The Best New Cafes in Toronto, 2010
The best new cafes in Toronto deserve a salute. While the coffee house scene has been gaining momentum over the last few years, 2010 was undeniably a break-out 12 months that in any other context might be characterized as irrational exuberance. If the packed tables and steady line-ups are any indication, Toronto's bean-obsessed entrepreneurs have not only hit upon an untapped demand for non-Starbucks and Tim Hortons offerings, they're also helping educate and refine local palates, not to mention provide a much needed gathering space for a growing legion of freelancers and work at home types.
If 2009 was the year that every downtown neighbourhood welcomed one indie coffee shop, 2010 saw the arrival of two, three or more. Stalwarts like Crema, LIT, Sam James, Red Rocket, Grinder and Te Aro opened second (or third) locations and well trained baristas seized opportunities to branch out on their own. No doubt there were many worthy candidates who missed the cut on the list below - all would have been shoe-ins in year's past.
Here are the 12 best cafes that opened in Toronto during 2010.
While the Ossington moratorium was in full effect, Leslieville's top micro-roaster suddenly surfaced in Get Real's former home. Like its bigger sister, Crafted features the excellent coffee drinks and barista artistry that has made Te Aro such a success. When weather permits, the space becomes twice as nice with a secluded back patio.
After finally breaking away from Blondie's, the owners of Capital Espresso instantly packed their tables in the old Vice Magazine office with Parkdale locals seeking free WiFi, freshly baked muffins, cookies and other in-house baked treats. Oh, the coffee is excellent too, made from beans sourced from an artisan roastery on Granville Island.
Opening a block away from Crema might not seem like a smart business decision on paper but this Junction-area cafe has done nothing but serve a steady stream of customers since its arrival on Annette. The comfy, sun-drenched space is a welcoming gathering space and the line-up of caffeine-infused drinks aren't too shabby either.
This Leslieville stalwart has caught lightning in a bottle twice with an almost equally remote location near Jarvis and Wellesley. While this second cafe is smaller than the original, it has a more contemporary feel, the same excellent London Fogs and other creative drinks like the Cubano and Miami Vice. Show them a Christopher Walken head and get half priced coffee.
Sam James has done it again with his second outpost just steps from Christie subway station. Like his Harbord original, seating is at a premium (there isn't any) making this a strictly take-out affair. But who can complain when one of the best cappuccinos in the city can be had for less than 3 bucks.
This bustling Koreatown spot might have been the most social place to open in Toronto during the past year. With a seemingly endless supply of board games (1,500 and counting), plenty of snacks and opening hours that extend to midnight, the only question is will it be too busy to score a table?
The owners of the Lakeview Restaurant clearly needed a new challenge and they've found one by opening this isolated cafe on a side street in Lower Parkdale. Named after the first Canadian-born black doctor, The Abbott continues the medical theme with well placed beakers and microscopes. We're just not sure why their cappuccinos are served in skinny glass steins.
This Scandinavian-inspired cafe knows how to impress with their much buzzed about $16,000 Slayer machine - one of only 77 in the world. They back it up with expertly crafted lattes and their recently introduced “hit n run” - a combo that includes a house espresso to stay plus an americano to go.
With limited seating, Hula Girl needs to try extra hard to lure customers to this isolated stretch of Dundas West. But for those who venture in, they're rewarded with some excellent house blends, each containing a precisely measured amount of Kona coffee. The owners have also done a super job at renovating the space.
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