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
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.
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.
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).
Ling’s 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.
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.
Capucci’s, 2254A Bloor St. W., 416-766-3287
Sam’s Barber Shop, 34 Jane St.
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.
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.
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.
Back to map of the the Bloor West Village guide
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33 thoughts on “Bloor West Village Guide: our 20 favourite places between High Park and the Humber”
What about Bryden’s? A true neighbourhood pub. Great indie beer selction and excellent food.
It is a shame that Dr Generosity has been left off of this list. That place is a true neighbourhood favourite! There is nothing better for brunch in the area on the weekend and welcoming and attentive staff only compliment the consistently well prepared food!
It is a real shame that all the Polish and Ukrainian butchers and bakers have disappeared. The article is right when it says the area has become yuppified.
Glad you omitted the Yellow Griffen. Never seen a groupp of service people so self absorbed and able to ignore the diners. Wow it used to be a grea burger spot, now a place ot avoid.
Bloor West Village has lost its charm. The quirky, eclectic boutique stores are rapidly disappearing, I assume because of high rents. Although it’s possible the retailers themselves are keeping people away. They’re definitely not a welcoming bunch.
Just this morning, I noticed a store was having a big sale. Well, actually, I noticed the piece of paper taped to the front window that said, “You’re too late. Sale has ended.”
Thanks for deeming our neighbourhood worthy of coverage. Although the houses are ridiculously $$ and we seriously lack any kind of ‘cool local’ hangout, the humber river makes BWV a wonderful place to live…Places overlooked include Trixie, (do not go to Mendocchino or Merry Go-Round!) Diaper-eez, Evymama, Breathe Yoga, and the Cheese Boutique. People come from all over the city to shop here? And it’s somewhat sad but true, Bryden’s–a gritty, ambience-free sports bar is the best food on the stretch. I agree with an earlier comment, the high rents must keep anything eclectic out. I’ll still be sad to leave when our need for a marginally larger home forces us out of the enclave…
Seconding the above: you left off Evymama, a beautiful store at Jane/Annette which has a wonderful selection of baby carriers and maternity/nursing wear.
Runnymede library is wonderful!
Hey how about Sharkey’s Village Cafe?…seriously though it has to be one of the worst restaurants in the city, if not the world.
Refurbished last year. Service & Food —–Dont Go they suck
You missed the fabulous Busy Bee scrapbooking supplies. Glad you didn’t list Merry-Go-Round — has the snottiest, most condescending, insincere service in the city. The girls in there give customers the up and down as they walk in and tell you everything looks good on you just to make the sale. It’s too bad, cause their stock is pretty nice. Shop girls not so much.
You missed a little gem!” “For Friends” is new to Bloor West Village and has one of the best gift shops ever. Unique, specialty gifts for babies to brides,(or friends)
and many gift items can be personalized with embroidery in your choice of colours and words. Great for people that are hard to buy for.
As neighborhoods become yuppified, Queen West, Roncesvale, Bloor West, Beaches, Leslieville, etc. places for us common folk are becoming scarce and I can visualize us congregating under the bridges of the Gardner and buying from vendors whose products are displayed in castoff shopping carts…are these the hallmarks of a World Class City? Where are the restaurants where the cooks trained in lumber camps rather than AGO, where the servers were plumb rosy cheeked nymphs encased in hair nets and slapped you on the back of the head if you didn’t finish your borstch and the list gones on and on. Much success to those psuedo elitists…you will see me periodically when I have a decent win at the track of lotto but you are not part of my social fabric.
I agree, Dr. Generosity is one of the restaurants that has consistently good food. Shame to leave it out.
Also: Snapper’s fish market is on the NE corner of Bloor and Windermere, nowhere close to where it is on the map :)
I guess you didn’t check out the women’s fashion retailers when you were compiling your BWV Guide. I have to give a shout-out to Everhart, Trove and Accessorize Me. Definitely worth a visit, staff are helpful and friendly. And I totally agree with Karen and JDF regarding Merry Go Round where the staff is snooty, insincere and you just know they make snarky remarks about you when you leave. Too bad, clothes selection is decent but not worth the attitude treatment.
Also, you missed Amber Restaurant–a dependable neigbourhood favourite when you need that fix of perogies, Siberian dumplings, or one of their outsize, thin and crispy schnitzels.
glad to see cheese boutique wasn’t covered…bunch of *ssholes…come to club monaco on bloor to see some professionalism. so there!
I agree that Amber should be on the list – it’s a really good “Polish comfort food” restaurant. I also want to mention Kingsway Meat Products – they smoke their own meats, and offer a nice selection of Polish/Eastern European groceries. When I lived in Toronto I was a frequent visitor to both places when in Bloor West Village.
Groom Pet Shop for the win!
All of the local boutique-y places are disappearing, but unfortunately, that’s because the “yuppies” that have moved in would rather shop at “name brand” stores like Bark n Fitz (for their dogs) and places like Mendocino for clothes. Blame the “yuppiefication” on why BWV has lost it’s lustre. The old stores can’t afford to stay open anymore, even when they own the buildings.
I agree about Yellow Griffin… the service there is about the worse I have ever (consistently) experienced. Vowed to never go back.
Dr. Generosity… needs to keep the intensity up. Food quality has been slipping – but it’s still fun and the service is awesome.
Snappers Fish Market is actually at 263 Durie St. north of Bloor, not south.
Retrofit Pilates should be added to the list since it is the best place to tone and tune your body in the city! No matter where I move I will keep going!
I think that the Griffon is so dirty. There’s been no smoking for ages, and it still smells like a cigarette. And I have sent back dirty cutlery so many times. I’m not a clean freek either.
Now for some positive feedback! We do have some great shops as have been listed above, and we’ve gained even more with Rowe farms and Puh-Nash women’s boutique above the MIA Booster Juice (super friendly service). Perhaps losing much of its flavour with the domestic shops what makes the village/Swansea so amazing is the people. The network of mothers in the ‘hood is unbeatable. You want to feel welcome, connected, supported, safe, and have tons of fun while you’re on the run, this IS the PLACE.
Trixie should definitely be on the list (or next year’s). All of the girls are incredibly friendly and helpful – I have yet to find a store in this city that lives up to their level of service and attentiveness.
I used to live here when I rented, had to move when we bought a house due to the house prices. Lots of interesting places. I agree with Dr Generosity, went there when it opened and frequented it a lot, although last time I was there after waching the Dream in High Park they closed their ktichen at 10pm on a Friday night which sucked.
Although it is not a local business the Chapters there is the most interesting one due to them keeping original features of the theatre building and not just wrecking it.
I see it’s received some negative reviews here, but I like Merry Go Round. I’ve gotten some great outfits there that the staff have helped me pull together, and have found them to be honest about stuff that doesn’t work with my body type rather than trying to push a sale. I will admit that I find some of the staff a bit intimidating. I second the reco for Retrofit pilates studio.
I much prefer informative articles like this to that high brow literarute.
This is awesome place. Reminds me of JJ Hair Club too.Get the great service of Gloria, have these contact details in mind:
JJ Hair CLub 211 Yonge St 1G Toronto, ON M5B 1M4
its not the quaint strip it used to be
I think that Sweet Gallery was sold recently. I went last weekend just so I could have my usual tuna salad on a bagel with greens and coffee. Got there and saw a new sign and owner. It’s now called “Opera”. Which make’s sooo much sense when you’re looking for sweets and coffee!
Some of my BWV favs: Hot Oven Bakery (custard tarts and ham/cheese croissants), Astra Deli’s perogies, sausages, sandwiches (I love to eat al fresco on one of the benches on Bloor St.), Mila’s esthetics for a real old-fashioned foot sloughing, the convenience of dropping my kid off at local French (La Petite Ecole) or English (Oxford Learning/Montessori) preschool, the possibility of drop-off play at High Park Family Funplace on Bloor St (while I go to get my hair done), fresh produce everywhere. I love even the experience of banking at my local Scotiabank, Bernadette can target shoot any problem and knows customers by name.
I avoid shopping for clothes in Bloor West Village – overpriced for the quality (to pay for rents), although yoga pants and other standbys can be found locally and save us the trip downtown. EvyMama is great, but Rhonda maternity in Yorkville ironically has better prices – worth the trip for expectant BWV mothers. For restaurants, forget Bloor West and go to Roncy Ave. or even around the corner from Roncy on Queen St. W. now. The Kennedy has a rocking atmosphere but ho hum/dismal food. Dr. Generosity once served me my bread pudding dessert with the honey mustard sauce on it by accident… and didn’t apologize! Bubble Tea mango smoothie at Green Mango is yummy as is their mango sticky rice dessert. Oh, our local coffee shops are good, especially Red Bean Espresso (thanks to Iris).
Most of all this area is about walks in High Park; don’t miss the lower path by Grenadier Pond. BWV really is a village when you get to know it.
Not a very good list at all…#1 My Place may not of even lasted a year…how is that one of the area’s favorite hangouts??
I have to agree with some earlier posts. The real bloor west village as it once was back in the day is dead and gone. It really is a crying shame. All of the mom and pop shops that were run by the polish and ukranian were really wonderful. There was a certain charm and humbleness to them that the new stores cannot touch. Anyone who grew up here in the 60,70s and 80s can attest to it. AFter that they were all run out by rental hikes and big brand name stores. Anyone who disagrees did not know BWV back in the day and knows nothing of the history of it.
I think Bloor West is a great – and so close to downtown! Whether you come for a visit or lucky enough to live in the area, it offers great attractions and conveniences. TO Life did a good job with this article as a handy reference for things to see and do.
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