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 most underrated spots: Gerrard Street East

Not only home to ethnic enclaves, East Chinatown and Little India, Gerrard Street East is a veritable treasure trove of hip restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops.

But while sprinkled with lots of great establishments, Gerrard East is still very much community-focused and retains its laidback vibe. 

From speakeasies to hidden gems in mall food courts, these are the must-visit places on Gerrard East for foodies.

Coffee Shops

Hailed Coffee

At Hailed, Arabic and European coffee traditions are beautifully blended. Yemeni and Ethiopian beans are roasted and then simmered with Arabic spices, like clove, saffron, and cardamom (“hail” in Arabic, and where this café gets its name).

Order the Hailed Cappuccino which is sweetened with a syrup infused with cardamom.

You can also enjoy a healthy selection of Arabic-influenced snacks, including Hailed’s own chocolate flavoured with pistachio, saffron, and “cardamella” (cardamom-caramel), as well as cookies, nuts, and biscotti.

Dineen Outpost

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. 


Lake Inez

Lake Inez is a quirky and eclectic restaurant in Little India. A frequently changing menu with what’s seasonally available entices locals to keep coming back.

Plates are small and meant to be shared, and the menu is compact, reflecting the amount of thought put into each dish and ingredient!

The dining room—featuring a large, handmade, stained-glass mosaic of Kate Bush and Virginia Woolf—is dark, cozy, and decorated with odds and ends.

Guests lucky enough to snag a reservation from May to November can opt for the mystery patio tasting menu.


Go to Good Behaviour for creamy, custard-based ice cream and gourmet subs. Part ice cream shop, sandwich shop, and general store, you can find goods from local businesses, like Famiglia Baldassare pasta and Casa Nostra Pizza, in addition to a large selection of pints of Good Behaviour’s own ice creams.

They’re well-known for their Spicy Meatball sub, but I think the Pork Shoulder—made from pork that is seared, prepared under sous vide for 18 hours, smoked and then sliced—is a winner.

For ice cream, you can’t go wrong with the HK Milk Tea and Torta Della Nonna, and the Blood Orange is a recent addition that is refreshingly light and citrusy.


In Toronto, there’s no shortage of authentic Mexican taquerias. But Puerto Bravo is unlike any of them.

With a menu inspired by the owners’ hometown of Tampico, Mexico, here, seafood is the main ingredient.

Try items like ceviche and aguachile tostadas, grilled octopus tacos, camarones bravos, and their unique take on quesabirria which is stuffed with octopus, fish, and cheese and dipped in a ‘consommé’ of leche de tigre.


Known for its handmade pasta, Wynona  is a more upscale option on Gerrard East.

On the menu, you’ll find a selection of frequently changing dishes, including crudos, pastas, fish and other animal protein paired with seasonal, local Ontario ingredients.

The interior is bright, neutral and minimal, and during the warmer months, they have an inviting outdoor patio.


What started as a pop-up restaurant before the pandemic has transformed into a super vibey shop that wears many hats: boulangerie, café, bottle shop, patio, tapas restaurant, and event venue.

Manon and Charles hail from Lyon, France and execute all the French classics in an expert fashion, including their popular triple cheese croissant.

While low-key, the word has gotten out about Conci, as at any given time during open hours, you’ll see locals trickle in to get their baked good and coffee fix.


Those in the know, know about this authentic dim sum restaurant at Gerrard just east of Broadview.

Dine & Dim took over what was formerly Pearl Court, one of Toronto’s OG dim sum restaurants, dating back to 1982. Despite the dining room renovation, Dine & Dim still serves the same favourites.

Oji Seichi

Just south of Gerrard on Broadview is this must-try ramen shop. At Oji Seichi, noodles are made fresh, in-house daily, and the slices of pork belly that adorn each bowl are cured overnight, roasted for 4 hours, rested, sliced, and then grilled, resulting in an incredible texture and taste.

Japanese-style sandies and gyoza are also on offer, and you shouldn’t leave without trying their soft serve with a crunchy topping.


This is the place to get an authentic Egyptian brunch, and frankly, it is one of the best brunches in Toronto. Long lineups are expected at this family-owned and operated restaurant, serving tasty dishes like Maha’s Mind Blowing Chicken, shakshuka, and sunny eggs and foole.

If you want a good sampling of Maha’s offerings, opt for the Cairo Classic—loaded with tomatoes and onions, fava beans, sliced boiled egg, falafel, creamy homemade tomato feta and baladi bread. 


Truly a ‘hidden gem’, you’ll have to venture through Gerrard Square to find Tropical Joe’s tucked away inside the food court. But that hasn’t stopped locals from coming here since 2006 and the massive lineups that are a usual occurrence here.

The Caribbean food is based on family recipes and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The oxtail gravy that is slathered on top of their famous jerk poutine is incredible.


Another institution for authentic Caribbean 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 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. 



Go to Pinkerton’s Snack Bar for delicious Asian-inspired bar bites, like crispy salt and pepper tofu, kimchi French fries, and pork neck pancakes.

Pinkerton’s also serves a variety of baos (the perfect food for drinking) 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.


This speakeasy is tucked in behind a small storefront that appears to be selling religious trinkets, like rosaries, candles, and crosses (hence its name).

Vatican Gift Shop doubles as a beer hall and live music venue. Neapolitan-style pizzas are served here and there is an extensive beer menu, including lots on tap, and a selection of local wines and beer.


Poor Romeo  is an all-American snack bar in the #Gerrones stretch of Gerrard East affiliated with Pinkerton’s across the street. Known for their smash burgers (my favourite kind of burgers), you can also order from a super compact menu of small bites like Buffalo cauliflower, queso n chips, and wild zero wings.

Check their Instagram for food specials and events, like live DJs buck a shuck Wednesdays.