For many Torontonians, Parkdale embodies the ideal urban neighbourhood. Once a favourite with the city’s well-to-do, this West End community is defined largely by its stunning heritage homes and gorgeous mature trees. The area has also become known for its diversity, its eclectic local businesses, and its bohemian-chic vibe. Part of what makes the neighbourhood so unique is its location. It isn’t quite nearby Roncesvalles (which is steeped in village charm), nor is it a carbon copy of ultra-hip West Queen West (an area that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away). While Parkdale draws some of its appeal from these neighbouring areas, it retains an authentic character all its own.
If you’re thinking of moving to Parkdale, here are five things you should know about the neighbourhood…
1) It’s within walking distance of the waterfront
There’s no doubt about: Parkdale residents have access to one of the most beautiful waterfront views in the city. Motorists driving along Roncesvalles Avenue are treated to a spectacular vista as they drive past Queen Street West. A glistening expanse of Lake Ontario meets up with Toronto’s iconic skyline in the distance. Along the lakeshore, you’ll find Sunnyside Beach. Once a major attraction, the beach was partially cut off from the surrounding area during the construction of the Gardiner Expressway. Today, this sandy stretch is still a gorgeous spot to sit and look out onto the water. Turn the corner toward King Street, and you’ll find a paved trail flanked by pretty green space—another great vantage point for those seeking lakeside views.
2) The food scene is diverse
Parkdale has an incredibly diverse food scene, which includes some of the most buzz-worthy restaurants in the city. Chantecler is a clear standout. At this stylish little bistro, you’ll find French staples like perfectly-prepared duck and succulent escargot. Local Kitchen and Winebar serves up savoury Italian food prepared with farm-to-table ingredients, while Tennessee Tavern pairs Eastern European dishes (like schnitzel and cabbage rolls) with a wide selection of craft beers. Parkdale also offers some of the best Tibetan food in Toronto—I’m especially fond of Tibet Kitchen, which is known for its flavourful curries. Last but certainly not least, do yourself a favour and try the fresh bread, pakoras, and dahl at Daiko, an affordable go-to for local West Indian cuisine.
3) The architecture is incredible
Parkdale was once one of the most affluent pockets of the city, and many of the neighbourhood’s homes reflect that. If you appreciate historic architecture, take a stroll down Cowan or Dunn Avenue. Along these tree-lined streets, you’ll spot Victorian mansions featuring ornate stained glass and other period details. Those in the market for a heritage home will be pleased to learn that there are still many relatively-affordable options in the area. I also suggest making a trip to see a true architectural marvel—the nearby Palais Royale. This lavish event space was designed in the 1920s, and it’s as gorgeous today as it was in its heyday.
4) You’ll find some of the city’s best spots for a coffee
No doubt about it: we Torontonians love our coffee. Luckily, Parkdale is one of the best neighbourhoods in the city if you’re looking for a well-crafted caffeinated beverage. One of the community’s hotspots is Capital Espresso, a cozy little shop that serves up perfectly-pulled espresso shots and a unique selection of baked goods. Grab your laptop for a work session, or pop in on your way to work. Nearby, Grocery Coffee offers strong caffeine fixes, decadent iced drinks, and grab-and-go sandwiches. The Abbott is a recent addition to the area’s coffee-shop scene, and it’s already accumulated its own band of loyal fans. Located on Spencer Avenue, this small space is known for its flavourful espresso and eccentric antique decor.
5) The shops are one-of-a-kind
Shopping in Parkdale is always a bit of an adventure. You could spend days hunting for hidden treasures in the vintage clothing and antique shops along Queen Street West. The always-trendy 96 Tears is a favourite for fashion-forward thrifters, while Passion for the Past sells beautiful statement-piece decor from bygone eras. If you’re a jewellery lover, I suggest checking out the creations of over 100 local designers at Made You Look. Sylvie and Shimmy is a great local go-to for sophisticated women’s basics (especially denim and knitwear), while Klaxton Howl is the perfect spot for stylish men’s streetwear.
Still looking for your perfect house or condo in Parkdale? You can check out recent listings in the neighbourhood here. If you have any questions about the area, feel free to get in touch!