Swap out your go-to restaurants for these alternatives with room on the patio along Queen Street West.
Summer is here and patio hangs are easily a favourite warm weather pastime for me. Queen West is one of Toronto’s prized neighbourhoods when it comes to shopping and people watching, so it should come as no surprise that many of us locals have a few favourite Queen West patios.
This can be an extremely popular and busy neighbourhood, especially on weekends. So what happens when your favourite Queen West bar has no table available for your group? Walk just a little further or around the corner to these fun alternatives in this funky and trendy Toronto neighbourhood.
Alternative Patio #1: Bar’kada for delectable cocktails
If ever popular Death and Taxes has been your go-to option rain or shine on Queen Street West, keep the newly opened Bar’kada in mind instead. You’ll find stellar cocktails and a fusion menu featuring Filipino dishes like Lumpia and Biltong. For those boozy brunch hangs with your own Bar’kada (it means ‘group of friends’), they also have a daily brunch menu that pairs well with cocktails like Tita’s Paloma. Remember friends, they have a cute back patio if you don’t want to chill in the front with the live DJ!
Want more brunch options? These patios serving brunch are worth the lineups.
Alternative Patio #2: Rex Jazz and Blues for music lovers
Our long time live music venue, Rivoli Bar, re-opened but live music is only during ticketed events. Luckily for us, Rex Jazz and Blues bar has a patio where we can enjoy a few brews and nibbles. Keep an eye out for their live music programming. As Toronto’s longest running jazz club, they host bands on their patio on occasional weekend evenings. Just like Drake and Adele are known celebrities to have performed at the Rivoli, Harry Connick Jr. and Pete McCann are some of the many musicians who have played at The Rex!
Alternative Patio #3: Squirly’s for a dive bar fix
Say what you will but we all secretly love a good dive bar. Spots like Java House have stood the test of time and if you can’t nab a seat on their side patio, head further west to Squirly’s. Not only have they been around for over three decades, but their back patio, decorated with street art, is a great refuge on those hot summer days. Perogies and craft beer are a standard order here for me no matter the season. They even have a garage-esque portion of the patio in case you want that true sticky floor experience to round off your visit.
Alternative Patio #4: Nuit Social for tapas and wine dreams
La Palette has always transported me to Lyon, especially when I pair my French menu with their fabulous wine list. Equally cute is Nuit Social further west along Queen Street. Both of these Queen Street West restaurants are neighbourhood staples that offer a warm welcome. Nuit Social’s back patio makes it easy to pretend that you’re enjoying charcuterie and wine by the bottle (or the glass) in your private French courtyard. Everyone is family here, that’s for sure!
Alternative Patio #5: The Dime on Queen for budget-friendly hangouts
Exploring trendy Queen Street West doesn’t have to poke a hole through your wallet because there are options for all. If the lineup at Queen St Warehouse isn’t your ideal way of spending a weekend, hop along to The Dime on Queen where the lines are usually shorter. With the same group running both these spots, you are guaranteed some good eats and decent drinks that are under $8. Ambience wise you can expect similar tunes and energy levels as well. Think cheap, loud and fun. Can’t go wrong if you’re sticking to a budget in downtown Toronto.
Alternative Patio #6: Fonda Lola for bistro delights
Dining on Peter Pan Bistro’s rooftop is certainly a quintessential Toronto experience, especially for brunch lovers. If you’re looking to mix things up and explore a Mexican bistro, wander further west over to Fonda Lola. Request for a back patio table and transport yourself to a lush Mexican oasis. Like Peter Pan, you won’t regret any menu decisions you make here. Tacos and Churros are my go-to options here and of course, their house-crafted cocktail menu (especially the smoked ones) are not only pretty but also palatable.
Alternative Patio #7: Tiki Bar Toronto for rooftop views
Hanging out at a Toronto sky bar screams summertime for me—the sun is shining, you’re wearing your best shades and are surrounded by beautiful friends. If the Drake Sky Bar is one of your go-to options, you will also want to swing by Tiki Bar Toronto on the rooftop of the Bovine Sex Club. Classic tiki cocktails served in Instagram-worthy vessels can be paired with eclectic eats. It’s easy to pretend you’re at a tropical beach when you’re hanging in the sky here.
Alternative Patio #8: Bar Piquette for European vibes
For those looking to re-live their European travels, Otto’s Bierhalle is a popular choice. If you want to switch things up and head to France, Bar Piquette is a great option too. Swap your fried chicken for some mortadella or oysters and ask your server to suggest a wine pairing. The suggestions are always fab. Bar Piquette also has a hidden back patio that’s quite the oasis on both scorching hot and rainy days.
If you’re into patios that are more tucked away, look for hidden café patios to match your mood.