selection of some of the world’s top new-world wines, craft beers and fine whiskeys. All in a brick-and-beam space with soaring 18-foot ceilings. Cheers to that.
4 Boulton Ave.
Space fills up fast at La Carnita, the long and skinny 80-seat taqueria and bar as famous for its tacos as its loud hip hop and energetic atmosphere. Staple favourites (pollo frito, in cod we trust and beef cheek) are complemented by daily specials and a roster of strong cocktails.
780 Queen St. E
URBAN BULK EMPORIUM
Urban Bulk Emporium is the go-to bulk shop on the east side for natural, wholesome foods and ingredients. Beautiful layout and an incredible selection of organic, gluten-free and vegan products to get your pantry properly stocked.
1380 Queen St. E
EULALIE'S CORNER STORE
Eulalie's Corner Store is a standout among the next generation of newcomers to Little India. The bar food here is well above par with a solid menu of snacks and mains, and an impressive list of craft beers by bottle and draught.
1438 Gerrard St. E
Detroit-style pizza hit Leslieville with a fury when it arrived with its authentic deep-dish pies. The 20-seat spot often sells out of its pizzas that are made with a thick layer of dough that's pressed into a well-oiled square pan before being loaded with toppings and smothered in sauce.
1168 Queen St. E
UNTITLED BY FLAUNT BOUTIQUE
Get your nails done, hair done, everything did at Untitled by Flaunt Boutique along Queen East in Riverside. Lofty ceilings, exposed brick and green living wall with massive windows make it hard to miss this salon that offers treatments for hair, skin and nails.
792 Queen St. E
This East Chinatown space is an art studio, gallery and cafe rolled into one. The idea behind Paint Cabin is to come in and make art on your own or with friends in a relaxed, social environment with all of the ingredients you need to creatively express yourself.
723 Gerrard St. E
Little AAA is a cozy Austin, Texas-inspired BBQ joint that doesn't take itself too seriously judging by its handwritten menu and $5 house AAA draught. What it does take seriously is its comforting dishes like beef brisket, dry rub ribs and smoked chicken wings.
1276 Queen St. E
THE THIRSTY DUCK
With warm woods and classic furnishings, The Thirsty Duck is a Halifax-inspired public house that feels like it's been in the neighbourhood for years. The bar is well-stocked with scotch and Irish whiskeys, and there's triva on Tuesday nights. What more could you want?
972 Queen St. E
Loaded Pierogi's menu lists more than a dozen pierogi dishes piled with both savoury and sweet toppings. This isn't your babcia's dumpling from the old world — the snack shop puts its own twist on the Eastern European staple.
1044 Gerrard St. E
A landmark in the Beaches for two decades, the cafe opened a sister location in Leslieville with the same flavourful coffee (roasted at the original location) and made-from-scratch savoury and sweet baked goods that made them popular in the first place.
1103 Queen St. E
ASHDALE BRUNCH AND ESPRESSO
Toronto's east end is already brunch heavy, but that didn't stop Ashdale Brunch and Espresso from quickly making its mark with its poached eggs, salads and wraps and expertly pulled espresso drinks.
1560 Queen St. E
The east side could stand to have more green grocers and Fruitful Market moved in to Leslieville to fill that void. The market specializes in organic fruit, veggies and meat as well as kitchen staples and ready-to-eat foods.
327 Carlaw Ave.
The seven different types of fluffy steamed buns on offer at Mean Bao make for a good excuse to come back and eat through the menu. Super affordable, options here include braised beef and bok choy, pork belly with cucumber and hoisin, or tofu and enoki mushrooms paired with satay sauce.
181A Carlaw Ave.
P.O. BOX 1192
With cold tall boys, old school hip hop pumping and the hockey game firing from multiple TVs, newcomer PO Box 1192 might've hit the sweet spot that has alluded other businesses in the same space at Queen and Curzon.
1192 Queen St. E
What were your favourite new spots of 2015? Don't be shy — let us know in the comments.