Get to know a street: Lake Shore Boulevard
Lake Shore Boulevard between Royal York and Browns Line is a bustling strip on the south end of Etobicoke. Of course, not all Lake Shore blocks here are created equally. The further east you travel toward Royal York, the more you'll see businesses flourishing side by side, whereas closer to Browns Line, the retail spaces are fairly spaced, interrupted by the occasional "for lease" sign.
But cloistered or not, this street hosts a lively collection of independent shops, offering fresh ice cream to gourmet burgers, organic meats and live music to accompany your coffee or brunch. And when you're done with all that dining and shopping, there's even somewhere to get a cheap (and student-performed) Brazilian wax. Should you have considered that meal your Last Supper? Here are some places to check out on Lake Shore Boulevard.
Woody's Burger Bar and Grill
The space outside Woody's Burger Bar and Grill seriously smells like campfire. If that's not enough to draw you in, the "Coronary" stuffed cheeseburger with fried onion, smoked bacon, and a fried egg surely will. Woody's looks a bit like a camp mess hall with an outdoor patio and chalkboard menu, and only serves local, naturally raised meats. I vote to add marshmallows and s'mores to the menu.
Fair Grounds Organic Coffee
Fair Grounds Organic Coffee is the source for (yes, you guessed it) fair trade organic coffee on this stretch of Lake Shore. Owner Jeffrey Stinson began roasting his beans and selling his coffee at farmers' markets before deciding to open this café about a year and a half ago. Along with roasting its own beans for its espressos, lattes, and more, Fair Grounds also offers pastries made from scratch on site and sandwiches made with its freshly baked bread.
I wasn't hungry before I walked in, but I sure was after the door closed behind me. The aroma in Baba Ali is simply amazing, and in seconds I was pining for something from the family-owned restaurant's menu. With just a couple of tables for seating, Baba Ali offers a menu of fresh Middle Eastern fare including hummus, kabobs, Shawarma, and falafel.
The Village Butcher
With a pig and a cow on its front window and friendly staff behind the counter, The Village Butcher is a Lake Shore source for organic and naturally raised meats. Along with organic salt-free bacon, local chicken, organic lamb, and sausages prepared in-house, The Village Butcher also offers deli meats, cheeses, ready-to-defrost-and-cook meals, and a selection of seafood, the latter of which changes daily.
Southside Johnny's has a great patio stretching out on 36th Street and plenty of space inside to enjoy its live music. The bar and grill hosts its "Junior Jam" once a month, inviting kids aged 12 to 20 to come perform live, along with other tribute band events, live jazz, blues and rock. The menu offers pretty standard pub fare including all-day breakfast.
Every street should have freshly made ice cream. For Lake Shore, there's Sweet Olenka's, a shop offering handmade truffles, lots of baked treats, and ice cream in flavours such as Ontario Peach, Raspberry Chocolate Truffle, and Lychee. New varieties of ice cream are always being rolled out, and when in doubt, chocolate-dipped cookie dough is always a good choice.
Karpaty Pastry and Deli
Karpaty Pastry and Deli is an Eastern European bakery/deli/grocery store with a tiny parking lot out front and false windows with blown-up pictures of breads and pastries. Karpaty bakes its breads and pastries onsite, and also offers freshly sliced deli meats, prepared salads, and its own line of pickles. Most impressive is Karpaty's vast selection of frozen perogies.
Café Musique is a little café on Lake Shore at Islington with a lot of bustling activity. With open jams on Saturdays and various musicians throughout the week, you can enjoy your espresso, fruit smoothie, or toasted BLT with some live music, or else, quietly by the fireplace in its incredibly comfy couch. Also has board games.
Donato Academy of Hairstyling and Aesthetics
The Donato Academy of Hairstyling and Aesthetics poses a striking presence on Lake Shore; windowed, bold, and modern, on an otherwise classic and cozy-looking street in Etobicoke. The 10,000 square foot facility houses a ground floor salon where you can get a cut from a student for as low as $15, as well as a school offering full-time programs in hair and aesthetics. For the extremely brave, the Academy offers $15 bikini waxes as performed by "new talent."
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