Make the most of hot summer nights and bistro lights as you dine under the stars at these Toronto patios.
Toronto is a city that comes alive in the nighttime, so much so that we would like to claim Canada’s title for the City of Lights. 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. Venice Beach Bar
This open-air Venice Beach-themed bar is the perfect place to get your night going on Dundas West, a stone’s throw from the Ossington Strip. It’s always ready for fun in rain or shine, and it’s a delight to have a drink while the fully outdoor kitchen wafts all the tasty smells your way.
What to order: let the options and experts guide you! Every few weeks, there will be a new food pop-up happening and the drink menu is plentiful. Upon our recent visit, we dined to shrimp & chive dumplings, Taiwanese popcorn and Mexicasian street corn from the pop-up by Preserve Indulgence over beer and a classic cocktail but next time, I’ll order up a bucket of beer or cocktail cans for the table.
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 Beverly
The Beverly 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 Beverly! 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 Momofuku Noodle Bar’s pop up with their take on patio eats with items like chilled spicy noodles and a chicken chorizo bun. There’s always something new and exciting to visit at Stackt!
14. Bar Fancy
Follow the tiger! Between two buildings lies a Tiger face neon sign, follow it and find Bar Fancy. This if-you-know-you-know bar in West Queen West can make any drink you desire and the snack bar has you covered too.
What to order: don’t leave without trying the famous fried chicken! The accompanying pickles, hot sauce, etc. all together are exactly perfect. Get your snack on by going fancy with oysters or comforting French fries.
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.