Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses
Four years ago, Dundas west of Gladstone to Brock was still described as “up and coming.” Now, it’s a full-fledged hipster village. Flannel-clad couples eat artisanal fare under bare Edison bulbs, shoppers flock to vintage boutiques to buy pieces they earmarked on Instagram, and dark bars cater to the writers, designers and musicians who’ve moved into nearby houses and studio spaces. Residents have dubbed the area DuWest. Here, a tour of the new businesses in Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhood.
After selling Midi Bistro, his French restaurant on McCaul, Parisian expat Pascal Vernhes opened a spot populated by laptop-toting freelancers during the day and couples canoodling over charcuterie boards in the evening. 1600 Dundas St. W., 416-534-8800.
Cafe Bar Pasta
Last July, husband-and-wife team Tom Bielecki and Christine Vieira took over the narrow space formerly home to Vieira’s father’s insurance business. They serve hand-cranked pasta, and drinks to the late-night crowd. 1588 Dundas St. W., 416-534-4794.
Chef Nathan Isberg’s four-year-old restaurant evokes a pirate ship, with tiny wooden booths and paintings of marine life. In the kitchen, he turns low-impact, low-food-chain ingredients like fish heads and nettles into inventive, tasty meals. 1597 Dundas St. W., 416-219-3819.
In 2012, a band of food industry friends turned the old Zoots Café space into a casual restaurant, serving up nostalgic ’90s tunes and satisfying brunches (Bar Isabel chef Grant van Gameren is a fan of the Cubano sandwich). 1438 Dundas St. W., 647-352-9120.
This End Up
Karen Young and Adam Urquhart opened their sandwich joint two years ago in a building once home to a Brazilian buffet selling food by the kilo. Hungover groups come for brunches of banh mi, po’ boys and a version of a Big Mac. 1454 Dundas St. W., 647-347-8700.
The Hogtown Cure
Steve Ireson and his chef husband, Chris Schroer, opened their meat-centric deli and coffee shop in late 2012. Their specialty: sandwiches piled with sweet hickory pork or house-smoked pastrami, and artisanal cheese. 1484 Dundas St. W., 647-725-5550.
Nupur Gogia and Carrianne Leung opened their locavore haven in 2008, stocking organic produce and meats, Ontario and Quebec cheeses, a bewildering array of snack foods, and even eco-friendly household cleaners. 1545 Dundas St. W., 647-435-5340.
OMG Baked Goodness
In 2009, Lesley Mattina moved her popular wholesale bakery into a retail space so sugar fiends could finally get their vegan chocolate cupcakes directly from the source. 1561 Dundas St. W., 647-348-5664.
Jason Abrams didn’t bother naming his low-lit lounge, which is known to regulars as the No Name Bar. Craft beers, inexpensive cocktails and a cozy vibe ensure it’s crammed by 11 every weekend night. 1602 Dundas St. W.
The pioneer of the Dundas strip, this bar opened in 2008 with inexpensive pints and a truly kickass jukebox. Depending on the night, the scene ranges from sedate to raucous with 20-somethings sweating on the dance floor. 1532 Dundas St. W., 416-534-5939.
Last summer, Ryan McVittie (who used to sling drinks at Motel in Parkdale) turned an old Chinese restaurant into a hopping cocktail spot with the exposed brick and salvaged wood aesthetic that reigns in the west-end bar scene. 1479 Dundas St. W.
Midfield Wine Bar and Tavern
As soon as oeno-geeks Giuseppe Anile and Christopher Sealy opened their low-key wine bar in 2012, it became the street’s best spot to linger over a bottle. 1434 Dundas St. W., 647-345-7005.
The Lakeview’s Alex Sengupta opened this 30-seat bar last year. The theme: kitschy summer camp, complete with pine boughs, picnic tables and a DJ underneath a tent. 1576 Dundas St. W., 647-748-6627.
Brian Cheuk and Tamae Miyazaki’s year-old boutique specializes in casual clothes straight from Tokyo. Hipsters of both sexes snap up rugged canvas totes, thick-rimmed sunglasses and Japanese fashion magazines. 1499 Dundas St. W., 647-606-3270.
At her decor store, owner and chief picker Cody Cochrane regales treasure hunters with the stories behind vintage pocket knives, offbeat religious paraphernalia and battered steamer trunks. 1493 Dundas St. W., 647-352-2639.
The year-old lifestyle store feels like an artist’s loft, minus the pretension; there’s usually someone perched at the in-shop coffee bar, chatting with the effusive owner, Zai Rajkotwala. 1447 Dundas St. W., 647-748-6161.
Life of Manek
Stylist and costume designer Nicole Manek carries a few contemporary labels in her two-year-old shop, but it’s the second-hand pieces in candy colours that attract shoppers on fashion-hunting excursions. 1504 Dundas St. W., 647-347-2635.
Britt Rawlinson managed Ossington’s Jonathan and Olivia for two years before opening her own shop packed with gently used Marni, Céline and Prada last September. 1410 Dundas St. W., 416-588-9821.
When it opened in 2010, most of this small shop was given over to functional menswear; owner Ainaz Maleko has recently evened things up, attracting downtown shopaholics with not-too-girly clothes perfect for summer music fests. 1491 Dundas St. W., 416-551-8000.
The artist-run non-profit relocated here in 2012, bringing its mammoth selection of books, artists’ multiples and posters to a storefront formerly occupied by a Portuguese travel agency. 1490 Dundas St. W., 416-703-4400.
Last fall, gallerist Erin Stump jumped on the space left vacant when dealer Jessica Bradley moved to the Junction Triangle. It’s now devoted to Stump’s roster of emerging Canadian talents. 1450 Dundas St. W., 647-345-6163.
Hermann and Audrey
This creative agency’s headquarters also hosts gallery exhibitions, workshops, pop-up shops and the odd dinner party. 1506 Dundas St. W., 647-352-4450.
Unable to renew the lease on his tiny Ossington storefront, art scene veteran Michael Klein moved to this much larger space in late 2012. The gallery retains its reputation as a platform for clever, experimental artists like Michael Dumontier and Ken Nicol. 1445 Dundas St. W., 647-435-7682.
Gyan Hot Yoga
The Liberty Village studio decamped to the strip late last year, to the delight of neighbourhood yogis tired of trekking elsewhere for the endorphin rush of a heated class. 1561 Dundas St. W., 647-341-4926.
Studio Blue Yoga
After six years of teaching yoga part-time, Jessica McIntyre finally left her marketing job to open her own studio earlier this year. Her ultra-friendly approach gets kudos from regular practitioners and nervous beginners alike. 1457 Dundas St. W., 647-220-7645.