Bloor West Village Guide: our 20 favourite places between High Park and the Humber

Bloor West Village Guide: our 20 favourite places between High Park and the Humber

Though solidly yuppified, this erstwhile eastern European enclave has held on to its tradition of thriving small businesses. Neighbours are genuinely chummy, moms trade intel on good nannies and bad teachers (between Pilates classes in the park), and the main drag offers almost everything.

Start the Bloor West Village tour »

My Place View »
2448 Bloor St. W., 647-348-4702

Sam’s Barber Shop View »
34 Jane St.

Cecil Ward and Sons Men’s Shop View »
2416 Bloor St. W., 416-767-0717

The Coffee Tree View »
2412, Bloor St. W., 416-767-1077

Serenity Nails and Spa View »
2410 Bloor St. W., 416-769-9904

Sweet Flour Bake Shop View »
2352 Bloor St. W., 416-763-2253

Carload Food Market View »
2334 Bloor St. W., 416-767-8661

Sweet Gallery View »
2312 Bloor St. W

Max’s Market View »
2299 Bloor St. W., 416-766-6362

Bloor Meat Market View »
2283 Bloor St. W., 416-767-2105

Snappers Fish Market View »
63 Durie St., 416-767-4083

Queen’s Pasta Café View »
2263 Bloor St. W., 416-766-0993

Ling’s Importers View »
2257 Bloor St. W., 416-767-6233

Capucci’s View »
2254A Bloor St. W., 416-766-3287

Mahogany View »
2242 Bloor St. W., 647-348-3327

Bread and Roses View »
2232 Bloor St. W., 416-769-9898

Hot Oven Bakery View »
2226 Bloor St. W., 416-762-3036

Groom Pet Shop View »
2203 Bloor St. W., 416-762-0297

Runnymede Library View »
2178 Bloor St. W., 416-393‑7697

Periwinkle View »
2137 Bloor St. W., 416-551-2553

My Place

Once upon a time, everyone assumed that Bloor Street Village was a dry zone—a remnant of prohibition-era politics. Then, in the 1980s, merchants stumbled on a bit of helpful info: the south side of Bloor was technically part of Swansea and could be licensed for booze. It took another decade for the north side to catch up to the times, which means bar culture here is still in its relative infancy. In 2009, chef Brad Long shook up the status quo with My Place, a sprawling, three-storey pub great for big groups and live music (in the basement). The service is first-rate, and the menu focuses on Canadian comfort food—including pierogies, steak and mussels—with an emphasis on local fare. Long’s one-year gig has ended, but it’s still a favourite neighbourhood hangout.

My Place, 2448 Bloor St. W., 647-348-4702.

Cecil Ward and Sons Men’s Shop

Almost every nervous teenage boy in the village gets fitted for his prom tuxedo by Gary Ward and his son Doug. The proprietors of this 82-year-old men’s clothing store know how to fit a man in a Jack Victor suit. Hip dads covet the Agave jeans and casual dress shirts.

Cecil Ward and Sons Men’s Shop, 2416 Bloor St. W., 416-767-0717.

Serenity Nails and Spa

Carrying tots or a Booster Juice from next door, local ladies have been keeping the seven pedicure chairs filled since this modern manicure and wax spot opened last March. Great prices (mani-pedi $35), sugar scrubs and a flawless finish mean that appointments are advised.

Serenity Nails and Spa, 2410 Bloor St. W., 416-769-9904.

Sweet Flour Bake Shop

The basic concept—create a dream cookie that is baked on demand in just two minutes—is gimmicky, but who cares? The perfectly browned, crispy-outside, chewy-inside treats will keep any skeptic’s eyes from rolling. A glass of milk (chocolate, soy or organic) completes the down-home feel of the place. Made-to-order muffin tops are popular at breakfast.

Sweet Flour Bake Shop, 2352 Bloor St. W., 416-763-2253, sweetflour.ca.

Carload Food Market

Debate rages over which local green­grocer is the best, but Carload gets our vote for its abundant selection. Out front, a striped green awning shades baskets of strawberries (decent value at $3.99 a quart), beets, Ontario apples, pears and wild blueberries. Inside, find bunches of fragrant basil, a sizable cut-flower section and quality dairy goods.

Carload Food Market, 2334 Bloor St. W., 416-767-8661.

Sweet Gallery and Coffee Tree

In 1974, Yugoslavian baker Radi Jelenic and his wife, Lydia, made headlines when they opened a “Viennese” café serving rich baklava, flaky Neapolitans and about 40 cakes along with hearty Hungarian goulash and chicken salad scooped on Boston lettuce. The Jelenics have made menu updates (organic lattes, mixed greens), but the kitschy decor—original Murano glass chandeliers and red granite tabletops—is endearingly retro. Their coffee is soul-stirring, too, but java is a divisive issue on the strip. The Coffee Tree, just a couple blocks west of Sweet Gallery, draws devotees with its hand-operated, small-batch-roasted, fair-trade, organic beans and empanadas brought in from Kensington Market, plus free Wi‑Fi.

Sweet Gallery, 2312 Bloor St. W., 416‑766‑0289

The Coffee Tree, 2412, Bloor St. W., 416-767-1077.

Sweet Gallery 

Max’s Market

On Saturdays, parents queue up at this gourmet grocer’s long deli counter to pack a picnic basket before heading to High Park. The array of ready-to-go gourmet comfort foods—soups, cornbread, deluxe mac-and-cheese ($4), mushroom tarts ($5) and rare deli roast beef ($4/100g)—is mind boggling; many items are made in house. Max’s famous guacamole ($5) is silky, spicy avocado heaven.

Max’s Market, 2299 Bloor St. W., 416-766-6362.

Snappers Fish Market

Fishmonger Laurie Hamilton knows when the pickerel are biting; she visits fish markets daily to keep her stock fresh. Along with a robust selection of fish (cold smoked mackerel, crab cakes, sushi grade tuna), the bright blue store carries loads of shellfish and any fixings one could want. Hamilton happily shares recipes and fish-frying tips with customers, while her dedicated (but crusty) right-hand man, Tony, focuses on the fish.

Snappers Fish Market, 63 Durie St., 416-767-4083.

Bloor Meat Market

The shop was opened in 1929 and still operates with old-school flair: order your meat, get a ticket and line up to pay. (Sadly, the sawdust floor is no more; it was swept away in 2008, after a visit from an overzealous health inspector.) The stock, however, has kept up with gentrifying tastes. Friendly butchers package Ontario lamb chops, marinated kebabs and Cumbrae’s naturally raised beef. When cold weather hits, orders for osso buco, pork swirls and turkey ramp up.

Bloor Meat Market, 2283 Bloor St. W., 416-767-2105.

Queen’s Pasta Café

In a neighbourhood flush with Bugaboos but lacking in quality family restaurants that are a notch or two above a pizza parlour, this 25-year-old modern Italian bistro is packed for dinner. The menu lists lunchtime chicken sandwiches and pasta dishes, such as black-and-white fettuccine tossed in olive oil and topped with plump shrimp, tomatoes, black olives and crumbled asiago. Queen’s Pasta Takeout, across the street on Beresford, sells fresh linguine, cannelloni and signature sauces.

Queen’s Pasta Café, 2263 Bloor St. W., 416-766-0993.

Ling’s Importers

This eclectic shop sells everything from kung-fu slippers to colourful china and tiny Buddhas, but the real story here is owner Alex Ling, a prominent civic leader within Bloor West Village’s small business community. In 1970, when the new subway system and suburban shopping malls were drawing customers away from Bloor West Village, merchants formed a BIA, then turned to Ling, a natural charmer, to convince fellow shop­keepers to pay their dues. The Ling Fountain at Jane and Bloor honours his commitment to the community (he was chair of the local BIA for 24 years). Ling is semi-retired now, but he still keeps a warehouse from his old wholesale import business, and it’s chockablock with Asian-inspired goods. Patrons come from all over the city for Ling’s hand-embroidered linens (handkerchiefs $2.50–$10) and silk kimonos ($195).

Lings Importers, 2257 Bloor St. W., 416-767-6233.

Capucci’s and Sam’s Barber Shop

There are some 20-odd hair salons on a nine-block stretch of Bloor West. The most stylish women see the boys at Capucci, where the prince of the scissors is Vince Trichilo ($60 for a women’s cut), a stylist with a head of perfect curls, limpid brown eyes and a shoe collection Justin Timberlake would covet. Vince began his career apprenticing under Rino Balzano, king of the bridal updo. Behind the colour bar, Claudio Pascuzzo mixes shades. The Bloor West specialty seems to be blonde highlights. In the back, the mani-pedi factory has been upscaled under its new owner, Anna Pindor, and now offers 24‑karat-gold facials, in which skin-blinging strips of gold leaf are applied to pores.

Cappuci's 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Sam’s Barber Shop, the strip’s perfect foil to Capucci’s. The spot is popular with the men of Bloor West Village and operates a one-chair, walk-in-only service. Sam Simonetta, a petite Italian in oversized gold spectacles and signature white barber coat, started cutting hair in the village when he was 17 years old and hasn’t stopped for 48 years. Cappuchi’s men’s cuts start at $40. At Sam’s Barbershop, it’s always $18.

Capuccis, 2254A Bloor St. W., 416-766-3287
Sams Barber Shop, 34 Jane St.

Mahogany

Five linen stores operate on the strip, but only one turns shoppers into addicts. At Mahogany, good quality (100 per cent Indian cotton) and a fair price (three tea towels for $10) meet infinite variety: jewelled jacquards, bold checks, American country florals, black-and-white stripes and mustard paisley prints. The sale banner on the front window is a fixture, as is the old name of the store, Wonderful and Whites, still over the door.

Mahogany, 2242 Bloor St. W., 647-348-3327.

Bread and Roses

A few doors down from Hot Oven, this bright red bakery rivals its younger competitor for the distinction of being the most popular on the block. Bread and Roses also offers eastern European staples—like pierogies made in-house by Polish bakers—but its best sellers remain the loaves of bread, which are sold out by 2 p.m. most days. At a clutch of tables in the back, locals gossip over coffee and sticky pastries.

Bread and Roses, 2232 Bloor St. W., 416-769-9898.

Hot Oven Bakery

When this popular bakery opens in the morning, its bay window is stacked with baskets of raisin, white and multigrain loaves. By 6 p.m., it’s empty. Runny butter tarts, key lime custards and orange saffron cakes beckon from behind a long dessert counter; the deli’s cabbage rolls and saucy meat pies are also worth a stop.

Hot Oven Bakery, 2226 Bloor St. W., 416-762-3036.

Groom Pet Shop

When Pamela Grieco’s grandfather opened this store in 1942, he couldn’t find enough pet supplies to stock the whole space, so he added sports gear. Today, Grieco’s collection of healthy pet foods, accessories, gerbils, mice, birds and fish fills the whole store. Customers pick up necessities, drop by with tots (who are mesmerized by the fish in the aquariums) and post pet adoption notices. Hopes are high that the store’s building, put up for sale in April, won’t find a buyer so Grieco isn’t forced to close.

Groom Pet Shop, 2203 Bloor St. W., 416-762-0297.

Runnymede Library

This venerated building has been ruffling feathers since 1929, when architect John Lyle unveiled his controversially Canadian design (pine cones, totem poles and a pitched French-Canadian-style roof were too avant-garde for the neighbourhood’s immigrant communities). Seventy-five years later, architect Bruce Stratton took the edifice in a radically contemporary direction with a 4,000-square-foot glass-and-copper extension. The reno was designed to respect the village’s multi-ethnic roots: there’s now a lot more room for books, DVDs and magazines in Ukrainian, German, Polish and Russian. Upstairs, a new gallery space exhibits the work of Toronto artists.

Runnymede Library, 2178 Bloor St. W., 416-393‑7697.

Periwinkle

Think of it as a bricks-and-mortar version of etsy.com: through the periwinkle door of this low-rise building, owner and accessory designer Cindy Yong stocks the work of more than 40 artists, almost all of them Etsyites. The merchandising is pretty, pastel and girly, and there’s a scent of lemony homemade soap in the air. Affordable gifts include oversized brass lockets accented with tiny charms ($25–$30), leather wallets with scalloped edges (from $15), and whimsical mini-notecards and books ($7).

Periwinkle, 2137 Bloor St. W., 416-551-2553.

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