Got a weekend afternoon free and a yen to shop? For God’s sake, then, don’t go to the mall. Or, worse yet, one of those suburban nightmares called Power Centres, where you need a PhD in conceptual geometry to figure out how to get in and out. Instead, put on your walking shoes, hop on the subway (yes, Toronto still does have a public transit system – sort of) and head over to Queen Street West. Your only instructions are to keep strolling and stop wherever takes your fancy. Here, though, are a few of my favourite places to pop into:
Style Garage 938 Queen West - Modern made-to-order upholstery, storage, dining, and accents.
Preloved 881 Queen West - My new fave store. Preloved has one of a kind clothing from reclaimed wools and fabrics. Who knew you could get an exquisite fit in a sweater coat made from remants? Naturally, I had to buy one for my daughter. #YouCan'tGetThatAtAritizia. They also recently launched a small home décor line.
Chatelet 717 Queen West - Sweet, cute, shabby chic. Very, very pretty but best used in small doses, in my experience.
The Paper Place 887 Queen West - One of my fave stores on the planet. Sheets of gorgeous handmade papers in every colour and pattern under the rainbow, as well as journals, stationery, cards, wrapping paper and gifts. I never leave there without buying something. And the staff are lovely.
Morba 665–667 Queen West - Fun mix of new and vintage. Last year, I nearly bought up every globe they had in the place, because the selection was so varied, and so good. But I didn’t, because I’m sensible. Also, I have car payments.
Quasi Modo Modern 789 Queen West - Where the cool kids shop for home design. But the staff is always welcoming and happy to answer any and all of my (probably dumb) questions. So don't be shy.
Mokuba 575 Queen West - So many magnificent ribbons, you’ll want to pull a Daisy Buchanan and bury your face into them, weeping “I’ve never seen such beautiful ribbons.” But don’t, because these ribbons come with fancy-pants prices and I expect that if you wreck it, you buy it. Rumour has it that the staff are just a tad chilly. An occupational hazard, perhaps, when you work on this hip strip?
Nikolaou Restaurant Equipment 629 Queen West - Jam-packed (although my mom might call it a bit dusty and jumbled) restaurant supply store with everything you need. Except, as I recently found out, vegetable brushes.
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art 952 Queen West - Tucked back a bit from the street. C’mon, would a little culture kill’ya?
All that walking making you peckish?
Stop by Dufflet 787 Queen Street West - To-die for pastry, killer espresso and a nice selection of teas (Irish Breakfast anyone?). The staff there is always happy. Who wouldn’t be, surrounded by cake?
Epicure Cafe and Grill 502 Queen West - Good food, a good selection of wines and beers and a cheerful atmosphere. It used to be a big hangout for arty types from Theatre Passe Muraille (see culture, above)
Terroni 720 Queen West - Judging from the crowds, this is a popular place, and has a rep for great Italian food. Maybe it was just an off night when I went – my pizza crust was soggy and the temperature upstairs was about 40ºC. Plus, when I asked for the Puttanesca sauce with spaghetti instead of penne, I was refused. It was suggested that doing so would offend the chef. Or his grandma. Or both. Sounds just a teensy-weensy, iddy-biddy pretentious to us.
For more suggestions, go to BlogTo, which has an extensive, well-researched list of great spots on Queen West and beyond.