Leslieville is a hidden gem in Toronto. The area is quaint, quiet, and the epitome of a hip east end neighbourhood. It’s now known as being the coolest place to hang out in the city thanks to the amazing lineup of spots to live, eat, drink, and shop. It’s part of the larger South Riverdale neighbourhood in Toronto, but it’s bound by the Canadian National Railway line to the north and the DVP to the west.
There’s actually a great story behind how Leslieville got its name. George Leslie was the owner of the Toronto Nurseries back in the 1800s, and he was also the name behind the Leslie Post Office at the time and the present Leslie Grove Park.
The Leslieville Public School was one of the first buildings to be established in the area – it was built in 1862. The school’s first principal happened to be Alexander Muir, who you may know as the composer of “The Maple Leaf Forever” song. It was written in the same year as Canada’s Confederation, which was 1867, and served as our “unofficial” national anthem for a while. The story behind the song is that Muir was inspired when a maple leaf fell on his coat while standing under a tree at Laing Street and Memory Lane in Leslieville. That tree still stands there today, by the way! Pretty neat.
Fast forward to present day Leslieville and you’ll find every kind of shop and restaurant you could ever want. A few of our favourite spots to grab a bite include:
The Leslieville Pumps
Part old gas station, part general store, and part restaurant, the Leslieville Pumps might just be the coolest place to eat in the entire city. Not only is the atmosphere unique but the food is incredible and has garnered a ton of attention over the years. You’ve got to go.
If you’re looking for something more on the fancy side (yet still affordable) this is a great place to check out. The owners – some of which you may recognize from TV – have made it their mission to bring east coast flair to their food. We recommend checking it out for dinner and quenching your thirst with a vessel of the house punch bowl.
This spot is a family affair! The original restaurant was started by a brother and sister team in Victoria, before the brother, David, moved back to Toronto with his wife and opened the Leslieville outpost. The couple lives in the area, so they know their customers well. They also serve a notoriously great brunch. We really love this spot.
If you want a full guide of the best spots to check out in this great neighbourhood, check out this recent feature from Now Toronto.