• Experience Taste

Top 5 Cafes in Midtown Toronto

Updated: Feb 9, 2018

When we first moved in the Midtown Toronto area, we were so pleased to find out how many top-notch quality cafes are in this area. It’s become a sort of tradition for us to visit a café every weekend – Toronto has a lot of amazing places to choose from to get your caffeine fix.

There’s just something special about drinking a good cup of coffee in a cozy café reading a good book, catching up on life with a friend, or working and enjoying increased productivity. Daniel and I are both addicted to caffeine, so we spend a lot of our time in cafes and consider cafe hunting a hobby.

We also both practice coffeeology in our life and encourage others to do the same:

  1. Espresso yourself

  2. Stay grounded

  3. Better latte than never

  4. Take life one cup at a time

  5. Take time to smell the coffee

We try to remember these sayings and live by them with each cup of our daily coffee.

After a lot of cafe exploration in our neighbourhood, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 cafes we highly recommend checking out in the Midtown Toronto area. Each cafe below offers their own unique experience that is definitely worth checking out!

De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters

Highlights: best coffee, unique funky decor, free wifi, popular place to study/work

As soon as you walk into this cafe, the funky decor immediately catches your attention. It’s unlike any other cafe in Toronto. You’ll see open umbrellas hanging on the ceiling at the front, and graffitti at the back. If you are the type of person that loves searching for Instagram worthy shots, De Mello has plenty of great backgrounds to offer. This cafe looks deceptively small at first glance, but it’s long and narrow and has additional seating in the back. The kitchen in the back is open, so you can watch the baker through the glass prepare the fresh baked goods. At the front there is a communal table, popular for studying or working as it is positioned by convenient outlets. This cafe is a popular spot for studying and working, as it has free wifi and a multiple plugs, which is tough to find in the area. De Mello is the kind of coffee shop that does everything right: epic coffee, delicious baked goods prepared everyday on site, friendly staff, free wifi, and unforgettable quirky decor. If you like checking out independent cafes, this one is a must!

Boxcar Social

Highlights: high quality coffee, serves good selection of alcohol, long hours, free wifi, amazing back patio

Some may argue that the Boxcar Social at Summerhill Station may not count as Midtown Toronto anymore, but Google Maps says it does, and we had to include it on our list because we go here all the time. It’s conveniently located across the Summerhill LCBO, the flagship location with the widest selection of alcohol, and the best Vintages section. Anyone that knows Daniel well would understand why we end up visiting this cafe so frequently. He loves wine just as much as coffee. He could spend an entire day checking out the wine in the Vintages section. Every time we host a party, this LCBO is a must stop. I’m more of a grab and go efficient shopper at LCBO, while Daniel loves to wander and study their collection, which definitely tests my patience. It’s all worth it when I know I’m going to get my yummy cappuccino from Boxcar Social. So really, the location of this cafe is a life saver for Daniel!

Boxcar Social has an upscale vibe without feeling pretentious at all. They serve high quality coffee and their staff are very friendly in a very genuine way and are clearly knowledgeable. You can really feel the love for coffee here, every cup is made with care and passion. The atmosphere is very rustic and charming with refurbished wooden tables and quaint black barstools and chairs. The cafe is long and narrow, but has a second floor and back wooden patio, so there is plenty of seating. The back patio is beautiful, shaded with trees and twinkling lights at night - you feel as if you are hanging out in your backyard, very cozy and relaxing! This is more of a social cafe, it’s filled with a humming crowd of people catching up with friends. It has a very energetic atmosphere. However, there are still a few people working or studying as well, mostly upstairs where it’s more private and quiet. It offers free wifi, accommodating those that would like to get some work done. A big highlight for this cafe is that they also serve alcohol. They have a very nice selection of beer, whiskey and wine. The cafe closes late (midnight during the week and 2am during the weekend) offering a bar vibe at night. Boxcar Social offers everything I want in a cafe, the only qualm I have is a lack of baked goods selection to go with the yummy cappuccino, but what they do have is delicious. Don’t expect a wide selection of food, but if you’re mainly going for the drinks and atmosphere, this cafe is another must to check out in Toronto!

Instanbul Café

Highlights: amazing unique homey decor, strong coffee, serves limited selection of alcohol, free wifi

One of my all-time favourite things about this cafe is their cozy, homey decor and atmosphere. There are three comfortable leather sofa/armchair areas, a handful of small tables and a long communal table. My absolute favourite spot is the leather armchairs in front of a cozy fireplace. There are multiple beautiful gourd lamps hanging above the tables, colourful Turkish ceramics, stunning photos mounted on the walls and a homey bookshelf at the back with stuffed toys, dolls, books, dictionaries and board games. The ambiance is very cozy and homey. The coffee is great, but very strong - it’s definitely one of the strongest I’ve had in Toronto. Personally for myself, it’s borderline too strong, but Daniel being accustomed to strong coffee he absolutely loves it. I come back and back again mainly for the atmosphere, I love the music they play, their staff is friendly and the ambiance is unforgettable. They have free wifi and multiple outlets, and combined with the strong caffeine kick, I’ve spent many productive hours finishing up work in this cafe. It’s both a great place to get some work done, but also a great place to catch up with a friend over coffee or an alcoholic drink as they serve limited options of beer and cider as well.

Himalayan Coffee House

Highlights: cute unique latte art

If you love latte art Himalayan Coffee House is an absolute must to check out in Toronto!

Every single time we go here we are blown away by the art. It’s something different every time and the art never ceases to amaze us. The baristas are extremely talented! The latte art at this cafe stands out from others I have seen in Toronto due to the vibrant colours they use, which adds that little something extra compared to the regular milk-based art you see at other cafes. The lattes not only look cute, but they also taste great, very smooth and creamy. The cafe also has a pretty good selection of baked goods. We’ve tried their chocolate croissant and blueberry muffin and we were not disappointed! This cute little cafe is a great date spot. It’s quite small though and does not have a lot of seating, so I would be weary about going during peak hours. Since there is no wifi, majority of customers are there to chat not work, which makes it a good spot for conversation. You can talk non-stop guilt-free without worrying that you are bothering anyone around you. We come back and back again to this adorable cafe because we never get tired of their art! We promise you won’t be disappointed, the art looks even cuter in person!

Phipps Bakery

Highlights: delicious fresh bread and sweets & beautiful decor

Phipps Bakery, located near Yonge & Eglinton, is really more of a bakery than a cafe, but their sit-down area is so unique and adorable we had to sneak it into our top 5 favourite Midtown Toronto cafes. As soon as you walk in you will smell the heavenly sweet aromas of all the baked goods and notice the adorable European-style decor that will whisk you away. The decor makes this cafe ideal for a casual date. This is a social cafe where people come to chat, you won’t see many people working, as I don’t believe they have free wifi. Unfortunately while their sweets and decor will transport you away to Europe, their coffee breaks the magical spell that takes over you when you walk in. Their coffee was too weak for us, but that’s coming from two coffee addicts, so perhaps we’re hard critics when it comes to our caffeine fix. While we personally wouldn’t recommend the coffee, the sweets and ambiance make up for it, making Phipps Bakery a hidden gem worth checking out in Midtown Toronto!

Enjoy checking out these amazing cafes! Don't forget to share your experiences with us!