Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Foraging beyond the Don Valley

Looking for Riverside & Leslieville's best burgers and coffee

Te Aro Roasted is an independent coffee brewer inspired by the owner's New Zealand roots and features blends from around the world. Credit: Adam Coish

Think of Leslieville as the quirky younger brother to Queen West: while it’s not yet the life of the party, it’s slowly pushing its way forward. This former industrial strip turned local, indie hotspot is full of one-of-a-kind diners, dives and, most importantly, great eats.

Xtra recently crossed over the Don Valley to explore this east-end neighbourhood’s coffee shops and burger joints. Here’s what we found:

Out of the ordinary

A quick trip through Riverside and Leslieville is sure to make you do a double take; this neighbourhood is home to some of the quirkiest restaurants in the city. Paulette’s Original, east of Morse Avenue, catches the attention of passersby not only for its eye-popping seafoam-painted storefront, but for its unlikely menu: doughnuts and fried chicken. Further west is Leslieville Pumps General Store and Kitchen, a Western-themed drop-in restaurant with adjoining gas station, where you can fill up your tank and your stomach. (Seriously, where do they come up with this stuff?)

Going to America

Craving the eats of our neighbours to the south? Leslieville is peppered with local diners and dives that offer a taste of both small-town America (without the homophobia) and the big city. Check out Jim’s Restaurant — the giant rainbow sticker plastered on their front window is beckoning. Or, to experience the Big Apple without leaving its (slightly less exciting) Canadian counterpart, visit the Burger Shoppe, just west of Broadview.

Keeping things sustainable

Leslieville serves up a range of eco-friendly restaurants. LPK’s Culinary Groove, east of Broadview Avenue, is known for its use of organic and sustainable ingredients, which are showcased in their infamous black-bean burger. Similarly, the Roy Public House, west of Logan Avenue, makes all their burgers from naturally raised, ethically treated Rowe Farms Ontario beef. Independent roasters in the area include Te Aro Roasted and Mercury Espresso Bar.

On the cheap

For those on a budget, the neighbourhood offers quality food at affordable prices. For a buck and change, grab a medium coffee at the Leslieville Pumps General Store and Kitchen. Or pick up a grease-drenched burger at the infamous Dangerous Dan’s for just under $5.

We also recommend

Pulp Kitchen (688 Queen St E), Bonjour Brioche Bakery Café (812 Queen St E) and An Sibín Pub (709 Queen St E).