Best of CityPlace

Independent cafes near CityPlace destinations with so much to offer

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You wouldn’t know it at a quick glance, but there are several independent cafes near CityPlace and Fort York.

Here are our top picks, followed by our favourite runner-ups.

Le Gourmand has been on Spadina Avenue for 16 years, about as long as CityPlace has. It is truly is my go-to.

Michelle, the cafe’s manager, tells me the chocolate chip cookie is the best-selling food item. When I ask her, we both laugh because we already know the answer. The crispy and gooey amazing pieces of sin are not to be left behind. Read my description here.

When I ask her what the cookie secret is, the answer is not as obvious. “I can’t tell you.” We laugh again.

Oh yeah, the cafe offers coffee too.

The beans are from a company called Reunion Island. My favourite is the macchiato, with just enough foam that you can still taste the robust and smooth coffee that lies underneath.

Le Gourmand’s best selling drinks are the double Americano and latte, Michelle tells me.

The cafe also serves a ton of different food, including breakfast, sandwiches and homemade meals such as meatloaf, jerk chicken, and lasagna.

Eggs Norwegian | Smoked Salmon | Gryfes Bagel | #brunchinthesix

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On weekends, brunch is served, and their kothu roti is fantastic; hearty and spicy, it’s the best brunch dish in the area, in my opinion, if you’re looking for something other than bacon and eggs.

The cafe is in the midst of trying to secure a truck to deliver the cookies with milk to different events such as kids’ birthdays and office parties, to raise funds for The Hospital for Sick Children. In December, Sick Kids drove the truck around offering cookies and milk for a suggested donation of $10, with the money going directly to the hospital. Le Gourmand wants to make that happen again, but on a more ongoing basis.

Aside from those cookies that I could write about all day, the cafe offers many products that make the space feel European. Tall bottles of Italian olive oil sit beside massive containers of hot antipasto spread. The best-selling product is the Sloane tea, a local product which comes in beautiful tins, a simple gift for a tea-lover.

The clientele is made up of people who live in the area but sees a lot of tourists in the summer months. There is a balanced crowd of people working on their laptops (there’s wifi), and people eating cookies. Yes, I went there again.

My macchiato is ready, and I ask Michelle if she has anything to add.

“Try the cookie,” she says.

More laughter.

Le Gourmand, 152 Spadina Ave., north of Richmond Street

Strange Love is our newest favourite because of its quirk.

The back area of the cafe is small but has more seating than you’d expect, with a huge window overlooking a room of high-tops and a big family-sized table.

Bruce, the head barista, is obviously proud of the coffee and the cafe. He tells me the three roasters are all Canadian, from Alberta and Ontario and rotate monthly.

Their best-selling coffee is the Lover’s Latte, their version of a vanilla latte, made with Tonka beans from South America ground up into a syrup.

“Its aromatics are floral,” Bruce describes.

His favourite is the regular drip coffee. A no-nonsense barista!

The cafe has been open since February. It makes its food in-house, items such as cookies, croissants, danishes, and tiny bagels that I need to go back and try.

The customers during the week are primarily office workers in the area. On the weekends, customers linger more (there’s wifi) and treat it as a destination, Bruce explains.

Behind the baristas hangs a TV with Yelp reviews of the cafe.

The quirk is in the products for sale. Yes, the offer filters and cups, but also board games, plants, and terrariums, a fun combination of “high-quality items,” Bruce says.

Strange Love, 101 Spadina Ave., south of Adelaide St.

Once you try our top two, check out our runner-up choices:

Roastery Coffee House at 401 Richmond has a robust cup of drip and homemade food every day. It truly is a hidden gem that not many people know about, in a huge heritage building that houses bookshops and art galleries. You could spend all day here! 401 Richmond St., east of Spadina Avenue

French Made is the neighbourhood’s newest option, located at the bottom of the Bisha Hotel.

Coffee ✅ Muffin ✅ Scone ✅

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The selling point is that you can get our caffeine fix practically anytime, it’s open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The cafe offers house-made pastries and sandwiches too. 80 Blue Jays Way south of King Street

At Little Nicky’s you should go for the coffee, and stay for the made-to-order powdered sugar doughnuts. We’re not kidding.

They’ll make these little devilish treats right in front of you and stick them in a steamy paper bag. You won’t regret it. The coffee is excellent, and the tiny personality-filled place feels genuinely local. 375 Queen St. W, entrance on Peter Street

Soma is a classic. Chocolate everything, hot chocolate, chocolate truffles, chocolate gelato. But they have coffee too! A hearty cup accompanied with a truffle … because … why not? 443 King St., west of Spadina Avenue

 

 

Diana Pereira

Diana Pereira is a journalist, a university journalism teacher, a world traveller, a fair-weather kayaker, and a frequent bruncher. She's working on her mermaid status, travelling to as many countries as she can that include a body of water and when she's home in Toronto, you can find her in a kayak on Lake Ontario.