Recently, we explored West Queen West, a beautiful neighbourhood and “walker’s paradise” extending from Bathurst to Dufferin. This week, we strolled further west along Queen into Parkdale, a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood home to some of Toronto’s best antique stores, vintage shops, trendy foodie joints, and furniture stores. Parkdale is easily one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Parkdale is considered one of Toronto’s hidden gems due to its proximity to some of the city’s greenest areas and world-class transportation system. Nestled between High Park, Roncesvalles, The Junction, and Trinity Bellwoods, this neighbourhood has three bus routes and three light rail lines passing through it, keeping it incredibly well-connected to the rest of the city. Within just 30 minutes, residents can be as far North as Casa Loma, in the heart of Toronto’s East End, or as far west as Mimico. With a Walk Score of 83 out of 100 and a Transit Score of 92, this area is a “rider’s paradise.”
There are several grocery stores in the neighbourhood including FreshCo., Sobeys, and the West End Food Co-op. This community Co-op is connected to the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network and provides fresh local produce, meat, and dairy to the neighbourhood. They promote sustainable food systems, and a food culture that has a positive impact on the economy, environment, and community.
The community has many primary and secondary schools, as well as the Pia Bouman School for Ballet & Creative Movement, and the Toronto Academy of Acting for Film and Television. Other amenities include the Parkdale Animal Hospital, Pharmacies and healthcare facilities, and most of the major banks.
Food & drink
According to Walkscore.com there are about 193 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Parkdale, and residents can walk to an average of eight in just five minutes. Residents can find a good cup of joe at Rustic Cosmo Cafe, Capital Espresso, Jason’s Coffee Shop, Kitten and the Bear, or The Tenant of Parkdale (which is half pop-up shop, half cafe). Those with a sweet tooth can stop into Queen Donuts Coffee House or Glory Hole Doughnuts for coffee and a gourmet sugar fix.
Parkdale’s burgeoning restaurant scene features popular spots like Parts and Labour, where chef Matty Matheson (who now has his own food series on Vice) has created an excellent menu and serves up some of the city’s best cocktails. Down the street, Electric Mud BBQ is serving Southern-inspired cuisine, Grand Electric is taking mexican to the next level, and Om Restaurant is serving up Tibetan food. The neighbourhood is also home to a number of excellent Indian, Himalayan, Thai, and Italian restaurants. For drinks with friends, check out Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, head to Duggan’s Brewery for local craft beer, or stop at The Cadillac Lounge and enjoy a pint on the back patio.
Shop ‘til you drop
Parkdale is known for the cluster of excellent antique and used furniture stores at the end of Queen Street West, at King and Roncesvalles. Wind Grove Interiors features vintage and upcycled pieces, while Hideaway Antiques “diverges from typical home furnishings to include unique, industrial, and collector items.” The Queen West Antique Centre is full of vintage furniture, featuring many pieces from old unlikely sources such as schools (globes, desks, old maps, and educational posters) and medical facilities.
Public Butter is Parkdale’s most infamous vintage clothing store specializing in retro items and work by local artists. Down the street, you can find the North Standard Trading Post, which is considered “the epitome of Canadian-style coziness” and stocks Canadian clothing and products. It’s hard to walk through the neighbourhood without spotting someone sporting this shop’s trademark bear. The popular Community 54 originated in New York City’s Lower East Side and now sells clothing out of Parkdale. The shop is part-retail space, part-vintage video game arcade featuring NBA Jam, Galactica, and Pac-Man in the standup arcade. Other interesting shops include Parkdale Platters for record digging, Crown Flora or Coriander Girl for indoor plants and terrariums, or Bike Pirates for quick tune ups before you hit the nearby Waterfront Trail.
At the tip of Parkdale, where Queen Street, King Street, and Roncesvalles Avenue intersect lies the Beauty Boulevard Parkette. Cyclists will appreciate the Parkette’s bridge that connects Parkdale to the Martin Goodman Trail. The park’s south-facing benches are also a great spot to stop, take a breath, and enjoy the views of Lake Ontario.
Living in and around Parkdale
To be honest, there aren’t a lot of new developments in the works in the Parkdale neighbourhood, but it’s only a matter of time before a builder or developer recognizes the neighbourhood’s potential. If you look at Parkdale on a map, there’s West Queen West on its east side, Little Portugal and the Junction to the north, Roncesvalles and High Park on the west, and the lake to the south. Parkdale is surrounded by some Toronto's most established communities and some of the most popular up-and-coming communities.
We’re looking forward to watching Parkdale evolve over the next decade!