Once-sleepy Harbord Street leaped into the spotlight last year when it became the setting of Toronto’s latest NIMBY vs. business debate. Citing residents’ rights, crime and the strip’s uncertain future, deputy mayor Joe Pantalone tried to keep a new restaurant—Ici Bistro, helmed by famed chef J.P. Challet—from getting a liquor licence. His intervention may have had the opposite effect he was looking for: Torontonians turned their focus to the south Annex and realized that Harbord isn’t as stuffy (or dodgy) as the councillor would have them believe. With its gradually expanding array of shops, galleries and cafés, Harbord is fast becoming a destination for diners seeking an alternative to Ossington and Queen West. We take a look at 25 seminal spots, old and new, along a street in transition.
(Sam James photo, Jessica Darmanin; Harbord Bakery thumbnail, Danielle Scott)