little portugal

The ultimate neighbourhood guide to Little Portugal

A guide to what to see, do and eat in this iconic west end 'hood

Little Portugal is recognizable for its standout street art, with many of its brick walls decorated with colourful murals. Little Portugal runs with Lansdowne Avenue to the west, College Street to the north and Ossington Avenue to the east. Little Portugal can be accessed easiest by hopping on the 505 or 506 streetcars, which both serve Dundas Street West, or by riding the Bloor-Danforth line and exiting at Lansdowne Station.

Eat

Funky bars with Brazilian and Portuguese wine lists and family-run Portuguese-style bakeries all serve traditional pastries, sandwiches and freshly-baked breads and cookies. If you can’t book a trip to Portugal just yet, Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood is the next best if you’ve been craving pasteis de nada or custard tarts.

Along Dundas Street West, which is the centre of Little Portugal, Brazil Bakery serves old-school specialties at prices normally unheard of in a city as big as Toronto. From behind a modest glass service counter, you’ll find authentic, indulgent Portuguese treats like chocolate drizzled or plain pasteis de nada, traditional Portuguese biscuit cookies (biscoitos) and a selection of cakes and tarts. The bakery also does a hot table, where foods like bifana, a pork sandwich simmered in sauce, can be ordered, along with a selection of other custom-made sandwiches to go.

If it’s classic Portuguese chicken you’re after, go for dinner at the humble Bairrada Churrasqueira Grill. The establishment specializes in traditional grilled meat and seafood entrees, as well as quick to-go bites including fried calamari. For a fine dining experience, don’t miss Chiado Restaurant, which pairs Portuguese wines with refined, old-world recipes and is run by one of North America’s leading chefs, Albino Silva.

Explore

One of the best ways to explore Little Portugal is by walking. Although the area is largely residential, located in Toronto’s “Old City,” Little Portugal is always a hub of activity, with events taking place year-round. Dundas Street West is also home to many art galleries, some established, and some up-and-coming, where visitors can view a mix of everything from modern art to fine art.

The neighbourhood is also home to the Little Portugal on Dundas BIA, which is a small and independent business collective located on Dundas Street West, between Shaw and Lansdowne Avenues. This eclectic mix of small boutiques, bars, venues and galleries makes it easy to see a lot of Little Portugal all at once, and also makes it easy to shop local, as big box stores and chain restaurants are scarce here.

Celebrate

Every June, the Dundas West Fest opens up the summer season in Little Portugal, with hundreds of licensed vendors, live music and dancing from some of the neighbourhood’s best underground artists, art exhibits and street food all on offer. Prior to COVID-19, the Lula Lounge was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night, where fruity cocktails could be sipped and savoured amongst friends while Latin and Brazilian music and dance captivated crowds. Although temporarily closed for the time being, Lula continues to offer virtual dance workshops and music until the venue can reopen.

Article exclusive to TRNTO