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!