I’ve been a resident of the Danforth area for most of my life, but with my childhood home being just north of Coxwell subway station, the bars, restaurants, and entertainment associated with Greektown were always a little out of walking distance. My old neighbourhood has recently undergone a bit of a rebrand. Now known as “The Danny”, as part of an effort by the Danforth Mosaic BIA (formed in 2008), this particular stretch of the Danforth seems to be enjoying a new energy. I’m happy for the old stomping grounds, and I’d like to share some of my favourite hangouts to open in the past few years that widen our view of the Danforth beyond the Greektown area.
Hands down my personal favourite. Since they opened their doors in 2013, they’ve been a neighbourhood staple. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to credit them with starting this influx of excellent new restaurants. The staff is friendly and the food is on point, with a great mix of southern staples and Asian fusion. Their rotating specials never fail to impress, running all across the culinary gamut but always coming back to delicious basics on burger Mondays. Ontario Craft Beer and an excellent bourbon and whiskey selection are on hand to help wash it all down. The dining room has a rustic charm from its beautifully faded wood construction, with a bar, long trestle tables, and a big booth in the back for large parties.
From the oldest to the newest, The Dylan opened its doors just last fall at the corner of Greenwood and Danforth, and it already looks right at home. Inspired by the famous Dylans Bob and Thomas, the place has a great rock’n’roll vibe, a fridge stocked with excellent craft beer cans, and a tight menu with bar classics like burgers, chicken wings, fish and chips, and mac and cheese. The checkered floors, high stools, and great cocktails give the bar a New York feel late at night when the lights are low and the music is playing.
The Shore Leave
Another relatively new arrival, and a fresh take on an old concept, The Shore Leave is a tiki bar done right. With colourful drinks (umbrellas optional) and an equally vibrant menu, they’ve been getting a lot of good press lately, and rightly so. With events such as buck-a-shuck oysters, live jazz music, and life-drawing lessons, these guys are as bright an addition to the neighbourhood as the lights around the palm-trees in their dining room.
Sometimes you don’t need a gimmick, it’s just nice to have a big space with great food where you and your ten best friends can park yourselves and catch up for a few hours. A few school friends and I recently did just that at Local 1794. They’ve got a good selection of Ontario Craft Beers and cocktails, and both the menu and the wine list are quite a bit longer than the other establishments I’ve mentioned. Personally, I recommend the mesquite smoked half-chicken dinner.