Check out this up-and-coming Queen Street East neighbourhood in the locally approved way: over eggs Benny and mimosas.
Torontonians. We’re divided on Drake and doughnuts (donuts?) and the merits of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but on this we can all agree: a good brunch is worth lining up for.
Every hood has its hotspots, and the Degrassi district where Drake got his start is no exception. It’s called Riverside, and its main drag stretches along Queen Street East between the Don River to the west and Logan Avenue to the east. It’s a small neighbourhood, but it packs some of the city’s best brunch spots within its diminutive borders. So head east… and be prepared to visit again and again. Here are a few highlights.
If you know, you know, and most Torontonians know: Lady Marmalade does a great brunch. The space? Bright, open and minimalist, featuring Baltic birch walls, brass-and-glass fixtures and verdant greenery. The menu? Globally inspired dishes like a Moroccan scramble, huevos rancheritos and a Baja rice bowl. And the ingredients? High quality and highly customizable to cater to any dietary needs. But if you don’t have restrictions, try their spin on a breakfast poutine: home fries topped with cheese curds and hollandaise, with bacon and poached eggs.
Likelihood of a line: 10/10
This neighbourhood pillar of 20+ years almost always has a line (yes, even in winter). But the charming French patisserie and café will warm you up with its butter-yellow walls and cozy chez-nous vibe. The menu is small, French and ever changing with daily specials, including omelet, tart and quiche du jour. Order a few of their baked-that-morning pastries and baguettes to go because, trust us, you’ll be dreaming about this meal long after you leave. Bon appétit!
Likelihood of a line: 9/10
The Broadview Bistro + Bar
Mimosas, Bellinis and coffee martinis, oh my! If brunch at The Broadview gets a little boozy, it’s because this place feels so swanky, you’ll want to splash out and sip a coupe or two, pinkies up, of course. Don’t visit just because it’s ultra-Instagrammable (and it is, with huge windows, leather banquettes, a showpiece bar and neon lighting). The Broadview’s youthful elegance is underscored by amazing plates, with something for everyone, from eggs Benny to chicken and waffles to coconut-chia pudding.
Likelihood of a line: 8.5/10
White Lily Diner
If you’re more into the unch than the br of brunch, then this place is for you, with lots of diner-style sandwiches and salads in addition to classic breakfast options. Pastrami. Reuben. Grilled cheese. Meatloaf. Nothing here is fancy. It’s comfort fare with a secret ingredient: a genuine love for food. At White Lily, they bake their own bread, smoke their own meat, and prioritize seasonal and local ingredients. What they do, they do well—right down to the dill pickle atop your club. In September 2023, this restaurant was recognized with one of Toronto’s first MICHELIN Guide Green Stars.
Likelihood of a line: 8/10
And now for something completely different. O’Somae was built for the adventurous at heart with foodie fare that’s a little trendy and a lot delicious. Duck lovers, rejoice! Because this place offers duck confit poutine, waffles, burger and Benny (and lots of decadent options that don’t have duck, too). Whatever you pick, you’ll get fresh ingredients from local producers. Eating in? Snap a ’gram in front of the incredible wing mural by Toronto artist Adrianne Chan. Can’t get a seat? Order a picnic box to go and eat it back at your hotel, or at nearby Bruce Mackey Park if you’re bundled up. But beware — even in winter, these boxes sell out fast!
Likelihood of a line: 7/10
Prohibition Social House
Speakeasy-inspired Prohibition Social House serves up classic comfort food with a gastropub spin. Its robust menu spans the likes of French toast with strawberry Hennessy sauce to prime Angus strip loin and truffle fries, with loads of options for kids, too. With its dark walls and warm wood interior, it offers a cozy counterpoint to snowy streets, making it exactly the kind of place you can let brunch blur into afternoon cocktails with their gourmet sangrias.
Likelihood of a line: 4/10 (Make a reservation so you don’t have to wait!)
Getting to Riverside:
Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Queen station, then take the 501 Queen bus (which replaces the streetcar during construction) eastbound to Broadview Avenue.
Or take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Broadview station, then catch the 504 King bus (which replaces the streetcar during construction) southbound to Queen Street East.
Check ttc.ca for updates.