Boxcar Social: Queen's Quay / by Didier Young

A familiar logo in a brand new location.

I will have to make a confession. I was one of the last passengers to jump onto the Boxcar bandwagon. I did not discover the brand of coffee shops until the second location opened up in a reconverted furniture store in the east end of Toronto. Since then, I have always made sure to make myself present and with my ticket in hand at Boxcar Social.

Big wooden tables allow people to stay in the shade.

When I heard of their newest pitstop at the harbourfront Centre, I decided it was time to grab my camera and go explore the area once again. The harbour front always had the potential to be something great with the ferry to the island only a few steps down, festivals in the summer and the power plant right next door. However, it lacked quality restaurants and coffee shops that would make Torontonians want to hang out there. 

You also have the option to sit out and enjoy your drink by the water.

 The area has recently been reinvigorated with a burst of gentrification as more condos and a medical expansion to George Brown College were built around there. As often happens with new development, the increase in residents and the enhancement of the general quality of life, attracts the need for a higher level of services in the neighbourhood. Boxcar’s new location on Queen’s Quay pioneers a new era for the area’s commercial history.

A well stocked bar and 'enough whisky to ruin a wedding' according to Boxcar Social.

Upon arriving at the location, I definitely had a sense of déjà vu; the dark wood, the chalkboard wall, the succulents and the hardware are all reminiscent of the now familiar Riverside and Summerhill locations. The room feels more spacious than the other locations due to a lack of separations within the space and the inclusion of three big picnic tables in the middle of the room allow bigger parties to remain whole when they stop by Boxcar Social.

A selection of Delysées pastries are available along with a rotating array of high quality roasters.

A selection of Delysées pastries are available along with a rotating array of high quality roasters.

If you are a recurring customer of the line of coffee shops, you will notice familiar faces greeting you behind the bar and the same delicious coffee and Delysées pastries that you have come to expect from Boxcar Social. You would also be accustomed to seeing the extensive selection of quality alcohol available but don't expect to order a cocktail; drinks here are served from a bottle or a tap. After six, you can treat yourself to one of my favourite things on the menu; one of the best charcuterie boards in the city that, I must admit, I sometimes daydream about. There are currently talks of the creation of a bigger food menu for this location.

Similar details carried through each location give this one a particularly familiar feel.

The lack of electrical outlets makes it harder for Boxcar Social to become a destination for people to work at, but perhaps it is for the best. The Queen’s Quay location is perfect for temporary summer escapades from the usual urban scenery as you grab a drink on the patio while staring at the lake and trying to leave the workday behind. It is a place where you can simply relax, grab a bite and a drink and be (boxcar) social.

-Didier