East York Toronto.ca Profile 1 | 2 | 3
Vibe: With the top edge of this area running along the Don Valley, you’ll always have a place to run, walk your dog, rollerblade, or go for a pic-nic. Like the rest of Toronto, East York is historically rich; most of the semis, bungalows, and two-storey shops were built around the first world war. There’s also a section of apartment high-rises around Pape and Cosburn, plus several schools and community centres. Needless to say, there are a huge number families and a lot of senior citizens, but the income levels and ethnicities vary widely. East York General Hospital is one of few hospitals in Toronto with midwifery service, which only adds to the family magnet, while the East York Civic Centre ensures Coxwell is always bustling.
Shops/Amenities: There is an inspiring lack of chain stores, and everything is always right around the corner, from grocery stores to shawarma, sushi or gyros, a nice cup of hot coffee, pharmacies, art stores, and post outlets. There aren’t a lot of clothing shops, but The Danforth is close enough for that.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: Greasy joints like Golden Pizza or Diamond Corner will satisfy late-night munchies. The Danish Pastry Shop of Pape always has a tempting pile of pastries in the window. Coffee shops like Broadview Espresso and Last Drop Café are a cosy place to read or work. But if you feel like something else, a walk up Donlands, Pape, or Woodbine will give you Chinese take-out, traditional Thai dinners, or shawarma. Not exactly a happening place in the evening, but again, it’s all so close to Danforth it doesn’t matter.
Transit: On the Bloor-Danforth subway line, and a short walk or even shorter bus ride north.
Move here if: You want a quiet area and a family-friendly vibe, and you enjoy the (sometimes calming) knowledge that you are less than 10 minutes from a hospital.
The Danforth Toronto.ca Profile 1 | 2
Vibe: Probably best known in the rest of Toronto as Greek Town and host of Taste of the Danforth, this is an area that changes swiftly as you move from Broadview Avenue to Victoria Park. No part of this strip is quite like the other, and it varies from high-end to seedy. A 10 minute walk in either direction and you’ll find yourself in a different area.
Shops/Amenities: Yes, it’s a hot-spot for Greek culture (who doesn’t love gyros or a nice frothy Nescafe?), but as you move eastward, away from ever-packed Messini’s and the Carrot Common, you’ll encounter bike shops, yoga studios, clothing stores with generally fashionable and well-made duds, a sculpting school, art shops, community services, at least two of every type of bank, and more restaurants than you cant count.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: Greek galore, plus cheap sushi and Thai, a fairly new stretch of yummy Ethiopian restaurants, the required generic pubs, French pastry shops, and bistros of all shapes and sizes. The Danforth Music Hall recently got an overhaul and will be showcasing some big Canadian names, like The Stars, Indigo Girls, and K-Os. Nightlife is pretty active until about midnight when everyone goes home to pay the baby sitter. Though, there is the odd late-night pub like The Only (with over 24 taps and casks that change seasonally!)
Transit: On the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Actually, it is the subway line from Broadview to Victoria Park.
Move here if: You love food, community, and culture, you like to be where the action is, but you still want to sleep before 1:30 a.m.
Riverdale North and South Toronto.ca Profile 1 | 2
Vibe: Totally laid back, this is a favourite area for dog-owners, runners, and (yes, again) families. Houses are beautifully large, and apartment buildings are nice and affordable. With access to the Don Valley, both sides of Riverdale Park, and Withrow, there is a ridiculous amount of green space, yet it’s only a 10 or 15 minutes streetcar ride from Yonge and Dundas. China town east is always bustling, but it’s not packed shoulder-to-shoulder like the other China town.
Shops/Amenities: This isn’t exactly an area known for shopping. Most of the useful shops like pharmacies, grocery stores, and the like are either at the tip top end near The Danforth, or way down south at Queen. The middle area is a long stretch of housing, but the odd jewel like Rooster Café or the newly-built and sparkling Bridgepoint Hospital occasionally pop out.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: The first real foodie area on your way south is China town, where you have fresh fruits and veggies at you finger tips. Try Mimi’s on Gerrard Street for very authentic Vietnamese. Way down south at Queen Street is the former home of The Real Jerk, a strip joint, The Opera House concert hall, and some pretty hipster bars like The Comerade (must try their pork-belly mac n’ cheese). Nightlife is always hopping down at Queen, but dwindles as you move up.
Transit: Broadview station on the Bloor-Danforth line. Take a southbound streetcar to snake down the edge of Riverdale.
Move here if: You want to be in that calm bubble just outside the rush of downtown, you own a dog, love the outdoors, and enjoy that whooshing sound the streetcar makes as it goes down hill.
Crescent Town Toronto.ca Profile
Vibe: This neighbourhood is changing rapidly. It’s totally multicultural (with a huge number of Jamaican, Bengali, Tamil, and Pakistani Canadians and immigrants) and mostly made up of very affordable high-rise apartments and condos. But it’s expanding: as house prices go up closer to the downtown core, families are looking to areas like Crescent Town to find city homes at suburban prices.
Shops/Amenities: While there aren’t many shops right here, there are lots near by on The Danforth or Victoria Park. The businesses mirror the cultures that live here, with lots of Bangladeshi-owned shops and restaurants. There is a shopping centre right at Victoria Park that has all the important stuff: a Wine Rack, Metro, and a soon-to-be-open Target.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: Nightlight isn’t exactly a big thing here. Sure, there are restaurants, but it’s not a big bar area. Though there is lots of multicultural food to match the residents and it will satisfy any grumbling belly.
Transit: On the Bloor-Danforth line, and a short walk from Main or Victoria Park stations. Plus, there is a Go station conveniently close.
Move here if: You like very affordable living and being part of a changing, varied area.
Parkview Hills/Woodbine Gardens/Topham Park Toronto.ca Profile
Vibe: Very quaint houses, where a community soccer practice, baseball game, or shinny face-off is almost always taking place. There’s a lot of hidden green space in parks and schools, plus access to the Don Valley. Incomes and ethnicities vary widely, and while there are large, columned houses, there are also bungalows, high-rises, and low-rise apartments.
Shops/Amenities: Small shops (like salons, knitting and craft stores, and a soon-to-be-open hot yoga studio) along the main strips, with bigger chain stores like Home Depot, on the back industrial roads. The dangerously affordable Peak Freans Cookie Factory is also very close.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: O’Connor Bowl is near by but that is only open until 10 p.m. (Yes, they have glo-bowl, Saturdays only.) There are a few tried and true classic local restaurants, like Venice Pizza and Jawny Bakers, but there are some new up-and-comers that are pretty tasty like The Crazy Tomato.
Transit: A 10-minute bus ride away from Woodbine or Coxwell stations on the Bloor-Danforth line. Also, if need be, the Go station is at Main.
Move here if: You like a family-oriented, very safe neighbourhood, and waking up every morning to a new cookie smell. (My favourite is maple.)
Leslieville Toronto.ca Profile
Vibe: Leslieville seems to exist in the sate of an ever-relaxed Sunday. It’s a super hip city village, and a heaven for food lovers. Probably best known for its brunch spots, it also hosts its own farmers market and art festivals.
Shops/Amenities: Cute and delish independent cafes, bistros, and restaurants are never more than a few steps away. Meat lovers should swing by Meating on Queen for the highly recommended organic garlic marinated salmon. Since it’s Queen Street, all the important things are there (banks, grocery stores, postal outlets, clothes shops and unending amounts of delicious food).
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: Expect opening parties for photography and art shows and things of that nature. It’s still a fairly family-oriented area, so only bars tend to be open late. Of course, as one of the best-known brunch areas in the city, some golden restaurants must not be missed: try the brie, bacon, and avocado benny at Lady Marmalade on weekdays, but expect a massive lineup if you attempt to go there on a weekend. For the sweet tooth there is Sweet Treats. A friend who recently moved away from Leslieville says the thing she misses most about this shop is chatting with the owners, not to mention the cinnamon rolls or the spinach and feta pie.
Transit: Right on the Queen streetcar line, but the Bloor-Danforth line is also accessible via northbound busses.
Move here if: Food is your passion, price isn’t a problem, and you need a bit of that lazy Sunday feeling every day.
The Beaches (upper and lower) Toronto.ca Profile
Vibe: More upscale (read: expensive!) area, yet relaxed. Definitely a warm-weather hub, the streets and boardwalk are always packed in the spring and summer with kids and parents (well, maybe not parents, but definitely nannies). It hosts numerous events like Jazz Fest and Rib Fest (yummmm). In colder months it’s less crowded but still great for a stroll on a sunny day, or a bite of lunch with friends.
Shops/Amenities: A good shopping area, from the super-cheap Ends to great sales at Mendocino. A couple good grocery stores, and lots of small book shops, bakeries, bistros, chocolate shops and the like.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: The demographic is mainly made up of upper-class families with very expensive strollers, but there are still delish and cheap eateries, like the Goof, mixed in with fancier venues like Il Fornello and Le Papillion. The movie theatre and Murphy’s Law pub are good for a casual date night, but most people cab downtown for bigger festivities.
Transit: Take the Queen streetcar line to get into the heart of the city, but it’s also a short bus-ride from Coxwell, Woodbine, or Main stations on the Bloor-Danforth subway.
Move here if: You love the picturesque tree-lined streets, sprawling boardwalk, and small-town feel but you’re never far from the centre of it all.
Cliffcrest/Cliffside/Birch Cliff Toronto.ca Profile 1 | 2
Vibe: One of the more underrated and overlooked parts of the city, this is a cottage oasis at the edge of Toronto. While still near(ish) to the subway line, this area is officially part of Scarborough. Rows of bungalows and little country-style houses feel make this area feel like a small town. Settled by Irish, English, and Scottish Canadians, this area was built in the 60s right after the baby boom and features very pretty houses that sit on big lots. A trip to the Bluffs is almost like visiting the cottage, and it’s definitely a spot for boat-lovers. The Bluffs are still pretty undeveloped, and most of the cliff-edge doesn’t have fencing.
Shops/Amenities: There is an unfortunate amount of strip-malls, but all of the essentials (grocery shops, pharmacies, fast-food) are there.
Food, Nightlife, & Culture: There are a lot of delish one-off food joints, like fish and chips, an English pub or two, and of course shawarma.
Transit: Scarborough Go line provides direct access to Union or out-of-city locations, but TTC is a bit of a trickier route, with a short bus ride to Warden on the Bloor-Danforth line.
Move here if: You want to be able to access the urban core if needed, but you love the outdoors, the lake, and that relaxed cottage feel.