Leslieville, Toronto’s Brooklyn [Gal About Town: Fashion and Travel at Your Fingertips]

Recently I was lucky enough to travel to Toronto to see a few days of filming of the episode my husband wrote for Warehouse 13. Being on set everyday I was there, I did not get to spend much time being a tourist. I’ve been to Toronto countless times, and love the city, but thought I had pretty much seen it all. Then one day I decided to go for a walk near the location to get some tea, and stumbled upon a fun and lovely neighborhood: Leslieville.

Leslieville is quaint and special in the best of ways. While the neighborhood itself spans a few miles, the heart of it is on Queen Street. Boutiques, markets and any odd store line this street with downtown Toronto in the near distance. There is pretty much a shop for everything: a pie shop, a cheese shop, a fish shop, a baby shop, etc. Within a few blocks radius, you can find pretty much every necessity and indulgence.  And from what I could tell, the shops all tend to focus on locally made or grown items.

It was a Thursday evening when I happened to find this jewel of a town. It had the perfect amount of “buzz” too it. Not too many crowds, not too little, but just right. Many of the shops were open past 7pm, which in small towns I’ve found is quite rare. The local eateries, which all smelled fantastic, were filled with pretty much every walk of life. Within a few blocks you could find just about any food you would desire from around the world. Brazilian, Cuban, Thai, Vietnamese, and so on. There was even the quintessential Irish Pub.

I could have easily spent the whole day there going in and out of shops, dining, and drinking. But with a limited amount of time, I bring you some of the businesses that really caught my attention:

Leslieville Cheese Market This is a cheese-lovers haven. They had a great selection of local and international cheeses. They also stocked just about everything that pairs with cheese (except wine- Ontario has very strict liquor laws). They even had their own locally pickled gherkins! I decided to treat myself to a triple-cream Delice de Bourgogne, that was the best I’d ever tasted.

Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken: I mean, the title just says it all. While my allergies prevented me from sampling anything, the aroma this place gave off was enough to know that they had a good thing going on. This place, much like the rest of Leslieville, has a retro-1950’s vibe to it with servers wearing the old paper hats and aprons. They have seven different flavors of donuts each day, and (after 11:30 am) fried chicken. My husband will be making a special stop here on his next trip to Toronto.

Ed’s Real Scoop Just about everyone walking the streets was eating an ice cream cone or cup of gelato from here, and walking past it, the line was to the door. It was a cute little creamery with many fun flavors, fudge, and vegan sorbets. While I didn’t have anything from here, the amount of people in the store and on the street enjoying their goods was enough proof for me.

Hooked An aptly named fish market that knew their stuff. They had an amazing array of locally caught (and some fresh, yet not local) fish. With their own brand of condiments, oils, spices, etc. and recipe suggestions for the daily catch, they were a one stop shop for dinner. They even had a few pre-made items for those short on time. In the back of the store, they had a designated children’s area for your kids to play while you shopped and got tips on the best way to prepare the fish. The owners were extremely knowledgeable and kind. And the best part…the place didn’t even smell fishy!!!

The Canadian Pie Company Again, the name says it all. By the time I arrived there, most of their pie selection was sold out. Again, this was all the proof I needed that this place was of quality.  Everyday they sell several varieties of pies and quiches, along with coffee, tea, and sandwiches. They can accommodate most dietary needs when given a day’s notice. Also, they pride themselves on using locally grown produce. And again, it smelled amazing in there.

LPK’s Culinary Groove: An organic pastry and chocolate shop that had me at “hello”. With a variety of food allergies, it is extremely hard for me to find a good dessert or sweet that won’t kill me.  Whenever I travel, I go to local bakeries with the hope that they might have something I can try. I got rather lucky at this place. I found, for the first time ever, marshmallows that were safe…and delicious!! Also, I tried “Mylana’s Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies” which were basically fancy, bigger, and better, Oreos. This place sent me to sweets heaven, and I cannot wait to go back!

Leslieville, and the whole Riverdale area, is well worth the quick trek out of the Toronto city centre. The people are friendly, the products being sold are top quality, and the vibe is fun.

Now boldly go!

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