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Neighbourhood Watch: West Queen West


I've been living in the downtown core for 7 years now. First was a house full of college grads in Little Portugal, then the high rise at Queen and John, next was the loft near Moss Park and eventually I got smart and decided to live on my own which lead me to Little Italy and now, I'm over in West Queen West.

Almost everyday something happens that makes me smile, giggle or even laugh out loud. That's why I live here. Some would be unsettled living across from CAMH, but me? I'm cool with it. I mean heck, I lived at Queen and Sherbourne for over 2 years...THIS is nothing. A few crazies scattered here and there make life a little more interesting and if I find them in the park on a sunny afternoon--even better.

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West Queen West...Queen West West...whatever you call it-it has its own personality. I walk by the same tattered signs that adorn the hardly ever open print shop, the TV's beyond the barred store front playing rotations of static and Everybody Loves Raymond, the "Stich and Bitch" crew at The Knit Cafe, the "sexy party" going on at Wicked and some of the greasiest spoons that I'm completely dying to try out. Who doesn't want a full fledged breakfast for $3.99?! In between all of these eccentricities is a good smattering of art galleries. Watching the artwork switch up on a fairly consistent basis, I like to think someday I'll be able to justify going in and buying that perfectly strange painting. But, for now enjoying it through the window each time I walk by suits me just fine.

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More fascinating than the artwork inside are the galleries behind the galleries. One alley North of Queen Street between Beaconsfield and Dufferin are the most fantastic works of graffiti art. Many a garage and gated backyard are covered in multicoloured imagination. I think I've walked that laneway back and forth quite a few times with my groceries from Price Chopper and I'll never cease to be amazed at the work that is hidden behind the likes of The Beaconsfield, The Drake all the way down to The Gladstone.

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When I'm looking for something a little more low key, I tend to meander over to Lot 16 to have a bevy or two. When I first started noticing this place it was in the wintertime and looked like the coziest place in the world. Dimly lit candles, steam on the windows and pretty decent music spinning inside--I had a feeling this would be a place I'd go to more than once. On slower nights, it's nice to have that neighbourhood bar that has friendly bartenders and a generally cool unpretentious vibe.

I'm not sure if I should admit this or not, but when I want to kick it up a notch I am one to be found at The Social from time to time. I'm still not sure that it is my cup of tea but when it's a stumble home--I have a hard time resisting especially when its open until 4am during TIFF annnnd...well, the guy to girl ratio is like 8 to 2. QUICK LOOK OVER THERE!

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Between the various lofts that are springing up on the south side of the street and the tasty eats like Addis Ababa, The Beaver Cafe and Julie's Cuban my 'hood has a little bit of everything. And the people watching? Extraordinary.

After living in these parts for about a year, I still haven't discovered every nook and cranny. So many stores to still delve into...so many shops to buy appliance parts at...so much West Queen West.

Now, if I could just get my hands on that big Barbaba Poppa in Studio Brilliante's window.


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