Toronto’s 13 new cafés: board games, Bohème and a resurrected waffle house
These days, the arrival of a new indie café on Queen West or in Leslieville is about as novel as a Gap opening in a mall, which is why we’re pleased to inform readers that the newest coffee houses in town aren’t located in hipster hubs. Since our last café census in March, we count a total of 13 new spots for Hogtown’s java lovers.
This new café lives up to its name, providing its north-of-Bloor regulars with in-house sweets and reliable lattes. The counters are from a gas station, the wooden plates are from Italy, and the space used to be a convenience store, but Hub’s upgrades manage to pull off shabby chic and create the perfect ambience for chowing down sandwiches and wraps ($7) filled with organic ingredients.
1028 Shaw St., 647-347-7789, hubcoffeehouse.com.
2. Crafted by Te Aro
Coffee connoisseurs in the west end have been flocking to the Ossington outpost of Te Aro since mid-July for coffee classes, the house-roasted beans and idyllic study atmosphere. The six-ounce cold drip coffee ($4)—a hefty brew with notes of dark chocolate—is the pièce de résistance.
135 Ossington Ave., te-aro.ca.
3. La Bohème
Chocolate croissants and coffee made by Te Aro’s experts are the popular menu items at this Yonge and Eglinton café that opened in April. But the true pâtisserie experience comes from sampling La Bohème’s diverse offerings of brioches, tarts and danishes, served up by friendly staff en anglais ou français.
2481 Yonge St., 416-489-2233, Facebook page.
Leslieville’s newest specialty tea shop and café offers vegan treats (like double chocolate cookies) and plenty of rich custom blends to help while away the afternoon on comfy cushions. A cup of Royal Wedding blend ($2.36), made with peach and rosebud, befits the English décor, but the last steamy days of summer call for Tropical Paradise iced tea ($2.05), made with orange, pineapple and hibiscus. Packages of loose-leaf teas run from $5 to $20 for 50 grams.
950 Queen St. E., 647-350-4646.
5. Goed Eten
Kensington’s Belgian waffle emporium closed two years ago but was revived on Ossington last month by owners Johan Maes and Tonya Reid. The waffles and other baked-on-site goods are still on offer, but now that the locavore revolution has become a Toronto mainstay, more people are likely to pay attention to Goed Eten’s wealth of Hogtown-cultivated ingredients and homemade lunch items.
188 Ossington Ave., goedeten.ca.
6. B Espresso Bar
The third instalment of this espresso franchise is located just a few blocks north of its original Queen location. Opened less than two months ago, the place is now packed with on-the-go creative types looking for authentic Italian coffee, panini and an array of homemade biscotti.
65 Dundas St. E., 416-941-0000, bespressobar.com.
7. Café Novo
It’s about time High Parkers got their own indie café. Most offerings here are organic, fair-trade, vegan and gluten-free, and the treats—featuring unique items like pumpkin vanilla muffins and almond butter chocolate chip cookies—are baked twice a day by the pastry chef owner.
1986 Bloor St. W., 647-350-3538, cafenovo.ca.
8. Thor Espresso Bar
The fashion district is about to get a new Scandinavia-influenced café featuring Toronto’s first-ever Slayer espresso maker (a.k.a. the “coolest espresso machine in the world”). The $18,000 piece of hardware allows baristas to create different tastes by experimenting with various pressure options, but a coffee maker named Slayer is probably enough to get people in the door.
35 Bathurst St., thorespressobar.com.
9. Snakes and Lattes
The new spot in Mirvish Village opened just last Monday, billing itself as Toronto’s first board game café. Given the selection of over 1,500 boxed amusements and the nonexistent laptops, the new outpost is quickly living up to its game-changing ambitions. But will Boggle become the new Wi-Fi?
600 Bloor St. W., snakesandlattes.com.
10. Little Nicky’s Coffee
The sweet donuts at Little Nicky’s ($2.45 for six, $4 a dozen) have proven to be the café’s big-ticket item. Not all of the goods are homemade, but they come from the right places: grilled sandwiches are the work of All the Best, croissants are from Rahier Patisserie, and the beans are from Concord.
375 Queen St. W., 416-260-0500.
11. The Tampered Press
Dundas West’s latest indie café serves cookies called Awesomes—soft, oversized, homemade Oreo-style biscuits. Such unpretentiousness befits the coffee shop’s homey feel. Patrons sip espressos and macchiatos and quietly enjoy free Wi-Fi. On Sundays, the café hosts casual seminars on such foodie topics as making the perfect roast and eating healthy on a budget.
256 Crawford St., Unit B, 416-534-9739, Facebook page.
12. Haarlem Espresso Bar
One-month-old Haarlem has the benefit of location, as it sprawls the empty section of Carlaw between Dundas and Queen to give working Leslievillers some lunch grub and a quick espresso. The décor is unabashedly reminiscent of a high school cafeteria, with concrete walls, floors and pillars, along with industrial-style tables and chairs.
235 Carlaw Ave.
13. The Mascot
It’s too early to tell if Parkdale’s newest spot has been adopted in the way its name hopes, but its rich display of local art and events—screenings and bimonthly fundraisers for Grounds for Health—certainly do their part to provide an alternative space for the neighbourhood. The open-concept design makes it feel more like a gallery, but the cupcakes, stuffed focaccia and Steve Smith loose-leaf tea provide a sufficient distraction from the artwork.
1267 Queen St. W., 416-533-2888.