By Lory Diaz
Parkdale is looking more vibrant than usual, thanks to the opening of Convenience Resto Bar at 1184 Queen Street West. The bar is retro-themed and decorated with arcade references, toys, and snacks from the 80s and 90s. The entrance is a convenience store that’s open during the day selling soda and Jamaican patties, with the main bar space opening later and allowing guests to enjoy drinks named after Toronto neighbourhoods, or some $5 cocktails on tap.
Torontonicity was invited to check out the space before opening and to sample some of their menu items, including the delicious Way West: Bombay Sapphire, St-Germain elderflower, Peychaud’s Aperitivo, and soda. This cocktail is a great choice if you’re grabbing some food, as it’s tall and refreshing without being overly sweet. Just make sure to give it a quick spin before your first sip!
My first food sample from the menu was the Hail Caesar: bloomed capers, bacon (which can be removed for a vegetarian option), and creamy Caesar salad in a baked parmesan bowl. These are slightly messy, but the flavour is well worth it! The parmesan bowl alone is delicious, and could be used to carry so many other fillings, but the crisp lettuce and slight burst of saltiness of the caper keeps it light and not overly filling. These mini bites are ideal for sharing, and make the perfect way to start the night.
I was then given a mini version of their Jamaican Patty, that comes with chuck beef, bacon, and a dollop of cinnamon crema. This is absolutely a new favourite bar snack! The filling is creamier than the traditional crumbly beef, and the pastry a bit denser, but they’re packed with flavour. Add a drop of hot sauce and you’re hooked!
Bar Manager Steve, and bartender Gregory, were super chill and happy to make recommendations based on favourite flavours!
I was looking for a stronger drink, and a way to cleanse my palette before the next round of snacks, and Steve recommended the Parkdale: Cazadores tequila, Chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeno. The spice isn’t intense, but it’s present in each sip as the final note only softened by the sweetness of the pineapple juice.
If the above mixture of flavours doesn’t appeal to you, try a strong or refreshing cocktail with either the Greektown or Koreatown cocktails!
Other snacks to look forward to during a visit to Convenience are the mini pogos, in both the sausage and cheese filling. I preferred the cheesy pogos, as it’s a nice crunchy exterior with gooey center, but if you’re in a group of friends, a combination of both would make another great sharing plate!
Convenience hasn’t just put together a fun main space for guests, but they’ve also created an enjoyable space to take selfies in while you lineup for the restrooms. The entire area is painted hot pink, with neon pink lights, and pink rotary phones just begging to be picked up. Outside one stall is a He-Man doll, and the other a She-Ra doll, and once inside it’s a whole other immersive experience…
Take note of the stairs heading down to the restrooms, as the art installation on the small wall features multiple pink screens playing security camera footage of people attempting to rob convenience stores.
The décor choices and awesome interior make Convenience Resto Bar a welcomed addition to the neighbourhood, but I’m hoping that it’s their contribution to the area that will give them staying power. They currently have Christmas Trees for sale outside, with all the proceeds going to a local women’s shelter in Parkdale. They’ll continue this community involvement throughout the various holiday seasons, so make sure to stop by to see how you can give back to the neighbourhood, but stay for the $5 cocktails on tap. Enjoy!
Convenience Resto Bar, 1184 Queen Street West, 647-340-3640