Dark Horse Espresso (Canary District)
Dark Horse Espresso Bar opened up their impressive sixth location in Toronto's burgeoning Canary District. They've come a long way from their Queen East roots , where they started out in a space that was dwarfed by their signature big communal tables. In this space everyone has plenty of room to spread out.
This Dark Horse is below a George Brown residence, so they have plenty of loyal customers in the students that visit for some much needed coffee, nourishment, and study time. The area is also very family-oriented, and Deanna Zunde, owner of the whole Dark Horse enterprise along with Ed Lynds, is happy to welcome parents dropping kids off at the nearby YMCA .
The interior is industrial and in a sort of pre-fab community like Canary, of course Dark Horse was given a blank canvas to work with. They've managed to make it totally cozy, adding built-ins and wood panelling to give it a homey kitchen feel.
They have a bunch of really hearty sandwiches ($6 - $7), so you don't have to suffer with only a tiny cookie or a flat croissant if you're spending long hours working here or only have one chance to grab something quick before dashing off to your day. This salami on baguette is powerful enough to keep you going, and light enough not to knock you off your feet.
There's also the standard beloved calabrese sandwich is a good option for vegetarians, just as tasty with salty cheese, sweet juicy tomato and herby pesto, all on a thick crunchy baguette.
All the beans they use here are either from 49th Parallel or Detour . Detour is actually produced by a long-time Dark Horse customer that Deanna and Ed promised to support if he ever accomplished his dream of opening a roastery.
He did, and the connection has been strong ever since. Both beans have that classic coffee taste, not too overly acidic or flowery.
One of those six places of businesses where Dark Horse dwells is actually a bakery which produces all of their baked goods (running roughly between $2 - $3). These chocolate cookies may be sinful, but you can feel good about knowing they were made locally.
If you don't exactly need a whole giant sandwich, or if you just ate a whole sandwich and you're obviously still hungry, grab a decadent homemade bar. Thick, chewy, and perfectly crumbly, Dark Horse's date bars and brownies are the quickest solution when you don't even have time to get something warmed up in the morning.
They've used salvaged tabletops from Smash , and even furniture like couches from their own homes to fill the space. The communal sink is actually the bar top from their original Queen location.
Photos by Hector Vasquez