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Hidden away, independent cafes, worth making a special trip to visit.

Recently there was a thread for "Small Lovely Winebar/ Cafe?"
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586023.
The 15 replies swiftly moved to recommendations for 'Crush' and 'Le Select', which are not really small or Cafes.

It would be great to have a list of small independant cafes that are worth a special trip to visit, just because they are different or fun in some way. Two that come to mind are:

Regal Heights Cafe; 145 Lauder Av. just south of St.Clair, West of Oakwood. A friendly and informal sort of place, very personal service, limited food, good coffee. Great for quietly reading a newspaper or sitting outside in Summer.

Pan Perdu; North side of St. Clair at Christie. ( many comments in other posts here). Small, excellent, very French, patisserie/Cafe. Limited, high quality food. Slightly pricey. Good for a mind trip to Paris.

Any others that should be added to the list??

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  1. Simple Cafe at Queen E & Leslie just east of the beer store is a cute new cafe that is independently owned by a lovely young woman. They have fair trade coffee and organic eats at good prices. $6 for a sandwich. Inside is all white with natural "tree" counters and tables. Free WiFi and a beautiful window to watch the leslieville crowd stroll by...

     
     
    2 Replies
    1. re: OnDaGo

      There is a wonderful restaurant in Rosemont (Hwy 89), about 90 minutes north of Toronto called the The Globe Restaurant. I adore this place for both the local food and the wonderful atmosphere. It is like being in your grandmothers dining room. The food is truly outstanding.

      Following is the link for the restaurant.
      http://www.thehillsofheadwaters.com/t...

      1. re: theresah

        if you are heading out of town and into that hood, check out bistro riviere in erin, great food from a former toronto chef and a nice lifford wine supplied wine list...but there can great little finds in georgetown, erin, orangeville, guelph...

    2. Sure, I'll add a lovely little cafe that opened last year in the Junction neighbourhood:
      Crema Coffee @ 3079 Dundas St W (corner of Quebec Ave).

      http://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2008/...

      5 Replies
      1. re: sylvrgirl

        crema is great! it's always packed.

        also in the junction is "the beet". (on dundas, east of pacific, right where the TD bank machine is, oddly.)
        they have wonderful homemade soup, and there is an emphasis on fair trade, organic and locally grown produce. they even sell a tiny amount of produce themselves! check it out.

        1. re: Sarah Cat

          went here early one morning and was extremely disappointed. i ordered a coffee and it tasted watered-down and flavourless. whenever i go to a new place that's the first thing i order, cause if they can't do that right...

          1. re: jayseeca

            that's horrible! i had a decaf there once and i was yummy. prepared fresh as an americano.

            it's true, though — bad coffee is unforgivable.

          2. re: Sarah Cat

            We went to The Beet a couple of weekends ago when every table at Crema was full. The Beet uses Merchant of Green fresh coffee beans. I had a latte and it was pretty good. Not Crema good, but pretty good.

            1. re: Food Tourist

              I just found out that The Beet is licensed! And has a small side patio!

        2. I really like Novacento, also on St. Clair West. Lovely room with a heavy wooden bar and casement displaying delicious gelato and pastries. Authentic cappuccino and espresso, licensed too (just in case). Old men drinking coffee, families out for the evening, couples on dates... and a charming patio space in the summer. A delightful neighbourhood spot.

          I've included this link from blogto because it has great photos:
          http://www.blogto.com/cafes/novecento

          1. To add to the Junction - Cool Hand of A Girl on Dundas east of Keele is always worth visiting. Although it seems to have changed owners the food is still good with an organic/healthy slant. Nice room.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Shorttyred

              I've got to agree with the Cool Hand of a Girl rec. They make a good espresso drinks and it's the best brunch I've had in recent memory.

              I've got to disagree with the Dip recommendations below. Great people watching, but poor food imho.

            2. Cafe Latte on Yonge Street north of Eglinton (east side). Tiny, old world Italian atmosphere with breakfast and fresh foccacia sandwiches. Great coffees (Illy).

              Cafe Vert at Queen and Carlaw - organic cafe with lots of great salads, fruit juicees, etc. Very cute.

              Not small but Cafe Diplomatico on College Street is a Toronto classic for people-watching.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Cat123

                There's a small place on Broadview, about four blocks north of the danforth (right hand side) in a building that used to be a porn shop. It's cozy, friendly, and the espresso is excellent.

                1. re: Cat123

                  I love the Dip! And it's wonderful for cheap, yummy food and beer!!

                2. http://www.torontolife.com/guide/home...

                  This place is adorable
                  Dunno about the quality of the coffee though

                  1. I like "The One In The Only" next to The Only Cafe on Danforth and Donlands.

                    1. Bulldog Coffee on Granby has the best coffee, friendly staff and it's a cute little place to sit.
                      www.bulldogtoronto.com

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: foodismyhobby

                        i forgot Jet Fuel on Parliament!!! That place has fantastic, cheap coffee. And the bike messenger vibe makes it pretty unique.

                        1. re: Sarah Cat

                          "Ezra's Pound" on Dupont (between Davenport & Spadina)...It's been in the neighbourhood for quite awhile but I've just really just discovered how nice and friendly it is.

                        2. re: foodismyhobby

                          I second the Bulldog rec -- it's wonderful and the owner is passionate about coffee!!

                          1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                            I've had a few Americanos at Bulldog now, and they have each been utterly tasteless. Don't know why, it's obviously popular.

                        3. Tinto Coffee House on Roncesvalles just a few blocks north of Queen is owned by Columbians. Their coffee is organic and fair trade and roasted in Toronto. Baked goods are made on site. The ingredients for their food (salads, wraps, sandwiches, etc.) are all local and organic, too! Prices are reasonable, quality is outstanding, and the atmosphere is very cozy - exposed brick walls and brightly coloured tables and chairs. I'm pretty sure they offer free WiFi as I've seen many a laptop during my visits. Also, they display the works of local artists and have a variety of independent Canadian magazines for sale. Definitely worth the trip.

                          -----
                          Tinto
                          89 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R2K6, CA

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: girlnamedandy

                            lit.
                            on roncey.
                            lame name, great coffee and service.

                            1. re: girlnamedandy

                              I'll second Tinto for great coffee although the hippie world music vibe is a little off-putting for me. Especially the sign on the fridge "No Pop and No, We're Not Sorry!" Ookaaay, settle down.

                              Also in the area is Baluchon on Sorauren close to the dog park on the east side. Good coffee and a selection of prepared foods like beet salad, cous cous, mac and cheese, etc...really nice staff and they're always playing David Bowie, Roxy Music, Television or something like that and that's a plus for me.

                              Belly on Queen just east of Sorauren is a cute, tiny spot with a nice looking menu of soups and sandwiches although I haven't tried any of them yet. Good Americano.

                              And of course Cherry Bomb on Roncesavalles is awesome. Great pastries and muffins, the coffee is fantastic and the service is friendly and efficient. Always a line up on weekends but they move quickly. Good music too. Actually can't wait for spring to grab a coffee and sit on the ledge outside film buff.

                              1. re: jamesm

                                Oh! I can't believe we forgot Cherry Bomb! That place is SOOOOOOO good. Some of the best coffee in the city, I think. The Kona is amazing. And the almond croissants KILL me!! I only wish it were possible to properly sit down in there.

                            2. The Common at College West definitely comes to mind. I've only been a couple of times but the coffee is amazing, freshly baked muffins were oh so yummy and they even have a few slightly more hearty food options. Great place for chatting with a friend.

                              1. Dark Horse on Queen East just one block west of Broadview is a great little shop owned by a fab local couple who CARE about their beans. Probably the best latte I've ever had. No joke. Hands down. Great place.

                                1. I can't remember the name of the place (sorry) but there's a great indy coffee shop right at the corner of Dundas and McCaul just south of St Patrick church. They make a great latte and their coffee is outstanding.

                                  12 Replies
                                    1. re: Rabbit

                                      We were at AGO this week-end and I noticed Orange Alert on the corner. Do they have great espresso-based coffees? Anything decent in the way of pastries or snacks? This would be most excellent news.

                                      Add my vote for Ezra's and Dark Horse - my favourites by far. The food at Ezra's is overpriced and the service can be a bit spacey BUT great coffee and scones and the perfect vibe for hanging out. I haven't loved the pastries at Dark Horse but again, top marks for coffee and a chillin' vibe.

                                      1. re: peppermint pate

                                        I just discovered Ezra's Pound today by accident. The latte was one of the best I've had and they were very friendly. The vibe was very cozy and I would go back to sit and relax with a coffee and maybe try some of their treats. I am a fan of Dark Horse on Queen East, but lately I've had some problems with crusty service there.

                                        1. re: pescatarian

                                          I ended up at Ezra's Pound on Dundas by chance last weekend after basically being refused service a place just across the street (I won't get into details but I was a little put off by some extremely bad service, voiced my concerns and walked out/told to leave). Ezra's was lovely. The friendly barista made my boyfriend and I two terrific Americanos while we were waiting for a table at the Hoof Cafe. I loved how they were delivered on a little silver tray along with two glasses of water. They were delicious - flavourful and the crema perfectly intact. We got called for our table when we were about halfway through but lingered a few minutes to finish them off!

                                          1. re: maritimah

                                            I haven't been to the Dundas location yet. I also like the silver tray presentation. Good to hear the crema was intact at that location as americanos aren't their strong suit on Dupont. Will have to check it out. Do they have the same menu at Dundas or is it just pastries?

                                            1. re: peppermint pate

                                              Silver tray! How Parisien - comme chez Café de Flore!

                                          2. re: pescatarian

                                            Yay - glad you liked it! Were you at the Dupont location? Yes, top marks for vibe and their latte - really great, quiet and cozy on a weekday morning to work, catch up with a friend or just read the paper (I never just read the paper in the morning these days but I fantasize about it!), with a latte, croissant, butter & jam - one of my favourite spots. And they have a lovely, leafy, hidden away patio in the summer (go down the laneway by the east side of the building) - very Manhattany. Really nutty on Saturday mornings, though, and service can be s-l-o-w at times but overall, a great spot.

                                            1. re: peppermint pate

                                              I was at the Dupont location. I was sitting in a long lineup at the car wash on Bay just south of Dupont with my BF, and I was feeling the need for a good coffee. The Tim Horton's at the gas station wasn't enticing me, so my BF searched on the iPhone for coffee in the area and Ezra's Pound came up as an option. Hadn't even heard about it before. I walked over, and honestly, it was the best latte I've had in a long time. Smooth and creamy (even with 1%) and just slightly nutty. It was exactly the right temperature (not too hot and not too lukewarm). As I said, I am a regular at Dark Horse and I enjoy Broadview Espresso once in awhile, but this was really the best I've had in a long time. The guy behind the counter was very, very pleasant. This gets high marks from me. I used to experience good service at Dark Horse, but lately I've found that they are sooo busy and they seem increasingly disorganized and the service has been decidely unwelcoming, IMO. Hopefully this will change, as it is a convenient location for me and I like the coffee. But I'm glad to know that Ezra's Pound is there, as it's really close to the BF's place, and until then, I thought the best options for coffee in the area were Lettieri and Starbuck's. I'll definitely check out the patio come spring/summer. I think I'd be happy sitting inside too. It's so cute.

                                              1. re: pescatarian

                                                Ezra's is one of our favorite things about the neighbourhood - they seem to get everything right. Have seen staff change a bit over the past two years, but good service is always guaranteed (sometimes more reserved, but always polite, and though the process of a hand-made cup of drip takes a few minutes more, it's worth the wait - and nice to consider coffee-drinking a more laid back experience!).

                                                Sometimes I "accidentally" forget to pick up coffee when I know it's running low so we can swing by Ezra's for a couple coffees and muffins and fresh beans... a perfect morning whether sitting at one of their sunny little tables or just taking it home. All their baked goods are delicious and fresh - not plasticky like a Starbucks or Second Cup.

                                                Since they started opening Sundays, my only complaint is that they close at 4, and I often wish I could swing by about an hour later. Not sure if this is still the case, but once stopped in shortly before 4 for beans and the person behind me was told that they only offer Americanos so close to closing. Since then, have made a point of going no later than 3:30.

                                                Last point and I'll stop gushing: they're opening some nights as a wine bar now. Haven't made it over yet, but excited to try. If anyone has stopped by, would love to hear about your experiences!

                                            2. re: pescatarian

                                              what is up with the queen east darkhorse? they've just gone down the tubes. the drinks are either too weak or burnt tasting and they always seem more concerned with anything else but taking your order.

                                              i certainly did enjoy ezra's pound though.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                I don't know, but it is disturbing. I didn't want to believe it at first when I noticed the change. Thought it was just a one off. I've had some great coffee there. I haven't been back in awhile though because the last few times I was there I left frustrated and feeling like a heel, because I had the nerve to ask if they had my order after waiting for 10 min at least. The looks I got were menacing, like I was a very annoying customer, which I try not to be. Then when I finally get an order, they don't fill it up all the way. Don't mean to sound petty, but with the prices you pay for these products, I appreciate a full cup. Really too bad, because it's close to my spinning class.
                                                Oh well, I'm happy I found Ezra's Pound and I have made a point of mapping out my long run tomorrow so it ends there ;)

                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                  Holy crap! I thought it was just me. The last two times I'd visited the Spadina location, same thing.

                                        2. I love Bonjour Brioche.

                                          1. Sublime Espresso Bar on Augusta in Kensington Market -- just south of Baldwin I think. Nice narrow room, good coffee, good music.

                                            1. "Crepe a gogo" Yorkville at Yonge St

                                              1. Wow! Thank you OnDaGo, theresah, sylvrgirl, Sarah Cat (X4!), jayseeca, Rabbit(X2), Shorttyred, Cat123, arugula, sleepy, CoffeeAddict416, foodismyhobby, pearlD, Arcadiaseeker, girlnamedandy, Sui_Mai, JennaBean, muito, emptee, carissima, dalton48...
                                                Thank you all for your great posts!
                                                This is turning out to be quite an interesting little list. (I can't wait for the weather to improve to get onto the bicycle to explore some of these).
                                                A couple more for the list:

                                                Bread & Roses: Bloor west village, 22?? Bloor West on the North side just West of Runnymeade. Awesome sandwiches, good soups and pastries, I'm less sure about the coffee though.

                                                Java Mama: 1075 Bathurst, East side Bathurst just South of Dupont. Tiny place with Oraganic/ Fair trade coffee, expensive and typically Annex left wing. Nothing much else except outstanding coffee and excentricity.

                                                Keep these original locations coming, thank you all again.

                                                1. I'd suggest The Cajun Bajan Cafe at 17 - 133 Manville. It's tucked away south east of Eglinton and Warden but worth the effort to get there. Great ribs, good specials, comfortable and very cool vibe.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Brain of J

                                                      Great food, friendly atmosphere, slow service might be an issue for some.

                                                  1. I would recommend Bull Dog Coffee on Church. Nice latte art, good coffee, nice atmosphere...and interesting patrons.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: stonedtoronto

                                                      I was actually going to post a thread on a similar topic...
                                                      I need a place I can hunker down and study for hours on end (and order latte after latte) - that's open really realllllly late (say 1:00 am?) Wifi would be a great bonus (and a terrible distraction!)
                                                      the 'bucks isn't doing it for me anymore.

                                                      1. re: rbc

                                                        Pretty sure they have free wifi at Coffee and All That Jazz at Roncy and Howard Park. It's a nice little spot. Not sure how late they're open, though.

                                                        1. re: rbc

                                                          Tequila Bookworm on Queen West is quite popular, and would probably be busy enough to merit staying open late. I'm not sure if they have WiFi, but it would be worth a try.

                                                          1. re: rbc

                                                            Free Wifi and good, organic free-trade coffee at Urbana Coffee at Bay and St Joseph

                                                        2. My wife and I love Marvellous Edibles on Laird, south of Eglington. Their Sunday brunch is delish, eggs benny with real hollandaise and huge portions of waffles. Weekdays, they offer a multitude of sandwiches, soups are great and dinner entrees are tremendous value.

                                                          www.marvellousedibles.ca

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: bogie

                                                            For those who are keeping this thread alive, Marvellous Edibles is now closed. Boo hoo!

                                                          2. I was down in Kensington Market on Friday and had an AMAZING latte at the Moonbeam Cafe.

                                                            -----
                                                            Moonbean Coffee Company
                                                            30 St Andrews St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                                                            1. My favorite in the small and independent category is Three's Company on Danforth, south side, three doors east of Pape. It is owned by two fabulous women and the food is incredible. Weekend and holiday brunches are scrummy-yummy with several versions of eggs benny, as well as a full menu of other delights and there are always a few specials as well. The coffee is fair-trade, the prices are very reasonable. The are also open through the week for lunch. Dinner is Tuesday to Saturday, I think.... best to check the website. There is a patio int he summer. They are also superb caterers and you can rent the whole resto for functions.... all around an absolute GEM just east off the Danforth beaten path (the "other side" of Pape).

                                                              -----
                                                              Three's Company
                                                              673 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: thenextbite

                                                                Three's Company is often touted on this board as a great family-friendly spot. I can't say we had that experience there when we went for week-end brunch a couple of months back. The food was quite good (coffee was crap) but it's a small, squishy space, service was moderately friendly at best and the worst part was the place was really dirty. We sat opposite the open kitchen and the floor and underside of the counter were in badly need of a mop/wipe.

                                                              2. I have to report sadly that, Regal Heights Cafe; 145 Lauder Av. just south of St.Clair, West of Oakwood has closed. Probably another victim of the St. Clair construction disruption

                                                                1. If you're looking for a nice little cafe with a good quality selection of coffees and terrific non-cafe food, then try Black Camel. It's a very small place on Yonge & Rosedale (ok, it may not be hidden away from the rush of traffic, but it sort of is). Certainly some of the best sandwiches in the city (brisket, pulled pork, chicken and veggie), great coleslaw, and high quality coffee beverages. They have a small seating area inside (maybe for 12-14 people) and a few tables outside on nice days.

                                                                  lunchboy

                                                                  http://nofreelunchonbayst.blogspot.com/

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: lunchboy

                                                                    I had the chicken once there, and it was pretty tasteless except for the toppings. I think the pulled pork gets consistently good reviews here, though.

                                                                    1. re: Pincus

                                                                      That's too bad. I've heard quite the opposite about the chicken, although I haven't tried it myself. The pulled pork is delicious, but I'm a huge fan of the brisket.

                                                                      lunchboy

                                                                      http://nofreelunchonbayst.blogspot.com/

                                                                      1. re: lunchboy

                                                                        Maybe it's because I was there for dinner and the chicken had been sitting around for too long? Will try brisket next time I am in the neighbourhood.

                                                                  2. Yellow Cup Cafe in Etobicoke

                                                                    http://www.yellowcupcafe.com/

                                                                    Lovely sweet and savoury crepes , waffles, desserts and ice cream great selection of tea and very comfortable atmosphere. They also do breakfast and lunch.
                                                                    The place is very cozy with a small outdoor patio as well . I also think its neat that they decorated the ceiling with the empty coffee burlap bags from different company's.
                                                                    Its one of those quaint places you can go to often without breaking the budget

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: volauvent

                                                                      I will second the love for this place. Really cozy, good food, good coffee.

                                                                    2. Ezra's Pound on Dupont has a wonderful back patio that is a perfect place to enjoy their excellent coffee and read the paper or a book. I discovered it a few days ago. I know it was mentioned before. That patio is private and reminded me of a townhouse garden in New York.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: rebus1805

                                                                        Okay, I've been to Ezra's Pound 20+ times and I never knew there was a back patio. When you walk along the back left side, that dead ends at the washrooms. How do you access it?

                                                                      2. Simple Cafe in Leslieville was included on enRoute magazines top 25 places to go list in Toronto

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                          Their coffee is pretty bad though. Haven't tried their sandwiches yet.

                                                                        2. I am a huge fan of Bisogno at Sherbourne and Adelaide. It is one of the few places in Toronto I will consume espresso.

                                                                          Von the owner is very friendly and remembers his customers names and drinks. Von pulls a great cup every time. He has three types espresso beans, including 49th Parallel, Intelligencia - Black Cat, and his special blend. The beans are ground freshly for each cup!

                                                                          He loves espresso and expresses it in his incredibly clean and regularly maintained espresso machine, grinders as well a paying attention to all the little details. Heated cup & spoon, freshly ground beans, correct amount of water in an Americano etc.

                                                                          Lucky for me I live in the building so I can pad down at 7am for my morning double.

                                                                          Another place in the area I like for espresso, but isn't really a cafe, is Carpe Diem. Its a small Italian pizza place specializing thick crust pizza and very well made espresso. The owner/cook/chief bottle washer is a recent Italian immigrant. He take pride in is many and varied espresso blends. He makes an incredible decaf espresso!!!

                                                                          Carpe Diem is located on King E, just east of Sherbourne. I feel quite lucky to have such incredible espresso options on my doorstep.

                                                                          1. Small World Cafe on the Danforth (between Coxwell and Danforth) is worth a visit. Super nice people running the place. Great coffee of course. I enjoy the soup of the day. Very family friendly, with a kids play area. Also involved in the community.
                                                                            http://www.smallworldcafeinc.com

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: JamieK

                                                                              Small World has been sold. Hope the new owners make only positive changes.

                                                                              1. re: JamieK

                                                                                I guess this was very recent? I went twice last week after you posted that they were in distress, and I think I spoke with the (now former) owner. The play area is perfect for my 4 year old, it's just a little too far for us to walk on regular basis. It is a very friendly spot especially for young families, we enjoyed the folk musicians last weekend.

                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                  yes, recent. The change in ownership/lease will take place in January. I don't know who the new owners are but they apparently already own a bakery. They want to expand the kitchen and menu and create more of a restaurant, so it may mean the play area may go. That's all I know for now.

                                                                            2. For great coffee, the place I treat myself to is Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord St (west of Bathurst).
                                                                              Amazing coffee! Delicious lattes, espressos, and what not.
                                                                              The pastries are made off site. They look yummy but I've never tried them.

                                                                              297 Harbord Street. It's definately worth a trip.

                                                                              1. nice , quiet atmosphere at the holy oak on bloor just east of lansdowne . i dont drink coffee but i hear its very good . limited food selection that i have yet to try . friendly service .

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: witloof

                                                                                  ...you can't go wrong at Morning Glory Cafe on King at Gilead(near Parliament). it's small and has a great local vibe. they keep you moving if you're in a hurry and if you feel like lingering to read the paper while you eat, they don't push you out the door. I could eat the Jim Davison every day. it's simple enough that i could probably make it myself...bacon, green apple, cheddar cheese...but, there is just something about the way they put it together that stops me from even attempting to try.

                                                                                2. He is back! The guy who ran the little gem called Regal Heights Cafe (GG) - see original post & follow-up above - has returned to the neighbourhood with "Rockabilley-Rock" . A new tiny gem of a place at the North East corner of Oakwood and Davenport. Outstanding coffee, Croisant and atmosphere. Don't go in big crowds though, room for less than ten people max.

                                                                                  1. Ooh! I have to shout out to Kafene in Oakville, at the corner of Ford Dr and Cornwall Rd. The nicest staff in the world, clean decor, and the most delicious homemade goodies. I used to stop in at Starbucks for my morning coffee, but not since I found this place. And there's no comparing the crappy goodies at Starbucks to their amazing muffins (the Morning Glory...mmmm! and I'm not a muffin person!) and other yummies.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: expensivetaste_tightbelt

                                                                                      i agree about Kafene. the coffe is great and the food is even better. i usually go for lunch. they have great panini's. i understand almost everything is made fresh in-house. The muffin's are great!!

                                                                                      1. re: foodandcoffeelover

                                                                                        The Green Bean near Trafalgar and Lakeshore in Oakville carries Il Gelatiere gelato! Also a very scenic patio reminiscent of piazzas in Italy. Haven't tried the coffee yet but it's on my must-do list next visit.

                                                                                    2. Hi there,
                                                                                      This past weekend, I visited Merchants of Green Coffee, and was I impressed! They have wonderful coffee, free wifi, and great pastries. They offer coffee classes, fair trade coffee, and they sell coffee equipment. The coffee is superb. It's a bit out of the way, at 12 Matilda Street, just off Queen, east of Broadview.

                                                                                      1. Rooster Coffee House (479 Broadview Avenue) has been open just over a month, but is already building a good neighbourhood following. The coffee is excellent, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and the owners (Shawn and Dave) are really friendly attitude-free people who live nearby. There isn't much in the way of food yet, just a few pastries, but our lattes were lovely - deep dark flavours without being acrid (Te Aro coffee!). Lots of space to sit and chat, read, work on your laptop (free wifi), play Scrabble, or just watch life go by in Riverdale park. Sweet. Even the loos are nice! It's our new go-to place in our 'hood for just hanging around.

                                                                                        http://www.blogto.com/cafes/rooster-c...

                                                                                        1. Cocoa Latte at St. Clair and Christie is great -- nice atmosphere and good coffee.

                                                                                          1. The Merchants of Green Coffee, 2 Matilda Street, near Broadview/Queen.

                                                                                            This place has awesome coffee, a great ambiance, and coffee classes. There are also free coffee brewing demos on a daily basis.

                                                                                            1. Kensington's, corner of Baldwin and Kensinton Ave. on the west side of Spadina in Kensington market stands out as a pleasant independant place, excellent service, good coffee and interesting bites to eat. Location provides pleanty of eclectic traffic.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: AzulH

                                                                                                East Oakville has Kafene. It is on the corner of Ford Dr. and Cornwall. Coffee is very nice, but the food is even better. If you live or work in the area try it out.

                                                                                              2. I'd recommend Café Novo. It's located in the High Park neighbourhood right across from the park, and they're just starting up. It's run by two younger women who have training in food services, and everything is organic. Very friendly and the drinks are definitely made well.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Café Novo
                                                                                                1986 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 3K9, CA

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: stet

                                                                                                  I disagree with the rec for Cafe Novo. They don't know how to make a proper latte, which is important to me. I'd recommend the Good Neighbour at Annette and Quebec Ave. instead. They have a fireplace and even french pastries from Jules.

                                                                                                  1. re: Food Tourist

                                                                                                    I enjoy their lattes. What'd they do wrong?

                                                                                                    1. re: stet

                                                                                                      I found Cafe Novo latte to be fine (Way better than the neighborhood Starbucks). I was shocked at the size of their Large Latte -- a great reason to just hangout at their patio and people watch. :)

                                                                                                      1. re: stet

                                                                                                        Oops, just read this now. From limited memory, I think too much foam, not enough espresso, and not-great taste from beans. Plus, serving it in a glass is impractical and a turnoff for me.

                                                                                                        Starbux lattes are definitely on the lower end of the scale but Novo wasn't way better. Actually, the latte at Grenadier Cafe is suprisingly better than Novo's (though not stellar).

                                                                                                        1. re: Food Tourist

                                                                                                          I believe lattes are actually supposed to be served in glasses - capps in ceramic. Understand if it's a personal turn-off but it's correct in terms of coffee culture.
                                                                                                          Organic milk properly steamed makes microfoam that seperates from the milk once settled. You wouldn't find that at Grenadier Cafe or Starbucks.

                                                                                                          1. re: RoamingRona

                                                                                                            I'm a microfoam fan. I like lattes at Bulldog, Cherry Bomb, Birds'n'Beans, Mercury (but too much milk), Sam James, Crema, Good Neighbour, etc. Too bad some of those places aren't proper hangout spots (limited space and/or not enough to eat). Most of them don't serve lattes in glassware. Neither do most of the top baristas in NYC. Which coffee culture uses glasses? Is it personal preference? I always go for the 8 oz or smallest size possible to minimize watered-down taste with too much milk.

                                                                                                  2. There is a new one... or at least a new branch of Red Rocket Coffee, which is a delight ,at 154 Wellesley St. East, (Sherbourne) in the new row of shops on the north side. Lovely baked goods and service.

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                                                                                                    Red Rocket Coffee
                                                                                                    154 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: AzulH

                                                                                                      I love Red Rocket on Queen East. Pastries are hit and miss, but the rice crispie chocolate peanut butter thing is a hit. Good coffee, cool staff.

                                                                                                    2. The Hub Cafe opened two weeks ago on the corner of Shaw and Yarmouth.
                                                                                                      Worth a visit. At the moment going through a few teething pains and a little on the pricey side. Coffee better than chains but not sensational. Local ingredients for food. Trying hard.
                                                                                                      Also reviewed in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/722653

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                                                                                                      1. re: AzulH

                                                                                                        These guys get 10 points in my book for having Almond Milk as an option along with soy milk and regular cow's milk. Much appreciated from someone with a strong dairy intolerance!

                                                                                                      2. I might be the only one left writing on this thread!!
                                                                                                        Anyway here goes... the latest find is as unlikely as many of the others.. Cozy cafe on the south west corner of Woodbine and the Danforth, ( On the south side of the Danforth.) From the outside it looks grungy and on the inside it is dark, if spacious. The coffee isn't that outstanding but the selection of good looking pastries is! An oasis of excellent croisants etc. in a desert area!

                                                                                                        1. Has anyone been to Rebel House on Yonge St. in Rosedale, recently?

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                                                                                                          Rebel House
                                                                                                          1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

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                                                                                                          1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                            Just curious how Rebel House fits into the category of "independent cafes"? I'd put it into the category of "independent pubs". But I love those damn cheese pennies...

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                                                                                                            Rebel House
                                                                                                            1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

                                                                                                            1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                              Good point.
                                                                                                              To me the concept of 'cafe' is more a vibe thing than a type of restaurant

                                                                                                          2. There's a new restaurant in the Junction called, appropriately enough, Junction Eatery. The menu is small but very tasty and always fresh. The owner, Derek, prepares and buys everything himself and it shows. The brunch is quite nice (I'm partial to the waffles myself).

                                                                                                            Definitely worth heading up from Bloor West to check it out.

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                                                                                                            Junction Eatery
                                                                                                            2790 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P, CA

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                                                                                                            1. re: kennbee

                                                                                                              Cafe Doria needs to be on this list. Go for great paninis, salads, lattes, etc.
                                                                                                              Mocha Mocha - coffee not so good but the food is fantastic.

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                                                                                                              Cafe Doria
                                                                                                              1094 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L6, CA

                                                                                                              Mocha Mocha
                                                                                                              489 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P5, CA

                                                                                                            2. If you want/need a little encouragement to visit a lot of different independent cafes here is a great deal www.indiecoffeepassport.com. The deal is buy a "passport" for $20 and get a coffee (or tea) valued at up to $5 at each of 24 different independent cafes.

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                                                                                                              1. re: cheesymama

                                                                                                                Cool deal! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to pick one up this week.

                                                                                                                1. re: LTL

                                                                                                                  Just went to "The Beet" in the junction, on Dundas St. West, east of Pacific Avenue on a really cold day and had their wonderful soup. Huge bowls for $7.00. Also had the Bison Burger & Sweet Potatoes. My husband had the lamb burger.
                                                                                                                  A nice little place with great healthy food.

                                                                                                              2. a different kind of cafe would be the one at the back of tealish. it's private, quiet and i adore the walnut ave latte (with a touch of sweetner and soy milk).

                                                                                                                also enjoying the new thor espresso bar which has very limited seating but is tucked away under and between condos. not sure if it's the beans or the slayer, but there are some really great layers of flavour in their espresso.

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                                                                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                                                  Jam Cafe:

                                                                                                                  Wonderful local place on Carlton near Parliament. Kinda rewminds me f another fav , The Town Grill, that used to operate nearby.

                                                                                                                  The vibe is laid back with lots of dark wood and candles. The seating at one table is a beautiful old couch.

                                                                                                                  Foodwise, they smoke their own meats and everything is fresh, fresh, fresh. Had the elk rib steak with heirloom beet salad and fingerling potatoes (magnificnet).

                                                                                                                  Dining partner had the smoked duck salad and the duck leg confit (she likes duck!).

                                                                                                                  Went on a sunday cuz they don't charge a corkage fee (normally a $20 fee). Bonus: they serve your wine in Reidel crystal.

                                                                                                                  As much as I would like to keep this place on the down low, a restaurant of this quality deserve some buzz.

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                                                                                                                  Town Grill
                                                                                                                  243 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A2L2, CA

                                                                                                                  1. re: Finnegan

                                                                                                                    Have been to Jam. Food is alright., atmosphere is great. Really lovely spot. Wasn't overly impressed by their food, seemed to have a fair amount of oil. But the servers were nice.

                                                                                                                2. I just wanted to share a little cafe I came across. It's called "Orange Alert", located at 298 Dundas Street West (Dundas and McCaul - across from AGO)... I was blown away by the cappuccino at this place.
                                                                                                                  To help you gauge... I consider myself a coffee-lover (grind my own beans daily) and I prefer my home brew to $tarbuck$ or Second Cup.
                                                                                                                  Back to Orange Alert: the friendliest barista ever. An older Korean man who knows how to make a serious espresso. I've since tried the latte as well which was also great.

                                                                                                                  I hope some of you get to try it and let me know your thoughts.

                                                                                                                  1. The Scoop & Bean at Bathurst and Follis, ( 2 Follis ), has been around for a couple of years or so now. There are plenty of newspapers, you can almost always find a seat, there is WiFi. All is very friendly. Kawartha ice cream; apparently combining coffee & Icecream in the same cup is a speciality, but I haven't tried, nor have I tried the crepes. The terrace, which has been waiting all summer is about to become legal.
                                                                                                                    Worth a detour