Go manga or book shopping, grab a bite and catch some culture in this cool Toronto neighbourhood.
Known for its indie style, lively street vibe and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, the Annex neighbourhood is a gathering place for students from the nearby University of Toronto, as well as the culture mavens who come for an indie documentary and stay for shopping and schnitzel.
The main action takes place on Bloor Street West between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue (take the subway to Spadina or Bathurst stations and you’re there). Here’s a look at 10 boho hangouts in this iconic neighbourhood.
Nix the fast fashion and update your wardrobe with #ootd-worthy one-of-a-kind vintage and preloved finds at Common Sort.
Treat yourself to a collector’s edition Dutch roadster or an uber-portable foldup Brompton at Curbside Cycle, a mainstay in this bike-loving neighbourhood.
Load up on comics, manga and art books at the independently owned Thunderstruck Books. Look for a souvenir copy of Scott Pilgrim, which was largely set in the Annex—you’ll recognize a few spots around the neighbourhood if you’ve seen the film.
Get lost for a couple of hours at discount superstore BMV. With around 1,400 square metres (15,000 sq ft) of bargain books and films to explore, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to dig up something unexpected.
If you’re sniffing out an especially unique or rare second-hand read, Seekers Books fills its basement space with thousands of titles across all genres, including an impressive selection of esoteric subjects like alien encounters and the occult.
Also see: Literary Toronto: Guide for Book Lovers
Cafeteria-inspired Future Bistro is a longtime Annex staple patronized by locals and students for its inexpensive comfort food and relaxed atmosphere. It offers filling breakfast options and a wide variety of baked goods.
Country Style Hungarian Restaurant
One of the few holdouts left on a strip that was once chockablock with Eastern European restaurants, Country Style Hungarian Restaurant is a great place to stuff your plate (and belly) with authentic schnitzel, cabbage rolls and goulash.
By The Way Café
For a lighter bite, By The Way Café has been loved by locals since 1979. It offers Mediterranean food with an Israeli influence, plus a bustling patio during the warmer months.
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
This landmark century-old movie theatre bookends the Annex’s western border with Koreatown. Known colloquially as Hot Docs Cinema, this intellectual hotspot is always screening something interesting, whether it’s a documentary or an entire film fest. Visit in spring for the annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
Originally built in 1919 as a movie theatre, Lee’s Palace has enjoyed a second act as a legendary concert venue since 1985. A number of iconic acts have played here, including Oasis, Blue Rodeo, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins … and Scott Pilgrim and his band Sex Bob-Omb.
Getting to the Annex
Take the Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) subway to Bathurst or Spadina stations.