Dundas West/Little Portugal
Dundas West is taking over now that the breakneck pace at which Ossington was morphing from sleepy hipster strip to the hottest ‘hood in the city has slowed. Between Ossington and Dufferin, Dundas Street is lined with great places to eat and drink, and they seem to be multiplying. Mr. Flamingo draws a crowd every night, Essen serves trendy comfort food you'll wish your mother made, and Nathan Isberg's Atlantic (where diners barter for food or pay what they think the meal is worth) recently received a glowing review from Giles Coren, the Times of London's head restaurant critic. In addition, The Dock Ellis, Get Well, Bambi's, and Unloveable are just a few of the neighborhood's bars worth your money.
It's always been easy to find decent food in the Annex, but the neighbourhood has recently undergone a renaissance, and it's now even easier to find healthy food. This is where you'll find three of the always-bustling Playa Cabana restaurants (Playa Cabana, Playa Cabana Hacienda, and Barrio Coreano), as well as all three of Anthony Rose's suburb supper spots (Big Crow, Fat Pasha, and Rose and Sons). With Kenzo Ramen, a cheap and cheerful noodle house, Guu SakaBar, and more pubs and sushi joints than you will ever visit in a lifetime, this is a neighborhood built for dining.
Little Italy is no longer sounding the same as/equal to Italian eats. Instead of pizza and pasta, Bar Isabel is serving some of the best Spanish tapas this side of Barcelona; tucked away on Palmerston, Woodlot continues to impress with its simple, (related to fall, spring, etc.), belly-warming dishes; DaiLo and upstairs bar LoPan serve warm, flavor-packed Asian fusion; tacos (and lineups) are the name of the game at La Carnita; and rich beauty is what you get at high quality Japanese tasting restaurant Yunaghi. And if you're still hungry, there's always Italian.
The toughest part about finding something to eat or drink in this neighbourhood, which is almost entirely made up of condos, coffee shops, and restaurants, is choosing where to do it. Crush Kitchen & Bar, Khao San Road, Lee, Weslodge, Gusto 101, and Buca have all reopened, joining relative newcomers Portland Variety, Bar Buca, Byblos, and a slew of others.
Ossington is never down for the count, even though it doesn't have the same buzz it once did. Bellwoods Brewery, which serves food, drinks, and sells beer, is located there. The pioneers (Foxley, Pizzeria Libretto, Crooked Star, Sweaty Betty's) are still around, and diversity has continued to thrive (Malaysian at soos, Greek at Mamakas Taverna, Singaporean at Hawker Bar).
In the Financial District, suits aren't the only thing you'll see. Stockbrokers and number crunchers, like anyone else, need to feed, and they don't seem to be starving. Richmond Station, SpeakEasy 21, Drake One Fifty, and long-time neighbourhood favourites Bymark and Canoe are all here, as are David Chang's trifecta of Asian eateries (Noodle Bar, Sht, and Daish).
Despite the fact that new bars and restaurants open on a regular basis, Parkdale has resisted the shiny sheen of gentrification and remains slightly scruffy. Geraldine, Parts & Labour, Restaurant Chantecler, Small Town Food Co., Grand Electric, and Electric Mud BBQ, to name a few, offer low-key but innovative dining and drinking, and we expect a steady stream of newcomers in the coming months.
Until 1997, the Junction was classified as a "dry" neighbourhood. Yes, the neighbourhood that now has two breweries was once a no-drink zone. Today, the West End boasts some of the best restaurants (Nodo, Curry Twist, Roux, Playa Cabana Cantina) and bars (3030, The Hole in the Wall, Indie Alehouse).