Where to shop local on Eglinton Avenue
Getting to your favourite neighbourhood spots will be easier than ever with the Eglinton Crosstown
Eglinton Avenue is getting a modern makeover: by 2021, the sparkling new Eglinton Crosstown LRT will zip commuters across the corridor, with 25 new stations stretching from Mount Dennis to Kennedy. An added bonus of the new LRT line: unfettered access to the cute boutiques, gourmet food shops and buzzy restaurants sprinkled along Eglinton. Here, a few of our favourite local businesses.
#1. ELLE MADE WELL
1166 Eglinton Ave. W., 647-989-6902
Crosstown LRT Stop: Cedarvale
Fashion designer Ellé Marks makes stylish bespoke staples: effortless dresses in poppy prints, expertly tailored blazers, shape-hugging pencil skirts. She started selling her clothes on Eglinton in 2015 in a 300-square-foot shop; within months, her business had boomed to the point that she moved into a sprawling 1,600-square-foot storefront that occasionally doubles as an intimate events space or design workshop. Marks says that she’s successful because she caters to the neighbourhood. “People are looking for lot of bespoke and custom things,” she explains. “When they come to us, they get original art and clothes. In this neighbourhood, we accommodate the people who live here.”
#2. CROSSTOWN COFFEE
187 Highbourne Rd., 647-347-7738
Crosstown LRT Stop: Avenue
In the winter, Crosstown Coffee is a cottagey retreat where freelancers and students hunker down with a hand-pulled espresso; come summer, joggers and dog-walkers chat on the sidewalk and pick up iced lattes. “It’s such a great neighbourhood for a café, but when we opened two years ago, there were no others around,” says manager Emerset Farquharson. “Most of our customers live and work nearby. It’s a way for them to get away from the house or the office.” The place is a hangout made for lingering. Farquharson often brings in pastries from nearby bakeries, or samples new coffee blends from micro-roasteries around Canada (and brings his beans in from Halo Coffee in downtown Toronto). Once the LRT opens, he says, he foresees a whole new crowd of regulars—his future plans include a new patio and adding lunch items to the menu.
#3. ARTBARN SCHOOL
250 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-518-6108
Crosstown LRT Stop: Avenue.
There’s no better place for aspiring Monets and Michelangelos to nurture their talent than the Artbarn School, a non-profit creative academy beside the green expanse of Eglinton Park. Owner Linda McMaster and her team offer dozens of courses, with scholarships available for financially needy tots. The kids’ schedule includes DIY workshops for comic books, pottery and sock puppets. For adults, there are watercolour, acrylic and printmaking classes. The school is such an Eglinton institution that the students are putting their mark on the community—literally. Last year, a group of Artbarn teens got a grant from StreetART Toronto to give the Eglinton Park Field House exterior a gorgeous makeover, featuring scenes from the park painted like stained glass, while more recently, the school yarn-bombed the construction fencing with a colourful mural. “This neighbourhood is such a great place to grow up in,” McMaster says. “And when the LRT is completed, and there’s all this new life on the street, it will only get better.”
#4. LA CARNITA
130 Eglinton Ave. E., 647-351-0130
Crosstown LRT Stop: Avenue
Andrew Richmond, the restaurateur who made skulls and hip-hop synonymous with tacos and tostados, has migrated his downtown street food empire north. Just east of Yonge and Eglinton, he’s built a trifecta of endlessly Instagrammable hangouts. The anchor is La Carnita, a new outpost of the Mexican taqueria, where house-made corn tortillas cradle piles of crispy cod and spicy house-made chorizo. In the basement is Good Fortune, a kitschy basement tiki bar that serves up boozy milkshakes, slushies and Jell-O shots. And next door is Sweet Jesus, an ice cream parlour where soda jerks coat house-churned soft-serve with toppings like cotton candy, crushed Fudgee-O cookies and red velvet cake bits.
#5. CHEESE EMPORIUM
245 Eglinton Ave. E., 416-440-1462
Crosstown LRT Stop: Mount Pleasant
The gourmet market at the corner of Eglinton and Mount Pleasant has one of the city’s most comprehensive cheese collections, featuring hundreds of stinky blues, bries and beemsters from around the world. The highlights include Fourme D’Ambert, a French blue that’s beloved by Wolfgang Puck; and chévre noir, a two-year-aged goat cheddar from Quebec. The expert staff, led by owner Steve Maggirias, are quick to recommend the right Alpine Swiss to pair with your wine, or which triple-cream camembert goes best with fresh Ontario pears.