Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in the Junction, Toronto
24 Nov 2021
Back in 2014, Vogue Magazine named West Queen West the second-coolest neighbourhood in the world. While it still lives up to the hype, it’s the area down the road called the Junction, that we’re preoccupied with. It takes its name from train tracks — the intersection of four railway lines that meet at the Junction Triangle.
The area surrounding the street Dundas West is the edgier, less-polished sibling to WQW’s Toronto cool, and it’s here where you’ll currently find endless independents lining the streets. However, it wasn’t always this way: after a long battle to absolve prohibition in 1997, the area boomed, welcoming many to live and more to visit. Conde Nast Traveller describes it perfectly when it states, “Junction is a hipster non-neighborhood that's at once cool, non-touristy, and a bit random — in a fun way”.
Here are the spots we recommend.
In 2018, MOCA Toronto moved from its Queen West home, to a new heritage-listed former factory building in the Junction. The 55,000-square foot space features five floors of gallery, studio, and exhibition spaces that are “ambitiously inclusive, interdisciplinary, and internationally renowned.” It’s a cultural hub for everyone to explore that provokes ideas and discussion, and challenges the current conversations.
If you consider yourself a stationary connoisseur, make sure to check out neighbourhood vendor, Mjolk, the minimalist homeware store that launched in 2009 by husband-and-wife team John Baker and Juli Daoust. Here you’ll discover a lifestyle shop and gallery, with a focus on functionality, craftsmanship, and timelessness.
The Good Neighbour
The Good Neighbour Espresso Bar is just a block away from the main strip, Dundas West. Here you can sink into comfortingly oversized leather armchairs drenched in sunlight from the windows as you watch people pass by. FYI: The espresso is strong. Just how we like it.
An anagram for Black Artists Network in Dialogue, BAND operates as a platform for Black artists in Toronto. It was co-founded by Karen Carter, who produces exhibitions such as the relatively recent, Ethiopian Freedom Fighters. Hence why this petit gallery has become a beacon for the community, celebrating the Afro-Canadian and Caribbean diasporas.
Seafood lovers come from all over the city to get their fish fix at Honest Weight. This part-fishmonger, part-local lunch and dinner spot is owned by Victoria Bazan, who works with local vendors to source her daily selection of oysters, smoked or cured fish and seafood-centric plates.
The Library Specialty Coffee
“This is a place to learn about coffee, about beans, about roasting. A resource for those who want to learn more. That’s why I called it The Library,” explains owner Jeffrey Ji. When Jeffrey arrived in Canada, he noticed locals were drinking a lot of coffee, but they weren’t as concerned with — or aware of — the quality. Enter: The Library Specialty Coffee cafe.
If geeking out over books takes your fancy, do so at TYPE Books. Here the owners truly understand community spirit, and regularly host evening talks with authors, giving the locals a chance to engage with literature IRL.
BADDIES owner, Alex White, believes coffee isn’t just fuel, it’s a way of life. Which is why this Aussie opened his Instagrammable spot — the cafe’s smashed avo on toast has made its way onto the social media platform too many times to count. The expertly crafted flat white should not be overlooked here.