Dundas Walking Tour
For those that know, when I go all in on a neighbourhood, I go all the way in. For years, I was a ride or die Parkdale girl. One friend remarked, “I’ve never met a girl so in love with the hood”. But things change and I hate to break it to you Parkdale, but your time is officially up.
Just this past May, I made the big scary move up to Dundas Street West (close to Lansdowne Avenue). I had been hearing mumurs and buzz about how Dundas Street West was the “hip” and “cool” new neighbourhood to be in. But that wasn’t what encouraged my move up into the hood. I really just wanted a decent place with a decent rent price and a nice backyard. Yes, those exist in this neighborhood (am I letting an insider secret out?). What I came to realize though in the last few months of living in Dundas West: not only were those previous murmurs true but there was so much more to this hood that people had not yet discovered. Maybe Dundas Street West is the most boss place to be. I’ll show you why.
My girl Yuli and I decided to hit the streets (we’ve re-created our entire walking tour in this neat-o FourSquare Map so you can walk the streets with us. We started off at Spadina and Dundas and journeyed all the way back home. The great thing about this stretch of Dundas is you won’t just find restaurants and bars but jewelers, independent grocery stores/butchers, record stores, art galleries, design shops, hair salons and so much more. We’ve even highlighted it in this video, where so many of the businesses not mentioned in this article show up.
You see, the thing about Dundas Street West is it has everything Queen West does without the pretension. You’ll find hipsters and families and yuppies all strolling about together enjoying the streets. Dundas Street West blends together so many different cultures. Further east, you’ll begin in ChinaTown but as you begin to walk westward you’ll eventually end up in Little Portugal.
In our adventures across Dundas Street, we met so many incredible business owners. Desiree, owner and jewelry designer at Armed (1024 Dundas Street W) spoke to me very candidly saying, “On a street like Dundas, the rent prices aren’t as crazy as places like Queen West but I’m still able to have that street appeal.” Down the street at Le Dolci (1006 Dundas Street W), we were treated to Raspberry-Lemonade Ice Pops (made locally by Augie’s) where one of the girls behind the counter told us she loves that not only can they capitalize off all the foot traffic from Trinity Bellwoods but captures the interest of those in the neighborhood genuinely interested in the creation of fresh baked goods.
You’ll hit what looks like storage units just sitting at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas Street W) but in reality it houses mini-food huts and a bike repair shop. I spoke with Hong-Jin Fang who houses The Original One Bubble Tea and she told me she is open everyday making not only bubble tea but dim sum. Impressive and much better than McDonalds around the corner.
If you’re like me and enjoy a good coffee you’ve got so many choices on Dundas, that is almost unbelievable. Ezra’s Pound (913 Dundas Street W) with its charming patio, quirky & wonderful baristas and fabulously rich espresso. Across the street, you will find Ella’s Uncle (916 Dundas Street W). Inside the coffee is just right and they offer an assorted of in-store baked goods. Sorry folks, these are not organic or gluten-free. While they don’t offer up much in the way of seating, I had the chance to speak with a girl outside who told me (an actual quote): “I know some people have their coffee places, but I wouldn’t go anywhere else. The people, the espresso, the vibe – this starts my day off.”
If you’ve ever wondered about where to take a first date, there are too many places to name it’s ridiculous. First and foremost, my mind always jumps immediately to Magpie (831 Dundas Street West) or The Communist’s Daughter (1149 Dundas Street West). Inside the Commie’s Daughter, you’ll find one server. Mismatched chairs. A jukebox and cheap drinks. It’s a total dive bar. But it’s small and intimate and makes for an awesome way to get close with your potential partner. Watch the video for my epic loving rant on Magpie. As for if you’re looking to shake your ass, there are too many places to go. It seems like all the bars have migrated up to Dundas: Camp 4 (1173 Dundas Street W), Get Well (1181 Dundas Street W), The Red Light (1185 Dundas Street W) and Bambi’s (1265 Dundas Street W). No matter what your party agenda for a Friday or Saturday evening, you could literally start at Dundas and Dovercourt and find whatever your fancy all within walking doors within eachother.
Finally, you don’t have to go to just Kensington Market or St Lawrence Market for your fresh meat or beautiful cheeses. You can get that on Dundas, too. Two of the best butchers shops are located almost right across from one another: Salsicharia Pavao (1435 Dundas Street W) and Nosso Talho (1326 Dundas Street W). The specials are always worth getting because the price is right and the meat is good quality. The dudes working here are just your neighborhood Porteguese butchers who will hook you up. Down the street, you’ll find Grain, Curd & Bean (1414 Dundas Street W) which has a fabulous array of cheeses. I already have on my to-do list to go back and check out their Duck & Pistachio Terrine. The girl behind the counter was quick to let us sample a lot of the different cheeses and let us know that they fully supported Canadian farmers.
So really, since moving to Dundas, I feel like I’ve made the right decision. I don’t venture much off this strip because it’s got everything I need. I know I’ve missed so many places. But really, there are so many places to mention that it’s hard to put it all into one article. What you should know is Dundas Street West is what I’m reppin’ and what y’all should be reppin’ as well. Come correct or don’t come at all.
More photos and bonus footage video:
Photos, Film & Editing by Yuli Scheidt