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Cafes

Tango Palace Coffee Company

Posted by Staff / Posted on March 7, 2010

Tango Palace Coffee CompanyTango Palace is the perfect place to stop in for an afternoon treat. It's got a really neat Art Nouveau style, stained glass lamps, and large comfy chairs at every table. From the outside it seems dark, but inside this translates into coziness. It seats about twenty, and when I walk in it's positively bustling, the lively atmosphere warm and inviting.

As I approach the counter, I'm faced with quite the dilemma: there is a lot to choose from, and most of it looks good. What to choose? For the sweet tooth, there's everything from biscotti to dessert squares to danishes and much in between. And they even have some vegan and gluten-free treats.

Tango Palace Coffee CompanyOn the savoury side of things, they serve organic eats (like lasagna, chili, and paninis) from Miss Cora's Kitchen. There are six brews of coffee (including organic, flavoured and decaf blends) at any given time. I find that all too often wide variety means low quality, but it seems that since Tango Palace picks and chooses from several bakeries across Toronto, they manage to avoid that trap.

Tango Palace Coffee CompanyAs I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices, one of the employees offers to walk me through the options -- he's really friendly and patient, ready to take all the time I need. I'm told that the chocolate chip cookie is one of their best sellers, so, being a sucker for a classic, I order one along with a lactose-free latte ($6.27 altogether).

I sit down in one of their armchairs, lean back and watch the patrons come in and out, many of whom are on a first name basis with the barista. I've got to say: while it may all be a bit unfocused, there's a definite charm to Tango Palace. It's like visiting "that" aunt who always offering to feed you.

Tango Palace Coffee CompanyThe cookie has been warmed up for me and is now both ooey and gooey, melting in my mouth. I'm struck with nostalgia as I savour it, reminded of the cookies of my childhood, all loaded with chocolate but with just enough salt to balance out the sweet. I take a sip of my latte: it's light, and the espresso has a beautiful flavor.

I take another bite of my cookie, sit back, and enjoy.

Tango Palace Coffee CompanyTango Palace has been a Leslieville fixture for seventeen years, having started out when there were few other cafes around. And it appears to being doing just fine despite the dramatic increase in competition. I have a feeling this has a lot to do with the neighborly vibe of this eclectic cafe -- they make you feel like part of the family. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's got.. well.. everything.

Tango Palace is open from 7am to 11pm every day. They offer free WiFi and open the back patio in the summer.

Tango Palace Exterior

Writing and Photography by Amanda Faig.

Discussion

67 Comments

Donna / August 5, 2008 at 07:48 pm
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I love Tango Palace Coffee ... they have the best coffee and they have this fudge there from Sitting Around Eating BonBons that is soooooooo good with the coffee. YUM!
Lou / February 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm
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I can't believe someone only gave this place 3 out of 5! I lived just aroundthe corner for a year and it is still the thing i miss most in Toronto. The laid back atmosphere, eclectic tunes and beautiful chai are well worth a visit...oh and try the Spanish eggs!
Domenic / March 13, 2009 at 08:54 am
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Love the Tango Palace! Great coffe, great atmosphere... a cozy place to go for the neighbourhood regulars or for those going downtown but want to get away from the large chain locations in the core that are boring. Don't get to go there as much since I moved out of the neighbourhood, but always thinking about the TP!!!
yaz / March 20, 2009 at 05:54 pm
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I will never go there again. The service is rude and snotty. I can't believe that their staff would act the way they do, especially in a recession. I guess they're only nice to people who go there every day.
marc / April 1, 2009 at 06:38 pm
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I just moved into the area and being a bit of a coffee snot form Vancouver, I love this place, the chicken sandwich is great! I do find the tables a little too squished together but oh well, great coffee, free wi-f and chill atmosphere without 8 billion screaming kids and yoga moms...on second thought maybe I like the narrow aisles, kind of discourages SUV strollers...lol...
John / April 8, 2009 at 02:14 pm
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I like this cozy little spot. Pastries are large and reasonably priced!
Barb / April 10, 2009 at 02:43 pm
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This is a lovely, warm, friendly, comfortable, delectable neighbourhood coffee shop--with *great* coffee, savory items and decadent desserts. A fantastic little place!
Bond / April 15, 2009 at 01:02 pm
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I've been going to Tango for the last couple of years and there is no other place like it (or at least haven't found another one that I would frequent that often). Its a great cozy place at any time of the day or year to just catch up with old friends, reading a book or doing some work. ALWAYS friendly staff (unless YOU give them attitude) desserts galore to choose from. Just love it!!!
Eyeless Max replying to a comment from yaz / April 29, 2009 at 03:59 pm
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I came there and had no snotty issues whatsoever. The staff was friendly and the coffee just fine. As a local Patisserie Manager myself I would be proud to have such a personable staff as I encountered there. I think to judge a place on one encounter is foolish. I have since returned and been nothing but satisfied.
Someone replying to a comment from yaz / June 10, 2009 at 07:32 pm
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I find that their food is amazing and the people there are very nice. Not snotty at all!
Someone / June 10, 2009 at 07:35 pm
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The Tango Palace is a place to relaxe and have a nice drink. The atmosphere is soothing and their food is perfect! I especially love the vegetarian pizza! It's on my favourite pizza bites list--and I've been to Italy to try their pizza!
Coffee Fan / October 17, 2009 at 12:03 am
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Charming decor inside, shabby chic, I guess can be used to describe it. But does anyone else think the place smells musty? (The cappucino was ok.)
J.p replying to a comment from yaz / December 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm
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dearest yaz. You must either be from vancouver or are an american.
Either way,your obviously thinking of ANOTHER tango palace.
J.p replying to a comment from yaz / December 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm
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Dearest yaz. You must be from vancouver.Or your an american.
Either way,your thinking of ANOTHER tango palace. Have a nice day.
dissapointed / January 5, 2010 at 10:46 am
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I got a hit of the snobby server attitute too! Had a great time there with a friend, really enjoyed the coffee & treats and then got a mean hit of catty server barking at me when I thought I'd do him a favour and drop my mug off at the counter on my way out! I couldn't believe it! Total attitude for trying to do them a favour. I won't be going back.
Disappointed 2 / March 8, 2010 at 06:26 pm
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I too experienced very rude service and horrid attitude.
I will never revisit!
fauve / March 8, 2010 at 06:34 pm
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I'm sorry to say I've gotten a similar snobby vibe here. That is not to say that everyone who works here has bad attitude, though I think they are really quite friendly to (only) the regulars.

Plus I had a pretty brutal scone here - dry, doughy, and I would guess days-old. It's a shame since all the sweets look pretty tantalizing.
Miriam / March 8, 2010 at 07:11 pm
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The cookie in the first photo looks aaaammmazing. :D
Cindy / March 8, 2010 at 08:13 pm
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Tango Palace is a gem, and they make the meanest espresso around with their kicking horse blend. The equipment they own is just superb.
Amanda, great article but I thought you were all about the west.
Nick / March 8, 2010 at 08:43 pm
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Great food, amazing antique espresso machine and a terrific summertime patio which is much brighter than the sometimes dark and dated interior. As far as the coffee goes, disappointed that they import roasted coffee from Vancouver (kicking horse) rather than buying and roasting (i.e. fresh) locally so the coffee isn't quite as fresh and yummy as it could be..and by doing so supporting Vancouver's instead of Toronto's roasters and coffee networks.
Danielle / March 8, 2010 at 08:48 pm
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I've been there a few times and never had any problems, weird! I absolutely crave their orange hot chocolate, the best hot drink in the city methinks.
bob / March 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm
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My wife and I have been there twice after moving into the area. I really want to like the place but we got serious snotty attitude both times. In fact the guy was very rude! Luckily there are other coffee places to go to in the hood.
Justin / March 9, 2010 at 10:51 am
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Service is brusque bordering on rude and the baked goods are inedible. You have to wonder why they're not sold out at 10pm most nights - there's a reason.

However, because of the location, vibe and late hours (the only one in Leslieville), I still come here every week. I stick to sealed drinks though.
brian / March 9, 2010 at 10:55 am
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That cookie looks incredible. But this place is so far from where I live.
brian / March 9, 2010 at 10:56 am
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That cookie looks incredible. But this place is so far from where I live.
Amanda / March 9, 2010 at 11:28 am
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@Cindy--Hi Cindy: I'm all about Toronto, I enjoy everywhere.. did i explicitly make a comment about the west? I hope not, if I do I'm kind of mortified with myself. I used to live just off of Jones, and when I was a lifeguard I worked all over the east. Mostly: I noticed people wanted more east, so I went east. :)

Re: Kickinghorse Coffee. (@Cindy and Nick) They DONT in fact use Kickinghorse. They sell it, but for the past 17 years they've been using Mr. Coffee. I didn't mention it in the review only because as it is my reviews seem to be on the long side.

Re: the cookie. Glad you like the images, food photography is my forte (working on getting better at the rest)

Re: dry scones: again, since they get everything from bakeries rather than make it themselves it must be hard to control. But that is a shame.

Re: rudeness/snobbiness. I can believe it.. obviously I didn't experience it, but they knew I was from blogTO (hard to whip out a DSLR without having to answer some questions)
Hannabarbara / March 9, 2010 at 03:29 pm
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love this place! super cozy. staff doesn't seem to mind if you curl up a chair with a book for hours.

also, awesome patio out back!
Ate it replying to a comment from brian / March 9, 2010 at 05:23 pm
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The chocolate chip cookie pictured is also supplied by Miss Cora in Kensington. It's pretty good. I've certainly had better. But it's pretty tasty. The folks at Tango are nice.
Jamie / March 9, 2010 at 05:29 pm
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The chocolate chip cookies pictured are also supplied by Miss Cora's btw.
Cindy / March 10, 2010 at 06:18 pm
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@ Manda. Thanks for the information about Kicking Horse.... After re-reading your article I went back today and enjoyed an amazing latte (lactose-filled). Such a great place to soak in the environment.

Your photos were true to my experience but 100x crisper quality. (which is a good thing)

I'll be waiting for your next great find. Keep it up!
K / March 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm
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True they are rude!

But i do like this place. The baked goods are yum.
Aleks / March 12, 2010 at 01:58 pm
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Tango Palace, you spelled macchiato wrong.
John D. / March 13, 2010 at 03:43 pm
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"It's got a really neat Art Nouveau style"

Did you farm this review out to the local public school?
everlast34 / March 13, 2010 at 05:11 pm
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I fail to see, after reading this article, what makes this place any better than the thousands of others just like it. Maybe that's because the writing is so poor. Grammatical mistakes and poor choices of adjectives; ooey and gooey comes to mind.
Do your audience a favour, and read through the article a few times before you post.
Arby / March 14, 2010 at 12:04 am
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I mostly agree with the reviewer about Tango Palace. It's been there for so long, I sometimes forget about it. Partly that's because I don't go in often. And that's partly because I found the music waaay too loud and the coffee too weak for my taste.

The last few times I was in, the music was at a tolerable volume. I didn't get the drip and I forget exactly what I did get, but it was wonderful. It might not have been what it should have been (There's a default formula for drinks - culinary coffee level - even if different places stray slightly from the norm), but it was so good, I had another.

Also, I've always found the service in here to be top notch. They just happen to be very friendly, classy people. And they are not snobbish. They are warm and approachable.

Selection? No kidding! And I love that you can get a hot egg sandwich however you want it, any time. It's not cheap item, but it's very nice. And yes, The place is funky. (Funky coffee is bad. Funky digs is good.)
Sean / March 15, 2010 at 07:22 am
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WOW! Great find. Looks like a nice place to chill out.
Margot / April 12, 2010 at 11:19 am
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This is my favourite cafe in Toronto. Unpretentious, a great patio, perfect coffee, and awesome treats.
Jim / July 11, 2010 at 08:38 pm
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Ive been in leslieville for one year now. My first visit to tango was just as nice as my last. I say ive been there about 60 times in the past year, I guess you could call me a new regular. But the staff has always been great, I often now stop in and hang out with them in the back when they are on break and before shifts. Keep in mind baristas are human beings and have bad days just like anyone else. I am a writer and love chilling on the patio reading and writing. The espresso/iced espresso is incredible. The food I've never had the slightest problem with and the art is always tasteful.

One question though... This is my first time ever commenting on something like this. As I'm looking over these comments I am blown away at how pathetic a number of you are. Is this what you do with your time? Come on to blog threads and just talk shit with asinine reasons backing it up? If anyone is a snob here its the people on here who do nothing but shit out of their mouths.
Taylor Seymour / July 12, 2010 at 03:17 am
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As an employee of Tango I have to agree with my friend - and recent regular - Jim. This place is more than just a 'latte art' stop on the tour of gentrified Toronto. It isn't about the coffee, but rather the community. My family at Tango extends further than the neighborhood regulars - everyone is meant to felt welcome.

It isn't about sales at my workplace (read: home) but rather finding something simple that fits you.

I welcome anyone to come in: grab a double americano off of Maxwell or I and enjoy a good conversation. Welcome to Tango, and welcome to the family. Leslie isn't worthwhile without it - I found a home there, and I hope you can too.
Rosie / August 14, 2010 at 04:07 pm
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I have lived in Leslieville for 29 years. I was the first person to walk through the doors of Tango Palace when they opened their doors 17 years ago. I have been a regular customer, and have formed many a friendship there. The menu is large enough to fit everyone's taste, and its good too. I even met my sweetheart there 13 years ago! Hooray for Tango!
Alex replying to a comment from Jim / August 21, 2010 at 11:32 am
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Jim,I agree with you, both about the Palace (a great place) and the weirdly bitter and petty tone of some of the comments I see in this thread.

I started going to TP in September of 2008, when I moved to Coady Ave, mainly because I needed to use their free Wi-Fi connection, but I felt immediately at home there and before long was coming in pretty much every morning. By the time November rolled around, they'd invited me to a staff-and-regulars party at a bar a little ways down Queen. Unfortunately I couldn't make it that night, but I guess that pretty much made me a regular.

When I moved back to Montreal in May of the following year, Tango Palace was one of the few things about everyday life in Toronto that I really missed, and now that I'm back and living in the Annex, I miss the place even more. I really have nothing but good things to say about my old coffee spot, and I really can't imagine what life in Leslieville would have been like without it.
Marie-Lauren Gregoire / August 25, 2010 at 11:53 am
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Ooooh, Tango Palace! I was at Tango Palace with a friend on a Sunday afternoon. It is a nice enough walk from my place but long so I got a ride. We ordered from a very friendly server, got exactly what we wanted. He offered suggestions based on what I was feeling for. We sat in the back with our hot chocolate and chai tea lattes and a scrumptious, generous slice of New York style cheesecake with cherries. The breeze and mood-lighting on their back patio was very romantic. Love this place and I will be back - even if the walk is long.
Fler Danger / September 8, 2010 at 03:51 pm
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My brother took me to Tango Palace a few weeks ago- this has got to be one of the coolest, comfiest coffee shops I have ever been to. The service was lovely, the barista kind and helpful (and very cute) and the chairs super squishy. I hope to be back again, with my laptop. If only I didn't live across town from it... I recommend the tandoori chicken naan pocket thingy. It was delicious.
beverly horlick / October 22, 2010 at 01:27 pm
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I worked at tango palace years ago and i thought the bosses were the best . they always made sure the customers were very pleased with the service there.we were always told to be friendly no matter what. the coffee and the product was always fresh.I could not ask for a more friendly atmosphere.If it weren't for me moving away i would still be working there now.
Maria / November 1, 2010 at 08:40 am
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I love this place ! I live in the west & I track out there,a few times a mo.The staff are great,I mostly go there,in the late evening,stay until they close.I have always had the best service,from the staff.If staff were going to be crabby it would be at the end of the day,but no,I have never seen that,always great and willing to help out with questions about the coffee or the yummy treats. They have some of the best coffee in the city.I like everything about the place!I wish they would be open even later oh like 1 am ! :)
Rob replying to a comment from beverly horlick / November 28, 2010 at 09:40 pm
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Love ya Beverly; you were easily the finest staff member ever to work at The Tango Palace....it wasn't even close!
Elizabeth Nikitin / February 4, 2011 at 09:57 am
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Art Show at the Tango Palace -
Artist: Jennifer Nikitin
Medium: Fibre Art - wearable and ornamental art
Theme: Tank Girl
... for the month of February
Come in for a delicious coffee and peruse the art.
hot broadski / March 11, 2011 at 06:58 pm
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The barista there named taylor is a dreamboat, I would jump his bones any day!
Kate / March 20, 2011 at 12:40 am
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So there's just too much to say about Tango Palace!

I started going there initially because it's open until 11:00, and so is great for studying, but I instantly became a regular. Though its a tad dark, its completely cozy and still is fine for getting work done. The morning sun is so nice to just soak up, making it great day or night.

The staff are great too. Always the best service, friendly and I'm even pretty good friends with a few of them now.

There's a great selection of drinks, for coffee drinkers and not. Try the raspberry/black-current or the ginger/ginseng teas, delicious! Food- warm or cold, sandwiches, quiche, bagels with whatever you'd like. Desserts- cookies, cakes, "rectangles" (or squares, but a bit bigger), tarts. The prices vary nicely, too.

Go to Tango if you haven't yet. You might just find yourself spending all you spare time there!

And I second hot broadski, Taylor's a dreamboat!
RJ&EV / April 5, 2011 at 08:59 pm
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We've been going here for years and we live in the west end. They have never been rude and the service is great.
Rosie Da Silva / April 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm
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I lay claim to being the first person wo walked through the doors of Tango Palace when it opened. I live on a near by street and have been going there ever since.... Besides the good coffe and food, there is always an ear to listen. They have seen me through 17 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Kudos for Tango!
Andy Hamilton / September 27, 2011 at 04:33 am
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Drew Simpson made this place! RIP buddy...wherever you are.
Taylor the Barista / October 28, 2011 at 10:02 am
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I agree with Kate and Hot Broadski, I'm a dreamboat.
Chad / February 18, 2012 at 09:04 am
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Loved the Tango Palace. It has a warm inviting whimsical charm without any pretentiousness. The server was friendly, the coffee was great and they have the biggest biscotti around! I will definitely revisit the Palace.
Rob / April 9, 2012 at 05:31 pm
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19 years ago this very day, Brett Thomson opened the Tango Palace.
Bruce / June 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm
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I've been going to the Tango for about two years. I love everything about the place. The selection of hot & cold drinks are the best and the amazing selection of food is top notch. The staff are super, Alex & Taylor are real sweethearts. The place is clean, especially the washrooms which is real important to me. I think the other big chain coffee shops could learn a lot from the Tango Palace.
BRIAN / June 27, 2012 at 06:25 pm
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TANGO PALACE IS AWESOME... JEFF, TAYLOR, MAX ARE ALWAYS SMILING AND SERVING PIPING HOT LATTE'S I GO 3-4 TIMES A WEEK... WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO ANYONE... JUST GIVE IT A TRY AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF...
Elton / July 1, 2012 at 09:43 pm
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Nice place! Great background music! Great for surfing! The Internet connection runs at a great clip. The food was not bad - lots to choose from!
Lots of plugs. Sweet lighting. It gets an A+ from me!

Courtney / July 11, 2012 at 02:45 pm
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Tango Palace has always been a special place for my fiance and I. This is actually the place we got engaged! We love the atmosphere and everyone that works there are super friendly. The coffee is top notch and there is always great music playing!
Lorraine / July 19, 2012 at 11:33 am
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Tango is awesome, I didn't read all the comments here but after reading some of them I felt compelled to comment. I used to be the resident psychic here on Wednesday evenings. I agree with Taylor its all about community and that's what makes Tango such a great place in an often cold, uncaring city of Toronto. Its not about the coffee and treats, although Tango has that covered in spades. I don't live in Toronto anymore but when I visit regularly I always stop in, visit, get caught up with everyone and sip on my cup of Joe, because that's what is all about. I love you all at Tango, keep doing what you do. I have been honored to be a part of this place for years. xoxo
Lorraine / July 19, 2012 at 11:52 am
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One more thing! : ) Like Courtney, I met my dreamboat partner there. We moved to the country with our crew of animals together.
Cooper / August 7, 2012 at 01:25 am
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I'm really surprised by the 'snobby staff' comments. I've honestly been savagely addicted to Tango Palace for 6 months now. I go almost every day. I'm fairly confident I've met them all by this point and really though, it's rare to meet such a group of cheerful workers. I'm sure they have their days, are we not all entitled? I have yet to witness any poor attitude though and would encourage other people to ignore those comments and test it out for themselves.
Denise / September 6, 2012 at 03:14 pm
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Downside is its overly expensive. I assumed was premium coffee then founf out its just Mr. Coffee!! Crappy coffee. Starbucks is cheaper. How can they do that? I dont know. Love the owners and the atmosphere but, dont charge an arm and a leg for crappy coffee. Not right.
Taylor Seymour replying to a comment from Denise / October 1, 2012 at 02:48 pm
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Hi Denise, I'm really glad you like the vibe of tango. Just to clarify: mr. coffee simply packages and delivers the beans roasted specifically for tango by Brazilian Canadian coffee roasters. They also provide and service some of our smaller equipment like the drip coffee grinder, our drip machines, and hot water equipment. We also serve and sell kicking horse in store. Have a great day.
Nat / February 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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I walked into Tango on a cold February Sunday evening. To be honest, I was strolling for hours starting at King st W and Bathurst looking for a cozy welcoming casual place that would be open late on Sunday evening... And I stopped only at Tango... 10 km away from where I started. Nice atmosphere, great music, great cider - all I needed on a cold winter night.
Bruce Hale. / June 29, 2013 at 12:50 am
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I love the Tango Palace.
I've been going there about 5 years now and I can't say a bad thing about the place. Yes I agree the prices do seem high but you're getting way better quality that the other big coffee chains. What I love the most are the awesome staff at the Tango. Taylor, Alex, Matt, and Max are such great guys.
I hope I don't put Max on the spot by saying this but he has this huge spirit that emanates like the light from the sun. If you want to feel his amazing spirit just ask him for a hug. I can honestly say he gives the best hug I have ever felt. Keep up the great work guys.
Rob Oliver / October 17, 2014 at 07:25 pm
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It sure would be nice if someone....anyone, would do something nice for Brett.

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