If you haven’t been to Roncesvalles yet, shame on you. Time to plan a day trip to this brimming neighbourhood before the hipsters stake the territory as their own. They always get to the good spots first. It’s those black-frame glasses, they’re like a second set of eyes.
If you’re into vintage clothing, local eateries, book stores, boutiques and coffee shops, Roncesvalles is the place for you.
Get yourself to Queen and Roncesvalles. If you’re biking or driving, there are lots of places to park or chain up. And it’s easy to get to via streetcar. Walk a few blocks north on Roncesvalles until you hit Marion.
Starting Point: Cherry Bomb Coffee (Coffee Shop) 79 Roncesvalles Ave.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB! The Runaways? Anyone? No worries, people don’t come here for music. They come for the rich, creamy, decadent coffee. This is one of my favourite coffee shops in all of Toronto. The prices are fair, the coffee beans of high quality, the baristas polite and the ambience clean, simple and veryToronto. There’s a thin-framed bicycle hanging on the wall, a black chalkboard menu and orange bucket chairs out front. The patrons are friendly too. I met a butler who mistook me for a Spanish tourist. I’m from Mississauga. Cheers Elvir.
Mrs. Huizenga (a self-described Vintage Mecca) 121 Roncesvalles Ave.
With a name like that how can the clothes not be trendy? This one is for the guys and the girls. Featuring slick fedoras, skinny ties, old school blazers, floral print dresses, dated shirts, a sweet collection of antique furniture and a sex trivia board game—this place is rad. Forget Kensington, if you want vintage, step inside and explore the past.
Abstract Tree (Polish Restaurant) 133 Roncesvalles Ave.
Perogies, goulash, sandwiches, borscht and beer. I’m salivating just thinking of it. Watch out for paprika, the chef sprinkles it on everything. I recommend blueberry perogies served with sour cream. The dough is savoury, the blueberries sweet and the sour cream, well, sour. The sandwiches are hearty and tasty too. Take a seat in the backyard patio with canopying trees and hard soil ground; it’s a mini oasis.
Sweetpea’s (Urban Garden Store) 163 Roncesvalles Ave.
When humidity is rampant and the sun is broiling, this is the ideal shop to browse in. It’s airy, fragrant and spacious. Sweetpea’s houses a beautiful collection of landscape, garden and floral products, quirky greeting cards and miscellaneous household items. Out back lies a modest garden centre with lush greenery. With mugs selling for $24.99 a pop, you might want to pack a credit card.
Granowska’s (Polish Bakery) 175 Roncesvalles Ave.
If fruit could kiss, this would be one knee-buckler of a kiss. Wrap your lips around a soft, creamy and oh so fruity scoop of peach mango gelato and I promise you’ll be begging for more. Lactose intolerant? Not a problem, it’s dairy-free! Try not to drool as your eyes wander to the glass display filled with delectable pastries, doughnuts, cakes and tarts.
The Mercantile (Specialty Foods & Treats) 297 Roncesvalles Ave.
My friend has been on the hunt for a bacon chocolate bar for months. We stumbled upon this and an array of other eclectic foods items inside the diverse Mercantile shop. If you’re in search of rare food items such as soda, chocolate, candy, jam, vinegars or oil, give this spot a gander.
Another Story Bookshop (Book Store) 315 Roncesvalles Ave.
This book shop isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it has a diverse range of literature and is queer friendly. They also host local author nights if you’re into live readings. A Good Read is just a few stores up if you enjoy rummaging through dense collections of old, rare books at affordable prices.
End Point: The Roncy St. Gallery (Art Gallery) 394 Roncesvalles Ave.
One of the artists setting up for an early August opening let me take a gander. In the dark. At night. With a flickering flashlight. Did I mention the black-painted, brick-walled basement downstairs? Creepily fantastic. Robot sculptures greeted me at the foot of the stairs followed by abstract canvas paintings and…wait for it… pornographic picture boxes. Peek inside to catch a pervy glimpse of Barbie dolls in various sex positions. Complete with pubic hair and…um, ahem. Stains…there are no words.
Catch a mainstream, foreign or classic film at the Revue Cinema, grab a pint at The Local, a bite at The Dizzy or back-track toQueen Street, cross the pedestrian overpass and take a stroll along Lakeshore.
Still not sold? Here’s a list of more cool spots to check out along Roncy.
Imelda, 213 Roncesvalles Ave.
Frock,97 Roncesvalles Ave.
Benna’s Bakery and Deli,135 Roncesvalles Ave.
Lit Espresso Bar,221 Roncesvalles Ave.
Film Buff,73 Roncesvalles Ave.
Chocolateria,361 Roncesvalles Ave
Alternative Grounds,333 Roncesvalles Ave.
7th Sister Bakery,53 Roncesvalles Ave.
Barque Smoke House,299 Roncesvalles Ave.
West Side Cycle,213 Roncesvalles Ave.