Queen Street is a major east-west street located downtown Toronto, Canada. It extends all the way from Roncesvalles Avenue in the West End to Victoria Park Avenue in the East End. The street is bursting at the seams with energy. It’s a trendy hub of some of the best restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and it’s a must-do for any visitor to the city. Vogue Magazine even named it one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods back in 2014.
I actually live just off Queen Street in Toronto, and have for the last 6+ years. Since I spend a lot of time on this street, I thought it is fun to put together a little guide on the area. However, since Queen Street spans a huge portion of the city, I’m mainly going to focus on the core downtown area of the street. You can check out my Corktown and Leslieville guide here for more of the east side of Queen Street.
How to get there
First off, let’s chat logistics. Queen Street is incredibly accessible. It sits on the subway line in the city, as well as the streetcar line (the 501). Depending on where you are coming from, it’s pretty easy to get to this main street. For the sake of this guide, you’ll want to hop off public transportation (the TTC) at around University and Queen or nearby the Eaton Centre. This is a very central point on the street.
For a guide on how to ride the TTC in Toronto, click here.
Where to eat
There are a ton of restaurants in this area and a lot that fall just slightly off of Queen Street too. So don’t think you have to stay right on Queen Street itself. There can be some great places that fall on the streets in between Queen St and King St.
There are a few of my favourite Thai spots that are only a short walk off of the main strip of Queen Street. I personally love Pai that is located on Duncan Street, about 2 blocks south of Queen Street. Khao San Road is equally on the same page as Pai and two cult favourites for Thai food in the city. Khao San Road is located only a stone’s throw away from Pai on Charlotte Street.
Another favourite spot for Thai that only just opened during the pandemic is Salad King. This is their second location in Toronto, with its first location located near Yonge & Dundas square. Salad King is made famous among the student crowd for its incredibly cheap (but delicious) eats. Their Queen St. location is located right at Queen & McCaul. Lastly, I don’t know where to put Queen Mother, but it’s worth mentioning. They have a mix of Asian-inspired dishes and everything in between.
Okay, so I’m not going to go too into depth on Chinese options in the area as central Queen St. is located right next to the infamous Chinatown. If you walked north up Spadina Avenue from Queen Street, in about 100 meters you’ll be right in the heart of Chinatown. Chinatown can be a whole other article in itself, so for now I’ll just link this guide from Destination Toronto if you’re looking for a detour off Queen St. I will say one of my fav spots in Chinatown is Pho Hung. Yes I know this is Vietnamese food but it’s worth a mention.
There is everything on Queen Street, including a wide assortment of great Mexican restaurants. Some of my favourites are La Carnita (slightly south of Queen Street on John Street), Mi Taco Taqueria, Milagro Cantina, and Fonda Lola. La Carnita is definitely in my regular rotation and they do a great lunch special that includes an appetizer, tacos, and dessert.
There is no shortage of great pizza places on Queen Street (and in Toronto). Everyone has their favourite! Two cult favs on the strip (or nearby) are North of Brooklyn (try their Killer Bee pizza) and Maker Pizza (slightly north of Queen on a hidden side street).
Brunch is a cult in this city so there is no shortage of great brunch spots (I once tested and wrote about all the fan favourites here). Along Queen St there are a few great spots for brunch. Early Bird is known for its beautiful avocado toast, Peter Pan is also a cute spot located right at the corner of Queen and Peter, Hello 123 is a great option for plant-based brunch, and lastly, Frankie’s Diner is a classic diner-style breakfast. They’ve been in Toronto since 1977 and I haven’t eaten there yet but it’s on my list next time I want a greasy, diner breakfast.
I LOVE sushi. It’s probably the food I order for delivery the most. There are, of course, a bunch of sushi spots along Queen. My go-to for all-you-can-eat is Aji Sai, it’s nothing fancy or special but it’s good and cheap. My fav grab-and-go is Kibo Sushi. They do have a ton of locations but don’t let the idea of a “chain” fool you. It’s one of the best. There are also some nearby, fancier sushi spots like Ja Bistro and Muni Robata.
I don’t know why but lately burger spots have been popping up EVERYWHERE in the city. Recent additions to Queen have been Rosie’s and Matty’s Patty’s. If you’re looking for plant-based burgers, Fresh is a great option, but one of my favs is The Option burger at good ol’ Burger’s Priest. And if you want a more fancy, sit-down spot for a burger, Aloette and Richmond Station are hands down some of the best burgers in the city. You will need reservations at either of those places though, and they’re popular, so book far in advance.
I am part Italian, so naturally, I LOVE Italian cuisine. I mean, who doesn’t? Some go-to spots for me along Queen are Figo (located on Richmond St south of Queen), Terroni, and Buono. For a quick sandwich or a yummy baked treat, Sud Forno is also great.
Of course, you can’t forget about dessert. Get mini donuts and ice cream from FUGO, or vegan donuts at Bloomer’s. Get Instagram-worthy charcoal ice cream from iHalo Krunch, or award-winning gelato from my fav, Mizzica Gelato. Lastly, you can try out the alcohol-infused gelato at On Third Thought, or the new, trendy penis-shaped waffles at Members Only Waffle House. Oh!! I also can’t forget about the new French bakery, Marvelous By Fred.
Where to drink
There is no shortage of places to drink on Queen Street. It’s a popular street and area for going out, and there are so many different types of bars that there is definitely something for everyone.
Melrose on Adelaide is located, of course, on Adelaide, just slightly south of Queen Street. It is a great spot for cocktails and has a cheap happy hour that includes amazing charcuterie boards. They also opened a cute spot next door called Piccolo which is great for cocktails and apps at night, or coffee in the day. BarChef is the most bougie cocktail bar you’ll find probably in the city. They serve extravagant cocktails that are more like a work of art than a drink. Other favourites are Daisy, Mother Cocktail Bar, and Lobby. Note that Lobby turns more into a club after a certain hour so if that’s not your vibe, come earlier.
The Black Bull has been on Queen St forever and boasts a large, and fantastic patio in the summertime. Bar Hop on Peter St. is one of my personal go-to bars. They have a lengthy beer list, and overall good vibes. The Town Criar has also been around for years and is a go-to for a great beer list and typical pub fare.
There are lots of places along Queen to catch live music. Horseshoe Tavern opened in 1947 and is home to weekly shows, The Cameron House is also an institution in Toronto, alongside The Rex, which has live jazz music twice a day, 7 days a week, and Rivoli (where you can also play pool).
If you aren’t into drinking, there are LOADS of cute coffee shops on Queen. Some of my favs are Hot Black Coffee (they have a fire pit out back in the winter), Cafe 23 (the cutest outdoor patio and best lattes), Strange Love (located in the Beverly Hotel or south on Spadina Avenue. Try their chai latte), and Early Bird.
Where to shop
- Eaton Centre – Toronto’s biggest and go-to mall is right on Queen Street, you’ll also find most mainstream stores along Queen Street as well like H&M, Zara, Aritzia, etc.
- Cocktail Emporium – my favourite spot for cocktail essentials and gifts
- Outer Layer – another great spot for gifts
- Chive – the most gorgeous plant-store
- Queen Fruit Market & Plants – once you’re done at the beautiful, expensive plant store above, this is a great, inexpensive store for all things plants
- Black Market – great for vintage clothes for cheap
… this is only to name a few. There are a TON of stores (both chain, and small businesses) along Queen. I recommend starting at University and Queen and walking west all the way down, popping in and out of stores. Queen is known as Toronto’s fashion district, so you’ll have no shortage of places to shop.
Other things to do
Have a beer in one of the many parks
One of the most popular activities for Torontonians in the summer months is to hang out in parks. Most of us live in tiny apartments, so it’s our way of getting fresh air and enjoying the nice weather. Trinity Bellwood’s is definitely where the young/hip people hang out. It can be bustling with people in the summer months. Other, less busy options are Grange Park off of McCaul Street, and Osgoode Hall. Many people don’t actually know that inside the gates of Osgoode Hall is a park that you can sit in!
Take a photo with the Toronto sign
The giant “Toronto” sign is located at National Phillips Square, where you can also go skating at in the winter months. Take a photo with the sign, and hang out to people-watch or enjoy the many local events and markets that happen in this square throughout the year.
Visit Graffiti Alley
A hidden gem right off Queen Street, Graffiti Alley is home to alleyways of street art. It’s actually marked on Google Maps for you to easily find it but it’s located down an alleyway just west of Spadina Avenue.
What are your favourite spots along Queen Street in Toronto?