Make the most of hot summer nights and bistro lights as you dine under the stars at these Toronto patios.
Toronto is one of the best nightlife cities and much of the credit goes to our dynamic patio scene. What makes a good nighttime patio? Are you searching for great eats; are you looking to imbibe, or both? Start there and the answer may be different in each neighbourhood and to each person, but I think what we are all looking for is a good vibe.
We want to feel our environment and feel good. I am talking about good music (perhaps a little louder than we would hear at home) with a cold drink on a summer day, with a buzz in the air and a feeling of endless options in ways for the night to end. We want that magic captured in a patio to start or end that night, whether we’re dressed up or down.
From people-watching from a local perch in Kensington Market to shared plates on rooftop patios around King West’s Fashion District, there’s a place for everyone. Toronto is just that dense with options over here and to some, patio-hopping is a sport of its own. Where will you be playing this evening?
1. Bar Vendetta
This covered patio is the perfect place to get your night going on Dundas West, a stone’s throw from Trinity Bellwoods Park. Bar Vendetta is always ready for good times, rain or shine, and it’s a delight to enjoy a glass of wine or low-ABV cocktail while the kitchen wafts all the tasty Italian-inspired smells your way.
What to order: known for their to-die-for pasta (especially the cacio e pepe) and extensive wine list, this is the place to go for limited edition bottles like Toto or Groll & Roll from rocker turned natural winemaker Babass.
2. The Shameful Tiki Room
With the tagline, “it’s time to escape!” what could be better than a beachy getaway within our city at The Shameful Tiki Room? While always hosting interesting collaborations and events, their focus is on tropical cocktails with an environment to match. And/or check out their recently opened sister spot, Port Light for equal cocktail care in a nautical paradise.
What to order: try a classic like the Mai Tai, made with house-made syrups, fresh citrus, delicious rums and orange liqueur. And then try something you’ve never tried before, like a “Mystery Bowl” creation that arrives to you while on fire!
3. Gusto 101
Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini’s Gusto 101 is ye olde faithful for scrumptious Italian food with one of the most impressive patios in the whole city. Complete with a cute streetside patio and an enormous glass retracting roof for the rooftop patio, this roof makes it easy to go stargazing and/or keeps you dry from a night’s rain! And if you find yourself closer, their east-end restaurant Gusto 501 also has a very nice patio and has all the same menu hits.
What to order: the Mafalde Ai Funghi with porcini, portobello, oyster mushroom, truffle cream pasta always gets rave reviews, then I like to accompany it with a red sauce pasta and/or a fresh from the wood-fired oven pizza. Don’t skip an appetizer or tiramisu either…
Want more rooftop patios? Try these hotel rooftop bars with epic views of Toronto.
4. Rol San
Open since 1994, Rol San is a Chinatown institution that has recently started offering patio service to the delight of many. Now folks can enjoy their full menu and yummy dim sum under the lights of the centre of Spadina Avenue’s scene.
What to order: breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night—Rol San has you covered with a vast menu and “all-day dim sum”. Sticky rice with pork steamed in a lotus leaf, dumplings like shrimp har gow, pork shumai and more, shrimp rice rolls, BBQ pork buns, all with homemade hot chilli and Chinese mustard sauces—plus the robust menu goes on!
5. Bandit Brewery
Bandit Brewery is a perfect place for brews and bites! The rain-or-shine-covered patio is large and accessible from the street but manages to feel enclosed and tucked away. A canopy of leaves and lights makes this a pretty spot to sip and eat away.
What to order: definitely treat yourself to a beer flight with the brew style of your choice (maybe a Hive Double IPA with wildflower honey?), or ask the knowledgeable staff for a recommendation where they will consider the progression of the tasting board.
6. Bar Reyna
With dozens of lanterns and fairy lights in the ceiling of an enclosed patio, Bar Reyna is breath of fresh air in Yorkville. Mediterranean snacks and signature cocktails are good at any time of day, but this patio truly sparkles at nighttime.
What to order: don’t miss the lamb baklava, which has all the tastes and crispy textures of baklava wrapped with the most tender lamb and pistachios. Halloumi souvlaki is beyond, as are the “Lebanese” tacos that come with a homemade flatbread and an option of chicken or falafel.
Like Mediterranean food? You might also like to dig into Middle Eastern food on the Danforth.
7. Ration at The Beverley
The Beverley Hotel has patios to spare with a large street-facing patio and a saunter upstairs to take in the rooftop patio views at Ration at The Beverley! Lighting up at nighttime, you can see the famous 299 Queen Street building beside you and the bustling Fashion District while the cocktail and food menus delight all the senses.
What to order: menu hits are ones that include their famed methods of pickling, preserving and finessing great local ingredients. To name a few, check out the Beef Char-Tare with endive and potato foam, the risotto with nettles, brown butter asparagus and samphire, shrimp branded toast with sesame and yuzu chilli aioli, and the eye-catching oysters with mignonette caviar and goldenberry kosho.
8. Ronnie’s Local 069
Kensington Market is one of the best places in the world to watch the world go by. Filled with folks by day coming from all over the city and it’s also truly special at night. Sometimes, you just want to feel like a local, sit back and relax and this is the experience at Ronnie’s. Occasionally, there’s a live band to behold!
What to order: beer of your choice! Ronnie’s is that perfect place to come by for a casual drink, and they have loads of local beers on offer.
9. El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Dreamy and cute, this side street patio has all the fairy lights in the world to make for a super sweet patio experience with delicious food to boot. With a covered and heated patio, they use fresh ingredients with corn tortillas and serve up tequila cocktails. Plus, everything is gluten-free.
What to order: next-level homemade tortillas in all forms! The Chorizo Y Nopales dish comes with warm tortillas and is a build-your-own-taco experience made with chorizo sausage and pickled cactus that you won’t forget, as are the elotes, salsas, churros, etc.
10. Drom Taberna
Introducing an East European-style pub, but we might as well call it dinner and a show! At Drom Taberna, it is first come, first served and they are ready to welcome you with great live music and a table, or to-go drinks and a deli counter if you have to wait to get in. Either way, it’s going to be a party.
What to order: their deli is a window into their most popular dishes, which you can now take home! Try the homemade soups including goulash, pierogies, cabbage rolls and Cevapi, a Bosnian beef and veal kebab dish served with wood-baked flatbread.
11. Paradise Grapevine
Paradise Grapevine is a sanctuary for excellent eats and local drinks, as they are both a natural wine bar and winery themselves. With a secret garden patio attached to a beautifully restored theatre that lights up in old Hollywood fashion, this will be another truly great place to have dinner and a show!
What to order: check out Paradise Grapevine’s namesake wine! Support local and try interesting wines like their 2019 Orange Wine Rose or the 2020 “Single Heartbreak” Full Cluster Pinot Noir and get a mixed plate to munch away on while you’re at it.
If you like the secret garden patio vibe, try these hidden patios for your next caffeine fix.
A nighttime patio list would be remiss if there wasn’t at least one entry that included a rooftop pool. Lavelle has it all with 360-degree views of the city 16 stories above the city and an inventive menu that you can order tableside or poolside.
What to order: with a menu featuring Japanese Brazillian Food, you can sample from both the sushi menu as well as small and large plates. Meanwhile, fan favourites like the Lavelle signature truffle fries and a G&T or Strawberry Daiquiri popsicles would make for excellent poolside company! And/or send a “Lovell-O-Gram” mixologist’s shot of the day to a table across the way.
This unique shipping container market is host to an enormous open-air patio with a spectacular view of the CN Tower. This patio is in an urban playground for shopping, tasting and enjoying the great outdoors in the middle of the city. As the sun goes down, watch the CN Tower light up.
What to order: check out Joy Bird Fried Chicken’s namesake fried chicken over at Belgian Moon Brewery and then swing by Kong’s Hot Tacos for super-stacked Asian-inspired tacos served from a lively food truck. There’s always something new and exciting to visit at Stackt!
14. Fonda Lola
This contemporary Mexican restaurant on Queen Street West is the place to go for an intimate backyard patio filled with lush greenery, boho decor and firepits. Fonda Lola is the perfect hideaway for a romantic date or fun catch-up with pals.
What to order: tacos, enchiladas, salad bowls—they’ve got the bases covered. But you can’t go wrong with banana-leaf wrapped cochinita pibil pork shoulder, washed down with a hibiscus and lime margarita or smoke beer.
15. Madison Avenue Pub
Lovingly known as “The Maddy”, there are seemingly endless nooks and crannies for patios outside at this neighbourhood joint, tucked away on a residential street in The Annex. This is the kind of place that fills up as the day goes on and once you get inside, you’ll find a similar maze-like journey of vibes to explore, maybe even a piano man.
What to order: with a full bar, order up any of your favourite bevvies! They are also known around the block for their wings, and the ample TV screens make this a great sports-viewing experience.