Toronto’s downtown core may have the finest in gourmet restaurants, high-end shopping and world-renowned museums and art galleries, but those in the know understand that it’s the smaller communities that offer more in terms of authentic region-specific food, fun retail finds and thought-provoking work by lesser-known but equally as talented local artists. Luckily, there are neighbourhoods like Dovercourt Park-Bloordale that endeavour to take the best that Toronto has to offer in terms of its cultural and artistic diversity and create an energetic and exciting community that’s fast becoming sought-after real estate for young professionals, artists and families.

Food for the Belly
The Dovercourt Park-Bloordale neighbourhood offers a delightful collection of diverse and affordable restaurants. Despite the fact that they’re compacted into a very few blocks, they run the gamut from Portuguese to Indian to African to Vietnamese to Caribbean to Middle Eastern and everything in between all beckoning to passers-by with their enticing window displays and mouth-watering aromas that seem to permeate Dovercourt Park-Bloordale homes. It never fails brings area residents out to socialize with one another.

Food for the Soul
Much of the Dovercourt Park-Bloordale real estate is devoted to restaurants and small independent shops that sell vintage clothing and furnishings, as well as books, music and local art that will appeal to both serious shoppers and casual window shoppers alike. Local cycling enthusiasts should also take note that the Dovercourt Park-Bloordale neighbourhood is known for its bicycle shops that sell both new and used bikes and can also boast to being the home of “Bike Pirates”, a community bicycle repair centre that trains both novice and advanced cyclists to fix and keep their bikes in good condition.

Food for the Mind
This always-evolving, artist-friendly area recently welcomed several new galleries as part of the Dovercourt Park-Bloordale real estate. Mercer Union opened its doors in a spectacular, reclaimed space that was once a theatre building and is now one of Canada’s most established artist-run spaces. What’s more, all exhibitions are free to the general public so locals can spend an ideal afternoon taking in works by neighbourhood artists. Actually, Dovercourt Park-Bloordale homes could be thought of as works of art themselves thanks to fine historic details on turn-of-the-last-century buildings. Longtime locals will also tell you to watch out for the small mosaics embedded throughout the area, installed as replacements for broken tiles as a community project. Where else in the city can residents brag about residing in a living art gallery?

The author: Kristal Cooper is a local freelance writer who loves movies and exploring Toronto's many diverse neighbourhoods.