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15 Great Places To Eat And Drink In The East End

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A handful of marquee restaurateurs have been expanding east lately, causing commotion and bringing overdue attention to the Danforth, Riverside, Leslieville, and a few corners in between. Though forthcoming condo developments will reinforce local support and feel, and the general area will surely become more of a destination for the mainstream. In no particular order, here are some restaurants, counters, and bars – both new and existing – worth visiting. — Nelson Tam


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Leslieville Pumps

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929 Queen St. E, Toronto
ON M4M 1J6, Canada
(416) 465-1313
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From the outside, all one sees is general store and gas station. However, most who stop into the Pumps aren’t there for candy or a fill-up but rather their slow, Southern-smoked sandwiches. And that’s slow, as in 14-hour, beef brisket over hickory and cherry wood, slow.

2. Hey Meatball

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912 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON, Canada
Their Facebook page lists them as a “Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant,” but everything here is mostly made of meat. Much like the first location on College, Rodney Bower’s east-side satellite serves up ‘balls in a variety of sauces and sides – and of course, in between a couple of buns, too. Because who doesn’t love a good meatball sangwich?
686 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON, Canada
(647) 346-1541
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With a solid BBQ card and inviting back patio, Paul Campbell’s Aft Bar – an acronym for “about fucking time” – has been a well-welcomed spot in Riverside. Pitmaster Lawrence La Pianta ensures quality smoke control but as with all BBQ, it’s best decided by tasting yourself. Start with the wings then move onto the ribs.

4. 7 Numbers

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307 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada
(416) 469-5183
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When 7 Numbers first landed on the Danforth almost 10 years ago, virtually nobody was doing Italian in the area. But the food has stood out, paving the way for others. Check out the daily menu updated online. Then see the action firsthand at one of Rosa Marinuzzi’s cooking classes at the Eglinton location, offered almost every last Monday of the month.

5. The Real Jerk Restaurant

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842 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1Y7, Canada
(416) 463-6055
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Since getting the boot out of their former (legendary) digs at Queen and Broadview, longtime fans have been elated to get their authentic jerk back on at the corner of Gerrard and Carlaw. Some would argue it’s the best Caribbean not only this side of the DVP but also this side of Jamaica. Still, there’s only one way to find out for sure.

6. Greenwood Smokehouse BBQ

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673 Danforth Ave, Toronto
ON, Canada
(416) 469-2270
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Greenwood Avenue local Marcus De Simone’s BBQ joint hits the bullseye with its ribs. But check in daily to see what else is cooking as he’s been excitedly experimenting with two smokers now on the go. Pape and Danforth was clearly waiting for something of this sort – whether they knew it or not – as the smokehouse is already jamming them in after only being open for a few months.

7. Sauce

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1376 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1M9, Canada
Imbued with loungy red accents, Sauce is a great place for lubricating courage on a first date but equally comfortable for a gang hang. Food isn’t really the draw here but they serve it until 2am. Score a spot in the back by the piano with one of their classic cocktails and be transported to the 1920s. Plus, get there before 6pm and a double shot drink goes for only $6.

8. The Ceili Cottage

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1301 Queen St East, Toronto
ON, Canada
(416) 406-1301
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Starfish’s Patrick McMurray brings a slice of Ireland to Leslieville. But only with the right amount of Irish luck does one land a seat inside front-patio Yurt during the winter months. Regardless of weather, there’s always a reliable selection of fresh oysters along with accompanying stouts, ales and whiskey – lots of whiskey.

9. Pizzeria Libretto

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550 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON M4K 1P7, Canada
(416) 466-0400
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Prior to the first Libretto on Ossington, most Torontonians had no idea what a Neapolitan pizza was. Now the lineups are regular on the west side but thankfully the Danforth outpost takes resos for those craving thin-crust, wood-fired pies carrying tasty combinations like duck confit with bosc pear and mozzarella.

10. Boots n Bourbon

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725 Queen St. E., Toronto
ON M4M 1H1, Canada
(647) 348-0880
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Plaid shirts are often channeling their inner cowboy or cowgirl at Rock Lobster owner and executive chef Matt Dean Petitt’s western bar, where a long room offers TVs in the front with live country music and line dancing in the back. Any feet too shy to shuffle are easily set straight with $3 bourbon shots.

11. The County Cocktail & Snack Bar

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798 Queen St E, Toronto
ON M4M 1H6, Canada
(416) 781-4743
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This east-side sister to Queen West’s County General is decidedly more neighbourhood-focused. A weekday coffee service begins at 7am and includes myriad syrups for those who like it cold. Plus, weekends offer a 2am last call. Fans of the General’s mainstays need not worry as the fried chicken thigh sandwich (along with a couple of others) has been imported.

12. Hi-Lo Bar

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753 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1H3, Canada
(416) 551-3459
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When Riverside’s much-loved Avro shuttered, Erik Joyal and John Sinopoli (of Table 17 and Ascari Enoteca), along with long-time collaborator Gavin Holmes, felt the void. They weren’t alone. But they filled it when they opened Hi-Lo’s doors last fall. As the moniker suggests, old rock n’ roll posters, pinball machines and small bar menu mingle with considered cocktails and astute wine offerings, balancing the hi and the lo.

13. Chino Locos

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4 Greenwood Ave., Toronto
ON M4L, Canada
(647) 345-5626
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Anyone tired of all the Mission-style rip-offs needs to visit this offbeat burrito joint, as it does its own thing entirely. First off, chow mein noodles are available instead of rice. Second, they’ve got weekly specials like jerk chicken, boneless ribs and General Tao’s chicken. With a newly minted location at Broadview and Gerrard, there’s no doubt these Chinos are locos about the east side.

14. Mother's Dumplings

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804 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1L2, Canada
(647) 350-8988
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From its humble basement beginnings on a side street in Chinatown, to a proper street front on Spadina, and now its recent arrival on the Danforth, the Northern Chinese fare of Mother’s has been loved for a long time. The latest location offers draught beer, which might be the perfect way to wash down some lamb shui mai.

15. The Wren

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1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada
(647) 748-1382
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Though recently mentioned in Eater’s Craft Beer Map, it would be remiss to not include The Wren here as well. The combination of craft draught, rustic class, and an elevated Tex-Mex inspired menu has kept locals returning. Coming upon a one-year anniversary, this Greenwood-Danforth hotspot shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

1. Leslieville Pumps

929 Queen St. E, Toronto, ON M4M 1J6, Canada
From the outside, all one sees is general store and gas station. However, most who stop into the Pumps aren’t there for candy or a fill-up but rather their slow, Southern-smoked sandwiches. And that’s slow, as in 14-hour, beef brisket over hickory and cherry wood, slow.
929 Queen St. E, Toronto
ON M4M 1J6, Canada

2. Hey Meatball

912 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON, Canada
Their Facebook page lists them as a “Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant,” but everything here is mostly made of meat. Much like the first location on College, Rodney Bower’s east-side satellite serves up ‘balls in a variety of sauces and sides – and of course, in between a couple of buns, too. Because who doesn’t love a good meatball sangwich?
912 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON, Canada

3. Aft

686 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON, Canada
With a solid BBQ card and inviting back patio, Paul Campbell’s Aft Bar – an acronym for “about fucking time” – has been a well-welcomed spot in Riverside. Pitmaster Lawrence La Pianta ensures quality smoke control but as with all BBQ, it’s best decided by tasting yourself. Start with the wings then move onto the ribs.
686 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON, Canada

4. 7 Numbers

307 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada
When 7 Numbers first landed on the Danforth almost 10 years ago, virtually nobody was doing Italian in the area. But the food has stood out, paving the way for others. Check out the daily menu updated online. Then see the action firsthand at one of Rosa Marinuzzi’s cooking classes at the Eglinton location, offered almost every last Monday of the month.
307 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada

5. The Real Jerk Restaurant

842 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1Y7, Canada
Since getting the boot out of their former (legendary) digs at Queen and Broadview, longtime fans have been elated to get their authentic jerk back on at the corner of Gerrard and Carlaw. Some would argue it’s the best Caribbean not only this side of the DVP but also this side of Jamaica. Still, there’s only one way to find out for sure.
842 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1Y7, Canada

6. Greenwood Smokehouse BBQ

673 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada
Greenwood Avenue local Marcus De Simone’s BBQ joint hits the bullseye with its ribs. But check in daily to see what else is cooking as he’s been excitedly experimenting with two smokers now on the go. Pape and Danforth was clearly waiting for something of this sort – whether they knew it or not – as the smokehouse is already jamming them in after only being open for a few months.
673 Danforth Ave, Toronto
ON, Canada

7. Sauce

1376 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 1M9, Canada
Imbued with loungy red accents, Sauce is a great place for lubricating courage on a first date but equally comfortable for a gang hang. Food isn’t really the draw here but they serve it until 2am. Score a spot in the back by the piano with one of their classic cocktails and be transported to the 1920s. Plus, get there before 6pm and a double shot drink goes for only $6.
1376 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1M9, Canada

8. The Ceili Cottage

1301 Queen St East, Toronto, ON, Canada
Starfish’s Patrick McMurray brings a slice of Ireland to Leslieville. But only with the right amount of Irish luck does one land a seat inside front-patio Yurt during the winter months. Regardless of weather, there’s always a reliable selection of fresh oysters along with accompanying stouts, ales and whiskey – lots of whiskey.
1301 Queen St East, Toronto
ON, Canada

9. Pizzeria Libretto

550 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON M4K 1P7, Canada
Prior to the first Libretto on Ossington, most Torontonians had no idea what a Neapolitan pizza was. Now the lineups are regular on the west side but thankfully the Danforth outpost takes resos for those craving thin-crust, wood-fired pies carrying tasty combinations like duck confit with bosc pear and mozzarella.
550 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON M4K 1P7, Canada

10. Boots n Bourbon

725 Queen St. E., Toronto, ON M4M 1H1, Canada
Plaid shirts are often channeling their inner cowboy or cowgirl at Rock Lobster owner and executive chef Matt Dean Petitt’s western bar, where a long room offers TVs in the front with live country music and line dancing in the back. Any feet too shy to shuffle are easily set straight with $3 bourbon shots.
725 Queen St. E., Toronto
ON M4M 1H1, Canada

11. The County Cocktail & Snack Bar

798 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1H6, Canada
This east-side sister to Queen West’s County General is decidedly more neighbourhood-focused. A weekday coffee service begins at 7am and includes myriad syrups for those who like it cold. Plus, weekends offer a 2am last call. Fans of the General’s mainstays need not worry as the fried chicken thigh sandwich (along with a couple of others) has been imported.
798 Queen St E, Toronto
ON M4M 1H6, Canada

12. Hi-Lo Bar

753 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1H3, Canada
When Riverside’s much-loved Avro shuttered, Erik Joyal and John Sinopoli (of Table 17 and Ascari Enoteca), along with long-time collaborator Gavin Holmes, felt the void. They weren’t alone. But they filled it when they opened Hi-Lo’s doors last fall. As the moniker suggests, old rock n’ roll posters, pinball machines and small bar menu mingle with considered cocktails and astute wine offerings, balancing the hi and the lo.
753 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1H3, Canada

13. Chino Locos

4 Greenwood Ave., Toronto, ON M4L, Canada
Anyone tired of all the Mission-style rip-offs needs to visit this offbeat burrito joint, as it does its own thing entirely. First off, chow mein noodles are available instead of rice. Second, they’ve got weekly specials like jerk chicken, boneless ribs and General Tao’s chicken. With a newly minted location at Broadview and Gerrard, there’s no doubt these Chinos are locos about the east side.
4 Greenwood Ave., Toronto
ON M4L, Canada

14. Mother's Dumplings

804 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 1L2, Canada
From its humble basement beginnings on a side street in Chinatown, to a proper street front on Spadina, and now its recent arrival on the Danforth, the Northern Chinese fare of Mother’s has been loved for a long time. The latest location offers draught beer, which might be the perfect way to wash down some lamb shui mai.
804 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1L2, Canada

15. The Wren

1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada
Though recently mentioned in Eater’s Craft Beer Map, it would be remiss to not include The Wren here as well. The combination of craft draught, rustic class, and an elevated Tex-Mex inspired menu has kept locals returning. Coming upon a one-year anniversary, this Greenwood-Danforth hotspot shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada