Some hibernate, while we brave the windchill (in true Canadian style). Long live patio season.
If there is one thing Torontonians love, it’s a great patio. They’re packed all summer long, and even in the spring and fall, we stick it out for some outdoor dining as long as possible. This year though, patios are making a cozy comeback during those cold winter days.
Heated, outdoor patios are not only a way to support your favourite local establishments, it’s a chance to still explore our city safely. Just make sure the outdoor patio you choose has proper air ventilation and is up to standards so you can enjoy some food and drink safely.
An easy way to do this is to call in advance to ask about protocols and check out the restaurant’s social media to get a look at what the setup is like. And remember, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with, too!
Don’t forget to dress warmly and bring an extra blanket. These are 11 of the coziest spots to warm up this season.
The Distillery District in Toronto is truly a gem, particularly for anything outdoors. This historic part of the city comes with 19th-century buildings, cobblestoned streets and was once home to a large whisky distillery (hence the name).
In the summer, the Distillery District patios are among the best spots for outdoor dining since it’s pedestrian-friendly. In the winter there are always reasons to visit, to shop, to take in public art, and its cozy atmosphere makes for a perfect spot for dining al fresco next to fire pits and heaters, especially at the Distillery’s popular Mexican hot spot, El Catrin.
Their patio is typically packed during the summer months, but thanks to some trusty heaters, firepits and blankets, El Catrin transforms from a summer patio into a comfy, outdoor winter patio that is just warm enough (add in some tequila and spicy guac to add to the heat).
GoldInn Stackt Market
Toronto’s Stackt Market has a new, intimate rooftop perfect for an outdoor winter experience. The GoldInn is a double-decker, gold shipping container with a food and beverage menu. The bottom level is a curated five-course dining experience designed by Ration Food Lab, while the top level is an outdoor speakeasy cocktail bar with cozy and yummy drinks by St-Rémy.
The views of the city and the CN Tower while you dine or sip cocktails can’t be beat either! This pop-up experience is available in time slots, so make sure you book in advance and follow their guidelines.
Chula Taberna Mexicana
Tacos and tequila could be a great way to warm up this winter. You can devour as many tacos as you like (and as much tequila as you like!) at Chula Taberna Mexicana’s covered and heated patio.
Chula has turned their outdoor patio space into a winter-friendly oasis with some extra lights, straw and ample heating. Don’t pass on the zucchini fritters with your tacos — they have a cult following and their hot, crunchy bites make them a menu highlight.
If you’re looking to take your outdoor dining experience to the next level (as in fine dining and luxury), book a table at Harbour Sixty. The swanky steakhouse is always a prime spot for date night, or a special celebration — and you can still do this even during restricted times.
Their outdoor patio is made cushy and snug with heaters, plants, chandeliers and a windbreaker-like tent (still following airflow guidelines from the city). You may feel like you’re actually inside because it’s so warm and inviting.
A Yorkville neighbourhood staple, Hemingway's has always been known for its year-round rooftop patio. And they added an expanded section this season. That means extra heaters to keep things pleasantly warm, a bit more space, and the north side allows for above glass windows to be open. Thanks to all that extra airflow, you’re still going to want to bundle up — but it’s worth it to experience one of the city’s favourite rooftops.
Baro’s rooftop patio was already designed to be all season, and already one of the most coveted patio spots in the city, so they were ahead of the game when it came to prepping for pandemic-friendly winter patios.
Baro's patio comes with a retractable ceiling and retractable glass walls — making it easy to adjust airflow options and fit into the city’s guidelines. Plus they have added heaters and booths that are cozy and comfortable. There’s limited seating so reservations are best, but walk-ins are welcome, and seated time limits will be set to ensure safety.
Fox on John
If you’re looking for a good old pub patio vibe, head to Fox on John. They have a fully enclosed patio with airway openings to make sure they hit all the city’s guidelines. But what probably makes this winter patio even better are the warm cocktails they have on the menu, the added blankets on hand to wrap yourself in, and in honour of it being 2022, menu prices are capped at $20.22 for the entire month of January.
This heated outdoor patio still embraces all that winter has to offer — even snow and a winter wonderland vibe. The patio of picnic tables at Bar Neon is partially covered thanks to a wooden roof and kept warm with some heaters, but one whole side of the patio is open with some tables uncovered. No matter what table you sit at, you can always be toasty thanks to a menu of mulled wine and hot toddies to feel warm from the inside while you embrace winter — snow and all.
Do you know what makes eating outside better? Being next to a castle, obviously! At Blueblood Steakhouse you can opt for a patio table with some pretty impressive views of Casa Loma next to you. It’s perfect for that special occasion, celebration or just for a night out next to one of the city’s coolest landmarks.
Three words for you: wine, heated, solarium. Sign me up! Wine bar Piquette recently opened up a chic heated solarium portion in their courtyard where you can dine on snacks, sip on wine and feel the warmth during the winter months. They’re open Monday to Sunday from 3 p.m. until close. Walk-ins are welcome, but booking in advance is a good idea because who doesn’t love the idea of sipping great wine in a warm solarium while it’s blustery outside?
Another great date night option is Cano (winter won’t keep us from a romantic night out). Their patio is at the back of the restaurant and the wood details and panelling plus overhead lighting create a warm and inviting atmosphere that just makes you want to get snuggly. Their full menu is on hand, but you can’t go wrong with a hearty, piping hot pasta and a good wine — because you may as well warm up your stomach first!