Here’s how to spend 12 hours chasing art, coffee, craft beer and niche shopping in one of Toronto’s coolest up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of spending 12 hours in the Junction and Junction Triangle may have sounded a little odd.
The west-end community was “dry”—meaning no alcohol was allowed to be served—until 2000. Until that changed, few restaurants dared try to make a living here, and that hampered the neighbourhood’s prospects overall.
What a difference a rule change and a couple of decades can make. Today’s Junction is a thriving place, where Torontonians seek out thought-provoking art, cool furniture, craft beer, rare LPs and what is arguably the tastiest smoked meat in the city.
Today’s Junction offers more than a day’s worth of entertainment and eats, so don’t dally. Follow this itinerary and make it snappy.
Morning: Dundas Street West
You’re in for a long voyage, so provision yourself with an espresso and muffin at the Junction Yacht Club, which has to be one of the friendliest—and roomiest—coffee shops in Toronto.
You’re spoiled for sit-down brunch options: The Mexican-esque Cool Hand of a Girl is a local fave and in-the-know diners would also steer you toward Luna Junction, for an order of hearty shakshuka, two poached eggs in tomato sauce with Merguez lamb sausage and feta.
Or if you’d rather walk and eat, pick up sandwiches to go from When The Pig Came Home. Its smoked meat could be the best Toronto has to offer, and its peameal bacon sandwich—a local specialty often mentioned as a Toronto must-try—is a strong contender for best in the west.
Afternoon: Shopping, then art
Ready to walk off that food? Great. You’ll have a swell time discovering shops along Dundas Street West on your own, but make sure not to miss a few gems.
First, there’s Pandemonium, one of the city’s largest and best-stocked used book and LP stores. For a conversation piece, buy a copy of Power Windows by the legendary Toronto rock band Rush. Pandemonium’s owner Neill Cunningham was the boy on the album cover. As a lark, he tends to have a few copies for sale.
Second, find some serenity now at Mjölk, which offers an exquisitely tasteful selection of housewares and furniture, from Scandinavian sofas to Japanese ceramics and wood crafts.
Third, TYPE Books is a favourite of local literature lovers, who appreciate its curated approach—it’s that friend who always has a book recommendation for you.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, hop over to Sterling Road (a 10-minute walk from Lansdowne or Dundas West subway stations) to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
The institution arrived in its current home, a former aluminum foundry and manufacturing plant, in late 2018. By the way, if you’re hungry, there’s a location of artisan bakeshop Forno Cultura on the first floor.
Night: Sterling Road
Before dinner, stop in for a beer or two at the tasting room (really a big, convivial garage) at Henderson Brewing Company. It makes a variety of brews—of which the Export Stout and Nordic Lager are standouts—and hosts an eclectic array of food pop-ups throughout the summer.
Now mark the arrival of the 12th hour with dinner at Spaccio West. Part of local chain Terroni’s mini-empire of southern Italian restaurants, this commissary kitchen concept serves up from-scratch pasta, wood-fired pizza and daily specials in a converted factory with a convivial patio out front.
It also functions as a food store, with take-home offerings ranging from wine and cheese to fancy olive oil and bread.
Does the night still feel young? If you’re up for a few more hours of fun in the area, see Date Night in the Junction for more ideas.
Getting to the Junction
Take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Dundas West station
Or take the Junction 40 bus to Keele Street