little poland

The ultimate neighbourhood guide to Little Poland

A guide on what to see, do and eat in Roncy's cultural hub

The Roncesvalles Village area of Toronto, also called “Roncy,” has traditionally been known as the city’s Polish-centric hub. To the east, Roncesvalles Village borders one of Toronto’s most sought-after green spaces, the 400-acre High Park, as well as the surrounding Parkdale neighbourhood.

Exploring Little Poland is easy, as its boundaries include King Street West and Dundas Street West. Visitors can take the Bloor-Yonge subway line and exit at Dundas West Station. Prominent Polish institutions, small businesses and Polish-speaking restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens exist in this tight-knit community.

Celebrate

Every September, the largest Polish street festival in North America takes place here. Due to COVID-19, the annual Roncesvalles Polish Festival has been postponed until September 2022.

The Polish Festival puts Polish traditions and culture front and centre, with performances of Polish folklore, local and international music, Polka and Eurodance bands and Polish cuisine to be sampled from more than 40 participating restaurants. Whether you’re looking for cheesy pierogies with fried onion and sour cream, savoury hand-stuffed cabbage rolls or to sample kielbasa, you’ll find all of these foods and more, packed along Little Poland’s 18 blocks.

For 2022, the Polish Festival is set to feature offerings from 150 local shops, merchants and boutiques, 40 restaurants, cafes and bars, three stages, 40 performances from 20 different street buskers, 90 vendors and exhibitors and six beverage gardens with extended patios.

Explore

Start your trip to the neighbourhood with a stroll down Roncesvalles Avenue, where you’ll take in the sights and sounds of vintage shops, bookstores, cafes, restaurants and shops you won’t find elsewhere in the city. Eastern European fare is alive and well in Little Poland, with hundreds of small cafes and shops to choose from.

Eat

Located in the heart of the neighbourhood, Cafe Polonez has been catering to the Little Poland community for more than 30 years, serving home-cooked Polish foods, like traditional breaded chicken schnitzel (also available on a sandwich or as a melt), Polish sausage topped with fried onions, and, of course, pierogies served with a side of sour cream for dunking.

For a cool treat this summer, don’t miss Ed’s Real Scoop, a local ice cream shop specializing in small-batch ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt, as well as ice cream cookie sandwiches. One of the most enchanting things you’ll experience in Little Poland is just how well its butcher’s shops and cafes honour the Eastern European way of life.

In this neighbourhood, it’s not uncommon to see older gentlemen sipping czarna (strong, black coffee) in the mornings and well into the afternoon, chatting amongst one another and watching life go by on the crowded sidewalks. Grab a coffee and a treat to go from Cherry Bomb, a cafe located on Roncesvalles Avenue, known for its delicious baked goods and freshly-brewed coffee, and head over to High Park for a leisurely stroll.

With its cherry blossoms in the spring, breathtaking colours in the fall, warm, quiet nights in the summer and snowy trails in the winter, it’s the perfect way to experience the best of Little Poland year-round.

Article exclusive to TRNTO