Once a gritty strip of garages and hardware stores, Queen Street East has softened its edges to become a haven for foodies and young families.
All-day brunch spot
At 10-month-old Lady Marmalade, the menu focuses on breakfast, "the rest of breakfast," and lunch. Chef David Cherry cooks up poutine with bacon and miso gravy—plus 10 varieties of eggs Benedict—for a devoted crowd gathered around '70s-era thrift-shop tables. 898 Queen St. E., ladymarmalade.ca, poutine $7.75.
In a food-centric neighborhood, even dessert must live up to the highest standards. The year-old Ed's Real Scoop does just that, thanks to a rotating cast of one-of-a-kind flavors (Guinness stout, pear-and-Parmesan) and cream sourced from a local dairy. 920 Queen St. E., edsrealscoop.com, ice cream from $2.50.
Cool kids' shop
Cheryl Tschupruk and Gini Bechard opened Baby on the Hip three years ago to supply the city's green-leaning parents with everything from natural-rubber pacifiers to bamboo crib bedding to handmade, turtle-shaped organic-cotton crocheted rattles. 969 Queen St. E., babyonthehip.ca, pacifiers $8.50.
It's hard to say what drives more traffic to Te Aro Roasted, a year-old café in a former auto-body shop: the fresh sea-salt chocolate-chip cookies, the El Salvadoran beans roasted on-site by co-owner Andy Wilkin, or the unbeatable people-watching from the front terrace. 983 Queen St. E., te-aro.ca, coffee from $14.25 per pound.
German-Chilean clothing designer Alexia von Beck and her Greek chef husband turn the spotlight on international culture at their 8-month-old Holy Cow Market. It's stocked with an eclectic mix of trinkets (antique wooden Buddhas, clay Moroccan tagines) collected over years of dedicated globe-trotting. 1100 Queen St. E., holycowmarket.com, tagine $43.
Patrick McMurray's pub The Céilí Cottage is no by-the-book barroom, with a 40-seat summer patio, an all-ages winter ice-skating rink, and weekly roast dinners all year. Former champion oyster shucker McMurray also regularly does the honors on fresh hauls from Malpeque Bay. 1301 Queen St. E., ceilicottage.com, oysters from $13.50 for six.
From pasta making to Butchery 101, the evening workshops at The Inspired Cook help anyone live out their foodie fantasies. After class, students can browse the 2-year-old shop in front for tools to put their new techniques to good use. 1378 Queen St. E., theinspiredcook.com, workshops from $43.