The Best Cafes in Toronto (East Side)
The best cafes in the east end of Toronto are not - try not to be shocked - almost entirely in Leslieville, though there are days when it might seem like they are. In fact, the east end, on both sides of the Don, is liberally dotted with good cafes.
On both sides of the city, it seems that cafes largely fit a type - storefronts full of re-purposed industrial artefacts and free WiFi, full most of the day with freelancers and creative loafers on their MacBooks. If the east side can lay claim to a unique character, it's typified by a place like Merchants of Green - spacious and off the beaten track, even if it's only a minute's walk away from the first Dark Horse location, which pretty much set the cafe stereotype in stone here.
Here are the best cafes in Toronto (east of Yonge St.).
Owners Andy and Jessie Wilkin have made coffee quality their theme at this roaster/cafe, hosting coffee tastings and traveling to growers all over the world to source the best fair trade beans they can find. They’ve been rewarded with loyal customers in middle of coffee-mad Leslieville, and a west end outpost on Ossington. More »
The view from Mercury’s window is lively on any given day, since the adjacent intersection of Carlaw and Queen remains the epicentre of gentrifying Leslieville. With skilled baristas and a selection of organic fair trade beans, they’ve done a handy job of fending off competition from the Starbucks that opened up just nearby. More »
Looking across Riverdale Park over the Don to downtown Toronto on the other side, this cafe probably has the best view in the city. The friendly atmosphere is probably helped by being more part of a residential area than a commercial street, not to mention the big table full of board games at the back. More »
Once only a Junction destination, Crema has made a big push to the east side, first with a small outlet near Yonge and Bloor and, earlier this summer, a larger space on the Danforth. Serving a full line-up of expertly crafted espresso based drinks, best bets include their cortado and what some say is the best cappuccino in town. Grilled panini and London Fogs are also highlights on the menu. More »
This Cabbagetown cafe and social hub might just be one of the city’s first indie coffee shops, in the sense that we’ve come to know the institution. Sarcastic staff, bike-themed decor, and a really big latte in a glass, not to mention a bulletin board that’s probably the backbone of half of what goes on in the neighbourhood. More »
If Jet Fuel was there at the birth of the indie coffee shop, Dark Horse made it fly, with its big communal table and tall bright windows. The formula was copied at their west end locations, but this is the original, just a few steps from the Don, and so successful that it has its own line of t-shirts. More »
You have to walk a block or two from Broadview and Queen to find this importer/roaster/cafe in an old warehouse overlooking the Don Valley, but it’s worth it for both a quality cup and a bump back in time. Merchants of Green still takes its role in educating customers on an ethical cup quite seriously, while the sprawling space with its well-worn wooden beams and floor is a time capsule of the early days of post-industrial urban pioneering. More »
They’re proud of their baristas at Bulldog, and they’ll show off in cappuccino foam if given half a chance. Tales of bitchy service here abound, but on the southern end of the Church Village strip, it’s something you almost have to regard as a sort of souvenir. Now with a second location near Yonge and Eglinton. More »
The only east end coffee house on the list north of Bloor or the Danforth is only a short walk from the subway line, in a former porn shop whose passing was a relief to the neighbourhood. The vibe is relaxed – you can plug your iPod into the shop’s speakers – and the chairs fill with locals early in the day. More »
On the far end of Queen East, by the end of the Beaches shopping strip, this cafe is also home to a small batch roaster, which means fresh beans every day. It also boasts a dizzying selection of baked goods, so you’ll probably never have to nibble on the last dry date square when you wanted a big fat muffin. More »