The Best Bars in Downtown Toronto
Discover the best bars in Downtown Toronto | © Richardmoatphotos / Alamy Stock Photo
Signature cocktails, twists on the classics plus beers on tap, Downtown Toronto’s bars have it all. If you find yourself in the area taking in the very best of the city’s sights – from musicals and museums to shopping – here are seven unmissable bars located Downtown.
There’s no shortage of great bars in Downtown Toronto. Whether you’re looking for something upscale for a night out with friends, somewhere intimate to cozy up with a loved one or the ultimate dive bar where the cheap drinks flow, there’s a spot for that. These bars draw Torontonians from far and wide because every Toronto resident knows that the best bars are Downtown.
Reyna on King
Cocktail Bar, Cocktails
Torontonians know that when a new Bar Reyna outpost opens, it’s going to be good. Opened in the spring of 2019 and headed up by restaurant veteran Nicki Laborie, Reyna on King is a Mediterranean-inspired bar and restaurant serving delectable late-night bites and a sizeable cocktail list. The space itself is stylish and contemporary, with a plethora of plants hanging overhead and an eye-catching copper bar. Vodka lovers should try The Queen’s Absolution, a sweet cocktail made of Absolut Elyx vodka, creme de violette, Strega, Lillet Blanc, lemon and topped with edible flowers.
The Bar at Alo
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, French, $$$
Get here early for evening celebrations because The Bar at Alo is a walk-in-only spot. Alo is frequently named one of the best restaurants in Canada by platforms such as Forbes and CTV, so it’s no surprise the bar is an equally top-rated spot. The barroom offers a sample à la carte menu (unlike the restaurant) but serves the same extensive wine list. However, the cocktails with a twist are excellent. Sip on its signature drink, the Armagnac Old Fashioned, crafted out of Marie Duffau, absinthe and herbaceous bitters.
Charcuterie, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
This intimate bar is great for a first date. With a cozy, dark interior, tables lit by candlelight and walls decorated with antique apothecary bottles (housing 5,000 ounces of bitters), BarChef is perfect for a romantic evening. It’s famous for its 50-Canadian-dollar ($38) manhattan cocktail, and while your hand may be shaking while handing over a credit card, it’s well worth it. Presented under a smoke-filled jar with a subtle smoked hickory smell, this one goes down smooth.
Bar, Pub, Beer, $$$
Traditional beer halls are having a moment in Toronto, but for something unique, stop by Birreria Volo. Designed as an Italian beer hall, you’ll discover hard-to-find ales, natural wines and ciders served up in a narrow, intimate space. Be prepared to get comfy with your neighbors, as the tables are communal. Torontonians come back again and again for the 26 rotating taps, but for cheap drinks, stop by on a Tuesday for a five-Canadian-dollar ($3.80) local draft pick.
Nightclub, Beer, Cocktails, Wine
Tucked away in Kensington Market, Cold Tea can be tricky to spot. As it’s hidden in the back of an urban mall, you’ll need to look for the beaming red light above the door to find it. The bar pays homage to nearby Chinatown with an Asian and South American fusion menu – the steak tartare is not to be missed. Drinks are simple yet delicious with top-shelf liquor, such as in the Grace Park, which is topped with St Germaine and soju. For beer, find local drafts on tap.
Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
Perhaps one of the most famed bars in Downtown Toronto, Bar Raval is beloved for its artful Gaudí-esque wood panels and the special five-Canadian-dollar ($3.80) glasses of cava served between midnight and 2am every night. With a menu of Spanish tapas, nothing pairs quite as well as wine and its featured jamón (dry-cured ham), served alongside olives and fresh bread. For a boozy concoction, ask for The Unlovable, created using Evan Williams bourbon, Fonseca white port, Cynar and Angostura bitters. Located up on College Street, Bar Raval also makes for the perfect late-night spot during the Toronto International Film Festival held in September, thanks to its close location to Bell Lightbox.
416 Snack Bar
Bar, Restaurant, Snack Bar, Spanish, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, Vegetarian, Canadian, $$$
Located just off Queen Street on Bathurst, this tiny bar is more akin to a gastropub with eclectic decor and a small, yet flavorful menu. Select your draft from old telephone poles, and find all the standard favorites. The menu is always changing and serves bite-size portions, so no utensils are needed. The bar is designed to look like a streetcar, and a large neighborhood map decorates one of the walls. Prepare to wait in line on occasion, as it’s a popular place with Torontonians.
These recommendations were updated on January 23, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.