How to spend 12 hours digging 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 1997, and only went fully “wet” in 2000. Until that changed, few restaurants dared try to make a living here, and that hampered the neighbourhood’s prospects overall.
The Junction was quiet, and not a destination.
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 12 hours’ 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 (2880 Dundas St. W.), which has to be one of the friendliest—and roomiest—coffee shops in Toronto.
You’re spoiled for sit-down brunch options: The Beet Organic Kitchen & Bar (2968 Dundas St. W.) for veggie fare, say, or the Mexican-esque Cool Hand of a Girl (2804 Dundas St. W.). In-the-know locals would also steer you toward Luna Junction (2880 Dundas St. W.), particularly for an order of shakshuka, a tomatoey Middle Eastern breakfast dish.
Or if you’d rather walk and eat, pick up sandwiches to go from when the pig came home (3035 Dundas St. W.). Its smoked meat could be the best Toronto has to offer, and its peameal bacon sandwich—a local specialty, it’s often mentioned as a Toronto must-try—is a strong contender for best in the west (end).
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 (2920 Dundas St. W.), 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 (2959 Dundas St. W.), which offers an exquisitely tasteful selection of housewares and furniture, from Scandinavian sofas to kitchen tools that show off the best of traditional Japanese metalwork.
Third, TYPE Books (2887 Dundas St. W.) 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) (158 Sterling Rd.), 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 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 (128A Sterling Rd.). It makes a variety of brews, of which the Export Stout and Nordic Lager are standouts.
Now mark the arrival of the 12th hour with dinner at the Drake Commissary (128 Sterling Rd.). A meal at the Commissary means something that sounds humble—roast chicken, steak or a burger—but tastes fantastic. It also functions as a food store, with take-home offerings ranging from fancy bread to fancy ketchup.
Getting to the Junction:
- Take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Dundas West station
- Or take the Junction 40 bus to Keele Street