I still sorely remember the massive TTC project when streetcar tracks were ripped out to make way for the LRT (light rapid transit,). The massive construction project caused traffic mayhem and the decimation of local businesses. Since then, I have seen the resurgence of hip restaurants, eclectic shops and boutiques that contribute to the unique vibe within the micro-culture of this neighbourhood and which has made St. Clair West one of the most interesting places to live.
Walk along St. Clair West and you’ll discover it’s the intersection of many cultures and people from all walks of life. it’s home to authentic Latin, Indian, Italian cuisine and everything in between. There are old-world bakeries and butchers run by families with deep roots in the neighbourhood along side hip cafes and boutiques. It’s a heady combination of the familiar paired with cool and unexpected.
St. Clair West is a long stretch of neighbourhood used to describe the area that runs along Avenue Road to Westmount, just before Corso Italia. It encompasses micro hoods like Hillcrest, Wychwood Park, Oakwood and Hillcrest.
There are so many reasons to love life on St. Clair West.
Here are six of my absolute favourites:
Caffeine and other Vices
If you sport that ‘ironic beard’ or wear vintage eye glasses then KRAVE Coffee is your perfect hangout. KRAVE is a community hub, where tattooed hipster types sip Matcha Lattes while banging away on high-powered laptops. There you’ll find communal tables and are always within earshot of really cool conversations between Creatives and business people who are up to really interesting things. It’s my favourite place to work if I am looking to soak up some creative vibes and sip my latte. Another highly worthy mention is Hunter Coffee on Vaughan at Arlington. There you’ll get a free serving of sunshine with your morning coffee thanks to Lori, Hunter Coffee’s founder and all-round amazing business gal.
Best Ice Cream. Ever.
I firmly believe that a neighbourhood is only as good as the ice cream they serve and St. Clair West has got one of the best. Tucked away on Rushton Road, Bar Ape had first grown quite a following on Instagram when they parked their vintage ice cream truck and served up their bespoke ice cream bars at various locales across Toronto. Now a permanent fixture, the shop owners hand craft the most exquisite ice cream bars and soft serve on site, using unexpected ingredient combinations such as Cucumber and Cantaloupe, and Pistachio and Pomegranate. The result is a divine mix of joy and nostalgia. On any given summer night, there are dozens of neighbours and friends gathered at the shop, blissfully eating a work of culinary art. There’s no better way to end the day. That’s where you’ll find me.
Burn Baby Bun
Just 5 years ago, fitness studios along St. Clair West were scarce. Today, I work off those extra calories at two neighbourhood studios like Philosophy Fitness and Rocket Cycle, which have become neighbourhood institutions. There are a few new studios on the block, namely F45 the latest 45-minute fitness craze from Australia.
It was said that Toronto is a ‘City within a Park’. When I step into Cedarvale Ravine I feel as though I left the big city behind. The three-kilometer valley trail offers runners, cyclists and yogis a chance to commune with nature. Earnest Hemingway was known stroll through the ravine, no doubt cultivating his next literary piece. The crown jewel of the Park is the Cedarvale bridge, which overlooks the valley. That’s where I stand and gaze above the treetops – it’s the perfect place to breathe deeply and capture those ‘fire in the sky’ sunsets.
Artscape Wychwood Barns
Another favourite spot is Artscape Wychwood Barns and Park and the Saturday morning Farmers Market. Affectionately known as ‘The Barns’, it was born out of a century-old streetcar facility. It was thoughtfully redesigned and transformed into a mixed-use space. I love to stroll through the market and take in crowd and the smells of delicious street food, baked goods and organic fare. I always stop at “The Stop” a little restaurant kitchen with a focus on food security for everyone. The stop serves up delicious brunch favourites with locally sourced ingredients.
The addition of famed Nodo restaurant and Frank’s Kitchen, St. Clair West can easily qualify as a ‘Foodie’ hotspot. With these iconic restaurants along with a burgeoning Latin food scene, the hood has now become the place to dine in the best restaurants Toronto has to offer. Our family favourite, Kibo Sushi. The sushi is divine and we love the stunning wall mural of Hokusai’s “The Wave”.
Think you might want to live here?
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