In 1845, Scottish immigrant George Leslie founded a plant nursery in the east end of Toronto that soon grew to become the largest in Canada. Around Leslie’s gardens, a new neighbourhood sprouted up—now known as Leslieville. Today, Leslieville is home to a wide variety of independent shops, restaurants, bars and breweries (including Avling!). There’s nowhere we’d rather be located, and nowhere we prefer to explore while eating and drinking along the way.
For a fun and filling day, follow this path across the neighbourhood with stops at some of our favourite local spots:
226 Greenwood Avenue
Yes, you’ll likely have to wait in line, but it’s worth it for Maha’s famously flavourful Egyptian brunch. Everything is great, but make sure to try the Egyptian falafel with a runny egg hidden inside. If the line is especially long and you can feel the hunger building, pop around the corner into Little India on Gerrard and treat yourself to a snack of dosa or chaat from one of the many shops that line the street.
242 Coxwell Ave
After brunch, walk along Gerrard to Coxwell, where you’ll find our friends at Godspeed Brewery. If you still have some room, they offer a selection Japanese snacks and, perhaps more importantly, some really solid beer. We love the restrained yet complex brews here, from the signature Yuzu Saison and Green Tea IPA, to seasonal offerings like a sessionable summer stout and an unfiltered Helles.
Leslieville Farmers’ Market
20 Woodward Avenue
If you’re lucky enough to be touring the neighbourhood on a Sunday, walk south toward Lake Shore to hit up the farmers’ market. It’s open only until 2 p.m. May through October, though, so you’ll need to act fast if you want to pick up a few local snacks and produce before continuing the rest of the journey.
Rorschach Brewing Co.
1001 Eastern Avenue
Just south of the farmer’s market is our second brewery suggestion of the day. While Rorschach is known for its bold IPAs and Imperial Stout, there’s a full range of styles on offer to suit any taste. If do choose the Imperial Stout, just take note that it clocks in at 11% ABV, because there’s more eating and drinking ahead.
Black Lab Brewing
818 Eastern Avenue
From Rorschach, head west to Black Lab, a newer entrant to the Leslieville beer scene. A dog-friendly brewery, this is the place to take a break and admire other people’s pups as you sip on a refreshing black lager or barrel-fermented sour.
Descendant Detroit Style Pizza
1168 Queen Street East
By now, you probably need something to soak up all the beer, and you can’t do much better than Descendant’s rectangular pie with a thick, crunchy crust. If you haven’t tried Detroit-style pizza, this is the place to do it: it’s like the Pizza Hut pan pizza of your youth levelled up ten notches. The dough has real flavour, the toppings are high-quality, and it’s just plain delicious.
Radical Road Brewing Co.
1177 Queen Street East
If you’re ready for more beer, this Leslieville stalwart is practically right across the street from Descendant. Most of the beers here are pretty light and crushable, so grab a flight, and borrow one of the board games on offer for a fun little break.
983 Queen Street East
Just west of Radical Road and nearly right across the street from Avling is Te Aro, a great cafe from the Pilot Coffee team. We spent a lot of time here as our brewery was under construction, and we definitely recommend it as a place to grab an afternoon caffeine jolt to keep you going for the rest of the day.
Avling Kitchen and Brewery
1042 Queen Street East
Come visit us. Have a beer. Have dinner. Take a tour of the rooftop garden. Do what feels right, but definitely come in and say hi. We’d love to hear how you enjoyed the day so far!
Maple Leaf Tavern
955 Gerrard Street East
If you still have energy and an appetite (and you didn’t succumb to our dinner offerings at Avling), we recommend heading back up to the northern boundaries of Leslieville to visit Maple Leaf Tavern. Here, chef Jesse Vallins serves steakhouse-style fare done right in a casual yet refined room, with most dishes taking a trip over the wood-fired grill.
Vatican Gift Shop
1047 Gerrard Street East
To finish the day off right, check out this speakeasy-style bar hidden behind a small shop seemingly selling religious accessories. Push through the door in the corner and enter this moody bar with church-like decor and comfy banquettes. There’s more beer available here, but the pro move to end the night is one of the amaro-based cocktails—the ideal digestif after a long day of eating and drinking. The Paper Heart, with cinnamon-bourbon amaro, Aperol and lemon, is one of our favourites.
Check out a handy map of these spots here.