By KARINA DOOB
The East End of Toronto is a great part of the city that is sure to meet all the needs in your daily life — from shopping to walking to eating, there’s something for everyone.
I’d start the day with a Vegan Benedict at Yaya’s restaurant (1186 Queen St. E.) in Leslieville. The stacked guacamole, fried Yukon gold potatoes, and sautéed spinach and mushrooms are the real standouts in this dish – as is their spicy, house-made red pepper sauce topper! It’s one of Yaya’s specialties and it never disappoints.
Area for walking/ hiking (either with dog or without!)
You can’t beat walks along the boardwalk in The Beach neighbourhood. I try to take daily walks down there on my own, or with my family. The beach and boardwalk aren’t just summer destinations. In summer, of course, there’s plenty of sunshine, sparkly blue water and warm sand to enjoy, but winter can be just as breathtaking. There’s beauty to be found there all year.
The loveliest place to grab a coffee or hot chocolate and a delightful (vegan!) treat in The Beach has got to be Tori’s Bakeshop (2188 Queen St. E.) Tori’s is an all-vegan bake shop, though you’d never know it! Truly, their vegan chocolate frosting is more delicious than any non-vegan version I’ve ever tried. What’s more, their delicious selections are made using as organic ingredients and as few as possible. A must-try destination for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Grocery/ food stores
The Big Carrot, both on the Danforth and now in the Beach (125 Southwood Dr.) as well, are the places I always go when I’m looking for fresh, local, organic produce. They also carry a wide assortment of organic packaged foods, and environmentally friendly cleaning products. I consistently look to the Big Carrot, too, when I’m searching for natural, cruelty-free (and organic!) make-up and personal care products.
For lunch, I’d stop in for a bite at Il Fornello on The Danforth (576 Danforth Ave). They offer a wonderful vegan/plant-based menu and can even modify your dishes to ensure that you get exactly what you have a hankering for. I almost always start with the bruschetta pomodoro and order the vegan spaghetti – they tweak it to my taste by preparing it with tomato sauce, fresh green peas and sautéed spinach. I recommend ordering their vegan chocolate brownie with coconut whipped cream for dessert. Permission to drool granted!
Specialty stores (unique, independent businesses)
When I’m in the mood for stand-out wardrobe pieces I always pop into Yoka Fashions (2116 Queen St. E.). Well-known U.S. brands like Michael Kors and Sanctuary along with Dutch/European brands like Sandwich and Nümph that should be known everywhere are available here. They also carry a super-coveted selection of Canadian designer pieces that often sell out before they finish unpacking the boxes! Need a beautiful, flattering date-night dress? Yoka. Want a pair of beautifully crafted, Italian leather combat boots? Yoka. Looking for an assortment of on-trend vegan moto jackets and bags? Yoka and Yoka. What more could you want? Yoka is always the answer to my fashion question!
Hair/ nails/ spa/ massage
For a precision-perfect manicure or pedicure, the place I always return to is The Ten Spot (2012 Queen St. E.) in the Beach. Their hygiene practices are incomparable, the pressure applied during their soul-soothing foot massage is spot-on and any imperfection during nail polish application is quickly worked away with clever little tools. This is the place to go when my digits require a little elevation.