Gaspar Café is a family-friendly cafezinho (Portuguese for coffee shop) that opened at the end of 2019. It is a one-stop shop for coffee, baked goods, breakfast, lunch, and everything in between. All of its food is made fresh on location. When visiting, it’ll be hard to resist adding one (or many) of their goodies to your order.
Located at 10 Sousa Mendes St, this Portuguese café couldn’t be on more of a Portuguese-sounding street*. For those unfamiliar with this address, it is located near the Bloor UP Express & GO Station, and by Dundas West station. The coffee shop also intersects with the West Toronto Railpath. Gaspar was closed for a short while when the emergency orders were first introduced, but has since reopened daily from 8am-6pm**.
The café’s interior & feel are said to transport its customers to Lisbon. With beautiful mosaic tiling, lively colours, and framed pictures of the city, they accomplish that feeling. Although we are unable to sit in cafés momentarily, Gaspar’s location still makes for a pleasant visit. Not only is the West Toronto Railpath a beautiful walking/biking trail, but the café’s location on the trail is perfectly located beside many benches, garbage/recycling bins, and bicycle racks. On a nice day, it’s the perfect spot to stop & enjoy a coffee.
My drink recommendation: the café’s signature “Lisboa Fog”. Named after Portugal’s capital, this drink is similar to a London Fog but with pastel de nata infused black tea and topped with cinnamon. And yes, the drink is as good as it sounds, especially the first sip when the milk is still extra fluffy. I could drink these everyday and not be sick of them, but note: the tea is imported and can have limited availability at the café. If you’re unable to get it, Gaspar has a large menu of other drinks to choose from (including smoothies for anyone wanting something other than tea or coffee). For hotter days, their iced cappuccino is another good option to go with.
Being Portuguese, food has always been a big part of my culture. With that being said, you can’t have a proper Portuguese café without baked goods. Gaspar understands this and serves a wide variety of them. The café has three large pastry displays brimming with sweet and savoury options. Some are traditional items you would find at a Portuguese bakery, such as pastel de nata (egg custard tart), bolas de bacalao (fried cod fish balls), or malassadas (deep fried sugary doughnuts). My favourite was the pork patty; not only was it cutely shaped like a pig (pictured below), but its filling was also very flavourful.
Along with baked goods, Gaspar also sells a selection of food. From salads, to pastas, to sandwiches, and beyond – the café is not only perfect for a coffee break, but for a whole meal. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to make a decision. If you’re indecisive like me, know you can never go wrong with a toasta mista, aka a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. This is a staple sandwich in every Portuguese café and household. Gaspar’s measures up; the bread they use is thinner than other Portuguese bakeries, making the sandwich extra crispy (& extra delicious).
HOW TO SUPPORT THEM
Along with their array of beverages, meals, and baked goods, Gaspar also sells an array of grocery items at their shop. These items include imported oils, vinegars, pasta, sauces, salt, tuna, and canned vegetable/beans. Gaspar also sell their own house made grocery items like sauces, pickled vegetables, and dips.
As a small business, especially a new one, I cannot imagine the repercussions the pandemic may have caused for the café. Gaspar, just like other small businesses in our areas, need their community’s support now more than ever.
Besides supporting the café by purchasing drinks, baked goods, meals, and/or groceries, you can also support Gaspar by purchasing a gift card to the café. For more info about the café, you can follow them on Instagram.
Although I don’t live far from the café, I envy those who live in the Sousa Mendes neighbourhood. There’s nothing I love more than a good cup of coffee and some sort of baked good. Gaspar executes both incredibly well, and I expect to spend many coffee dates at this café in the future.
*Not only am I Portuguese, but I also went to a Portuguese-dominated elementary/middle school growing up. I’ve heard my fair share of Portuguese names in my lifetime, and these two names are very popular. That being said, the street was named after Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux during World War II. You can learn more about him here.
**Given the COVID-19 pandemic, hours depicted in this post may be skewed as businesses adapt to better serve its staff, customers, and community.