While better known as a bustling retail, culinary and cultural hub, Chinatown provides the perfect setting for a big-city date night.
Toronto’s Chinatown is renowned for its busy family-friendly eateries for lunch, dinner and sprawling weekend dim sum brunch. But it is also a unique setting for a romantic date night à deux.
Whether you’re a traveller looking to add a bit of romance to your vacation, or a local eager for a new neighbourhood to explore, here’s how to plan a romantic date night around art, cocktails, food — and maybe even a serenade or two.
Set the mood at the AGO
Take in the moody cobalt landscapes and vibrant still lifes at Matthew Wong: Blue View, an exhibition of work by the late Toronto-born artist at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Through April 2022, this show features more than 40 paintings from Wong’s Blue Series, ranging from intimate paper compositions to monumental oil paintings.
Pick up a record at Sonic Boom
Learn about your date’s music and literary taste at Sonic Boom. With an almost endless selection of new and used records, CDs, DVDs, books and collectibles, this store is a great spot to uncover the music that they love or share a vintage copy of your favourite book.
Grab a happy hour drink at Big Trouble
Cozy up with a sake mule or bottle of house-made peach-Calipco baiju at Big Trouble. Tucked above Kung Fu Beef Chinese BBQ, this bar is colourfully decorated with paper lanterns and greenery that on a dark winter’s evening sets a wistful mood. If you’re feeling peckish, share a few small-plate menu selections with your cocktails.
Tuck into dinner for two
With a selection of restaurants only a stone’s throw away from the AGO and Chinatown’s Spadina Avenue strip, you’ll have no problem finding a spot to sate any culinary cravings.
If your idea of romance includes showing off your culinary skills and feeding each other food you’ve cooked at your table, Kokumi Mini Hot Pot is the place for you. This sleek and intimate restaurant has a cozier vibe than your typical all-you-can-eat hotspot. And those aromatic stewed meats and veggies will warm you from the inside out.
Or, for a more upscale experience, book a table at Alo for a multicourse tasting menu of contemporary French cuisine. There is nothing more romantic than watching the snow fall outside the oversize Victorian windows while you’re warm inside this third-floor restaurant. (You can also opt for a more casual take at their chic diner concept, Aloette, located two floors below.)
Serenade each other at karaoke
Romantic? Funny? Both? Let them judge when you serenade your date with a tune or two at 8090 KTV. A small room fits up to eight guests, perfect for a group date. Or book it for just the two of you for a truly memorable musical evening belting out the classics, and maybe even trying out a song by a famous Torontonian musician like The Weeknd.
Spend the night at Hotel Ocho
Extend your Chinatown date night into the next day (or beyond) by booking a stay at Hotel Ocho. This boutique hotel is conveniently located on Spadina Avenue just north of Queen Street West, mere steps away from bars, restaurants and other Chinatown attractions. Even on the snowiest winter day, you’ll never be more than a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the surrounding attractions.
Getting to Chinatown:
Take the 505 Dundas streetcar to Spadina Avenue.
Or take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Spadina station, then catch the 510 Spadina streetcar southbound to Dundas Street West.