Sandwiched between Greektown and Scarborough, the east end neighbourhood is a trove of unique businesses
As Second City makes a temporary home in the new Comedy Bar in Danforth Village, the east-end neighbourhood will become more of a destination. Here are the best independent restaurants and retailers on the changing strip of Danforth Avenue.
Where to eat
Len Duckworth Fish & Chips
A fixture of “best fish and chip” lists, Len Duckworth (est. 1929) is one of Toronto’s longest-running restaurants. The fresh-cut halibut, fried to non-greasy perfection and served with a hearty side of chips, keeps reelin’ em in year after year.
2638 Danforth, 416-699-5865, lenduckworthfishandchips.ca
Two Brothers Shawarma
You could swing one of those shovel-shaped meat paddles and hit a half-dozen great shawarma options in Toronto – but few like the Turkish-style shawarma at Two Brothers. Piled high inside a thick, Greek-style pita and smothered with a house hot sauce they keep warm on the grill, it’s a tasty, hearty lunch option that’s absolutely worth a special trip.
2825 Danforth, 416-699-2233, twobrothersshawarma.ca
Vegan I Thali & Shola Food Mart
This two-for-one business packs an east African/Caribbean restaurant and grocery store under one roof. Get corn soup, macaroni pie and injera platters served fresh – or hit the shelves and bulk bins and pick up everything you need to make your own.
2768 Danforth, 416-901-5178, @-sholaveganithali
Homestyle joints vastly outnumber trendier eateries on this stretch of the Danforth, but if you get a hankering for oysters, charcuterie or a seasonal cocktail, this new bistro (a sister restaurant to Dundas and Carlaw and Mom’s Basement) should be your first stop.
2408 Danforth, @eastons_yyz
East Toronto Coffee Co.
Also relatively scarce: Espresso bars – at least, compared to the three-cafes-per-block rate you might see in other neighbourhoods. This cute cafe will happily scratch that itch with a Rufino house roast, plus more opulent options like rainbow lattes, torched-marshmallow hot chocolates and a variety of sweet treats.
2318 Danforth, east-toronto-coffee-co.square.site
Homesick Hungarians (and anyone in need of a big ol’ plate full of comfort) flock to this white-tableclothed bistro a little east of Woodbine, where owners (and wives) Edit Csoma and -Lorie Ditchon serve dishes based on Csoma’s family- recipes. Flavourful, vast schnitzels are the go-to here, but save room for the Hungarian torte or Russian-style cream cake.
2183 Danforth, 647-347-5047, visitbudapestrestaurant.ca
Formerly located at Danforth and Pharmacy, this now-takeout-only spot (named for chef-owner Mayette- Murillo) doubles as a catering outfit, with traditional Filipino treats like lumpia available by the party platter. The fried chicken is a must-order, but the palabok and adobo also draw in their share of fans.
15 Patterson, 416-463-0338, mayettes.ca
Danforth Village is home to a trove of Bangladeshi restaurants – including this popular eatery and community hangout spot, which started out in the mid-90s as a video store and snack counter. A regional mix of homestyle dishes are represented on the menu, from curries to pakoras and sweets.
2994 Danforth, 416-694-8720, facebook.com/GhoroaaRestaurant
A little trendier than the decidedly more old-school Ghoroaa, Adda presents Bangladeshi snack staples like pani puri and fragrant dal poori, plus show-stopping eats like biryani and yogurt-marinated, slow-cooked biye bari chicken in the glow of neon lights.
3342 Danforth, 647-347-2332, addacanada.com
Sandwiched next to Adda is this minuscule sweets counter run by a husband-and-wife team, with roughly 30 sweets on offer, from cake-like laddoos to kalo jam (similar to gulab jamun) and pitha. Pro tip: Go early before your favourite sells out.
3342 Danforth, 647-739-1389, facebook.com/runzu4
Beach Hill Smokehouse
Head south over the Main Street overpass to Gerrard, where the original location of this beloved east-end BBQ spot turns out southern delights from a 7,000-pound indoor smoker. Get the burnt ends if they’re available, but unless you’re quick, they won’t be (in which case, tender brisket, smoky sausages, fluffy cornbread and creamy banana pudding cups it is).
172 Main, 416-792-8275, beachhillsmokehouse.com
Aubin Cooper has been operating this jerk spot for nearly two decades (a second location was recently added on Eglinton). The moist, not-too–fiery jerk chicken is their signature, but don’t sleep on the oxtail and roti.
146 Main, 416-693-8724, coolrunningsrestaurant.com
Where to shop
This low-key shopping destination has a sister location in Kensington – but you’re way less likely to have competition for the good stuff out here. Vintage Depot boasts a mix of mall brands and real-deal vintage, with everything (from jeans to leather jackets to army blankets) all at low -prices. (Personal fave score: A $400 Orla Kiely designer bag for $30.)
2777 Danforth, 416-792-6513, vintagedepotcanada.com
The Twelfth Fret
Guitarists looking to give their axe a little TLC get set up (ha) for success by the knowledgeable staff at this stringed instrument shop. They’ve been a local favourite for nearly four decades (during which the drool-worthy array of hollow-body Gretsches and limited-edition Fenders have dinged many a credit card). Please note that the shop is currently curbside-only.
2132 Danforth, 416-423-2132, 12fret.com
Old’s Cool General Store
Take a stroll 15 minutes north of Main to this mission-driven variety shop, which serves as a community hub where owners and activists Zahra Dhanani and Mariko Nguyen-Dhanani can spread the word about social issues. Here, whimsical art prints and housemade bath products sit next to Pride flags and a wealth of reading material, including social justice-oriented books and kid-friendly books about BIPOC historical figures.
250 Westlake, 416-425-9084, oldscoolgeneralstore.com
If you count “making tiny versions of much -larger things” (trains, boats, planes, buildings, Tokyo-destroying robots) among your hobbies, this 50-year-old hobby supply store should absolutely be on your radar. You’ll find kits and building materials for your next product, along with the knowledgeable, friendly advice to make it happen.
2188 Danforth, 416-421-1850, johnshobbies.ca
Looking for canned tomatillos? Oaxaca cheese? Chili-lime Fritos? This specialty grocer stocks all manner of goods imported from Latin America – groceries, cleaning supplies, gifts, you name it. (There’s even pre-made eats like pupusas and vegan empanadas available to go.)
1237C Woodbine, 416-792-6040, tiendamovil.ca
Press Vinyl Cafe
A record store and cafe: What better place to hunker down on a rainy afternoon? This two-floor shop is the perfect place to while away the hours digging through reasonably priced vinyl (affixed with fun notes from the staff) or pick up a brew, a muffin, or maybe even some popcorn from the refurbished vintage machine.
2442 Danforth, 437-226-7732, quarantunes.me