Queen and King St. West
The Banknote – Pub and grill (663 King St. West, corner Bathurst) – Friendly and cozy neighborhood pub, with decent food, and a good selections of beers and wines. Busy and buzzing in the evenings, quiet and sun-filled during in the afternoons or at lunch time. Open daily 11:30am to 2am. $10-25.
Early Bird – Espresso Bar (613 Queen St. West) – Similar to Black Code espresso bar on St. Laurent in Montreal, this cafe has a similar aesthetic, atmosphere, snacks, sandwiches, pastries, as well as good coffee and teas. Open daily till 7pm, and till 6pm on the weekends. $10-15.
Little Nicky’s – Coffee and doughnuts (375 Queen St. West, south on Peter St.) – they make fresh mini doughnuts while you wait for your drink order. Good coffee and great teas! Try their toasted almond tea! Closed on Sundays. $10-15.
Zoë’s Bakery Café – Great sandwiches and pastries, Illy coffee (548 King St. West) – Open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Gourmet ingredients and premium vegetables and cheeses. Zoë’s also offers catering services, and they have a conference room with WiFi for in-house business lunches. Closed on Sundays. $10-15.
Fresh – Vegetarian restaurant (894 Queen St. West at Crawford, with three other locations) Open daily 11:30am – 10pm. Delicious vegetarian food and fresh juices. $10-20.
Le Neuf Café – French café (9 Clarence Square, corner Spadina, south of King St.) – Open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner, closed on Mondays. Try their crepes and galettes! As well as their signature French pastries, especially the chocolate éclairs! They even have fresh-pressed orange juice! In the summer try their terrace overlooking the park. Practice your French with the French boys who work there! $15-25.
Crepes Club – Eastern European cuisine (49 Baldwin St. near AGO) – Open daily 11am-11pm. Baldwin Street in the summer is a stretch of patios on a quiet, tree-lined street, near the Art Gallery of Ontario. Try the pelmeni and the crepes! $10-15.
Loving Hut – Organic vegan cuisine (140 Spadina Ave. Suite A101, corner Richmond) – Open daily 11:30am – 9:30pm. Healthy, delicious foods with a variety of tastes, such as Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, Western coffee/tea latte, yummy desserts, and plenty more. They also have another location in Vancouver’s Yaletown. $10-15.
7 West Cafe – 24 Hour, 7 days a week café, restaurant, lounge (7 Charles St. West, corner Yonge St.) – This is a Toronto hidden treasure. It’s one of the few places open 24 hours downtown, and I once had to spend a night there before catching a 5am train to Montréal. They have great food, drinks, and desserts. They have three floors and a patio, and they are great any time of day. $10-20.
College / Little Italy
Aunties & Uncles – Diner (74 Lippincott St, off College, near Bathurst) – All-day breakfast or burgers! Just around the corner from Manic Coffee. Try their omelette! Open daily 9am – 3pm. $10-15.
Manic Coffee – Café (426 College St.) – Intelligensia coffee, great loose-leaf teas served in individual Bodums, pastries, and great service. Weekdays 7am-7pm, weekends 8am-8pm. Check out their blog for interesting coffee news and facts. Toronto has a lot of freat coffee shops, but I keep coming back to this one because it’s good. And because it’s my friend Jonas’ favorite place. Still no WiFi. $5-10.
Pomegranate – Persian restaurant (420 College St.) – Cozy atmosphere, great Persian food, and tea! Open for dinner only. They do catering for up to 50 people. They also have occasional special events, like story reading. Right next to Manic, and also one of Jonas’ hang-outs. If you happen to run into him at either place, do say hi from me! $12-20.
Grasshopper – Vegetarian restaurant (310 College St.) – Open daily 11:30am – 10pm. Great quality and delicious food and fresh juices. $10-15.
Il Gatto Nero – Italian restaurant (720 College St., Little Italy) Open daily 8am to midnight. One of my favourite places in Toronto! Cozy and delicious, and they have a patio as well. $12-20.
Otto’s Berlin Döner – German/Turkish cafe (256 Augusta Ave.) Open Wed-Sun 11:30am-11pm. Try the haloumi sandwich! $8-15.
Urban Herbivore – Vegan restaurant (64 Oxford St.) Open 9am – 7pm. Great quality and delicious salads, bowls, sandwiches, and fresh juices. Try their pineapple-mint lemonade. $5-15.
Seven Lives – Taco shop (69 Kensington Ave.) Open Wed-Sun 12-8pm. Great fish tacos! $5-10.
By the Way Café – Middle Eastern food meets the Annex brunch culture (400 Bloor St. West) – Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. A great mix of Middle Eastern cuisine and traditional Western comfort food. $10-25.
Yuki Sushi – Japanese restaurant (320 Bloor St. West, corner Madison, near Spadina subway station in the Annex). Try any of their vegetarian rolls! $10-20.
Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Hotel – Rooftop restaurant and Lounge on the 18th Floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville (4 Avenue Rd, across from the Royal Ontario Museum). Great view! Open daily 12:00pm – 1:00am. Try their Hendricks gin and tonics! $20-50.
The Beet – Organic restaurant (2945 Dundas Street West, Southwest corner of Dundas
& Medland St 3 blocks west of Keele, the Junction) – Organic restaurant and juice bar. Open daily and Sundays for brunch! Try their fresh orange juice. $10-20.
Silk – Authentic Thai and Asian cuisine (2907 Dundas St. West, The Junction) – One of the best places for Thai food in Canada! Open daily and they deliver! Try anything with their peanut sauce. $15-25.
Lady Marmalade – All day breakfast and lunch (898 Queen St. East, in Leslieville) – I was very excited to find that the Toronto locations has the same delicious menu as the Victoria (BC) location. And just as in Victoria, it is so popular on the weekends, you have to wait in line. It was worth the wait! The Toronto location is smaller, but the food quality is the same! I always get the eggs benny there but with different topics. Luckily, they have so many amazing variations! $10-15.
Baker and Scone – Café and bakery (693 St. Clair West) Best scones in the world! Open 8am-5pm and till 4pm on Sundays. Closed on Mondays. $5-10.
Tealish – Fine teas (728 Queen St. West) Open daily 11am – 7pm. Great selection of quality loose leaf teas, teaware, tasting room in the back. $5-10.
Kid Icarus – Paper shop (205 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market) Open Mon-Sat 11am – 6pm, and Sun 11am – 5pm. Beautiful paper souvenirs, cards, games, etc. $5-30.