The Best Cafes in Toronto (West Side)
The best cafes in Toronto on the west side offer some respite from stresses like skyrocketing rents and dismal job prospects. When such concerns threaten to get us down, it's life's little pleasures we seek out, perhaps none more so than what we find in the independent coffee shops. Popping up like mushrooms in and across the city but with particular concentration on the west side, these beacons of hope are usually commandeered by young upstarts as riddled with enthusiasm as they are with caffeine.
And don't underestimate their contribution. Sure, these cafes offer coffee jolts and noshing fare with ever-increasing expertise, but they also provide jobs to the sea of overeducated and underemployed, respite for at-home moms and dads, and a warm refuge for the weary, the working, and those looking to connect.
Here are the best cafes in Toronto west of Yonge Street.
The best cafes in Toronto (East Side)
The best late night cafes in Toronto
The best cafes for free WiFi in Toronto
The best Americano in Toronto
The best cappuccino in Toronto
The best cafe patios in Toronto
The best coffee roasters in Toronto
When Dark Horse opened on Queen East just over the hump of the Don Valley, East Enders had reason to cheer. Now with the three new locations concentrated to the west of Yonge, it's the West side it dominates. Despite growing competition, each Dark Horse spot is usually packed to the gills, forcing even the squirmy to make use of the communal tables. Queue up for their espresso-based drinks, or slow down and savour a French press. More »
Now a veritable coffee empire, owner Geoff Polci really hit the big-time when he started Crema Coffee in the Junction. The original space is bright and community-engaged, the espresso earthy and a little nutty, much like the neighbourhood itself. The occasional music and ample seating add to the warm character while the focus on development and education of its dedicated staff (not to mention beautifully executed coffee and a wide selection of baked goods) prevents this cafe from losing its heart as it grows. More »
The proverbial phoenix out of the ashes of the Queen West blaze is Early Bird Espresso and Brew Bar. Salvage lighting? Check. Exposed brick? Check. Reclaimed wood tables, school chairs, chalkboard paint? Check, check, check. But look beyond these usual Toronto cafe tropes and you’ll find a serious coffee culture, especially in the brew bar, with its pour over, siphon and cold drip options, advancing this newbie cafe beyond the older competition. More »
Sam James sure has made a name for himself in coffee, and occasionally, controversy, when he tossed a cup of his own liquid gold on anti-abortion protestors. You can say this. His passion is palpable, especially for great coffee. The high-impact Sam James coffee bar at Harbord, the Sam James Pocket at Bloor and in the underground tunnel of the financial district occupy just slivers of retail space-lacking WiFi, extensive food, or even tables-but this champion barista has them continually lined out the door. More »
While some lament Parkdale neighbourhood’s gentrification, I doubt few would prefer the days before Capital Espresso. Equal parts cool and cozy, the space is as welcome to strollers as it is to the local denizens, and all happily co-minge over excellent coffee and delicious in-house baked goods. The wooden tables perfectly suit those toting computers, sit in the window and people watch, or let the kids play with the communal toys, but make no mistake, the only snobbery tolerated here is of the coffee-kind, where it’s at its best. More »
From the onset, Jimmy’s Coffee was a haven of relaxation and pleasure to the oft bourgeoisie business vibe of King West. The coffee is made to customer specifications, as espresso or even in drip. The cafe, just like the old house it sits in, warm and inviting. The newish location on Baldwin with its back patio and fireplace adds a touch of sophistication to Kensington Market, but has the same heart as the Jimmy’s original. More »
Nestled at the corner of Yonge and Temperance, Dineen Coffee stands out as the only coffee shop in Toronto to harken back to the lux Venetian coffeehouses of yore. The design is impressively posh, as is the signature blends of roast beans they use to make their list of coffee-based beverages, and the decadent and wide variety of treats on display. With even the staff smartly dressed in vests and gingham, it's no wonder this regal cafe is a roaring success. More »
Manic Coffee has a wildly loyal following, considering they buck trend and don’t offer WiFi. It’s the coffee (not the computers) that stands out instead and the resulting community spirit is noticeable as soon as you walk through the doors of the College street coffee shop. Supporting both Social and Intelligentsia coffee, outfitted with a Clover machine, advanced latte art, and dazzling us with their array of house-made gelatos, it’s no wonder Manic keeps us coming back. More »
With Sense Appeal’s scientific approach to coffee there is no telling what taste profile they’ll come up with next. Bubbling vessels and centrifuge processes are employed at the cafe to eek out all of that humble coffee bean’s potential. Constant innovation has connoisseurs seeking out Sense Appeal-and while some harp about the inconsistent results, it seems their bang-up job of breakfast, lunch and basics has its loyal clientele hooked. More »
Both locations of Lit Espresso, on Roncesvalles and College, are always hopping. West enders have even more reason to flock to the cafes since founder Joe Angellotti began roasting, supplying each place with their own signature brand of Pig Iron beans. Lit Espresso is focused on the output of a premium product, and with their consistently delicious results, I’d say they are at the top of their game. More »
It's no surprise Crafted by Te Aro is one of Toronto's best cafes. The Ossington extension of Te Aro serves up their own award-winning Pilot Coffee Roasters beans in a myriad of espresso combinations, and with a selection of Circle and Squares baked goods you can either grab one of the tables, hit their back patio or take your beverage on a jaunt on the strip, ending up in the nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park. More »
Once you recognize Cafe Pamenar for the oasis that it is, the better off you will be. The extensive back patio lets you enjoy a cold drink on a hot day, while inside the long concrete bar or one of the tables provided a place to sample a cookie with one of the fine staff’s perfectly balanced Americanos or lattes. In the evenings this cafe also serves alcohol, adding to this Kensington Market cafe’s sense of warmth and refinement. More »