The Best New Cafes in Toronto, 2009
Cafe culture in Toronto has experienced something of a renaissance over the past few years. 12 months ago I couldn't get over what a banner year 2008 had been with the emergence of cafes like Zoots, LIT, Crema and Broadview Espresso. Little did I know at the time that 2009 would be even better.
From Leslieville to Dundas West and beyond, great little cafes are sprouting up sometimes two to a block. Free WiFi, fair trade beans, latte art and soy milk have become what seem like basic offerings at this point. And why not? Many agree that Toronto is a city that runs on coffee and thankfully there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there to show us how much better it can get than the generic Timmies or Starbucks offerings.
So time to up your caffeine intake. Why not? I did. From zero to two cups a day, almost just so I had an excuse to hang out at these cafes. And isn't coffee good for you now anyway?
Here are the 18 best new cafes to open in Toronto during 2009.
Sandwiched between Mercury and Tango Palace, Te Aro has nevertheless managed to build a devoted following who flock to its converted garage space for expertly prepared lattes, tasty lunch options and snacks and the occasional coffee cupping. Service is always super friendly which must have something to do with the founders being from New Zealand.
Having created an insanely popular initial Dark Horse near Queen and Broadview, Deanna Zunde and Ed Lynds one-upped themselves when they opened a second, larger location in Chinatown last spring. The light-filled post and beam space is amazing, only trumped by the same quality drinks as the Riverside original.
Line-ups were de rigueur this past summer across from Bellwoods Park but they weren't for Chippy's, Nadege or Clafouti. With Greg's ice cream, good coffee, brownies and other sweet snacks, White Squirrel Coffee Bar continues to draw crowds to its prime West Queen West location, a recipe for success that must be old hat for its owner, formerly a partner at Aunties and Uncles.
As Blansdowne has emerged to be, well, not so bland anymore, it needed a good cafe and luckily the Holy Oak has been up for the task. With Harmony milk and Intelligentsia beans the ingredients used here are some of the best. Even the scones are baked with fair trade ingredients. Bonus! They serve Finnish pancakes every Sunday.
Just when it seems the movement to go green has lost a little momentum, along comes Toronto's newest eco-friendly cafe. Only open since December, The Green Grind pairs a sweet light-infused space upstairs at College and Manning with organic, fair trade coffee and all sorts of environmentally friendly practices
The newest cafe on this list, The Rooster Coffee House just opened last month on a sleepy stretch of Broadview across from Riverdale Park. The space is decked out in tables and chairs crafted together by the owners and having good coffee and hot chocolate this close to a toboggan run is such an incentive to play in the snow more that it's amazing nobody thought to open a cafe here before.
If Danforth is a divide, Si Espresso Bar has Broadview covered when Broadview Espresso seems just a bit too far to go. The bright pink exterior bellies the high energy vibe contained within as Edge (the owner) isn't afraid to let you know how he likes his coffee (like most things in life - laid back).
This cozy cafe near King and Portland has a thing for Jimmy's. Mugs of famous ones adorn one of its walls. Let's see, there's Carter, Hendrix, Morrison, Hoffa. Can you guess them all? But more than just a cutesy concept, the cafe knows how to pour a latte and service is always with a smile.
Gerrard St.'s best cafe (ok, so maybe there aren't any other contenders, but still), the Sideshow Cafe is an eclectic little gem right next to the Centre of Gravity circus school. This is the only place in town you'll see signs for espresso, free WiFi and circus lessons all lined up next to each other.
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