It wasn’t too long ago we would have told you that the one thing you needed when you were heading to Bloor and Dufferin was some mace in your purse. For several years, the 600-metre stretch between Dufferin and Lansdowne wasn’t exactly young professional-friendly. Mostly because small-scale furniture stores, psychics, and Asian spas were pretty much all you’d find lining the north and south sides of Bloor. Fast-forward to today however, and this small stretch has exploded into one of the hottest up and coming neighbourhoods in the city. Perhaps kicked off by the three-year, $11-million re-launch of The Dufferin Mall (a rejuvenation that has allowed the 120-store space to upgrade its moniker from ‘the ghetto mall’ to, at the very least, ‘the ghetto-fab mall’), the entire area seems to be recruiting attention from all the right people.
Don’t worry, though, we’re not just sending you to a shopping centre for the day. Three Speed, the resto-bar run by the gang who brought you the Communist’s Daughter, has already picked up several shout-outs from the likes of BlogTO and Toronto Life as one of the best places to get your drink on in the city. Couple it with the likes of Bar Neon, The Holy Oak Cafe, the historic (and always entertaining) Duffy’s, and you’ve got yourself a handful of great places to enjoy a few bevies in less than a city block.
Once you’ve moved past cocktail hour, there are still more choices to be made. Stick it out at Three Speed and enjoy their simple but delectable menu helmed by former Swan chef Jane Ferriss. Head across the street to the newly opened Karelia Kitchen – a Nordic smokehouse where they smoke all their own meat in-house. Further west you’ll be able to walk right into Ortolan (they don’t take resos), the delicious joint effort of chef-owners Damon Clements (Delux) and Daniel Usher (Pizzeria Libretto). If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, just keep walking west. Before Lansdowne you’ll hit both The Emerson and The Whippoorwill, two of the latest trendy resto-bars to hit the strip.
Sprinkle in just the right amount of necessary intangibles, such as Haven, an adorable pint-size Cafe, Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop, The Nuthouse, a wonderful little heath food store packed with wholesome goodies, and Town, a card and gift shop we’d take over Hallmark any day, and you can easily spend an afternoon and evening happily exploring, eating, drinking, and, of course, being merry.
So next time you’re planning a day out in the city, maybe you should skip the regular routine and branch out instead. Go west YP, go west.
Top photo courtesy: The Karelia Kitchen