Out & About: Toronto, Queen St.

toronto2Hey there, city lovers.

Today, we tour Queen St (East and West), an upbeat and energetic cultural hub in Toronto. It’s become very well known for its fashion boutiques, indie art stores, music, and media scene. While it doesn’t have as many restaurants in comparison to its shopping venues, it does have many swanky coffee houses, all worth exploring! Mind you, it does have its fair share of good eats.

When I travel to Toronto, I primarily stay at the Hyatt Regency on King St, or the Hilton on Richmond. Both hotels are located in prime districts. The Hyatt is right in the heart of the theatre district, with plenty of broadway shows merely steps away from the hotel. It also has some top restaurants nearby. One of my favourite local eateries, Kit Kat, is located right across from the Hyatt Regency. It offers Italian cuisine paired with a very cool vibe and incredible dessert features. Also, as a fun fact, it has a large tree growing out of the ground in the restaurant’s open-concept kitchen!

That said, I do prefer to stay at the Hilton because it is closer to Queen St. (where I spend a lot of my time while I’m visiting Toronto), and also because I get complimentary wifi with my business package, which is such a plus. But both hotels are within 5 minutes walking distance of one another, and, in my experience, have always been very clean, comfortable, with good quality service.

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Pictured above is a room I’ve stayed in at the Hilton. I was on the 23rd floor and a had an awesome view of the CN tower (and some pollution…).

EATS

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For breakfast, I love (seriously, love) Café Crêpe, at the intersection of Queen St. W. and John St. Firstly, this cafe is filled with giant tubs of Nutella, which speaks very much in its favour! It’s a feature ingredient in many of their food and drink items, like my favourite Nutella Latte, pictured above. Their crepes are super. They feature this one filling, Caramel Cajeta, which is one of the most delicious caramel sauces I have ever had. My crepe was stuffed with Nutella, Caramel Cajeta, and strawberries.

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Other great eateries nearby:

Spring Rolls: thai / pan asian cuisine | creative decor | generous servings | delicious food | good service | 40 Dundas St. W

Dark Horse Espresso Barexcellent specialty coffees | my favourite: the cappuccino | pastries, sandwiches, and great lemonade | free wifi | patio | hipster vibe | 4 locations in and around Queen St. E and W

Everest Restaurant: eclectic combination of cuisines including Indian, Thai, Italian, Tibetan, etc.| modern and sleek decor | bar and dining | try this: Tibetan Salted Butter Tea

SIGHTS

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Above: Odds & Ends, a narrow and tightly packed vintage/thrift shop. It always has the coolest finds.

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Above: Urban Barn, 610 Queen St. W – full of gorgeous home accents. I particularly loved this trio of rope-woven glass globes. Definitely worth the perusal.

Another favourite home and decor store is Morba, 665 Queen St. W. It is filled with beautiful, eclectic, and sometimes unconventional home accent pieces. It is, hands down, one of my favourite stores to browse on Queen West. Its items do range on the pricier side, but it is so worth walking in, if only to scope out the amazing pieces. When I’m there, I always feel as though I’m touring a quasi-antique / quasi-modern home furnishing museum. Truly an awesome place to visit. (The Edison lights and rotary standing phone in the first photo are two Morba gems!

SHOPPING

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I love shopping on Queen St. I’m quite certain it has almost all of my favourite stores. What’s particularly great about it, though, is that it has a really good mix of mainstream stores like Lulu Lemon, Club Monaco, French Connection, Zara, Aldo, H&M, etc., as well as loads of really great boutiques. Clothes, accessories, jewelry, shoes, vintage shops, high end stores, etc. The list is very long.

My favourite places to shop on Queen St include the following:

The Eaton Centre – This is an obvious choice as it’s the go-to shopping centre in Toronto. My top spots: Aritzia (they have terrific scarves!), Wilfred, Town Shoes, Stuart Weitzman, Aveda Experience Centre, J.Crew.

Aritzia, 280 Queen St. W, pictured above. My closet is 90% filled with items from this store. I think that says enough about my feelings for it.

Topshop – located on the 3rd floor in the Hudson Bay Company across from the Eaton Centre, Queen St. E. The black clutch pictured above is a Top Shop find.

Kazuo –  371, Queen St. W. A great boutique with an eclectic mix of clothes. Lots of dresses! Pictured above.

The Coal Miner’s Daughter – 744 Queen St. W. This is mainly a clothing boutique, but it has my favourite range of accessories. The selection of jewelry is just gorgeous, with lots of hand-crafted natural metal necklaces, gemstone earring, and really unique pieces.

Heel Boy – 773 Queen St. W. My favourite shoe store on Queen West. It has a really great selection of shoes and purses. I always make a point to stop by when I’m in town.

EXPERIENCE

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Civello– When I was in Toronto a few weeks back, I booked a pedicure at Civello’s. The service was terrific – my aesthetician, Voula, definitely knew what she was doing. She was very personable and professional, offered me tea and a blended juice (mango & pomegranate, I think?). My feet are still soft! The place itself is very nice, with a beautifully designed retail space, and great decor pieces (note the modern Louis XVI chairs and Edison light fixture pictured above). The pedicure chairs were a little run down (the leather was peeling pretty significantly), but everything was very clean and sanitary. I’ll definitely visit again when I’m in Toronto.

Well there you have it, my adventures on Queen St. A long, but in no way exhaustive, list of sights to see, eateries, and shopping venues.

I always look for new places to visit when I’m in the area, so if you have any recommendations, do share them, as I’d love to do some more exploring!

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