Friday, November 4, 2011

The Baron of #BroadviewQueen's Guide to the East End: Part 1

The first in a two-part Guide to the East End is brought to you by a #TransitHubber whom we call The Baron of #BroadviewQueen, Simon Thang. This is insider-information at its best, people! Have fun reading about Simon's favourite hidden gems...

Trundle past the construction dust of the West Donlands on the 501 or 504 eastbound and you’ll soon find yourself on the gentle rise where King and Queen streets converge. The handsome green bridge spanning both the turbid waters of the Don River and the DVP is a familiar sight to East Enders, welcoming them home to semi’s (and, more recently, condos) in Riverside, Leslieville, and, of course, the Beach. And for visitors from other parts of the City crossing the bridge is an unmistakable physical reminder that you’re now officially in the East End.

Don’t come to Queen and Broadview for velvet rope lounges and late night burritos. Take the next streetcar going west if you’re looking for Much Music VJs or the latest in overpriced sneakers. Queen East is all about food and coffee, served with an enlightened acceptance of urban grittiness. Young Breeders pushing strollers on the way to brunch stand cheek-by-jowl with bleary-eyed indigents and dancers from Jilly’s, the East End’s landmark strip joint.

Brunch, by and large, remains the main calling card of the area. Local stalwart Bonjour Brioche continues to draw crowds on weekend, with Lady Marmalade and Toast gladly accepting the overflow. However, the coffee is not to be ignored. After all, the original Dark Horse (now reaching near-franchise status) is located espresso-wafting distance from the intersection. F’CoffeeMercury Espresso Bar, and Merchants of Green Coffee (if you can find it) are other solid local joints. The fact is that Queen and Broadview abounds in seriously legit coffee bars that ooze independent cred normally associated with Kensington.

The area’s bars are more or less nocturnal versions of the coffee shops in vibe and clientele: casual, local, unfussy. For some reason, they seemed to have clustered on the north side of Queen. Cheekily-named Prohibition bills itself as a gastro-pub; it used to be called The Booze Emporium until regulators pooh-poohed the moniker. Comrades and Rasputin are Communist themed bars with excellent beer and vodka selections, respectively. The Avro is a relatively new addition which fits right in. The only bar on the south side is Blue Moon, which may have a little too much local flavour for some.

To be continued... Tune in next week for Part Two of Simon's #BroadviewQueen Guide!


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