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General 2 months ago

Leaside Insider Guide

In our ongoing blog series, #LiveLikeTheLocals, The Heaps Estrin Team uncovers the locals’ best-kept secrets on dining, shops, and well loved green spaces. Last month we presented an Insider Guide to Moore Park and Yonge + St Clair. This month we move eastbound to one of the most community oriented neighbourhoods in the city – Leaside.

What do we love most about Leaside? The friendliness, the recreational amenities, strolling the tree-lined streets and Bayview Avenue’s range of shops in a village-like atmosphere. Leaside is an established upmarket neighbourhood and has become a food and provisions destination for residents of midtown Toronto and beyond. On the fringe of Leaside along Laird Avenue, residents benefit from the rejuvenated industrial area now transformed into a large-format retail node named Leaside Village. Throughout Leaside you will uncover a number of green spaces and sports facilities with a focus on recreation and fitness for all.

Shop Like The Locals

La Muse1610 Bayview Avenue

La Muse is the perfect place for any woman who wants to find her authentic self in fashion. With over 65 international brands, this boutique offers a Scandinavian style with a Parisian twist! La Muse aims to empower you through style consulting that inspires transformations–ready to take on anything life throws your way. From work commitments to social commitments you will be dressed head-to-toe ready for whatever adventure may come your way.

Reviews from the locals:

Ramona
Ramona
Local Guide
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"This is definitely a favourite clothing store! I always find a thing or two I absolutely need. Selection is great, prices are reasonable, staff is always super friendly and helpful"
Labeeba
Labeeba
Local Guide
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"There is something for everyone in this store. The staff were amazing and really helped me navigate through the store and their products. I loved how accommodating they were of my needs and found clothes for me that suited my personal style. Would definitely visit again!"
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Write Impressions – 1515 Bayview Avenue

Whether you’re looking for a unique gift or just in need of some beautiful writing instruments, take the time to visit Write Impressions. Write Impressions is a family owned stationery and gift shop founded in 1986 – a store known for it’s love for simple pleasures and finer things. You will find a delightful selection of products catering not only to yourself but also friends and family members with a variety of tastes. When you come through the door, you immediately feel welcome and at home. They’re all about the art of the written word at Write Impressions and that’s why even their card selection is curated by hand with their customers in mind. They continue to refresh their collection with on-trend products while still maintaining their core collection of local favourites.

"Contessa” Set @writeimpressions
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Sationery @writeimpressions

Reviews from the locals:

Jeannette
Jeannette
Local Guide
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"Write Impressions in Leaside is a must stop shop when you’re in the neighbourhood. It’s an institution in the community and always a pleasure to visit. There is a beautiful selection of products - from greeting cards, to fine writing pens, to bath products, to kids plush and toys, to home decor. I went in to buy one card and left with multiple cards, hand wash, a scented candle, tea and a lamp! Love this place!"
Erez
Erez
Local Guide
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"Quality and service! Helpful staff and quality products are what make the Bayview location of Write Impressions popular. Very happy to continue supporting the hard working, independent stores that give our Leaside strip character. I love this place! Write Impressions, keep doing what you do!"
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relevé clothing1727 Bayview Avenue

Relevé is a newcomer to the Leaside neighbourhood specializing in high-end athleisure and loungewear. Named after the ballet position of being raised up on your toes, dancer-turned-entrepreneur, owner Gillian Medina, aims to carry fashionable, easy, comfortable and flattering options to suit real-life.

The stylish, active people of Leaside are the inspiration for Gillian’s collections. Multitaskers that go from the gym to the playground and to dinner, need smart and functional outfits. Carrying apparel pieces from top Los Angeles and Australian designers – with cult-like following – expect to find trendy brands such as Alo Yoga, Michael Lauren, L’urv and P.E Nation. 

Christina Pinelli in relevé
Jessica West in relevé

Reviews from the locals:

Nicole
Nicole
Local Guide
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"Love this store! Anything I buy from here quickly becomes a favourite piece. The quality on the clothing is very high, everything seems to fit beautifully and as a bonus is extremely comfy. Also the interior is gorgeous which definitely completes the overall shopping experience."
Judy
Judy
Local Guide
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"Releve is a gem. The store is beautifully decorated and the clothes are expertly displayed. For me, this made my experience a joy. I really appreciated the serene ambiance. I received very helpful and knowledgeable service from the owner. The clothes she helped me to choose are just perfect. So stylish and comfortable. I’ve received many compliments on them. I highly recommend releve."
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Upper Canada Specialty Hardware10 Brentcliffe Road

If you’re looking for top of the line hardware, Upper Canada Specialty Hardware offers one of the most extensive portfolios of products in any finish or style. From the newest and most unique pulls to complement your kitchen, to signature barn door fixtures, it is a one-stop-shop for revamping a home. Featuring exquisite brands such as MYOH and Rocky Mountain Hardware, with expertly crafted products using only the finest art-grade bronze. On top of it all, the store offers a broad range of services like security audits, consultations, and installation services to protect your home.

Rocky Mountain Hardware
Myoh

Eat Like The Locals

Cumbrae’s1591 Bayview Ave

Thanks to Stephen Alexander’s passion and innovation, butchery in Toronto has never been the same. It all started in 1994 in his tiny Cumbrae’s shop on Church Street where a movement took hold and a wave of inspiration flooded the city. He helped the consumer understand the importance of marbling, the concept of dry aging and how an animal’s diet can influence the final taste. It is here that Torontonians’ love affair with grass-fed beef began. They are the vendor of choice for leading dining establishments across the city such as the Terroni network, the Drake and Oliver and Bonacini Hospitality (Canoe, Jump, Biff’s Bistro, etc). Cumbrae’s is the result of an unparalleled network of family-run farmers, butchers and cooks committed to its evolution and ingenuity. 

Now situated on Bayview Avenue in a grand market-style shop designed by award winning architects – GPA, Cumbrae’s has expanded their selection and reinvented the butcher experience. There is no back-of-house in this shop as they recognize that the food preparation and butchery is part of the draw – it’s a source of shopper-tainment and an opportunity to appreciate the care and craftsmanship that goes into fine butchery. This destination is truly a one-stop-shop for the most impressive BBQ gathering, for gourmet grab-and-go lunch, for artisan provisions, for fresh produce and even delectable baked goods. One can even find a vast array of prepared goods such as blended butters, quiches, pub pies, lasagnas and soups, all made in house right before your eyes.  A not to be missed food lover’s paradise in Leaside.

Reviews from the locals:

David
David
Local Guide
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"Cumbrae's has been a consistent source for great meats and prepared salads. The quality is tremendous and the store has everything you need for the backyard BBQ entertainers."
Tania
Tania
Local Guide
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"Beautiful location, staff was helpful. Prices are OK but the quality is worth it. The store offers a wide variety of products, which I also appreciate. There is a small "grocery" section. Love that everything is locally sourced and antibiotic/hormone free. Yum!"
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Sophie’s Kitchen – 7 Pleasant Boulevard

An adorable family-friendly brunch spot run by husband and wife Hayley and Robbie and named after their daughter Sophie. Sophie’s Kitchen serves up mouth-watering brunch dishes while paying homage to surrounding streets and neighbourhoods. Leaside locals get a kick out of menu items like “Run of the Millwood Frittata” (three-egg frittata made with sautéed leeks) or the “Eggs Bennington” (eggs Benedict with classic Canadian bacon).  

Come for the brunch and then unwind with an afternoon drink like the “Lemonosa” made with lemonade and champagne. With its quirky decor and creative presentation, Sophie’s is the perfect spot for a wholesome and delicious start to the day.

Storefront @sophies_to

Reviews from the locals:

Yasmeen
Yasmeen
Local Guide
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“I love this place! The decor and colour scheme is so cute and inviting. The staff was super friendly and held our table even though we were late. Our server Cameron was very sweet. Food wise, I love their lemonosa. The eggs Benny and omelette were delicious. Definitely coming back here!”
Yunny
Yunny
Local Guide
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“Hilarious cards that I have not seen elsewhere. I always have a good laugh inside this store. I usually find unique useful items for myself as well.”
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Mayrik 1580 Bayview Avenue

Being one of a kind in the neighbourhood, Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Mayrik has been the talk of the town. Elegant, airy decor, and embellished dinnerware sets the tone for a unique dining experience. Sharing is caring at Mayrik with incredible tapas like Baba Ganoush or Hummus, served with their fresh house pita or the roasted cauliflower, beautifully drizzled with tahini and pomegranate seeds. They even make it easy with “Date Night” or “Family” platters featuring their signature rice and meat dishes, perfect for a dynamic and diverse experience. For an authentic and memorable experience, try the Armenian coffee, served in a traditional copper kettle.

Roasted Cauliflower via @mayrikto
BYOW via @mayrikto

Reviews from the locals:

Donya
Donya
Local Guide
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"We loved our experience there. The food was exceptional. It's fresh, tasty and delicate. Superb service, our server Derek had a great knowledge of the food and wine pairings. Everything was set for you to have a great experience. Thank you"
Jeff
Jeff
Local Guide
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"Great food. Great service. The best hummus I have ever had and the dumplings were fantastic."
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Charmaine Sweets 115 Vanderhoof Avenue

It is safe to say that Leaside has no shortage of dessert options. Charmaine Sweets is a local favourite and this quaint stand-alone building has become an iconic part of the neighbourhood. What was previously a children’s music school has now been transformed into a family-run bakery offering stunning and decadent desserts. All sweets are baked in-house from scratch every day. Walk in and smell the baked goods while browsing rows of irresistible pastries and cakes. Locals rave about the Nutella filled beignets, fresh Challah and Lemon Cream Tarts. 

Owner and teacher, Teresa Ho, offers hands-on baking classes in their newly renovated kitchen studio. Check online for when classes will resume.

Reviews from the locals:

Ray
Ray
Local Guide
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"Ranked #1 butter tarts in Toronto by Chef Mark McEwan. I tried them and they live up to those expectations. Not sweet at all, just a pleasant buttery texture and flavour. The only negative is I could eat half a dozen of these in a day…"
Kristen
Kristen
Local Guide
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"Love the variety of baked goods and brunch menu. I find myself coming back every weekend for an iced latte. The staff is also lovely and the interior is spacious for comfortable distancing."
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LIT Espresso Bar 1517 Bayview Avenue

This quaint espresso bar is a place where the locals tend to linger. Their classically trained baristas are passionate and pay great attention to detail. Every pour of Pig Iron Coffee Roasters (their independent brand) is perfection. Patrons enjoy sitting at the chef’s table and watching the baristas work their magic as they sip or wait for their own espressos. You will also find a nice selection of bites including Blackbird Baking Co. paninis, croissants and even vegan cookies from Bunner’s.

Owner and teacher, Teresa Ho, offers hands-on baking classes in their newly renovated kitchen studio. Check online for when classes will resume.

Kristen
Kristen
Local Guide
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"Lovely staff and a calm environment. I enjoyed a brief but great visit. Good coffee and good atmosphere! Will be coming back!"
Jose
Jose
Local Guide
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"Personality, that's what this place has. Good customer service, nice food and great coffee. This is a place where you can feel what a really coffee shop should be"
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Craig’s Cookies 1581 Bayview Avenue

Cookie lovers can agree that Craig’s Cookies deserves its “#1 Cookie in Toronto” title. Located along the Bayview strip of Leaside you’ll spot a colourful storefront and a cheeky sandwich sign message. Using his mother’s recipe and premium ingredients, Craig’s cookies take a twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie with stuffings such as Mars Bars, Apple Pie and Nutella. They now have over 100 flavours to choose from. Come in for a little sweet fix along with a shot of milk or surprise friends and family with a dozen beautifully wrapped cookies.

Andrew
Andrew
Local Guide
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"Wow! These cookies were EPIC! So many different flavours and all so delicious! The cookies themselves were not too sweet and the toppings itself basically sweetened them up! My favourites were the strawberry pop tart and bueno! All time faves as of now! The pop tart with that frosting of the pop tart and the jam filling complemented the cookie so well! The crunch of the bueno with the soft cookie went so well together! All the flavours were dynamite!"
George
George
@username
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"Easily the best cookies in Toronto. I have been here numerous times and to their other locations. What I also like is that the cookies are consistently good across each location."
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Hollywood Gelato 1581 Bayview Avenue

You won’t miss the big “Hollywood Gelato” sign while at the corner of Bayview and Manor. The family-owned, cafe-style space offers 22 homemade flavours. With a passion for innovation, Hollywood Gelato will concoct new flavours each season such as the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie or Black Forest Cake gelato. There is never a shortage of flavours to try. Here you can have your cake and eat it too with a made-to-order Gelato Cake made with the flavour of your choosing. Because the only thing better than a scoop of Rocky Rocher, is an entire cake of it to share on a special day.

Anugrah
Anugrah
Local Guide
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"Impromptu decision to visit this place, was taken back with an awe. Awesome staff and owner, flavor selection is so vibrant that it may take a day to decide what you would like to have but staff is there to help! Highly recommend"
Arjana
Arjana
@username
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"Great gelato!! All the flavours are rich and creamy. Pricing also isn’t that bad considering at least 2 flavours are included in each of the sizes. The staff are friendly and very fast. Will be coming back to try other flavours!"
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Bomou Artisinal Bakery 1636 Bayview Avenue

Next door to our favourite gelato shop you can find some of the most posh desserts in the city! Bomou Artisanal Bakery crafts what they refer to as “edible art”. Their confectionery is inspired by the pâtisseries and elegance of France. While visiting the shop take in the fresh selection of viennoiseries, baguettes, and intricately decorated chocolates – it’s impossible to leave empty handed. A must-try is the Shahzadeh – a dessert made with light pistachio mousse, fresh rosewater and raspberry, topped with edible gold leaf. For a one-of-a-kind gift idea, pick-your-own chocolate boxes are available with flavours like Orange Whiskey and Salted Caramel. Each piece looks like an abstract artwork which makes eating these a sin!

Shahzade Cake via @bomouartisanalbakery
Opera Cake via @bomouartisanalbakery
Ngoc
NgocLocal Guide
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"The sweets at Bomou's Bakery are so decadent and delicious!!! As you can see, they are almost too pretty to look at and taste even better! We got to try 4 different pastries and we reccomend all of them! Definitely come here to pick up a selection of cute desserts! Goes perfect with a black cup of coffee!"
Travis
Travis
Local Guide
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"I tried all their croissants and they are all so fresh and tasty. Their pistachio croissant is out of this word. Tried their Apricot jam too and it's delicious. Definitely will be back for more."
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Rahier Patisserie 1636 Bayview Avenue

Last but definitely not least on our sweets list, is Rahier Patisserie. Belgian native, Francois Rahier opened shop in 1996 and has been a mainstay of the community since. Rahier brings masterfully-crafted European flavours right to Leaside. If you’re in the market for an elegant cake for a special occasion, you’ll find a variety of mousse based creations like the Dumas made with hazelnut and dark chocolate mousse or the seasonal Chanel Cake made with light pistachio mousse, raspberry gelée and raspberry soaked white sponge. For a bite-sized experience, many of Rahier’s desserts are available in miniature, by the dozen, perfect for any event .

Drink Juice Co. 1636 Bayview Avenue

Founder of Drink Juice Co., Nadia is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist who opened Drink Juice Co in 2015 after going through her own journey of health and wellness. Her purpose is to provide customers with the same remedies she uses at home. 

Walk into airy shop and find an array of potions to choose from like their secret weapon to reducing bloat, the Aloe Shot or the highly popular Flu Tonic filled with antibacterial and antiviral vegetables. Whether you are on a health kick or just need a pick-me-up, stop by Drink Juice Co. and fuel up with delicious and quenching cold-pressed juices for optimal health and nutrition. 

Play Like The Locals

Serena Gundy Park

One of the most impressive and vast green spaces in the city sits at the north end of Leaside. Serena Gundy Park is located in the West Don River valley, just north of Eglinton Avenue East. It was named after the first wife of the late James H. Gundy, owner of a 20-hectare private estate and president of the large securities dealer Wood Gundy Limited. Serena Gundy Park offers endless bike trails, waterfalls, rivers and open fields, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. Large picnic and barbecue permitted areas are available throughout the park, perfect for an entire day of family fun or a special event.This connected green space spans across 154+ hectares and networks into the Bridle Path.

Trace Manes Park

Set in a spacious park in a quiet residential area, Trace Manes Park Community Centre is located near Millwood Road and McRae Drive. The grounds include a baseball diamond, wading pool, playing field, playground, and tennis courts. Outdoor tennis activities are community-operated by the Leaside Tennis Club. This community centre provides local programming for families and seniors including preschool, arts, dance, martial arts, and fitness programs. Rooms are suitable for small meetings and quiet activities or parties. The Leaside Public Library is also located next door.

Leaside Lawn Bowling Club – 190 Hanna Road

Venture outside your typical routine and check out the Lawn Bowling Club located at Leaside High school. This unassuming club is quite the community hotspot, and never fails to be packed with local families and friends who gather to enjoy a sunny afternoon match.

Leaside Tennis Club25 St. Clair Avenue West

Nestled in Trace Manes Park between Rumsey Road and McRae Drive, Leaside presents its very own tennis club. With six hard courts, a newly revamped clubhouse, and exceptional tennis pros, the club has become infamous for hosting community-wide events, parties, and tournaments. In addition to the exceptional courts and tennis programs, the park also offers a state-of-the-art, and baseball diamond for little-ones to enjoy.

Skyzone Trampoline –45 Esandar Drive

There are few things that compare to the joy of jumping on a trampoline. Channel your inner child at Skyzone and bounce around on a stretch of trampolines. You will be having too much fun to remember you’re burning calories by the second. Practice your jumps or book a game of trampoline dodgeball in your own private court. This is the perfect place to unwind with friends or team-build with colleagues. We would be remiss not to mention that it is conveniently located next to The Amsterdam Brewery where you can grab a drink afterwards.

Leaside Baseball 635 Eglinton Ave E

One of the best leagues in our province lives right in Leaside. Talbot Park has been home to Leaside baseball for nearly 10 decades and has almost 30 competitive teams. Head coach Lee provides mentorship and programs for kids and teens. For those looking for the top level of baseball instruction and competition, Leaside’s premium Rep program offers AAA, AA and A tiers for advanced players.

Leaside Baseball is always looking for enthusiastic team coaches, summer camp counsellors, or development clinic trainers.

GRIT Athletics53 Laird Drive

You may have noticed the red facade of the new sport & performance training centre, GRIT Athletics, while driving down Laird Drive. GRIT was co-founded in 2020 by Jeff Wolburgh, Shady Ashamalla, and Neal Prabhu, each of whom enjoyed coaching their children’s sports teams and volunteering their time as board members with sports associations. The specialty programs are centered around each athlete’s individual developmental needs and experience. Kids & teens can accelerate and fine-tune their Baseball, Hockey, or overall sports performance skills. 

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