Explore the colourful strip of Bloor West between University and Bathurst - home to the Annex, South Annex, Korea Town and Markham Village.
We just finished exploring the colourful strip of Bloor West between University and Bathurst - home to the Annex, South Annex, Korea Town and Markham Village. This is a hot destination spot which attracts both young and old alike with its unique and eclectic mix of shopping, entertainment and dining options.
Here are some insider's "Neighbourhood Tips"
Crepes a Go-Go - 750 Spadina Ave - Entrance on Bloor Street
Got a craving for the taste of an authentic Parisian Crepe? Look no further as Paris-raised owner, Veronique Perez, has the recipes, the equipment and the talented chefs, to delight you. A great lunch spots serves up a large selection of sweet and savoury crepes for dining in or grabbing one for the road.
Neighbour’s Tip: If wandering through the Jardin de Luxembourg doesn’t fit your budget this summer, pick up a crepe wrapped in paper and walk to Queen’s Park instead. Bon Apetit!
Jamba Juice - 244 Bloor Street West
Over 20 years ago, Jamba Juice opened juice and smoothie bars in California to inspire a healthier lifestyle. Their blended delights become increasingly popular and now Jamba Juice is franchised across North America. Their Annex location, one of three in Toronto, was the first in Canada! Blending up the freshest fruits and vegetables in dozens of combos is their specialty and the best news of all.. Its all good (for you!)
Neighbours Tip: Jamba Juice has awesome, low-calorie, well-rounded breakfast options, like their made-to-order yogurt parfait or breakfast sandwiches for a great start to your busy day.
Guu SakaBar - 559 Bloor Street West
As you step into Guu Saka Bar, provides diners with an inviting space and a very distinct Japanese style. Offering more unusual and rare choices of small plates and noodle dishes like Oden, a slow cooked hot pot dish that includes your choice of the exotic; like taro jelly, fish cakes and squid. A great spot to meet up with friends to share some pretty creative cocktail concoctions.
Neighbour’s Tip: Wear socks or have nicely pedicured feet! With half of the seating Tatami room style, you may find yourself seated on the floor in which case Japanese etiquette dictates that your shoes must come off first.
Aroma Espresso Bar - 500 Bloor Street West
Originally a coffee shop chain from Israel, Café Aroma has expanded all over the globe including their three thriving locations in Toronto. Inspired by modern Middle-Eastern fare the menu includes ultra fresh and healthy salads, sandwiches and breakfast dishes. If you have time to sit, Aroma has a spacious patio that makes it a perfect spot to have lunch or an iced coffee while watching the Annex crowd go by.
Neighbour’s Tip: The free wifi also makes it a prime place to set up your laptop or iPad to finish up your work in a fun and ambient environment.
Southern Accent Restaurant - 595 Markham Street
One of Toronto’s hidden gems, Southern Accent is tucked halfway down the first block of Markham Street in the heart of Mirvish Village. A combination of good old Southern comfort food, cajun delicacies and wicked cocktails has made this a four season’s favourite for residents and visitors alike. Cozy in winter, a wonderful back party room for special ocassions and when the weather permits the front patio is a great place to meet up with your friends after a hard days work.
Does the Ace of Cups mean anything to you? If so you may want to book ahead for dinner and a Tarot reading. If you time it just right, you can slip away to find out what your future has in store, between the Cajun Shrimp and New Orleans Bourbon and pecan laced bread pudding - Two of my personal favourites.
Speciality Food Shops
Green Beanery - 565 Bloor Street West
Coffee lovers rejoice – We have found the place for you! This spacious, bright, aromatic filled café and store is home to a vast selection of extraordinary fair-trade, niche coffees, that have been grown in smaller producing regions and carefully selected for your enjoyment. Whether you’re looking to grab a quick fix on Bloor Street, enjoying a snack and espresso in the café, or just to picking up a fresh bag of raw beans for home roasting, The Green Beanery just may be leaving the other coffee shops, green with envy.
Neighbour’s Tip: Danger of being converted may just find you with the freshest beans in town. Roasting your own can be come habit forming.
Herbs and Nutrition - 572 Bloor Street West
This city has no shortage of health food and vitamin shops, but from our experience, when they’re really big, they can be hard to maneuver and even a bit intimidating. On the flip side, when they’re too small they can be chaotic and packed to the ceiling, feeling unorganized and overwhelming. When it comes to finding health foods and supplements, I feel a little like Goldilocks – I want the shop to be just right! Herbs and Nutrition has that “just right” selection. A good variety of herbs, vitamins and supplements, and a large selection of natural and organic grocery items too. To add to the experience, the staff is extremely helpful and they were able to answer all of my questions, which is a real bonus!
Rowe Farms - 468 Bloor Street West
“Quality with a Conscience” is the motto of Rowe Farms, whose meats are all locally grown, antibiotic and growth hormone free and conscientiously farmed. A role model for all butcher shops and grocers the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. With a wide range of freshly butchered meat in a variety of different cuts, many are ready to go in their own delicious marinades. No need to travel for your side dishes, their well-stocked, yet manageable, selection of local and organic grocery items is sure to please.
Neighbour’s Tip: Get that grill fired up for the hot summer ahead. Rowe Farms carries all of the BBQ staples and they are guaranteed to wow even the most discerning of your dinner guests.
Midoco - 555 Bloor Street West
Tapping into the creative genius within us all, Midoco just begs our inner-artist to come out! The store sells a fun mix of jazzy school and office supplies, stationary and gadgets, as well as a full selection of crafting supplies and kits for all ages. They also cater to the more serious artist, carrying many of the trusted brands of paint, drafting tools and artists’ materials.
Honest Eds - 681 Bloor Street West
Honest Ed's is a fabulously funToronto landmark, tourist destination and the original discount mega store. Situated on an entire city block on the south west corner of Bloor and Bathurst this famous shopping extravaganza spans over 160,000 square feet of pure bargain delights. Founded in 1948 by Ed Mirvish one of Toronto’s most influential entrepreneurs who started his very first business on the Bloor Street strip. To this day Honest Eds is still the place to go for some of the best "deals" in town.
Neighbourhood Tip: A fun place to explore but as suggested on their web site “Don’t faint at the low prices, because there is no place to lie down!”
Sweet Pete’s - 517 Bloor Street West
Seriously, Sweet Pete’s is sweet! This bike shop specializes in bikes, and other than a few biking clothes and accessories, its only bikes. It’s all they do, all year round and they do it so well. They have a wide selection of bikes for the recreational city biker, the daily commuter, and road warrior, but also carry BMX bikes, kids bikes and electric bikes. If you’re on the market for a bike, the passionate and patient staff at Sweet Pete’s make it an easy and fun experience. They strive to ensure that each customer leaves with two wheels (or three, or four) that match your budget and riding style. In fact, when testing out bikes, they insist that you take the contenders for test rides, just so you can be sure you like the fit and feel. On top of being a perfect spot to buy your bike, they have over a dozen well-trained technicians to tune up and fix whatever may be ailing your already loved model. They include a two-year service plan on their bikes, which means you can count on them to take care of your ride even when its not all shiny and new. Pretty sweet, huh?
Outer Layer - 430 Bloor Street West
This fabulous gift store has the ideal mix of merchandise, interspersing beautiful jewelry, cosmetics and home décor with unique paper goods and unspeakably hilarious novelty gifts. Both of their locations (the other on Queen West) are filled with constantly changing items and we promise there’s something for everyone. Last time I went in for a gift, I bought a beautiful business card holder for a more serious friend…and found a few things for myself as well; A button that reads “well behaved women rarely make history”, an awesome reusable water bottle and a Pacifica candle, my all-time favorite. Try them out for your next gift purchase where you’ll likely find something just right for them, and you may find it hard to resist a little something for yourself as well.
Queen Street Video - 480 Bloor Street West
As more Rogers Video locations turn into wireless stores and Blockbuster is no longer in business, where do you go to pick out a movie thats not readily available through modern technology? This is why we love Queen Street Video. They carry loads of the classics and new releases, along with a fabulous selection of limited release films and documentaries that are incredibly hard to track down, even online! It feels good to support video rental shops and it’s always fun to walk down memory lane. Next time you want to watch a great film, reconsider grabbing it on Netflix and instead pop in and wander down the aisles to find the film that looks just right for you.
Risqué - 404 Bloor Street West
Young, rather trendy and selected with great taste, the women’s clothes at Risque are always worth checking out. Mid price points for the most part this store provides visitors with the “everyday” city wear that suits our Toronto style and the eclectic taste that one would expect in a hip Annex shop. In addition to a good selection of clothing, you can always find beautiful complimentary accessories and one-of-a-kind jewelry, all handmade in Toronto using a mix of vintage charms and authentic stones.