Riverdale Perk Cafe
Riverdale Perk Cafe is a cozy, neighbourhood coffee joint with fresh lunch time offerings.
Known as "The Perk" by locals, the cafe has been a mainstay for the last 17 years, since it opened in 2004.
At the time, Owner Danielle Quayle was living up the street from the Perk and would often come in to grab a coffee and chat with the owners.
Having some hospitality experience on her back, when the previous owners were looking to sell, they offered to let Quayle take over.
Quayle transformed the space from a quaint coffee spot, with pastry items, into a more sophisticated cafe with light fare meals and extensive coffee strains.
The Perk is loved by newcomers and regulars alike, who are greeted by their first name as they walk inside.
The elderly, parents with strollers, work from homers all join together here in the snug, warmly-lit atmosphere.
Small chandeliers and an array of abstract art decorate corners of the cafe, where you can opt to chill at the couch seating near the front or set up at a table closer to the back.
The Perk stands out from other cafes in the area, with their shelves of home goods, such as cooking oils, spreads, even bath salts, made by local vendors.
They also bake their own granola and packages of cookies which would make for a great stocking stuffer.
If you're planning to stop in for takeout, grab a muffin and coffee to go, but I'd suggest trying out their full menu.
It's made up of mainly vegan and vegetarian options, with flavourful spins on what would otherwise be basic salads and sandwiches.
The Guinness Bacon Grilled Cheese ($10.75) is to die-for. Aged white cheddar melts into thick slices of bacon smothered in a Guinness-infused aioli. A granny smith apple chutney is stuffed inside this sandwich grilled on country grain bread.
Crunchy, fresh and full of flavour, the Korean BBQ Bowl ($15.50) is substantial enough to fill you up at lunch time. The base on this is brown rice, quinoa, and kale, then Korean bbq tempeh is tossed on top, with a heavy helping of kimchi.
The rest of the veggies in the mix include, broccoli, cremini mushrooms, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, scallions and a spicy sesame vinaigrette to finish.
The Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad ($14.00) is another options for the vegetarians. Don't fear the shavings of Brussel sprouts or the kale in this one, it pairs great with sweet dried cherries and pickled red onion.
A honey Dijon vinaigrette is poured on top, with toasted almonds and parmesan petals to garnish.
The Mulled Apple Cider ($3.80 for 16 oz) is a year-round special at The Perk. Served in a big-style mug with a cinnamon stick, this drink is sure to warm your soul if you stop in on a snowy day.
It's not too common to find a cafe surrounded by houses and schools in Toronto, but Riverdale Perk takes pride in its homey corner just a few step away from Withrow Park.