The Church and Yonge corridor has been home to the celebrated gay and lesbian district of Toronto, known as The Village, for decades. It covers Bloor Street down to Front Street from Bay over to Jarvis, and boasts some stunning 19th century architecture, since Jarvis Street was at the time home to some of Toronto’s wealthiest families. Today many of the impressive buildings remain, but now house popular restaurants and vibrant patios. The addition of high-end grocery stores into this friendly neighbourhood that’s close to downtown, has led to it becoming a destination for condo developers, families and folk of all walks. People come from all over at the end of June each year for musical performances and a giant street party known as the Pride festival. The area is serviced by the Yonge-Spadina subway via Wellesley Station and frequent bus services run both east-west and north-south.
Head over to Jarvis to dine in some historic architecture: The Keg Mansion’s grand proportions and dark dramatic interior make it a date-night favourite. For a more modern option, Guu Izakaya on Church Street is the city’s inaugural restaurant of the energetic Japanese pub chain. Or further north Camrose offers healthy organic food (including a killer kale salad and curried chick peas) in a fuss-free setting.
The Keg, 515 Jarvis
Ganzi Osteria, 504 Jarvis
Guu Izakaya, 398 Church Streeet
Camrose Organic Eatery, 25 Hayden Street
What was once Maple Leaf Gardens is now a giant Loblaws Food Emporium, popular with families due to the spacious indoor canteen. Church Street also offers quality farm-reared meats at Cumbrae’s and All the Best Fine Foods sells high-end prepared meals, as well as pickles and local and imported cheeses.
Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens, 60 Carlton Street
Cumbrae’s,481 Church Street
All the Best Fine Foods, 483 Church Street
The Village is home to some quality independent coffee shops. Java Jive is a neighbourhood institution, popular for its brunch and sunny summer patio. Further south Bulldog Coffee serves up a perfect cappuccino with a dog drawn into the foam. For something stronger, the area is filled with bars and patios, but the Church and Maitland corner home to The Churchmouse and Firkin and O’Grady’s is best for people-watching. Further south, The Hair of the Dog has a smaller more secluded patio and caters to the cocktail crowd.
Java Jive, 585 Church Street
Bulldog Coffee, 89 Granby Street
Churchmouse and Firkin, 475 Church Street
O’ Grady’s, 518 Church Street
Hair of the Dog, 425 Church Street
Out and About
Much of this neighbourhood is connected by a series of parkettes, filled with dog walkers and families. Over on Jarvis is the impressive glass-fronted building of The National Ballet, where classes are on offer for adults, children and youth. The Buddies in Bad Times theatre is well-established gay and lesbian theatre that celebrates alternative thought-provoking productions.
The National Ballet, 440 Jarvis Street
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street