Where to eat, drink and shop in the Beaches
1 month ago
1 month ago
While Queen Street West can be considered one of the major commercial hubs of Downtown Toronto, follow the same street east, and you’ll see the scenery change quite significantly — leading you straight to the Beaches.
Also called the Beach, depending on your preference, it’s a neighbourhood that populates the east side of Toronto. Named so due to the presence of the four beaches situated on Lake Ontario, its approximate boundaries are Victoria Park Avenue on the east, Kingston Road on the north, Coxwell Avenue on the west and Lake Ontario or the beaches on the south.
Characterized by a large number of independent boutiques, the stores along Queen are known to have a quick turnover of tenants, leading to a major facelift every year or so. This gives the neighbourhood quite a dynamic feel where there is always something new to do or see. While that is true, there also stands many an establishment that has called the area home for decades on end.
The area is characterized by semi-detached and large-scale Victorian, Edwardian and new-style houses, which can be found lining the side streets of the neighbourhood. New development over the past few years has given rise to not only apartments but controversies also. Locals have raised concerns over traditional aesthetics being endangered by the latest builds.
The Beaches is well-known for its extensive park system along the waterfront, with the major players including Tommy Thompson Park, Woodbine Park and Kew Gardens. Every July, the neighbourhood celebrates the Beaches International Jazz Festival, which always draws large crowds to the area. Outside of that, the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant is another notable attraction, having been the site for many TV programs and films.
If it’s not the greenery or heritage that allures you, fret not. The Beaches is also home to an extensive list of restaurants, bars, cafes and places to shop. A few highlights of the commercial and entertainment scene of the neighbourhood can be found below.
1963 Queen St E
When one comes across the word “diner,” they’re immediately transported to a neighbourhood joint fit for the cast of “Seinfeld” to sit at. They think of a no-frills spot you go to for the signature burnt coffee and where the sandwiches and pies are served by people working there since before your birth.
With a tagline of “who said a ‘diner’ can’t be fancy,” Mira Mira operates under a different mindset. While the name might allude to a more humble and salt-of-the-earth experience, the joint serves an elevated and memorable food experience. Located on the corner of Queen Street East and Kenilworth Avenue, the restaurant has quite an upscale vibe. With exposed brick on the walls and a clean interior of light-brown wood and white, this joint could exist anywhere in the heart of Downtown Toronto and not be considered out of place.
Mira Mira has an extensive food menu featuring items like oysters, burrata, coconut shrimp, seafood chowder and salads for the appetizers.
As for entrees, the list includes steak frites, a burger, black cod, lobster tortellini and mushroom tagliatelle. It also has a separate brunch menu and a vast array of cocktails and wines.
For an elevated dining experience in The Beaches, a visit to Mira Mira is an absolute must. There’s something oddly satisfying about having a dry-aged, 10 oz. ribeye with a side of organic duck eggs at a restaurant that has the word “diner” in it.
1968 Queen St E
As is the case with any Toronto neighbourhood, food from all over the world is available within minutes. The Beaches is no different. Limon is a newly-opened joint that champions local ingredients and uses them to churn out delectable Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern fare.
A sophisticated-yet-fun establishment, this Israeli restaurant is the brainchild of brothers Benjamin and Jonathan, who have created a menu they deem “deeply satisfying” that champions traditional Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern flavours while highlighting the vibrancy of Israeli cooking.
Its menu consists of tried-and-tested shareables such as baba ganoush, labneh, hummus, lentil soup and falafel while also championing both the sea and the land with dishes like roasted rainbow trout, whole sea bream, chicken schnitzel and beef shish kabob. And, of course, any Middle-Eastern/ Mediterranean spot worth its weight would be incomplete without classics such as pita sandwiches, lamb kafta, and, of course, hot sauce and zhug.
With a large variety of offerings and a pocket-friendly price point, there is no confusion as to why Limon is on its way to becoming a Beaches staple — if it already isn’t.
1970 Queen St E
Named after the capital city of the country whose food it represents, Tiflis is a family-owned business that celebrates the culinary diversity of Georgia through its authentic Georgian recipes.
As each guest is treated like a family member in the Eastern European country, Tiflis strives to attain that same level of comfort and authenticity where each patron feels like they're at their friend's home rather than out to eat at a restaurant. Given the vibrancy and diversity of the Beaches, a Georgian restaurant fits in perfectly with the crowd.
Some of the wonderful dishes on the menu include Imereti (fried eggplants and red bell peppers covered with a delicate walnut sauce,) Kuchmachi (boiled chicken gizzard mixed with walnuts and cilantro,) Kupati Imeruli (Stewed beef and pork variety meats seasoned with Georgian spices,) and, of course, the infamous Khachapuri that is offered with a multitude of different fillings/toppings.
Georgian food is designed to be fulfilling, satisfying and wholesome. Given the current Canadian climate, it might do everyone well to make the trip over to Tiflisi and grab themselves some comfort food that soothes the soul.
1910 Queen St E
Breakwall BBQ & Smokehouse is one of the original premium smokehouses in Toronto, serving its low ‘n’ slow smoked meats bursting with flavours created from an array of homemade sauces and dry rubs. The restaurant prides itself on its selection of ingredients — keeping it local and picking only the finest of cuts from local Ontario farms.
At its helm is Shane Ryan, who brings over 24 years of culinary experience to the joint, combining his knowledge of various styles of cooking to create mouth-watering smokey concoctions that leave the patrons yearning for more. Having fallen in love with the ambiance and culture of the Beaches, Ryan wanted to add to the microcosm of the neighbourhood. In 2012 he got to do just that by opening Breakwall — a neighbourhood institution serving people for over a decade.
The restaurant’s top offerings include hickory and applewood-smoked pork back ribs that just fall off the bone; hickory-smoked Angus brisket which is cooked for 16 hours straight; and also perfectly cooked jumbo chicken wings that are tossed in the secret 10-spice rub made in house.
While the place presents itself as a bold establishment focusing on big flavours and hunks of meat, its other menu offerings also include delicate and elevated items such as baked brie, steamed mussels, bruschetta and six different kinds of salads. They juxtapose the other side of the menu quite well — the one that holds dishes that are basically heaps of meat on a serving platter.
With the chicken and brisket being halal, Breakwall BBQ & Smokehouse is also an accessible place where every palate can find something it enjoys — a quality that makes it one of the most popular dining establishments in the Beaches.
1862 Queen St E