Small spaces, big impact. Blink and you might miss them. To the untrained eye they might seem unexceptional. But upon closer inspection a world of incredible flavor, distinguished technique, and amazing value is revealed. Each one of these local favourites are serving up something special; and we’re giving you the inside scoop!
Jet Fuel Coffee
An indie espresso joint with lots of swagger to go with their rock n’ roll aesthetic, complete with shiny chrome signage and exposed brick accents. Known for their strong brew and house-baked pastries, the team at Jet Fuel Coffee even has their very own cycling team.
519 Parliament St. http://jetfuelcoffee.com/
Cooked with care, the ever-changing creative, and seasonally inspired menu uses local produce, humanely raised animals, sustainable seafood, heritage chicken and duck eggs. Settle into this intimate boîte with their prixe-fixe meal Thursday to Saturday ($38 for 3 courses, $20 for wine pairings), but don’t skip their baked goods and homemade preserves available any day of the week.
236 Danforth Ave. http://cafefiorentina.com/
Before its expansion, this was the first location for Athens Pastries in 1978. Serving authentic greek “street food” made from scratch with recipes handed down through generations. Come for an after-dinner dessert or snack. Spanikoptia and loukoumades ($3.50 a dozen) are customer-endorsed staples. Open until 11 pm Sunday to Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday.
509 Danforth Ave. http://athenspastries.com/
Under The Table
Starting as a Jamaican jerk joint, the menu at Under the Table expanded through suggestions and recommendations from local diners. This below ground-level restaurant is home cooking done right. From homemade hot sauce, fall-off-the-bone oxtail plates, and off-menu funnel cake, it’s a cozy spot with comfort food you’ll love.
568 Parliament St. Website N/A
This student haunt is an area favourite due to its fast service, tailored spice levels, and inexpensive take on Thai food. If you can secure a coveted booth, their secret menu item “Islamic Noodles” is surely worth the wait.
340 Yonge St., 2nd Floor http://www.saladking.com/
Tasso Baking Company
Tasso Baking Company is the neighbourhood bakery you have to try…if you can get there fast enough! Open 8 am to “sold out”, this micro-bakery makes exceptional treats, particularly their croissants. Pair it with a coffee made from locally roasted beans, and don’t be alarmed is you’re momentarily transported from Cabbagetown to a Parisian café.
540 Parliament St. http://tassobaking.tumblr.com/