Since 2007, the light industrial buildings and auto repair shops on lower Ossington Avenue in Toronto’s west end have been replaced by micro breweries, contemporary art galleries, boutiques, upscale restaurants and coffee shops. Here’s the best of Toronto’s Ossington strip:
Dinner, Coffee and Dessert:
Foxley Bistro 207 Ossington Avenue Toronto, ON M6J 2Z8 416-534-8520
Foodies line up for one of 40 seats in Chef Tom Thai’s exposed brick space for the unique flavor combinations of his Asian/Canadian inspired tapas.Share a dish of steaming east coast mussels drenched in green curry and spicy beef heart with Thai chili lime salsa tempered with a crunchy kale salad. Add frog legs sautéed with poblano and Szechuan spices and an arctic char ceviche with green apple and ginger – a perfect dinner for two. Summer evenings are best enjoyed on the back patio sipping a dry Rose, which pairs well with spicy dishes.
Cote De Boeuf 130 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z8 416-532-2333
Step into this old-fashioned butcher shop for a water buffalo salami sandwich topped with a specialty local cheese or perhaps some homemade pork terrine. These very knowledgeable charcuterie folks, two brothers who own Union, the restaurant next door, carry only top local products.
Shop Till You Drop:
Crywolf 91 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z2 647-729-7078
This one-stop shop for limited edition clothing and gifts for everyone on your list is the brainchild of two young Toronto artists and long time friends.
Stephanie and Rose collaborate on drawings that become everything from funny, “You Crack Me Up Mayor Rob Ford” tees and buttons to mason jar lights to re-cycled leather patch toques (French Canadian winter hats) to day-glo shopping bags and a skeleton shirt for your friend’s cat.
Jonathon+Olivia 49 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6J 2Y7 416-849-5956
Serious fashion for all ages and sophisticated accessories and footwear from Toronto, Canadian and International designers are found in the largest boutique on Ossington. It’s the only place to score a graphic printed silk scarf from Toronto photo artist, Barbara Astman. But that’s not all. Trunk sales, exhibitions, catwalks and clothing drives for the local hospital happen here too.
The Dakota Tavern 249 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6J 3A1 416-850-4579
In between bites of your all-you-can-eat weekend brunch, dance to Toronto’s best Bluegrass bands. Or just chill in the saloon atmosphere while checking out the farm implements and Canadian winter scenes that adorn the walls of this basement bar dance cave. Check back evenings for new Canadian roots-rock or faux folk bands.
Lower Ossington Theatre 100A Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z4 416-915-6747
Enjoy professional level performances of award-winning musicals, theater for children and a rare opportunity to enjoy a local Barking Squirrel beer along with wine and popcorn during the shows. The LOT’s cozy setting guarantees no bad seats.
Technically speaking, Trinity Bellwoods is not part of the strip seeing how it’s three blocks east but it offers the quickest escape to the great outdoors.
Trinity Bellwoods Park 155 Crawford Street, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z0 416-392-0743
Walk, run, cycle, skate, swim or play tennis in 37 acres of Trinity Bellwoods Park – a hangout for artists, dog walkers, kids and minor athletes. New slackline poles allow tightrope walker wannabes to practice their craft – but it’s BYOL – bring your own lines. Self-guided tree tours are available for the rest of us.