Crosstown Coffee Bar
Crosstown Coffee Bar announces itself with a row of red lanterns, tucked off the corner of Highbourne and Eglinton. This charming cafe is located in the heart of a residential neighbourhood and it caters to the community it's nestled into.
Crosstown is a joint venture between first time cafe owner Sasha Lontos and Hale Coffee . Lontos, who also works in the wine industry, reveals that she and the Hale team outfitted the interior themselves.
They made everything, from the blue, wooden bar and the hanging lightbulb fixtures to the tables and stained glass painting, by hand. "This place is perfectly imperfect," she says pointing to a slightly crooked shelf.
In keeping with the homey vibe, Lontos held a tea cup party prior to opening and asked friends and families to each bring in a mug. These are now either on display or they're actually used in the cafe. As patrons walk in, Lontos greets many by name and notes how the place is often filled with new moms and babies, many of whom sit outside on sidewalk patio.
For those craving caffeine, Crosstown exclusively carries Hale beans, which are roasted at Queen and Spadina. Barista Jeremy Yorga, who's known to break into song, crafts espressos ($2.75), cappuccinos ($3.50), lattes ($3.75/$4) and flat whites ($3.75) with Hale's espresso blend on a La Marzocco machine.
There's also filter brewed coffee available ($2.50/$2.75). While I prefer a denser cappuccino than the one I tried, Yorga's whimsical latte art won me over.
Most drinks can also come iced and you can spice them up with flavoured syrups for an additional fifty cents. Now, these aren't squirts of artificial tasting vanilla. Crosstown uses homemade simple syrup infusions in flavours such as hazelnut, vanilla and cinnamon.
Non-coffee drinkers can choose from an array of hot or iced Sloane teas ($2.25), Stubbe hot chocolate ($3.50) or fresh squeezed orange juice and lemonade made in house from a bright blue juicer displayed on the counter.
The orange juice ($4) is a simple and refreshing mid-morning treat.
Currently, Crosstown offers croissant from La Bamboche , cookies from the Red Bench and a variety of squares (including gluten-free options) from Majorelle. Lontos wants to add sandwiches and salads to the menu in the fall.
While the cafe has free wifi and a few power outlets, there isn't much seating. Those who do decide linger can play board games thanks to a small collection that includes giant Jenga.
Lontos knows the cafe isn't easy to find right now as LRT-related construction continues to drag on. "A lot of people don't really see us," she says. But, she confident that'll change once all of the trucks and machinery clear out.
Photos by Hector Vasquez