Why we like it.
The Annex is known for two things: academics and big, gorgeous houses. Set well back from the street, and even boasting some driveways out front, the housing stock attracts families who appreciate the many school options, walkability and eco-friendly vibe. The proximity to the University of Toronto and subway lines also attracts a high percentage of students, who help offset mortgage fees by renting out basement apartments. Developers are getting creative with their projects in this super hot neighbourhood, and have added a number of stunning boutique condominiums to the housing stock mix.
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This neighbourhood has an interesting split of options, from the very low-cost student-friendly places to the very upscale suitable for their parents. Following are a few of our mid-range favourites.
The guys at Burrito Boys have nothing on BFB, who make the best Yam Burrito in the city! Tucked into the bottom of Lee’s Palace, this is a great late-night option.
Bursting onto the scene with an “irashaimase!”, this Japanese pub is loud, lively and a great evening out. A traditional style pub, food is offered as small plates and should be complimented with many drinks.
Chef Anthony Rose has a hat-trick on his hands with this trio in the Annex. Big Crow is akin to a trip to Muskoka for BBQ, Rose & Sons may be the first gastrodiner in existence, and Fat Pasha is like a trip to your (gourmet) Bubbie’s house.
Greg’s motto is “The Happiest Ice Cream in the World”, and after trying their hand made ice cream, we think they’ve nailed it! Stop in for a cone, banana split or a pint to take home and enjoy in your pjs, and don’t forget the world class hot fudge sauce.
After sampling all of the flavours at Greg’s, you may be in the mood for something a bit, well, healthier. Live has a cure for whatever ails you, and it’s a tasty cure, suitable for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.
Students, academics and freelancers alike fill up the coffee shops in this neighbourhood to get their work done and escape the house.
Over at Dupont and Avenue, Seven Grams has been serving TeAro coffee in a bright bi-level space perfect for working or just hanging out. Supporters of the local arts scene, we love to see their rotating gallery every time we go.
This may be the only spot in the city where three of the major chains are so close together. Choose your favourite, or look for the one with an empty table!
And now for something completely different…
If student pubs aren’t quite your scene, stop in for a glass of wine at this elegant trattoria on Bloor St. The Rat Pack vibe is enhanced by the sublime Italian dishes, and top flight wines being served to happy patrons. An Enomatic wine system behind the bar ensures that every glass is served at it’s optimum temperature and freshness.
With a number of fully stocked corner stores and mini-markets you shouldn’t have to go too far for your weekly shop.
Just steps from Spadina Station, the Metro is one of the largest grocery stores in the area. Parking out back makes the weekly shop more manageable, but make sure to budget for extra time at the checkout; for some reason this store has legendary lineups.
A unique option in the area, Karma is a great option for those interested in being part of a community and shopping fair trade and organic. Shop as a guest, or become a member and get a discount in exchange for working a few hours in the store.
We love the independent shops and boutiques that just do one thing really, really well.
Whether you need a notebook, holiday decorations or serious art supplies, they have you covered. A huge selection provides us with the tools AND the inspiration when we’re feeling crafty.
If you’re looking for a specific piece or just decor inspiration, Angus & Company is a must-see. They have everything from the perfect accent piece to custom furniture to antiques and provide design services for those who like the full treatment.
If you’ve never used a really good knife, a trip to this tiny store will open your eyes to what you’ve been missing. Their extensive knowledge of the construction and use of the various styles is unparalled in the city, and is fascinating to hear. If you visit, you’ll leave with much more than another kitchen utensil.
Bloor St. from Bay over to Bathurst has been designated the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, with lots of options to expand your perspectives.
The Brunny (depending on your age)
If you’ve ever been a student in Toronto, you’ll have darkened the doors of this legendary watering hole. Founded in 1876, this is one of the oldest establishments still operating in Toronto and has gone through many incarnations over the past 100+ years.
Renovated in 2012, this century-old cinema is now home to the Hot Docs Festival and offers a year-round home for first-run Canadian and international documentaries.
Get your party on with the dinosaurs on Fridays, or you know, visit them properly during the week and learn about their history. The controversial renovations are all right in our books, it looks exactly like Superman’s home planet of Krypton.
If you’re not a UofT Alumni with access to their facilities, you can still get in shape without leaving the neighbourhood.
More than just a rec centre, the Jewish Community Centre offers athletics alongside the Al Green Theatre, the Gallery at the J, and music, writing and pottery classes. All faiths are welcome to use the facilities.
Learn more than just how to break a few boards! This studio combines both the spiritual and physical elements to take care of your body and spirit. Classes in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong at all levels (and for all ages) will give you vitality and vigour.
Rating 8 – Huron Street Junior Public School
Rating 6.8 – Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School
Top Secondary Schools
Rating 7.6 – Harbord Collegiate Institute
Rating 5.5 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute