It’s the first day of September, and that means the summer is starting to wind down. Sigh! The Toronto Food Blog wanted to take a moment and celebrate some of the great patio eats on the Lower-Eastside of town. After all, it’s not hard to reason with patio season.
Lucky for us, the Riverside & Leslieville BIAs have teamed up to launch a unique, first-of-its-kind collaboration to promote the “support local” experience and a patio season like no other on their shared main street. The Toronto Food Blog has partnered with the BIAs to document every bite of #QueenEastEats
There’s still a TON of patio season left, including the upcoming long weekend. Let’s make the best of it, shall we? So join us as we get out there and enjoy some of the fabulous local restaurants participating in #QueenEastEats
First stop is home to our favourite patio on Queen East. Aura (686 Queen St E) is a cocktail bar with a back patio perfect for date night. It’s a hidden oasis back there.
Craft cocktails adorn the menu, layered with house-made bitters, juices, liquors and infusions. The drinks work particularly well with Kofta… Turkish meatballs that are best-suited for sharsies. We’re told these are mom’s homemade recipe! Oh, and they make one fantastic Burger. Honestly, it slaps!
Happy Hour can be enjoyed every day between 5pm – 8pm with specials on shots, rail, wine and beer.
Next-up, a visit to the good folks over at Frankie’s Italian (892 Queen St E) for some al fresco hangs.
We’ve come for the food. And for starters, we ordered their Cauliflower Romesco. Tossed in chili oil and finished with parsley and black pepper, we could eat this all day long. They recommended trying the Gigli Pasta… homemade cavatappi covered in a hearty mushroom ragu, heavy on the truffle oil and sage butter. Also on the menu is a little something they like to call the Spicy Bee. This pie features soppresata, goat cheese and a honey drizzle… perfect for Friday pizza night with the girls!
A good wine list, a robust menu, and an intimate back patio where you can actually hear yourself talk… what’s not to like?
Is it just us or has this been the hottest summer in recent memory? To beat the heat, we cooled down on the patio at Eastbound Brewing Company (700 Queen St E). They feature a selection of frosty craft pints and are also a bottleshop (should you want to take the party home with you).
Pints paired perfectly with their Smoked Brisket Sandwich, It came loaded with sauerkraut, swiss cheese and ALL the accoutrements. What a gorgeous sando! And it’s always service with a smile here. They’re great hosts!
Our next stop is a place that needs little introduction. The Leslieville Pumps (913 Queen St E) has been a neighbourhood institution for the past decade. A gas station turned smokehouse turned general store, this place truly has a little something for everyone. For us, that something is BBQ.
Behold! Their Southern Beef Brisket Sandwich is a thing of absolute beauty. Texas cut (cubed) tender brisket, crispy onions, house BBQ sauce with a welcome finish of mustard. This colossal two-hander is best served with a sidecar of fried pickles. Be sure to eat it on their awesome front patio so you can make as much mess as you need!
It’s well-documented that brunch is not typically our favourite meal of the day. Bonjour Brioche (812 Queen St E) is the exception to that rule. It’s long been our favourite brunch spot in the city. Hey, there’s a lot to be said for consistency.
Eggs Benedict served just how we like them: layered with smoked salmon and served atop award-winning flaky croissants. The sidecar of House Salad provides the perfect punch of vinegar and pepper.
We don’t usually do dessert either. But when you make Blueberry Tarts that are this good, we find ourselves asking for seconds. Mimosa anyone?
Oh, Bonjour Brioche! You’re a beauty. Find these French bistro patio vibes on the corner of the city’s most fabled street
There are just some things that are meant to be together… Pizza & Wings; Burgers & Fries; Patios and Beer. Do we have your attention? Samaira’s Kitchen (1056 Queen St E) sure grabbed ours.
This is the perfect spot to hang for casual eats after the game. Or bring the kiddos out for lunch before they head back to school. We guarantee they’ll love the menu. Plenty of wobbly pops for the parents, which compliment this simple menu of elevated diner/roadhouse classics. They do a killer all-day breakfast sandwich, too, that qualifies as #lunchunder10bucks
Don’t know about you, but Indian food is always in our regular rotation. We all have our go-to spot. And there are extra points to be had for a great veggie curry. Along this stretch of Queen Street, Indian Spice Room (717 Queen St E) is a fine choice.
Their vegetarian menu is extensive. If you’ve never tried a Dosa or Utthapam, it might be time to get familiar with these crepe-like crowd pleasers. The versions here qualify as #lunchunder10bucks.
Or try a bit of everything b/w/o their Thali Platter (complete with dessert). If you’re like us and prefer ordering dishes à la carte, their Butter Paneer is not to be missed. We’re told it’s their best-selling dish, and it’s easy to see why. Don’t sleep on their Rajma either. We often try to create this red kidney bean curry at home… to no avail.
We always like to finish off our meal with a mango lassi on their front patio. It really helps help put out the fire.
The best Greek food we’ve eaten this year was at Yaya Greek Bistro (1186 Queen St E). Full stop!
What a menu! Saganaki and Horiatiki Salad are your best bets for starters. But it’s the meat from the grill that has us coming back for more.
Their Kontosouvli comes plated on-skewer… huge chunks of pork alternating between charred veggies. Served with salad and roasted potatoes, we could eat this dish every day. Bet you’ve never had Bifteki like this. Maybe our favourite plate of food this year, a football-sized portion gets stuffed with salty, melty cheese and all the trimmings. Chicken Gyros Dinner is their most popular order. It’s a huge portion of meat, salad, fries, tzatziki and pita. More than enough for two, this dish travels well for takeout.
Everyone is always speaking Greek at Yaya Greek Bistro, both customers and staff alike. And that’s always a good sign. Big comfy chairs line their street patio, creating a bustling atmosphere for summer-evening dining. Great spot!!!
The popular middle-eastern Tabulé on Queen (810 Queen St E) is a vibrant space that checks all the boxes for those seeking a quiet business lunch or a lively group dinner with cocktails. Sit in the happening dining room, in their huge open window, or hide away on their intimate back patio.
The name of the game here is Mezes. And we can’t get enough of these Mediterranean sharing plates… family style! We start with the sample platter of Babaganüj, Tabülè and Labni. This is a meal in itself. Paired with a plate of perfect Falafel & Arnabeet (fried cauliflower), we’re able to use the gorgeous Saj Flatbread to create a seemingly endless amount of taste combinations.
We wash everything down with Kumquat Mojitos… filled with rum, kumquats, habenero lime syrup, fresh lime juice, fresh mint, and rhubarb bitters topped with soda. Swish! Pinkies up for sure.
Arrive with an empty stomach and some time on your hands. Tabulé on Queen excels at delivering a flavorful, leisurely meal, all in a happening and bustling environment. They encourage large groups… and with so many items on menu, no one will leave disappointed.
The Labour Day weekend always rekindles childhood memories of Granny’s house and massive Polish meals. Frequenting the Hastings Snack Bar (5 Hastings Ave) takes us right back… Family run, Polish comforts with a throwback decor that feels just like home.
Where do we start here? How about breakfast? Hungry Tata’s Breakfast Plate has got everything you could possibly want (and then some). Eggs, bacon, Polish weenie, potato pancakes, salad. This is a great start to the day.
If you’re strolling in a bit later, Hungry Tata also has a Lunch Plate. Cabbage roll, kielbasa, pierogi, fried onions, pickles and sauerkraut. This is one comforting plate of food. Still hungry? They have a dilly of a Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich. Bend at the knees, though. It’s awesome but tough to eat in just one sitting.
Hastings Snack Bar is equipped with a cute side patio that provides some great shade under the trees. It’s on Hastings Ave, so it’s the quietest and least-bustling of the #QueenEastEats front patios.
In a hurry? Make a quick pit stop for Coffee and Paczki! This mom & pop & daughter is a little bit of Poland right in the heart of Leslieville. We’ve even brought a couple of Roncesvalles friends to this breakfast & lunch counter, and they’ve totally fallen for the place.
It’s not hard to reason with patio season