Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods.It’s kind of the best way to describe this gorgeous city.

“Where do you live?” takes on a whole new meaning here.

Cabbagetown. The Annex. Swansea. Queen West. Yonge & Eglinton (or as one of friends who lives there frequently gets told, “Oh you live in Young & Eligible!”). Bloor West Village.  Each neighbourhood has a distinct enough feel to it that, whether it’s geographical or cultural, locals can usually tell your lifestyle choices by your postal code.

Which brings me to The Junction.

I kind of love The Junction now. It started off with my foray into the neighbouring High Park (another neighbourhood, and one I really want to live in, should I ever get a chance to live in Toronto), and then exploring the surrounding areas, I realized I spend an inordinate amount of time here. There’s a real community vibe here. It’s not the most poshest area, but it IS a very warm one. Up and coming jostles along nicely with the run-down and drab. Trendy stores line up next to seedy looking appliance stores that tout they have a full 3 months warranty for their used goods. It’s kind of fun, this place.

I might have mentioned one of my favourite Thai places – Friendly Thai (with the best coconut rice in the country) in one of my earlier posts. That’s in The Junction. One of my favourite cafes – the Good Neighbour – is also here. I also have a couple of second hand bookstores I like to buy my books from, a few furniture stores I browse and daydream in, and two boutiques I buy my dresses from.All in all, I truly love this neighbourhood now, and come here often. So today’s post is a bit of an intro into some of the food places I’ve tried here 🙂

G&J’s Sunnyside Cafe

I’ve passed by this place a number of times in the last 7 months, but today was the first time I ventured in. Located on the corner of Dundas W and Quebec St, it’s serves breakfast, sandwiches and hamburgers.

They have outside and inside seating. I entered the shop to find a simple set up of a few tables and chairs, a large TV hung on the wall with the Channel 24 news on and the menu written on chalkboards, on the wall behind the counter. You can see your sandwich being put together in the small, narrow space, next to the grill, which itself was slightly across from the cash register.

The mix of customers was eclectic, rather like the neighbourhood: the hippie couple who’re probably in better financial circumstances than they’d like to admit to, with their designer hemp messenger  bag and a lovely Zara summer dress; the faded denim wearing moustached neighbourhood watch guy who was reading the employment section of a local neighbourhood paper, a slight, reedy looking young man wearing a yellow polo and  khakis talking in earnest on his cell phone is an eastern European language.  None of these details are relevant really, but it made for interesting dining fellows as I imagined their back stories.

I ordered a chicken melt sandwich from the Korean owner, who was adorable as he  shouted out my order to his wife on the grill less than two feet away. I think he was startled when she repeated his order in a softer volume behind him, not having realized she was so close 🙂

The sandwich was simple: two pieces of bread, mayonnaise with grilled chicken sliced evenly and glued together with a slice of cheddar cheese. Served on a plate with no added frills. It was filling enough. I also got a coffee which was pleasantly good.  They have a decent breakfast and sandwich selection,  at reasonable prices so I can imagine this being a quick, easy option for those on the go.

Crema Coffee

So apparently, this is *the* place to go for coffee in the area.  Very hip. Very stylish. Kind of expensive. The baristas are cute and nerdy, so totally adorable. Friends swear by their coffee, and it’s always busy whenever I go, so I imagine that strangers swear by their coffee too. For my part, I’m still not an expert on coffee so can’t swear by it, but I like it well enough to keep coming back once in a while.


Purple Onion

I went to the Purple Onion on a random Tuesday afternoon, after a serious bout of studying for my GMATs. Hungry and cranky, I was walking down Dundas, trying to decide where I wanted to eat when the name caught my eye. I have a thing for words. And names. Purple Onion appealed to me because it’s usually the only colour of onion I buy (that’s usually how I choose my onions) because well, it’s purple. Why wouldn’t I buy it?

Anyway, I digress. So there I am, walking down the street when I see the sign :

Rather bold statement from a place with that garish sign. I mean, surely they could have picked a prettier font or a better design for the signboard?  But then again, it serves steak AND breakfast. So maybe they’re entitled to a crappy sign!

When I entered, I was surprised to see there were quite a few people inside. Hmm..maybe it wasn’t a bad choice after all.  They have a rather extensive menu filled with the types of offerings that would be good for the soul though not necessarily for the body: Toasted Bacon, Jumbo burger, hot chicken sandwiches, 8, 10, 12, 14 oz steaks, Large breakfast platters. All rather designed to appeal to the carnivore in me. So I gave in, and ordered their Shepherd’s Pie. It was actually a mash of ground beef, mashed potatoes and veggies. Which is exactly what a Shepherd’s pie is, I know, but somehow it looked all scooped up onto a place, and mashed up together, instead of having a layered appearance. It was delicious and my lesson for the day was: appearances aren’t everything. It was also a reminder that I need to put it on my “Let’s revisit this place soon” list.

The IceCream Junction

My friend and I went to the Ice Cream Junction after a rather satisfying dinner at The Friendly Thai. In search of dessert, we walked in to the 1950’s style ice cream shop, a tiny gem of a place two blocks down.

 

We were already rather full, but couldn’t resist getting our own cones. The portions here are *very*generous. I got one scoop of their coconut which was really good (they serve Kawartha ice cream here), and couldn’t finish it, much to my disappointment. The cutest touch is that they also have a “small” – which is REALLY small, served in a little timbler like container , for 75 cents. 🙂

I also indulged in some of the retro candy they sell here. Prices are comparable to Greg’s downtown, but the added bonus is the cutesy, kitchy decor of the place that really does make you feel like a kid in a candy store. If I actually knew what being a kid in the 1950’s felt like, that is. Regardless, nostalgic or not, this place is a must-stop in The Junction.

 

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