Ossington Avenue is certifiably trendy, but it’s no flash in the pan: Most of these hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants have been here awhile, and they command extremely loyal followings. It’s an eclectic mix. Where else can you find a mom-and-pop Vietnamese pho joint next to an avant-garde Scandanvian design shop? This avenue is full of great spots to check out, but if you only have time to hit up the highlights, here are some of the best shops and restaurants on the Ossington strip:
Sam James Coffee Bar
It might take several strolls up and down lower Ossington before you locate the door for Sam James Coffee Bar. Once you do, you’ll realize that this isn’t your usual coffee shop. Inside, you will find a long, narrow space with high ceilings and–surprisingly–no tables. If you want to linger, you and your fellow coffee drinkers sit on heated concrete steps underneath a giant pixelated art print. But still, the bare-bones interior achieves a friendly, welcoming vibe, and you’ll find the conversation flowing like coffee in no time. It also pours the best Americano you’ve ever had, which makes it well worth searching for.
A relatively new addition, Victoire Boutique curates Canadian-made fashion pieces that are feminine and youthful without ever stumbling into being overly precious or twee. It’s a cute, clean space with friendly owners who love talking about their wares. And the prices are so good, you can really stock up on everyday, stackable jewelry and vintage-inspired dresses. Make sure to keep an eye out for Toronto-designed pieces by Rosehound Apparel, Fieldtrip, Crywolf, and Leilanni.
Looking for craft beer? Go straight to the source at Bellwoods Brewery. Enormously popular among the beer-snob set, the house-brewed seasonal ales and lagers that can be enjoyed inside, at the restaurant, or taken away from the retail bottle shop. If you’re not in rush, grab a table on the big patio and try extra hoppy ales like Witchshark or a light citrus lager like Wizard Wolf.
Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery
It was the obsession of Summer 2014, and believe it or not, the lines haven’t died down. Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery is easy to find – just look for the horde of people licking their lips in anticipation. The magic comes from a combination of expertly baked cookies paired with creatively flavoured homemade ice cream. In fact, if you liked Bellwoods Brewery’s beers and SJCB’s espresso, try them in ice cream form at Bang Bang. Business owners on Ossington Avenue don’t just have loyal customers; they can count on each other’s support, too.