Local insider tips on where to eat for a proper intro to the Gerrard East neighbourhood.
Part of what makes Toronto so spectacular is its neighbourhoods, which have their own distinctive personality and charm. Already home to established communities, like Leslieville, Cabbagetown, and The Beaches, Toronto’s east end also comprises one of the city’s emerging hot spots: Gerrard Street East.
Previously, you might have only passed through en route to ethnic enclaves, East Chinatown and Little India. But over the last few years, Gerrard Street East has become a veritable hot spot for locals and visitors alike.
Affectionately dubbed #Gerrones by locals (after Gerrard and Jones streets, where much of the action is concentrated), here you’ll find plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and bars to give you a great introduction to this hip Toronto neighbourhood.
Dineen Outpost is the east-end location of Dineen Coffee Co. Its space is marked by arched light fixtures, a large wrap-around bar and pink marble tables. The gold “Toronto” floor tiles provide an Instagram-worthy photo op! The outdoor patio, enclosed by a white picket fence, is a great place to post up along bustling Gerrard Street East.
You can find all the usual suspects here, from lattes to flat whites, in addition to baked goods, locally-sourced sandwiches and salads. Head to their online shop to pick up coffee beans, tea, and coffee accessories (with free shipping above certain minimums within Ontario and Canada).
Known for its minimal aesthetic, white floor tiles and premium coffee, Hailed Coffee quickly became a neighbourhood institution after opening its doors and has since opened a second location at College Park.
My picks: the Hailed cappuccino with cardamom syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Hailed sells its own chocolate, Cardamella (Cardamom salted caramel chocolate), and desserts.
Coffee and Clothing
Want to shop cool vintage pieces while caffeinating at the same time? Then check out Coffee and Clothing—a hip store selling coffee made from in-house roasted coffee beans and individually hand-picked vintage clothing. You can also purchase their coffee beans and clothing online.
Eats and Entertainment
Known for it’s handmade pasta, Wynona is a more upscale option on Gerrard Street East, offering dinner service from Monday through Saturday. On the menu, you’ll find appetizers like grilled escarole and shaved brussels sprout salad, and mains like the roasted carrot ravioli with ricotta salata, ginger and hazelnut crumb.
The interior is bright, neutral and minimal, and during the warmer months, they have an inviting outdoor patio.
Lake Inez is a restaurant with big character in Little India! This spot offers excellent seasonal Pan-Asian cuisine. Plates on the regularly changing menu are small, tasty and meant for sharing.
The dining room—marked by a large, handmade stained-glass mosaic—is a quirky space greeting patrons. Guests can also opt for the mystery patio tasting menu during the late spring and summer months.
Pinkerton’s Snack Bar
Go to Pinkerton’s Snack Bar for delicious Asian-inspired bar bites, like kimchi French fries and pork neck pancakes. Pinkerton’s also serves a variety of baos and a good selection of cocktails, spirits and beer (including tall cans). The menu is compact and changes often, based on what chef Andy Wilson can get seasonally from local markets.
Named after a Weezer album, this hip bar has a loud and lively atmosphere with friendly service and was the perfect place to grab a drink and late-night eats in the neighbourhood.
As its name suggests, Anglr is a restaurant with a pescatarian focus that also offers Canadian classics with a twist, like spicy chorizo poutine and plant poutine. Run by a brother duo, Anglr aims to use sustainable products where possible.
Here, you’ll find menu items like shrimp dumplings, crab cakes, fish tacos and classic fish & chips. Dine-in options include their cozy dining room with exposed brick or plant-filled back patio. Order online for pickup or delivery via Uber Eats.
From the same group that owns Pinkerton’s across the street, Poor Romeo is a bar in the #Gerrones ‘hood with a rock n’ roll kind of attitude. Known for their smash burgers (my favourite kind of burgers), you can also order small bites like Buffalo cauliflower, queso n chips and wild zero wings. Check them out from Monday to Saturday.
Gardel is a Euro-Latin-inspired restaurant and wine bar on Gerrard Street East. Menu items include beef or veg empanadas served with housemade chimichurri, Beef Tartare, Proveletta, and Smoked Duck. This spot is open seven days a week.
The place to get an authentic Egyptian brunch, Maha’s could be said to have a cult following in Toronto. Long lineups are often to be expected at this family-owned and operated restaurant, serving up tasty dishes like Maha’s Mind Blowing Chicken, shakshuka and sunny eggs and foole.
If you want a good sampling of their offerings, opt for the Cairo Classic —loaded with tomatoes and onions, fava beans, sliced boiled egg, falafel, creamy homemade tomato feta and balady bread.
Dining in felt like a family affair, with guests having a good view of the Barsoom family cooking as the intoxicating scent of the Egyptian specials permeated the cozy restaurant. Check their website for the latest info on ordering.
The Real Jerk
An institution for authentic Jamaican food in Toronto, The Real Jerk is famously known for being the location of Rihanna and Drake’s “Work” video. Portions are generous, and the food is bursting with flavour. The jerk chicken with rice and beans is the main event, but really everything on the menu is Irie! Tip: to try more of the offerings, order a jerk chicken combo and choose a side of oxtail, curry chicken, goat, or jerk pork to go with it.
Another family-owned and operated restaurant, it dates back to 1978 in St. Ann’s, Jamaica. Coming to Canada in 1987, it had many incarnations before settling at its current home on Gerrard Street East at Carlaw (there is another location in The Beaches). They’re available for takeout and delivery through all major delivery apps.
Chula Taberna Mexicana
Chula Taberna Mexicana is a local spot for Mexican-fusion eats in the Gerrard East neighbourhood and is known for good tacos and margaritas. The restaurant has ample seating and a colourful mural in the dining room. It offers service seven days a week and delivery through major apps.