For a west-ender like me, the Beaches are a beautiful little escape from the crunched-up downtown areas. It has a slight Niagara-on-the-Lake feel, making it a quaint spot to for a refreshing walk, bike ride or picnic, and it’s home to an abundance of local business that keep residents looking and feeling sharp.
I can personally attest that this place is the bomb. If you’re thinking about putting pastel in your hair (or making any other dramatic colour-related change to your locks), come here and ask for Megan, who often brings her tiny but well-behaved chihuahua Olive to work. The bright, sunny salon is a fun place to be while you undergo your little makeover.
There’s never been a more romantic love affair than that between art and coffee, right? Immerse yourself in both at Wunderland, where you can soak in locally made art and sip on a latte at the same time. Heaven.
Making the Beaches even more nature-centric is this busy 6.5 hectare park that stretches from Queen St. East to Lakeshore Blvd. It’s the perfect spot to curl up on a picnic blanket with a book, but if you’re up for more adventure, go for a jaunt to check out the wading pool, tennis courts, trails, playgrounds and other fun stuff.
This is more for you history buffs, or you CanLit lovers: This famous plant played a big role in Michael Ondaatje’s Toronto-based novel In the Skin of a Lion. The landmark is definitely worth a visit, if only to take in the opulent grounds, which are now open to the public.
Leslieville is like a less try-hard-ish Queen West (I live on Queen West so I’m allowed to say it!). Everyone has fallen for this east-end ‘hood for its great brunch spots and lovely little antique shops. It’s the perfect spot for young, working couples, new families — you know, morning people. Here’s my take on a perfect day in this quaint little neighbourhood of new beginnings.
Sure, you’ll be working your butt off at this unorthodox gym, but you’ll be so distracted by all the awesomeness that you might not even notice the pain. These guys use odd but fun fitness techniques (like, using huge bags of rice and lentils as training equipment), reminding us what getting into shape doesn’t have to involve any technology whatsoever. If you hate the gym, give this place a try.
BACON. Yes. This place is “North America’s only bacon sandwich shop.” All their meat is sourced locally, and their breads are made with no preservatives. So that should make you feel a tad less guilty as you devour a Bacon Butty, Bacon-on-a-Bun or Brie & Bacon sandwich. They even have a picture of Kevin Bacon on their wall.
This year-round market sells unique wares of local artisans, so if you’re one of those great people who likes to support the makers in your city, get your bum over here. Lots of artists are based out of here, letting you claim neat (and often one-of-a-kind stuff) for your home, your wardrobe — basically anything.
This place! You probably already know all about it, but I couldn’t not include it. It’s not only one of the best places to go for sweets in Leslieville, but in the entire city. Everything is as gorgeous as it tastes, and make sure your phone is charged because you’ll definitely want to be that annoying person who Instagrams all the things.
Te Aro makes really good coffee. The baristas can act a tad pretentious, but the drinks are fantastic and the atmosphere is cool. Stop in here for an energy boost in the middle of your Leslieville exploration.
You can’t spend a day in Leslieville without visiting an antique shop or two, and this one is my recommendation. Stuffed with old oddities, it’s like you’re stepping back in time — and then stepping out with an armful of antiques.
Founded in 2015 by sister-entrepreneurs, Laura and Rena Polley, Blitz Facial Bar is an extension of Body Blitz Spa. Continuing the practice of beauty through health, Blitz Facial Bar is committed to servicing convenient and affordable facials, with a mission for everyday people to incorporate skin treatments into their regular beauty routine. To ensure the highest-quality skincare, registered estheticians use Body Blitz’s in-house product line featuring natural elements from the earth, sea and various botanicals to help cleanse, nourish and hydrate the skin.
Enjoying a facial on the fly has never been easier now that one of two Blitz Facial Bars is open. The founders of Body Blitz are thrilled to announce that the east end location (1133 Queen St. E) of their new beauty concept has opened its doors and on June 12, the west end location (803 Queen St. W.) will also be open for business. Torontonians looking for a facial treatment while under a time crunch will enjoy the new express facial concept that includes four distinct facials starting at $48 with the option to customize the experience with add-on boosters for $10.
With the arrival of the brand new beauty concept to Toronto, Blitz Facial Bar will also introduce an extension of its line of products that will be used in all treatments as well as available for purchase at the two locations. Blitz Facial Bar skincare products combine natural elements from the earth, sea and various botanicals to help cleanse, nourish and hydrate the skin. Some of the new products (ranging in price from $38 to $50) will include a plumping serum and an Argan renewal serum.
We’re so excited to introduce our new beauty concept to Toronto. We have set out to offer high quality facials for those who may not be able to take a whole spa day,” said Laura Polley, CEO of Blitz Facial Bar. “We will offer a range of services that can be amped up with boosters so that everyone can customize their facial to suit their personal needs.”
A sleek and modern space, Blitz Facial Bars have no private rooms and none of your typical spa-like luxuries such as robes, slippers and soft music. Estheticians will get right down to business in an open-air concept, providing efficient, quality services with no undressing required. The facial bar concept will appeal to both men and women who want to maintain the highest standards of skincare but wish to do so in a short amount of time.
We sipped some tea with the Toronto woman who’s turning everyone over to the steeped side
Stepping inside Delysees, I immediately find the person I’m looking for, despite the bubbling crowd that’s formed inside the small King West bakery. I’ve never met Hoda Paripoush, but I can tell that’s her over right there, chatting animatedly to a group of starry-eyed event goers, each of them sipping scrumptious tea from delicate china cups.
Paripoush is the woman of the hour. We’re all here to celebrate her adored Toronto-based tea brand Sloane Fine Tea Merchants, which is officially launching its macaron collection, over which the entire city — and beyond — is already losing its mind.
I eventually manage to steal Paripoush away to introduce myself, and the young entrepreneur immediately dives into the fun sort of chitchat one reserves for their best girlfriends. In a matter of minutes, I feel as though I’m simply out for tea with someone I’ve known for a long time.
“I’m a tea hustler,” she jokes, looking sweeter than one of her tea-infused macarons in a bright pink blazer. Tea has been in her heart for a very long time, and it shows: since its conception, Sloane’s been met with wild success — success that’s blossomed from Paripoush’s passion and genuineness, both of which she’s thoroughly steeped into the brand.
You’ve probably heard of Sloane, or at least scrolled past a few breathtaking pictures of its products on Instagram. Loose leaf lovers all over the city have fallen hard for the brand, which beautifully packages its products in ornate tin containers, making it near impossible not to snap a few photos. And, of course, the teas inside are tasty enough to convert any coffee addict.
A few weeks after the launch of Sloane’s macaron collection, Paripoush and I continue our chat over the phone, and she reveals her recipe for finding entrepreneurial success in Toronto. As it turns out, all it really boils down to is following your instincts.
“Tea is in my blood, so to speak. Because my Persian parents lived in India for over a decade, and given the ritual of tea is such an innate part of Persian culture, I was surrounded by it,” says Paripoush, who was born in India but moved with her family to Brockville, Ont. when she was three. “I actually ended up going to school for naturopathic medicine here in Canada. Eventually I realized that’s not what I wanted to do with my life — so I finally listened to my calling and pursued this dream.”
And we’re glad she did. Ever since Paripoush first sparked the idea of creating Sloane, she’s been traveling the world in pursuit of finding the ingredients and techniques to craft the perfect cup of tea. By blending her own vast tea-related knowledge with all the things she learned while jet-setting, Paripoush’s brand is both proudly local and very well-travelled.
When asked what she thinks about Toronto’s tea industry, Paripoush says she’s proud and excited about how far it’s come. More than just a fad, tea has been an increasingly prominent part of the city’s culinary and lifestyle scenes over the past decade or so, and Sloane plans on keeping that trend alive and well. Tea is a healthier alternative to coffee, a cosy little journey that gives good vibes only — and it’s what people want.
That’s another success secret that Paripoush reveals to me over the phone. Listening to the city’s demands and desires is key. She’s designed Sloane in such a way that it gives tea drinkers their perfect cup, but it also gives them another thing they want desperately: transparency between consumer and brand, which she says Toronto’s businesses are getting a lot better at.
“The space between company and consumer shouldn’t be so mysterious and confusing. There shouldn’t be much of a space at all,” says Paripoush. “Toronto has made great progress in this department, and although we have a ways to go — every city has — we have indeed come a long way.”
Maybe it’s the too-pretty-for-words packaging or the fact that the flavours have us constantly coming back for more, but it looks as though Paripoush practices what she preaches: she’s listened to Toronto’s tea addicts, and she’s not only given them what they want — she’s persuaded even the skeptics to hop on the tea bandwagon.
Tiger of Sweden, located at 56 Ossington Ave, is excited to kick off patio season with the return of its Saturday event series this May. The luxe fashion brand will again partner with neighbours to celebrate the warmer weather with delicious food and drinks, fun activations, live DJ sets and, of course, great deals on its collection.
“Ossington is home to our Canadian flagship location and we’re excited to bring this event back to the neighbourhood for a second year,” said Laurence Slavin, brand manager of Tiger of Sweden, Canada. “This is a great opportunity to celebrate the diverse community with our friends and get to know new neighbours.”
Both Saturday events will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Mike Juneau of Record Collective spinning classic hits on vinyl from the patio throughout the day. Complimentary bubbly, beer from Bellwoods Brewery and house made spanakopitas from neighbours Mamakas Taverna will also be passed. In addition, each day will feature an exclusive draw for a pair of WayHome Music and Arts tickets (valued at $229 each) and offer a $30 credit towards first-time Uber users to or from 56 Ossington, via the code TigerLovesOssington.
Saturday, May 9 will celebrate Mother’s Day with complimentary mini-manis by nail artistRita Remark and flower arrangements for sale from the creative ladies of Pink Twig located up the street. Saturday, May 23 will celebrate May flowers with a Jordan De Ruiter flower crown pop-up shop on the patio, cold sweet treats from Bang Bang Ice Cream and more floral arrangements from Pink Twig. Tiger of Sweden will also offer patrons a gift with purchase when customers spend more than $100 in store on either day