My Toronto

I love a place where I can sit, sip and work

NOW Magazine - Best of Toronto - - Books - By MARIKO TA­MAKI

Ask any­one who writes for a living where it’s hard­est to get any­thing done and they’ll tell you it’s the care­fully set up and un­doubt­edly cher­ished home of­fice. I blame e-mail. If I re­ally have to get writ­ing done, I pack up my stuff, don a gi­gan­tic, back­break­ing back­pack and hit the streets, head­ing for my favourite down­town of­fices.

Not the li­brary. You’d think that’d be my first des­ti­na­tion, but let me tell you some­thing about the li­brary. Ev­ery­one is sup­posed to be quiet there, but no one is. Peo­ple an­swer cell­phones in the li­brary. So to me, the li­brary is a lie. And I would frankly rather go some­place that’s sup­posed to be noisy and is than drown in a lie. Go to the li­brary for books, but not to get stuff done.

I like the Drake (1150 Queen West, 416-531-5042) be­cause it has good cof­fee and be­cause hang­ing out on Queen in gen­eral makes me feel like an artist. You can work for an ex­tended pe­riod of time with­out too much guilt, feel­ing es­pe­cially cool if your iBook matches all the other iBooks in the place.

Also, there’s a big ta­ble by the south win­dow where you could gather a group of your friends to work, although I’m not sure how much you’d get done.

The bum­mer about Star­bucks (I go to the one at 494 Bloor West, 416-535-9984) is that it’s much busier, es­pe­cially dur­ing lunch and af­ter school. The ta­bles are small, and when peo­ple scrape their chairs, it vi­brates my butt. The win­dow, which looks over Bloor, is big and lets in a lot of light, which I en­joy. The ma­jor down­side is that their ridicu­lous Star­bucks CDs play all the time and, frankly, they suck.

To me, Al­ter­na­tive Grounds (333 Ron­ces­valles, 416-534-5543) is the wan­der­ing writer’s Promised Land. It has sev­eral huge retro kitchen ta­bles you can spread your stuff out on and, aside from the odd scream of a cof­fee grinder or small child, it’s rel­a­tively chill most of the time. There’s al­most al­ways a ta­ble, save on busier week­ends, and the back gar­den makes you feel like writ­ing a novel. The iced lat­tes taste like light, foamy cof­fee milk­shakes from heaven.

Be­cause you can’t live on cof­fee, Not Just Noodles (570 Yonge, 416-960-8898) is my non-cof­fee writ­ing space al­ter­na­tive. Down­stairs it’s a fran­tic Chi­nese take­out/eat-in, but up­stairs is a quiet, dimly lit room with ta­bles and chairs set up amongst fake vin­ery. You can nurse a bowl of fan­tas­tic hot ’n’ sour soup while you work rel­a­tively undis­turbed.

It’s very rarely quiet at the Moon­bean Cof­fee Com­pany (30 St. An­drew, 416-595-0327), so I wouldn’t rec­om­mend it for those with sen­si­tive de­meanours, but there is a lot of space, good cof­fee and a back pa­tio. Plus, you can nab your­self some­thing nice to wear in Kens­ing­ton on the way home, if you can af­ford it.

So here’s hop­ing you find a quiet spot away from dis­trac­tion to get your work done. With win­ter com­ing, it’s prob­a­bly about time to get some fancy fin­ger­less gloves so you can con­tinue to work out­side on avail­able pa­tios un­til the snow falls. Long live the Canadian caf­feine-ad­dicted artist!

Mariko Ta­maki has scoured the town for a place to write.

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