My ‘Hood: Lisa

Some of you may recall reading my original My ‘Hood post, when I wrote about the Fourth Floor’s neck of the woods. I moved recently, so now I’m sharing some of my favourite places around my new ‘hood: Dupont and Lansdowne.

My place is a short walk from the Corso Italia stretch of St. Clair West, and on weekends I like to hit up Tre Mari Bakery (1311 St. Clair Ave. W.). Family-run for more than 50 years, this bakery/grocery store makes amazing bread and pastries. I like to sit down inside with an espresso or cappuccino and a treat, and read the newspaper or people-watch as shoppers come and go. I usually end up leaving with bread, cheese and olives in tow.

Old school shot of Tre Mari Bakery.

When the weather is nice, I take a walk with my dogs to Earlscourt Park, a 36-acre park with soccer fields, a baseball diamond, a wading pool and an outdoor ice rink. Bordered by St. Clair West and Davenport to the north and south, and Caledonia and Lansdowne to the west and east, the park also has an outdoor track that I like to run on sometimes. Plus, La Paloma (1357 St. Clair Ave. W.) is steps away; hello gelato.

My walking pals, Angel and Roxy.

Speaking of my dogs… while not in my immediate neighbourhood, my new favourite dog groomer isn’t too far away on St. Clair West, just west of Bathurst at Pinewood Avenue. I recently discovered Woof and Shloof, an eco-friendly and cage-free grooming, daycare and dog training company. The owner, Jesse Sternberg, is great and answered all my questions with patience, and I felt good leaving my dogs in his care. My dogs look adorable after their haircuts and baths, and they had fun chillin’ with the other pooches while they waited for me to pick them up. I haven’t tried their daycare or training services yet, but I’m thinking of checking out both very soon.

I like to meet friends for dinner at Marcello’s Pizzeria  (1163 St. Clair Ave. W.). Try the Diavola pizza if you like spicy; it’s topped with tomato sauce, mozarella, hot soppresatta, hot peppers, onions and black olives. The pasta is great here too.

Marcello’s interior.

Keeping with the Latin flavour theme, I recently tried a new-ish Mexican resto, Guacamole Mexican Bistro (1216 St. Clair Ave. W.). Totally in love with their Pescado a la Veracruzana – tilapia filet cooked with tomatoes, olives, chiles, green pepper, capers, herbs and garlic. They also make amazing homemade complimentary tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa. Awesome food, great service, well-priced.

What are your favourite spots in this area? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below.

My Hood: Allison

Our latest My ‘Hood: Allison talks about living in Condo Land AKA Lower Spadina.

The kitten and my view.
Moving into a condo at Spadina and Bremner was meant to be temporary; a short-term solution while I looked for a house in a “cooler” neighbourhood. Cut to two-and-a-half years later and I’m still loving living in the sky. While the City Place mecca might one day fall into ruin, as recently suggested by The Grid, it’s pretty shiny and new right now.
Best running motivation there is. 
Photo via Flickr.
On a typical weekend morning I’ll elevator down to the gym, hit the pool and finish up in the steam room. If it’s a particularly nice day, I’ll jog down along Lakeshore via the Terry Fox Miracle Mile (designed by Douglas Coupland). After that, it’s right to Thor for quick coffee or Le Gourmand for a leisurely breakfast over a newspaper.
Thor Espresso Bar
Image via Torontour.
If I feel like shopping, I’ll walk west on Queen or up to Kensington Market if I need to grab groceries (there’s a Sobey’s in my building but nothing beats Essence of Life). For retail therapy closer to home, there’s Riant, a cool boutique new to the neighborhood that carries a ton of great labels including Mackage and Rebecca Minkoff, and the Drake General Store on Bathurst (which happens to be my favourite of all three shops).
Coziest Drake General Store
Image via SheDoesTheCity
In the summer I’ll bike down to The Power Plant to check out the latest exhibit, or head over to the Harbourfront Centre for a free show or movie. I’m also right next to the Sky Dome Roger’s Centre, so I’ve gotten to know the nosebleed section quite well. In the winter I tend to hibernate but if I do go out, it’s to grab dinner at KitKat (my local gem) or a movie at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The Island is also cool to visit in the winter; every Sunday, the residents play shinny on the ice against the backdrop of Toronto – so neat to watch.
Quite the rink
Image via SpacingToronto
So that’s my ‘hood. Future ghetto or not, I love my little sky pod.

My Hood: Summerhill/Rosedale

Next up in our My ‘Hood series, Kylie chats about living north of Bloor in Rosedale/Summerhill.

I moved to the Rosedale/Summerhill neighbourhood last January. What I love about the area is that the location gives you an uptown family ‘nabe feel, but you are also blocks away from Bloor street, and a quick jump on the Summerhill or Rosedale subway to downtown. Because most of my week is spent downtown at the office, I enjoy sticking around on weekends and browsing through the local shops, restaurants and all the other fun spots that the area has to offer.

Here is how you can find me spending my ideal Saturday:

11 a.m. Head over to the Rosedale Diner for brunch. A classic spot where the food is definitely more gourmet than greasy spoon. While your basic breakfast options are available, I usually go for the Eggs Benny and Brioche French Toast (not to mention some of the best Caesars in town). 

 Image source.

1 p.m. Wander down Yonge St. for some window shopping and retail therapy. Whether it’s clothes or home decor, there is no shortage of selection in the area. With brands like JBrand, Equipment, James Perse and Dolce Vita, Shop NYLA is a great store for essentials like jeans and T-shirts, but is also the perfect destination for that awesome party dress. As far as home decor goes, look no further than the five blocks between Summerhill and Rosedale station. This interior design mecca has something to fit everyone’s taste. My personal favourite is the shabby chic store Putti where you can find everything from bedding and lighting, to furniture.
Image source.

4 p.m. Get pampered at Mani Pedi. Good prices and good service (not to mention an amazing selection of nail polish).

5 p.m. Pick up wine and groceries for dinner. Lucky for me, the city’s largest liquor store is located just steps from our door. The train-station-turned-LCBO is hard to miss with its surrounding moat and huge clock tower. Not only is it convenient, but the selection is better than almost any other LCBO in the city. On my way home, I often head to the Five Thieves for groceries. The Harvest Wagon is perfect for picking up some extra veggies last minute, or, if I’m feeling indulgent, splurging on some prepared food at All the Best Fine Foods.

Image source.

11 p.m. My day ends at Le Petit Castor with wine and friends. Nights there tend to start off innocently enough with a glass of wine at the bar or one of the cozy booths, but their signature Pink Panthers (the menu advises you not to have more than one) typically lead to at least one person dancing on a table, and without a doubt a big dance party at the back of the bar. Their food hits the spot, too.

Image source.
That’s my perfect day in my ‘hood. See you at LPC for a Panther.

My ‘Hood: Marsh

We’re so excited to welcome Marsh to the fourth floor, our newest team member. We wanted to get to know her better, so we asked her to spill the beans about her ‘hood, Liberty Village.

My recent move to Liberty Village marks my first time living solo and as a homeowner. It’s been six months and I couldn’t be happier. I had always thought of Liberty Village as nothing but a condo mecca, but my real estate agent (luckily) convinced me otherwise. Sure, there are a ton of new developments left, right and centre. In fact, I’m often woken by the sounds of construction. But what makes me most excited about living here is the emerging sense of community. I love being a part of its progress and can’t wait to see how the area takes shape over the next few years.

Most Saturday mornings begin with a visit to Barista, an authentic Italian espresso bar in the heart of the other Village. What sets Barista apart from many other cafes in the city is the polished white marble countertops, lush velvet seats and distinctly Italian-style espresso. This isn’t a coffee house where you scrounge for a seat and share newspapers with your neighbour to the left, but it is the perfect place to enjoy a bit of quiet (and be whisked away to Rome).
Sundays you can find me at Noir Nail Bar catching up with a girlfriend over mani/pedis. It’s a great place to de-stress and the staff are always friendly. The complimentary Wi-Fi is great when I sneak in a treatment after work and finally take some time to read the news, tweet, pay bills – and send that long overdue e-mail to my mom!

One of the main reasons I moved to the area was the sheer convenience of being a stone’s throw from the Metro grocery store, BMO,  Blockbuster and the LCBO. I even trudged most of my furniture home from West Elm Modern Furniture! But recent additions to the bar and restaurant scene are making it nearly impossible for me to ever leave my ‘hood.
This summer, InLibertyVillage, a group that organizes creative and cultural events for residents, hosted a weekly community social hour. Every Thursday, we were invited to check out a different spot for post-work cocktails with neighbours. Not only did I discover some neighbourhood gems like Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and Merci Mon Ami but I also met some really fantastic people.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across Vocado, an adorable boutique carrying brands like Lipsy, J Brand and Velvet. Love at first sight? That would be an understatement. Since then, I’ve tried convincing myself that a simple browse can be just as satisfying, but without fail, walk home with yet another addition to my closet every time. If we’re all allowed a vice, Vocado’s mine.

Last week’s purchase: The Ear Hart by J Brand.
 If you haven’t been, Liberty Village is worth a visit. Spend a few hours shopping, wining and dining and come back periodically to see what new developments pop up.

My hood: Amalia

As mentioned earlier, I recently moved to Toronto (four months ago). I was lucky enough to find a cozy place to rent in Little India. And I must admit it was love at first sight!

This little neighbourhood is full of great little spots to keep occupied either shopping, eating or entertaining. After moving, I realized that the main strip of Little India is actually home to many Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghan and Sri Lankan restaurants, cafés, videos/DVD stores, clothing stores, electronic goods and home decor stores. Even more interesting, along with Jackson Heights in New York and Devon Avenue in Chicago, it forms one of the largest South Asian marketplaces in North America.

 Very eclectic Gerrard St. E. 
Image via Richard McGuire.
Often people (ahem, mom) have told me that I am an old soul. I like simple things, like sitting in my backyard and reading a good book while having a glass of wine. This is where the Gerrard/Ashdale public library comes in handy. This is a great library because it offers one thing that makes it invaluable in my books (pun intended) – they stay open “late” three times a week (8:30 p.m.!). Also, the people working the library are as charming as pie, and always offer great suggestions. I recently picked up Him Her Him Again The End of Him and have been enjoying it very much.

Another great thing about my ‘hood is the incredible variety of restaurants that are along a two kilometer strip. I discovered the first of many Indian restaurants, the Regency Restaurant on my first night at the new house. Amazing butter chicken and naan. They have an excellent choice of plates on their buffet, and also some tasty tandoori, samosa and pakora dishes on their menu.

Don’t let the understated signage fool you – delicious eats inside.
Image via blogTO.
After filling up on yummy food I head to Rang Home Décor and see what’s new. They carry a wide range of cute furniture accessories like throw pillows, fixtures and ottomans that are really unique and make any room pop with colour.

Lastly, what makes my ‘hood the greatest is the Fairford Roden Public School where they have a decent sized football field and basketball court. Can’t find me at home? Take a look on the field or the court and come shoot some hoops with me.

This playground is actually really fun, even though it looks gloomy here. 

Thanks for stopping by my ‘hood – see you in the east end! 

My Hood: Natalie

To continue our My ‘Hood series, Natalie dishes on her ‘hood – Dufferin Grove. 

Last September I moved from a condo at Queen & Spadina to a house at College & Dufferin. Initially, the move threw me off a bit – Where was my corner H&M? Why can’t I eat dim sum at 3 a.m.? Why isn’t there a movie theatre in my basement? – but I learned to embrace the area’s “slower” pace and discovered a number of local treasures. 

First and foremost in my heart is The Common. Purveyor of delicious coffee by day, cheap wine by night and the home of the best-valued charcuterie plate in Toronto, The Common is the quintessential date spot. If you ever want to meet me for drinks, chances are I’ll suggest this place (and not only because it’s 10 steps from my house).

Cozy interior of The Common.
Photo via
I love to cook, but some days all I want to do is pick up a cheap, home-style meal after work. Thankfully, I have Bairrada Churrasqueira in my hood. A haven of scrumptious Portuguese food, Bairrada is wonderful for take-out or dining in. They also have an INSANELY large back patio that can accommodate large groups. My go-to meal is their BBQ chicken, rice and potatoes. Whatever you order, please do not forget to get an extra helping of their spicy Piri Piri sauce – my mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Image source.

Sure, there’s a No Frills at Dufferin Mall, but why buy their limp vegetables when the Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market is right across the street? Held every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. all year round, this farmer’s market is a fantastic place to access local and seasonal goods.

Delicious bounty of nature.
Image source.

Now onto my favourite: shopping. The lack of stores was the hardest thing for me to adjust to, but I’ve discovered some cute shops in the area (note: these places may not technically fall into the Dufferin Grove neighbourhood, but they’re close to me and I love them). 

Penny Arcade has a well-curated selection of vintage items and, just in time for summer, they’re now carrying vintage-inspired swimsuits by Minnow Bathers. Another vintage spot is the newly opened Magwood. The prices here can be on the high side, depending on what you’re looking for, but the pieces are truly one of a kind and span the decades. 

Interior of Magwood via Toronto Life.

And finally, the thing I love most about my neighbourhood is that the air often smells of chocolate, thanks to the Cadbury factory in my backyard. How great is that? 

Assembly line of chocolatey goodness. I like to imagine this is what goes on inside the factory.
Image source.

Have a favourite spot that I should know about in my ‘hood? Tweet me @rockitpromo!

My ‘Hood: Lisa

Lisa and Michelle live in the same Parkdale apartment building, so rather than double up on the West Queen West ‘Hood, Lisa wrote about our office ‘hood: Queen and Bathurst.

Our ‘hood in 1928. It was cool even then.

Besides sharing The Burroughes Building with cool peeps like Jessica Jensen and Philip Sparks, we love our work ‘hood for its interesting characters, yummy lunch eats, shopping and endless supply of coffee.

Jessica Jensen and Philip Sparks keep it fashionable at The Burroughes.

We’re not kidding about the coffee – there are three shops at the Q & B intersection. Tim Hortons and Starbucks are staples, and Lit Espresso makes an amazing Americano and tasty savoury scone (find them on the first floor of Design Republic, which also lives in The Burroughes).

After we caffeinate, we like to shop at American Apparel, H&M, Heel Boy and Mac Cosmetics, which are all just a short walk down the street. We also love popping in and out of the antique stores that line this section of Queen for cool, vintage décor.

When we’re not busy shopping (or working), we eat. We love Smoke’s Poutinerie (they once surprised us with free poutine to the office!), and Reggie’s Sandwiches for something a little lighter.

 Mmm…poutine. Image source.

Sometimes, we head to Shanghai Cowgirl for all-day brekkie (okay, maybe that’s just me) or after-work beers. And for dessert, intro’d us to Blushberry, AKA frozen yogurt heaven. (Plus, they have the super cool Mberry tablets. Try them).

Convenience and curiosity come in the form of Shoppers Drug Mart and Drake General Store (Bathurst), respectively. We love the former because it carries everything you could ever possibly need, while the latter carries everything you will never need, but won’t be able to resist just the same (plus, it’s a go-to when we really need a creative gift).

Do you need a Curiosities Kit? No. But it’s still sweet. 

Come check out our ‘hood. And while you’re here, pop in and say hello.

My ‘Hood: Rachelle

I live near Mount Pleasant and Eglinton, which I like to think of as a small nook of the city that’s still slightly under the radar. Some people call it Mount Pleasant Village, I like to call it the really great strip that has pretty much anything you need and more. It is home to amazing small shops, great eats and unique boutiques, where you can find everything that’s just a little bit different. 

A weekend doesn’t go by without a family outing (dog in tow, who gets tied up outside) to the very authentic French bakery, Thobors Boulangerie Patisserie Café. Being from Montreal, I can say this bakery rivals the best when it comes to pastries and breads. I always go for the classic plain croissant (hands down, the best in the city!), hubby opts for the Danish aux abricot (Danish pastry filled with apricot) and our son goes for the richer pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant). 

We never leave without a couple of sesame baguettes (voted Toronto’s best baguette in Toronto Life Eating + Drinking 2011) to go. These have just the right blend of crisp and chewy texture. Throw on some butter, sip on a café au lait and you may just feel like you are in Paris. The owner Marc Thobors, a Parisian-trained bread baker, is typically hard at work in the kitchen (he can be seen kneading dough through his peek-a-boo window), but he always comes out to greet a friendly face. Oh, and did I mention that all of the staff speak French fluently, so I get to practice!

We shop for our produce and specialty food items at Culinarium, a gourmet food store, specializing in locally produced Ontario food products and culinary events. They have a great selection of seasonal produce, cheeses and organic milk (Harmony in glass bottles is our milk of choice). They also offer really unique cooking classes and events, as well as vegetarian and meat share programs. I love their recipe of the week feature (recipes can be found in-store on postcards or online), which is designed to help you get one locally focused dinner on your plate each week without all the fuss of planning, searching out recipes or travelling to multiple stores to get groceries. The Roasted Squash Soup with Chipotle Aioli Drizzle is one of my recent faves.

With all this eating, I need to get a little physical sometimes. I usually opt for an ‘ohm’ fix at Yoga Plus (Eglinton studio), a hop skip and a jump away from my place. Christine is my go-to instructor for incredibly relaxing, yet challenging Hatha classes. When I want to get my cardio on (and weather permitting), I usually go for a brisk walk with my dog in the glorious Sherwood Park, truly a green oasis in the city. 

There are great trails, open spaces to throw a Frisbee or ball around, spots to have a family picnic (or make out!). And if you have a pooch, this is literally doggie heaven, with one of the city’s best off-leash trails. If you have kidlets, there’s a terrific playground and splash pad in the summer.

My hood is such a great area for me and my family that I sometimes feel like I never want to leave. I love supporting small shops and local businesses without having to get into my car.

My ‘Hood: Lara

By Lara

I know that for a lot of you, anything north of Bloor is considered the nosebleed section of Toronto. But there is life beyond the Annex – here’s what’s happening around my ‘hood at Avenue and Lawrence.
Fun fact: Many of the stores on the Avenue strip have created a real community among themselves; coffee shops exchange a latte for a movie rental, for example. It’s a special area! Here’s why:
First and foremost – food. My local haunt is Safari Bar and Grill


I love coming to Safari for the friendly atmosphere (think Cheers), the huge outdoor patio in the summer, the lounge upstairs where you can meet friends for a game of pool or a cozy drink in the evening, but mostly for the nachos. You won’t find them on a menu here, but all the ingredients are ready if you say the magic word, and they are hands down some of the best you’ll find in the city.
If there is just one reason to visit my hood, it’s Extoggery. An upscale consignment store, you can find anything from A to Z – as in Alexander Wang to Zegna.
Whether selling Chanel or buying Michael Kors, Extoggery carries jewellery, shoes, clothes and much more. It’s a great place to shop and browse.

Another great store to find a dress for any occasion is Want Boutique. I’ve found a prom dress here, an outfit for a wedding, a bridesmaid’s dress, a dress for my cousin’s opera recital; the list goes on. Owner Pari Davis goes on frequent buying trips to New York and Los Angeles to bring back labels that can’t be found in other shops in the city.

Hungry again? A guilty pleasure of mine is shopping at Pusateri’s. If you are looking for gourmet food, this is the place to go. Their produce is undeniably the freshest and highest quality that you can find in the city. As my friend once put it, “every single grape has the perfect crunch to it.”

It’s also the only place I have found in T.O. that carries grapefruit-flavoured Perrier. I’m sure it will catch on soon, but until then, I can’t help popping in on my way home from work for some fruity bubbly… and admittedly, sometimes a pre-made dinner. I love their delicious Southwestern salad.

The quintessential community shop at Avenue and Lawrence is definitely Videoflicks. In a sea of mainstream video rental stores, this independent rental store has been neighbourhood owned and operated for more than 25 years.

The inventory at Videoflicks is staggering. The main level of the store is new releases and the lower level is stacked to the ceiling with a library of older DVD’s and VHS (yes – VHS) movies. With a water bowl and treats for dogs, as well as free popcorn in the basement, the store welcomes the community with open arms.

A little bit further down the road, in between Alana’s hood and mine, is Joy Nails. Sit down, get comfy, and choose your favourite smoothie to sip on while you get pampered. My sister and I go together as a way to catch up, but if you’re in the mood to relax, get your nails done and watch a romantic comedy, this is your place.

My neighbourhood is a one-stop shop for pretty much anything all within walking distance from your house. For a bit of history and a lot of culture, stop by my ‘hood!

My ‘Hood: Alana

by Alana
I have lived in the Yonge and Eglinton area my entire life, and love being a short walk away from anything I could ever need or want. The strip is filled with tons of cute shops and restaurants, and over the years I’ve acquired some favourites.
If you’re a fan of traditional Pad Thai like me, then Sorn Thai is the place for you. Located a couple of blocks north of Eglinton, this spot has been around for more than 15 years and is great for fast, cheap Thai food, amazing service and the best Pad Thai in the city (seriously). If that’s not your cup of tea, try an order of their crispy spring rolls and the red curry beef – delish!
I just read about a new café, Jed’s Frozen Custard. I heard a lot of hype about their frozen custard, so I went to check it out. It’s smooth, creamy and cool on a warm day. For the chillier days now upon us, Jed’s also offers baked goods and specialty coffees.
Since Yonge and Eg isn’t only about good food, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning my favourite little jewellery store, I Heart Accessories. This store has become my go-to place to pick up great, inexpensive and beautiful accessories for my girlfriends’ birthdays and special occasions. I often end up leaving with a little something for myself as well. Oops!

Note: It’s a tiny shop north of Eglinton, on the east side of Yonge, so keep an eye out ’cause it’s easy to miss.

Speaking of celebrations, the Little Party Shoppe is hands-down the first place I think of when I need a great all-occasion card or gag present. They have everything from balloons and board games to books and coffee mugs, and literally everything in between. Drop in sometime, especially if you’re planning a holiday party.

Ok, back to food. I forgot to mention that I love anything deep fried, and if you’re adventurous with your food like I am, you should definitely experience the crispy, warm, gooey-ness of a deep-fried Mars bar from C’est Bon. Their other desserts are worth trying, too. (They also have deep-fried bananas.) The picture says it all, don’t you think? Mmm…

My neighbourhood is a great spot for almost anything, and if you haven’t ventured uptown in a while I suggest checking out the awesome businesses of Yonge and Eg. You won’t regret it.