Are you looking to discover the best bars in Toronto?
Then we have you covered!
On this page, you’ll find the official shortlist of all the bars in Toronto. (More in-depth further below). And, each with why it’s best to go.
Feel free to check out each bar’s official profile to find out more and to find out which is best for you.
We’ve also created separate shortlists for each genre you might like to visit on your time out.
So check out these articles as well:
- The Best Cocktail Bars in Toronto
- The Best Most Fun Bars in Toronto
- The Best Unique Bars in Toronto
- And finally: Our Complete Guide to Toronto’s Nightlife
Furthermore, you can get on the guest list or book a table with bottle service on some of the more exclusive bars. We are happy to help you out with either.
16. Good Fortune Bar
Good Fortune Bar has creative cocktails, beer & pub snacks in a unique basement space adorned with plants & bare bulbs. Pink walls, palm leaf motifs, and neon signs give this “secret” basement bar a 1980s Miami Beach feel. It’s a welcome addition to the growing Yonge and Eglinton neighborhood with a small burger-centric menu and plenty of retro-tropical beverages. Located under La Carnita’s uptown taco joint outpost, Good Fortune Bar offers creative cocktails and an impressive beer list. Prepare for loud music and delicious drinks that go down too quickly. Good Fortune Bar, located at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto, is the newest addition to the ever-expanding La Carnita/Home of the Brave/Sweet Jesus empire.
However, it may be challenging to find because it is located in the basement beneath La Carnita, and there is no signage outside. Enter La Carnita and proceed down the stairs directly across from the front door to find this downtown-style bar in midtown Toronto. The menu is displayed on a vintage movie theater-inspired style board. The Fried Chicken arrives quickly, and it’s definitely tapa sized, with five golf ball-sized pieces of chicken and a side dish of Italian dressing for dipping. It’s a good size for a bar snack because it’s a bar. The chicken is tender, and the spices are delicious. It’s a little spicy but an excellent indulgent bite with a beer. The Miami ribs are up next. Again, 5-6 well-sauced short ribs topped with chopped peanuts and scallions are served in bar bite-sized portions.
The Fortune Burger + Crinkle Cut Fries at Good Fortune Bar is delicious. But, as good as the food is, remember that Good Fortune Bar is a bar, so a good selection of drinks is not only expected but required. In true La Carnita/Sweet Jesus fashion, the family’s newest member also brings creative and whimsical liquid options. While Good Fortune is a stark contrast to their other ventures, it is a much-welcome addition to the family, particularly to midtown Toronto, which lacks places to drink and good hangouts that aren’t under 20 years old. So, the menu is casual but well executed and levels up from typical bar food offerings. I can even say that their burger is now one of my favorites in Toronto, and at only $8, it’s a steal compared to some of the other top burger joints in Toronto, which charge 20%-30% more.
15. C’est What
C’est What is an underground taproom offering comfort food, dozens of craft beers, a whisky bar & board games. This St. Lawrence Market bar and restaurant showcasing local craft beers long before they were trendy is an unfussy spot with impressive 40-plus beers on tap and a decent offering of whiskeys, cocktails, and local Ontario wines. C’est What has a pub-like vibe with pool tables and live music on weekends, and the basement location and multiple fireplaces make it an excellent spot to cozy up on cold or rainy evenings. C’est What is the casual, charming cellar of a historic building in the St. Lawrence Market area. It is Toronto’s first choice for craft beer and comfort food. C’est What has an authentic local flavor, with the largest selection of Canadian craft brews on tap, an all-Ontario VQA wine list, art, indie music, board games, and pool tables.
C’est What is Toronto’s original craft beer and wine restaurant that has consistently preached from the book of locals, leaving the Irish to have their kind of pubs, the French their style of wine, the Americans their roadhouse food, and top-forty music to radio stations. Since its first opening in 1988, C’est What has always been a proud Canadian cultural ambassador. C’est What is a three-decade-old brewpub in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood. The pub is situated in the cellar of a historic building and is divided into two equally cozy and dimly lit taprooms with fireplaces, billiards tables, and plenty of seating. There is live music on certain evenings, as well as a scratch-made menu, in addition to the well-stocked bar. The extensive selection of all-Canadian beer, including 42 taps (eight casks) and an extensive bottle menu, has cemented the spot as a true beer lover’s bar.
C’est What even makes seven of its beers, which are subcontracted to local breweries like County Durham and Granite Brewery. Their signature recipes include Homegrown Hemp Ale, Mother Pucker’s Ginger Wheat, and Steve’s Dreaded Chocolate Orange. Chefs Randy Wink and Carlos Briseno Fera prepare an eclectic menu of comfort food. From goat roti and falafel to Moroccan stew and butter chicken, inspiration comes worldwide. The Shepherd’s pie ($16) is an excellent example of traditional pub fare. The hearty casserole is baked with the house coffee porter and topped with creamy, garlicky potato mash, Welsh cheddar, and deeply caramelized onions.
14. Birreria Volo
Birreria Volo has imported bottled beers & rustic Italian snacks served in a narrow, exposed-brick setting. Birreria Volo (beer-ah-ria) is an Italian-inspired beer hall tucked away within a historic alleyway next to the Royal Cinema in Toronto’s Little Italy. From the brothers of Bar Volo, this narrow space specializes in hard-to-find rustic and wild ales, natural wine, cider, and snacks. Their tables are communal; their bar selection is constantly rotating. This narrow bar, usually crowded with beer enthusiasts, serves European craft brews and other unique drinks. This long, narrow bar started as an alley. There are some benches and stools in the back, but it’s mostly standing room only.
Large barrels topped with marbles stand in for traditional tables, creating a buzzy atmosphere where people come, hang out for a while, and leave—usually before or after dinner in Little Italy, which is brimming with great restaurants. Volo is a master of fine beer-making. A diverse list favors European, barrel-aged, and one-of-a-kind offerings such as Italian grape ales. A small kitchen prepares quick, uncomplicated snacks and small plates such as canned fish, antipasti, and salads. As a result, it’s an excellent place to start. The staff here is well-versed in the menu’s esoteric offerings and will gladly guide you toward the right choice. Volo is a sophisticated European take on a traditional craft-brew bar. Because of the cozy atmosphere and excellent service, there is always a lively crowd of beer drinkers here. This Little Italy spot run by brothers Tomas and Julian Morana—the younger sibling of the former Bar Volo—has Toronto’s most impressive beer list.
The narrow space has a 26-tap bar and a heated back patio, but the atmosphere fades when the focus shifts to what’s in the glass, such as a fruity kriek from Belgium’s legendary Cantillon. The taps rotate, but the focus remains on goes, lambics, saisons, and other wild ales, as well as Ontario cider and natural wines. The cellared beers are pricey, but a honey-spiked, spontaneously fermented ale from Vermont’s Hill Farmstead Brewery is worth the occasional splurge. The bar snacks lean into tinned fish, charcuterie, and cheese, but there’s also habit-forming fried chicken from neighboring P.G. Clucks. Some people will only leave their homes or apartments if they are promised a good beer. It’s understandable. Birreria Volo is the place to go if you want to experience the atmosphere of an Italian beer hall, complete with an impressive selection of beer and cider.
13. Bar Raval
Bar Raval is Grant van Gameron’s Spanish pintxos bar that features Gaudi-esque wood panels & a Barcelona feel. It is a buzzy, no-reservations pintxos spot. You’ll hear the bustling crowds of this slick Spanish-inspired bar before you see them. Bar Raval’s covered patio is often filled with patrons standing elbow-to-elbow while sipping on sophisticated cocktails, leaving a hand free to pick at pintxos, tapas, and canned seafood Conservas (foods preserved in cans and jars). Transport yourself to Spain without leaving Toronto. Bar Raval’s Gaudi-inspired wooden interior is full of curving, rich wood, inviting you to stay a while longer. Food enthusiasts in the circling flock to Bar Raval, a warm and bustling establishment known for its stellar tapas and pintxos.
Owners Grant van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow have done their job if the dining room feels like something out of Barcelona; after all, they used Raval, a neighborhood in the Spanish city, as inspiration for the sexy vibe and curvy and colorful decor. What is the atmosphere like at this venue? The restaurant does not take reservations, and the lines are long; your best bet is to arrive early and queue alongside young neighborhood professionals and international foodies. What beverages are available? The focus here is on Spanish and Portuguese wines—a limited but solid selection of red, white, orange, and sparkling. The cocktail menu is also excellent, with inventive concoctions and clever menu descriptions. Into The Sun (Beefeater, lemon, honey, sherry, housemade aquavit, apricot, and celery) combines Beefeater, lemon, honey, sherry, housemade aquavit, apricot, and celery.
So, food is unquestionably the most critical aspect. Giving you the lowdown, particularly on what not to miss. Because this is a tapas and pintxos menu, expect to order a lot and share it. The house-smoked mussels with chili and fennel, as well as the pancetta with rhubarb, are addictive must-orders. There are also simple, traditional dishes, such as plates of excellent manchego and Serrano ham. How are the front-of-house employees treated? They are available when you need them, invisible when you do not, and perfectly capable of dealing with a crowd that gets rowdier as the night progresses. What is the real reason you should go there? As one of Toronto’s most talked-about restaurants in recent memory, Bar Raval will impress whoever you bring with you. Getting a table can take quite a bit, so don’t come here for a business dinner unless you’re okay with waiting.
12. Black Dice Cafe
Black Dice Cafe is an eclectic pub mixing Japanese beers & sake with rockabilly decor that includes a vintage jukebox. This Japanese-Rockabilly bar embraces American nostalgia, British punk rock, and the Land of the Rising Sun in one neat package. Step back in time while listening to music on the jukebox and sipping Asian-inspired cocktails. Visit for vintage vibes, delicious drinks, and a large selection of Japanese whisky and sake. For a more casual drink, draught beer is also available. It should be noted that the bar only accepts cash. This self-described Japanese rockabilly bar, which could be a portal to another dimension collectively styled by David Lynch, Ridley Scott, and Wong Kar-wai, has been holding down Brockton Village long before Dundas West was cool. Almost a decade in, little about the Dice has changed. With its diffuse turquoise light and black-and-white TV looping old movies, it’s one of the most unusual bars in the city. It’s also a serious industry hangout for off-shift bartenders who congregate to sip Japanese whisky and draft sake while jostling for high scores on the battered’ 50s-era Surf Champ pinball game. As you wait for your turn on the machine, order a Hitachino Nest and munch wasabi peas as surf rock blasts from the vintage jukebox. Black Dice is known for its retro atmosphere and extensive selection of Japanese whisky, sake, and craft beer. Hideki Saito, the owner, has been in the industry since his teens, holding management positions at Japanese restaurants and the similarly rockabilly-themed Disgraceland. This place seems prominent at the western end of a stretch of bars along Dundas West, thanks to its unique selection of beverages, cocktails, and bar snacks. Saito claims that his wife assisted him in designing the space, but many of the items on the walls are from his collection. While there are many Japanese whiskies and cocktails available, most of the crowd on a Tuesday night I visited seemed to be downing simple draft beers, though even these are available from taps made impressively from old motorcycle parts. Asahi ($9) is also available on tap, but from a particular machine that keeps the beer super crisp and has a second tap just for releasing foam, allowing bartenders to create the perfect head to seal in the beer’s flavor. Instead of beer, you should go for a large 9-ounce shareable portion of the Sho Chiku Bai sake, poured from the tap directly into a traditional container and served with tiny traditional cups.
11. Sneaky Dee’s
Sneaky Dee’s is an unassuming bar serving Tex-Mex fare & known for its nachos, with edgy live music & DJs upstairs. This iconic Toronto institution has been getting us drunk (and curing our hangovers) since 1987. Share some pitchers of beer with friends, catch a show at the upstairs stage or satisfy your craving for late-night nachos at this College and Bathurst spot. You should go to experience a staple of Toronto culture and enjoy affordable, easy-drinking brews. And in case you get a little too messy the night before, Sneaky Dee’s offers a weekday breakfast special for only $5.50. A home away from home, Sneaky Dee’s is an excellent family to have. They feed you hungry and send you home only when you’re stuffed to the brim! The kitchen is always open late, and the night is always young.
Sneaky Dee’s is a bomb of energy and dazzling with nostalgia. A place to sit and dance and home to the most reasonably priced menu in the city’s grid. Always a hip tune on rotation in the dining room, Sneaky Dee’s is a remedy of laughter and good people. Famous for its Tex-Mex and pub-style favorites, if the familiar faces don’t keep you coming back, the King’s Crown nachos certainly will! The current location at 431 College is the restaurant and concert venue’s second home. It opened a few blocks north, across from Honest Ed’s at 562 Bloor Street, in 1987. The restaurant, open 24 hours a day, was the main attraction at the time, though bands performed downstairs in the small dark basement, including early performances by the Cowboy Junkies.
It even hosted the first Fringe of Toronto Theater Festival in 1989. When the bands returned in 2002, the programming was greatly expanded to include a mix of eclectic dance parties like Shit La Merde and the loud rock bands for which it was initially known. For a time, the long-running and influential Wavelength series was held there on Sunday nights and was also home to the Trampoline Hall series. It’s been a crucial launching pad for countless bands over the years, and it’s hosted a wide range of indie acts, including Feist (rumored to have worked there at one point), Broken Social Scene, and Dirty Projectors. With a capacity of 200 people, it can accommodate emerging touring acts while being affordable to local bands.
10. Mahjong Bar
Mahjong Bar is a small storefront that hides this hip hangout serving small plates of Chinese dishes plus cocktails. Enter this retro bar inspired by the Cantonese game of Mahjong by passing through a neon-lit corner store. Cocktails combine flavors from the east and west, and the kitchen serves small plates such as Sichuan fried chicken. Drinking at Mahjong is like being a member of a fantastic, hidden club. It’s a popular spot for birthday celebrations or breaking the ice after a first date. The bar quickly fills up on weekends as a DJ and dance floor appear. Mahjong Bar is a singular, sexy speakeasy with perfectly executed mixology. The entrance to this speakeasy is a pink, neon-lit bodega straight out of a Wes Anderson film.
Enter the main bar area through a key-shaped back door, which features checkered floors, a tropical mural, and a gleaming lacquered bar. Cool. A fun-loving crowd of mixology nerds, hipsters, and anyone who enjoys the playful nature of Mahjong. Cocktails like the Lady Bird, a concoction of vodka, nashi pear, thyme, Strega, anisette, and lemon that the menu describes as “a much tastier coping mechanism than throwing yourself out of a moving car.” A rotating collection of whiskies from around the world is available for those who prefer stiffer and straighter drinks. Asian street food, including spicy Sichuan dishes, complements the cocktails well. Try the braised beef with chili oil or the pork, shrimp, and cabbage wontons from Chengdu. Learning about the inventive ingredients and flavors that go into each cocktail is part of the fun, and the staff is happy to assist.
Finally, why are you coming here? A one-of-a-kind, sexy speakeasy with excellent mixology. It’s hidden behind a modest, nondescript storefront, and walking into Mahjong is like entering a portal to another world. The walls are adorned with a vivid jungle scene by local artist Gabriella Lo, the floors evoke a glamorous retro feel with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern, and apothecary-style glass cabinets hold bottles of alcohol and wine. Drinks may have Canadian-centric names (like the Lake Joe Spritz, which, as the menu proclaims, is meant to evoke “that Muskoka lifestyle minus mosquitos and four-hour drive”), but with a Japanese influence, using ingredients like yuzu, sake, plum wine, and Nashi pear. In short, the place is a jaw-dropper. If you were standing outside the front door in a nondescript row of bars on Dundas West, you’d never know it was there.
9. Cocktail Bar
Cocktail Bar has inventive cocktails served in a cozy, dark space with a chic, retro vibe & a seasonal patio. Yes, this bar is indeed called a Cocktail Bar. It is also known as Hoof Cocktail Bar. This Dundas St. W. establishment is well-known for its refined cocktails. Jen Agg (of Rhum Corner and Grey Gardens fame) has created a welcoming and lively environment in terms of drinks and atmosphere. Cocktail Bar is an elegant yet laid-back option for an after-work beverage or pre-dinner appetizer. Beer and wine are available, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t order a cocktail here. This is the owner’s take on what a cocktail bar should be: inventive and delicious drinks and a beautiful environment.
Go by for Cocktail hours 5 – 7 every day and have any cocktail you want for $10! For any large group inquiries, please email them: at firstname.lastname@example.org! No reservations aside from that. Classic and modern libations, addictive bar snacks, and a beautiful environment. They have an impressive wine and beer list, but a cocktail is probably more appropriate. Cocktail Bar is one of Toronto’s best places to get, you guessed it, a cocktail and one of the most difficult to find on Google. It’s also notoriously under-advertised, with only a tiny sign in the window of the white-brick facade, but this only serves to pique patrons’ interest. Jen Agg runs three establishments on Dundas West, the other two of which are Black Hoof and Rhum Corner across the street. According to their website, Agg fans frequently spend entire evenings bouncing between the three.
Beyond offering similarly compact, thoughtful menu options, they all have a signature feel: cozy, dark, candles flickering, and an antique feel to the bar, booths, and back bar where a glistening array of apothecary-like bottles and ingredients are stored. The exterior may be unremarkable, but curiosity is piqued by the joyful chatter and glow of lights emanating from the fenced-in patio on the side, a local favorite summer spot with a great atmosphere. However, beware, it now closes at 11. La Cuchilla ($14), a refreshing but bold and citrusy cocktail made with tequila, ancho Reyes, smoked paprika, lime, and chile, is garnished with a generous number of cucumber slices. Below the title of each cocktail is a brief history of its inspiration mentioned at the venue. One of the best ones was inspired by the Holland Razor Blade, invented in the 1930s.
BarChef is a dimly lit, intimate hangout offering creative cocktails with over 5,000 housemade bitters. One of Toronto’s essential cocktail bars, BarChef plays with molecular gastronomy to create memorable beverages. Bartenders here pride themselves on preparing all infusions, bitters, and syrups in-house, so their cocktails taste as good as they look. Watch as patrons “ooh” and “ahh” when pieces of drinkable art are presented to them. BarChef is a genuinely modern drinking experience that easily impresses anyone. BarChef is an award-winning cocktail bar, events company, and bottled cocktail manufacturer. They strive to create exceptional, multisensory imbibing experiences, utilizing culinary techniques and the highest quality ingredients. BarChef has cutting-edge mixology that’s not only some of the best in Toronto but a standard-bearer on the global cocktail scene.
The menu at BarChef expresses the company’s philosophy: mixology should be “an immersive, memorable, nostalgic, and emotional drinking experience.” Fortunately, the atmosphere lives up to these lofty expectations. The space allows the imposing bar to take center stage, with candles, exposed brick, and bottles and jars that look like they belong in a “Harry Potter” potions class. People travel from all over the world to sample BarChef’s high-concept, outrageous, award-winning cocktails. The extensive menu is divided into sections such as Sipping Cocktails and Modernist Cocktails. A selection of barrel-aged cocktails is particularly noteworthy, especially the luscious Fig Thief, a blend of fig-infused rum, Madeira, dry vermouth, cacao bitters, and star anise. For spirits purists, BarChef also excels at great drams of whisky; it stocks top-notch bottles from Ireland, Scotland, Japan, India, Sweden, and Canada.
With items like spiced nuts, housemade truffled potato chips, and crispy hunks of Japanese fried chicken, the tightly edited menu of bar snacks is just enough to hit the spot. There’s a reason serious bartenders worldwide do training stints at BarChef. Navigating the comprehensive drinks list is no small feat, but everyone who works here makes it look easy. Come for cutting-edge mixology that’s not only some of the best in Toronto but a standard-bearer on the global cocktail scene. BarChef has become the foundation for Toronto’s cocktail culture in the fashion district on Queen Street West. From the moment you enter, the essence of fresh herbs, spices, and caramelized fruits engulfs your senses. A 50-pound block of ice glows colorfully atop the slate bar, hand-chipped upon requirement. BarChef Frankie Solarik has created an extensive cocktail list using culinary techniques and only the freshest ingredients.
7. Shameful Tiki Room Toronto
Shameful Tiki Room Toronto is a lively haunt with a tropical vibe offering Polynesian-inspired food, exotic cocktails & live music. There is no such thing as drinking shame at this Parkdale tiki bar. The decor is full-on Polynesian kitsch, and the drinks are just as amusing. Order a punch-style bowl to share with friends, and be prepared for some fanfare (gongs, fog machine mist). Blacked-out windows and a heavy velvet curtain at the entrance heighten the sense of escapism, particularly welcome on a cold winter night. The Shameful Tiki Room is dedicated to creating an immersive experience that pays homage to classic American tiki bars from the mid-century past and the cultures that inspired that first movement. Dim lighting, no visible windows to the outside, music that doesn’t drown out conversation, share plates for groups, and, of course, expertly crafted vintage exotic cocktails like the Zombie, Jet Pilot, and Mai Tai.
When a trip to an exotic faraway paradise isn’t available, we’re ready to provide the next best thing. There are no prizes for guessing which spirit is on the menu at The Shameful Tiki Room; it’s rum. This Toronto iteration, a sister to the ever-popular Vancouver original, is tiki-tastic in every way, from the carved wooden masks and cane furniture to the pink-tinged lighting and dried leaves hanging from the ceiling. The cocktail menu is complete with kitschy illustrations. There’s also a fun barrel-rating system to indicate the potency of each drink: they’re happy to report that no cocktail receives less than two barrels out of a possible five.
The sharing plates are also worth trying, as is the food menu, which includes tuna poke, Maui coconut shrimp, and a signature pupu platter. The Shameful Tiki Room is a tiki bar dedicated to resurrecting the first wave of tiki popularity from the 1930s and 1940s (except for their cocktails). There are no TVs, loud music, or phones to distract customers from the delicious food and signature cocktails. Shameful has a full menu of Polynesian-inspired cocktails, mostly rum-based. Still, the Bowls, three distinct mystery cocktails that pack a seriously boozy punch in their made-for-sharing ceramic vessels, keep people coming back. Despite the name, tiki idol worship is openly practiced here: all the Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s classics are carefully measured, squeezed, and swizzled—for shaken, check out the Go-Go-Bungalow dancers on Sunday nights.
Farside is a trendy bar with craft beers, shots & cocktails, plus rental studios for artists in residence. It is a relaxed living room for cold drinks and good people. Farside, Handlebars east-end counterpart, is a colorful and quirky bar that’s impossible not to like. Plenty of beer (bottles of good Old Style Pilsner coexist with limited-edition Left Field collaborations) and well-crafted house cocktails, such as a stripped-down martini made with Dillon’s Vodka Method 95, a grape-based vodka distilled from Niagara wine grapes. The snack menu is small but includes a “sour plate” (kimchee, pickled egg, chips) and birthday cake, which is procured daily from the nearby Tung Hing Bakery and served by the slice on a Spice Girls plate. This hip bar in East Chinatown feels like home with its mismatched furniture, friendly staff, and community-driven events.
Drinks range from low-cost domestic beers to elevated cocktails, so you’re sure to find your favorite. Farside promotes creativity and community engagement through events such as Trivia Club, VHS movie nights, and DJs on Fridays and Saturdays. The bar’s inclusiveness makes it approachable to both locals and visitors. In a hip atmosphere complete with arcade games and projected VHS experiments, Farside serves elegant but simple cocktails, three-dollar Jameson, plain old mixed drinks, and great draft beer. Mike Reynolds runs the east Chinatown bar with partner Rachel Conduit, who also runs Handlebar and formerly the Avro. Mike has had excellent success working for chill bars such as Hitch, where he could do his own thing and learn the trade.
Dmitry Bondarenko, the first artist in residence at Farside, created a massive mural near the front wall. They have studio space in the back and intend to continue collaborating with artists and supporting their work. Mike and Rachel claim that the rest of the decor is identical to their living room at home. The bar also includes a DJ booth. The Danforth Viaduct IPA ($6.25) on tap is smoother than most IPAs, but we’d also like to try some fancier cocktails. The Chili Gonzalez ($12) is named after the late local musician Chilly Gonzales. It’s made in the style of a mezcal sour but with El Jimador tequila infused with serrano chili. The tequila is shaken with lemon juice and topped with frothy egg whites, which serve as the traditional “sour” element. The dish is then topped with a serrano pepper speared on a cocktail sword.
5. Sweaty Betty’s
Sweaty Betty’s is a small, unpretentious hangout with mismatched furniture, a loungelike back room & a cozy patio. With its large back patio and dimly lit lounge, Sweaty Betty’s is one of Toronto’s oldest dives. At the buzzing intersection of Queen and Ossington, enjoy no-frills cocktails, plenty of beer, and a great selection of whisky. Sweaty Betty’s keeps you fueled without breaking the bank, whether you’re looking for a casual meeting place for a quick drink or lucky enough to snag seats on the bar’s back patio. One of the first bars on the Ossington strip and has been going strong since 2004. A quintessential dive bar with dim red lighting, neon signs, mismatched furniture, classic cocktails, and a hidden gem of a back patio open all year round.
They have a rotating cocktail menu and specials, including their famous pickleback shots and vegan Caesars. Perfect for a first date, a drink after work, or a night out with friends. No attitude, LGBTQ+ safe space. They take their Covid-19 regulations seriously and try to protect staff and patrons during these strange times. Their covered back patio is heated and covered, and their huge curb lane front patio offers extra outdoor seating through the summer. Sweaty Betty’s has been a notoriously packed dive bar in Toronto for over 20 years, so the name seems appropriate. May Brand, the woman who’s been managing here for nearly a decade, now owns it. She’s also worked behind the bar at the nearby Gladstone and Beaver. Framed flash art covers the maroon walls from top to bottom.
Brand added her vintage mirrors and twinkly lights to the appropriately cramped and poorly lit front area. It almost serves to keep the uninitiated away from the more exciting areas beyond, such as a back room with couches and frames on the walls filled with portraits. In typical dive bar fashion, beer and whisky dominate, and Betty’s has always had a good selection of the brown stuff for a small bar. Pulling pints of craft beer like Amsterdam, Creemore, and Beau’s since before it was everywhere, their inventory has changed a lot over the years, incorporating cocktails, whereas the word alone was previously blasphemy. They are famous for their “pickleback” shots ($6.25), which consist of a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle brine (which, yes, has been used for pickling).
4. Paradise Grapevine
Paradise Grapevine is a wine, cider & beer pair with finger foods in this easygoing watering hole featuring a leafy patio. It is a wine shop, bar, and winery focusing on natural wine, beer, cider, and casual service. Paradise Grapevine, located in the increasingly trendy Bloorcourt neighborhood, brings hipster style to the classic wine bar concept. The by-the-glass menu features old-world wines and sippable local brews on tap. Thanks to a grandfathered license, the covered and heated patio is open until 2 a.m., keeping the bar busy well past the usual 11 p.m. outdoor patio cutoff. There’s no reason to leave with simple snacks like charcuterie and cheese. At its second location on Geary Avenue, Paradise Grapevine is a wine and beer bar that also functions as a winery.
David Everitt and Christian Davis, both industry veterans, had envisioned their laid-back spot serving natural wines, a small rotating selection of beers, and snacks. In 2018, they opened the first Paradise Grapevine on Bloor Street West. The owners developed an interest in winemaking a year after opening and produced their first vintage in 2019. In the two years that followed, the duo made over 90 tonnes of their wine while sharing wine making facilities with Creemore Hills Winery. While the food is different, the vintage, rustic atmosphere is present in both locations. When you walk into the Geary location, you’re greeted by a wall of mirrors that wraps around the bar and the tiger-print velvet booths. Tin ceiling tiles reveal hints of industrial design, while tables and wine barrels near the front entrance fill the space with a mix of wood.
The massive patio that wraps around the side of the building is one of the main draws for visiting this location, especially during the warmer months. A delectable mix of wood-fired cooked Spanish and Argentinian dishes is available from Thursday to Sunday evenings. But let’s get back to the wine. What distinguishes Paradise Grapevine is its emphasis on keeping its product’s ingredients simple. Instead of adding tannin or sugar, they rely on the yeast already present in the fruit to ferment and flavor the wine. Their Nightcall Pet Nat was the first wine I tried. It’s made with Zweigelt grapes and is listed under the vintage section of the menu. This glass costs $12, and a bottle costs $55. This Austrian varietal produced a wine with Swedish berries, cherry, and cranberry notes.
3. Paris Paris
Paris Paris is an unpretentious wine bar with many bottles by the glass plus an internationally inspired snack menu. Paris is a daytime and nighttime destination where tables are always full, but there always seems to be room for everyone. This could be a pre-dinner party or your entire night’s plan. It’s worth squeezing in or splitting a table. With incredible food and an adventurous wine list, Paris Paris has also hosted special wine nights featuring natural wines and female sommeliers from the superstar Grape Witches. This all-day wine bar, located in a former art gallery space, has large plate-glass windows that let in light throughout the day. The interior design incorporates exposed brick, a lot of wood, industrial bar stools, and potted plants to create a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.
Because the front room only has about 40 seats and the dining room in the back has about 30 more, the space fills up quickly. Girlfriends catching up after work, guys attempting to make an excellent first impression on first dates, and oenophiles of all stripes. For the wines, skip the simple mixed drinks. The list favors New World and biodynamic winemakers and includes approximately 30 options by the glass and 150 bottles ranging in price from $45 to $350. You can order from the entire menu until midnight when the kitchen switches to bar snacks. Try the chicken liver mousse tartine, served on grilled sourdough bread with shaved cremini mushrooms and a drizzle of honey, or the roast half chicken with Piri Piri and gray salt. The bartenders will guide you through the wine list until you’ve found the perfect bottle.
Paris has a great wine list—without pretense. Paris Paris is, first and foremost, a wine bar open all day. Jonny Poon and Jesse Fader, co-owners of Bar Fancy and Super point, have always taken pride in serving great wine alongside elevated versions of late-night fare like fried chicken and pizza. They continue to indulge that passion here with the help of partner Gani Shqueir. Two new skylights add a natural glow to the front forty-seat dining area, including a lovely swooping wood bar and other woodwork (including bread boxes for house sourdough) by local Graham Waliczek. The back of the restaurant houses a second bar and private dining area with an open kitchen. House bread with scrumptiously salty and rich whipped butter ($5), made fresh by a baker from Woodlot, is a must.
2. The Rooftop at Broadview Hotel
The Rooftop at Broadview is a rooftop bar with a terrace & airy indoor space, offering panoramic views & an eclectic menu. The Broadview Hotel breathed new life into the beautiful heritage building that had previously housed Jilly’s long-running strip club. Its Rooftop Bar has one of the best patios in town, with stunning 360-degree views. History and style are gracefully blended, with cheeky nods to the building’s previous occupant. Tourists and locals alike will enjoy the CN Tower’s sunset views while sipping a glass or two of crisp white wine. One of the most stunning views of the Toronto skyline and the Don River. A 360° glass facade, pyramidal skylight, and expansive rooftop terrace make this a unique location for drinks and shareable bites with friends, celebrating an event, or attending an intimate artistic performance day or night.
Located on the 7th floor of The Broadview Hotel, The Rooftop complements the boutique ambiance of the newly-renovated building. It has been nominated as one of the best rooftop bars in the city and the #1 hotel rooftop bar in Toronto. It’s a modern rooftop on top of a historic building with spectacular views of the Toronto skyline. Riverside‘s fantastic and historic The Broadview Hotel has an equally stunning rooftop bar and terrace. The Rooftop, located on the roof of a building built in 1891, features an indoor lounge with a 360° glass facade and a pyramidal skylight roof, as well as an expansive outdoor terrace. As a result, breathtaking views of the Toronto skyline and the Don River are available all around.
The rooftop bar menu features a delectable selection of shareable bar bites and plates, well-crafted signature cocktails, and an excellent selection of wine and beers—basically, everything you need for a fun couple of hours with a group of friends. The Rooftop’s hip and hot atmosphere comes alive on weekends when live DJs take the stage from 9 p.m. until late at night. The indoor lounge accepts reservations, but the rooftop terrace operates on a first-come, first-served basis. So, on a hot summer day, try to be on time. The Rooftop is also open during the winter when the indoor lounge is transformed into ‘The Summit Lodge.’ This is an after-ski and winter getaway in the heart of downtown Toronto, inspired by world-class ski lodges. So, this is one of the best bars in Toronto. If you are in Toronto, then definitely visit this venue!
1. Bar Poet
Bar Poet has guests dine on pizzas & sliders below twinkle light-adorned trees at this outpost with wine on tap. Step inside this dimly lit West Queen West haunt, and you’ll feel immediately transported to the patio of one of Italy’s cobblestone alleyway restaurants. String lights twinkle above the restaurant, suspended from faux trees that run the length of the space. They have several local beers on tap (including their lager and IPA) as well as red and white wine. More is also available by the glass or bottle. Cocktails range from classics to house creations such as the Candy Necklace, which features rhubarb and ginger gin, blueberry and cranberry syrup, and a rhubarb and ginger syrup. The pizzas are equally inventive, with our favorite being the Microdose with garlic cream sauce, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.
Bar Poet has a menu of $10 pizzas accompanied by wine on tap and cocktails priced similarly. Formerly Church Aperitivo Bar, the space with a capacity of about 100 people has been completely transformed into an indoor patio escape. A large striped awning looms over the entire bar, and fireproofed real trees sprout fake leaves intertwined with twinkly lights that mimic stars. Begin a meal or snack with a Li’l Banger ($4.50), a crushable slider with a beef patty, shredded lettuce, secret sauce, American cheese, and juicy roasted cherry tomatoes elevate the dish. A shareable family-size Peaches & Cream salad costs $18 and features a base of creamy, salty stracciatella topped with caramelized roasted peaches, a mountain of fresh arugula, a chardonnay dressing, almonds, black pepper, and parm.
The pizza here is slightly crisper than Neapolitan, stretchy with a subtle sourdough tang, and made with stone-ground 00 flour that has been fermented for three days. The Hot Rod ($9) is a basic pepperoni pizza topped with traditional red sauce made from a blend of California and San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and perfectly curled little cups of pepperoni. Hot honey to finish adds a little sweetness, spiciness, and flair to this staple. They have a white pizza topped with sweetly caramelized mortadella, crunchy pistachios, taleggio, ricotta, hot honey, and chives ($9.95). Wines range in price from $9 for a chilled white and red on tap to $97 for a pet-nat Groszer Wien. What makes this place poetic isn’t so much a strict literary theme as it is a whimsical philosophy of providing “something for everyone,” whether it’s high-end champagne or a game of Skee-Ball.