Skip the street dog: Toronto has a thriving culinary scene, and the night-owl options are no exception. From exuberant taco bars to nostalgic diners, the city’s food scene is ripe with options for the nocturnal. Here are the best late-night food options in Toronto.
Though many of the city’s restaurants shutter well before midnight, your late-night options don’t have to be relegated to UberEats, street meat or Smoke’s poutine. Toronto is a hugely diverse city – 51% of the population was born outside the country – and the late-night food scene reflects that. You can snack on juicy dumplings at Chinatown’s Rol-San, flavorful Jamaican jerk in Bloor, and Georgian khinkali in Dundas well past the witching hour.
There is something for every late-night merrymaker or late-shift worker: bars with phenomenal food menus, late-night take-out counters, and stay-all-night institutions. Maybe you’re looking for fried chicken to help wash down that ice-cold beer, a healthy snack after a long shift, or just some take-out to fuel you for your journey home. Whatever you are hungering for, most of the spots below are open well past midnight on weekends to satisfy every craving.
Rol-San for 3am dim sum cravings in Chinatown
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
A granddaddy of the Toronto late-night scene, Chinatown’s Rol-San serves up ample, delicious plates of dim sum til 4am every day. It’s a seemingly mandatory last stop for weekend revelers, but it’s also a hit with Chinese families at brunch – if the line out the door is any indication, the dim sum selection is some of the most beloved in the city. Check off your desired dishes on a piece of paper – options range from dim sum dishes like deep-fried chicken feet and stuffed cheung fun rice rolls, to more substantial plates of whole steamed bass with black bean and pan-fried rice noodles.
Deep in the heart of Kensington Market is Grant van Gameren’s carefree mezcal bar. The buzzing 40-seat cantina feels like an all-too-brief vacation, with terracotta walls, verdant greenery, and a sprawling patio in the summer. El Rey’s lighter snacks include matcha-tossed shishito peppers and guacamole and chips with coriander and cashew pesto. Tacos run the gamut from traditional (al pastor) to the unusual (crispy fried squid with coconut). Mezcal is the prime pairing, and El Rey specializes in the agave spirit – sip it neat, or have it showcased in one of the bar’s stellar cocktails.
Sneaky Dee's for towering piles of nachos and local drafts
Bar, Restaurant, Mexican, Canadian, Gluten-free, Beer, Wine, $$$
Let’s keep this simple: you order nachos at Sneaky Dee’s. The College Street institution is the dictionary definition of a dive bar, right down to its heavily graffitied walls and tattoo-covered servers. The classic nachos start with a base of crisp tortilla chips, salsa roja and Monterey jack cheese and are customized from there (toppings include everything from black beans to tofu). Alternatively, opt for Hawaiian or Greek-themed nachos, topped respectively with pineapple and ham, or olives and feta. No matter the option, the nachos pair perfectly with an ice-cold local draft.
The Lakeview for all-day breakfast in a famous West-End diner
You may recognize The Lakeview – the historic Dundas Street diner has been the backdrop for many a film, including Hairspray,Cocktail and The Boondock Saints. But it’s the food that folks flock to, particularly the 24-hour brunch. Though the menu highlights high-carb comfort food, they offer up a full range of options for those who forgo gluten, meat or dairy. You’ll be remiss, though, if you don’t order disco fries for the table.
Swing by Harry’s Charbroiled for uber-juicy burgers and shakes in Roncesvalle. The reliable (and raucous) burger spot is situated in an innocuous strip mall just off King Street. The signature burger (charbroiled, naturally) is everything you want in comfort food: fatty, salty and flavorful. It’s served in a checkerboard basket, and comes with the usual party of cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato and topped off with thick-cut fries. Green chorizo (with pickled onion and tomatillo relish) and red chorizo (with pineapple) burgers offer a pleasant deviation from the usual patties. Wash it all down with a vanilla milkshake, and add some bourbon if you’re not ready to call it a night yet. Swing by the next day for a bar-none brunch burger.
There’s a reason the global chain has become a late-night staple the world over. Ordering hearty Korean staples like oxtail soup and massively flavorful bulgogi is a must at this all-day, all-night spot. For the hungry, a platter of pork belly is simmered on a barbecue until it hits the perfect balance of crispy and fatty. While you wait for the dishes to arrive, snack on an array of kimchi, seaweed salad and potato banchan. Come with cash, as this spot doesn’t accept cards.
It’s easy to walk by Pho Pasteur – the bare-bones decor and unassuming storefront fades into the bright lights of Chinatown. Nonetheless, on weekend nights you’ll find some of the city’s top chefs here slurping bowls of beautifully aromatic pho or chowing down on shrimp summer rolls. Pho is stellar here, and it comes in three sizes (small, medium or large) to fit any appetite. The Chinatown spot is open 24/7, to appeal to night owls or early risers alike. They only accept cash, so come prepared.
Seemingly ripped from an Edward Hopper painting, the Annex’s Vesta Lunch is a beacon of nostalgia. The 24-hour grill has been a familiar face on the corner of Dupont and Bathurst for over 40 years, serving up comfort dishes to all walks of life. Prices seem frozen in time as well – a triple-decker sandwich with fries and coleslaw will set you back no more than $10. The no-frills spot’s classics, like roast beef sandwiches and steak ‘n’ eggs, will keep any incoming hangovers at bay.
The air in Grant Van Gameren’s Spanish-influenced bar is always full of excitement. The standing-room-only space, decked out floor-to-ceiling in mahogany, serves up delightfully creative Basque-style pintxos. Seafood is the star here, from meaty grilled squid in its own ink to Cantabrian anchovies, but the full menu of small plates ranges from perfectly crispy croquetas with béchamel and jamón, to flame-grilled toasts with fresh tomatoes. A pick from Bar Raval’s sprawling selection of imported sherries and vermouths acts as the perfect nightcap.
Seoul Shakers for spicy Korean snacks and late-night dancing
The newest spot from Toronto’s Korean restaurant guru, Leemo Han, serves up Korean cuisine with South American flavors. Like the SS Trompo tacos, filled with spit-roasted pork marinated in tangy gochujang chilis, or the crispy kalbi (barbecued short rib) empanadas. Both dishes are best enjoyed with a brut cider or a glass of makgeolli (sparkling Korean rice wine). Food aside, the neon mood lighting, comfy leather booths, and an old-school jukebox make the case for staying late into the evening.
Bar Fancy for pan-fried chicken and cocktails in Queens West
Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Two words: fried chicken. Turn off Queen Street West and follow the neon tiger sign down a back lane to find Bar Fancy. The cocktail bar by the folks behind Superpoint Pizza serves up consistently crave-worthy bites till the wee hours of the morning. Order fried chicken by the piece, or for the famished, the fried chicken plate includes bread, pickles, lime and two different hot sauces. Oysters are also a focal point, with mignonette made in house.
Thompson Diner, Toronto | Courtesy of Thompson Diner
Where do you find hungry clubgoers after last call has been declared? The Thompson Diner, a gilded take on the classic diner in the heart of Toronto’s nightlife district. Expect a full menu of stick-to-your-ribs classics: buttermilk-brined fried chicken and three different takes on poutine. For the healthy set, lighter options like avocado toast on sourdough and local cold-pressed juices are served late into the night. Since the spot is open until 3am every night, it acts as a respite for tired club kids and hotel guests alike (the diner is nestled on the ground floor of the Thompson Hotel).
The Bagel House for freshly made bagels at all hours
Pastry Shop, Contemporary, $$$
Freshly made bagel sandwiches at all hours of the evening? The Bagel House upholds the Montreal bagel tradition (the founders are formerly of the famed St-Viateur and Fairmont bakeries), churning out fresh bagels 24 hours a day at several locations across Toronto. Dissimilar to fluffy New York bagels, Montreal bagels are dipped in honey then baked in a wood-fired oven till crunchy and uber-rich. Pick up a sesame bagel with flavored cream cheese for now, and a few to-go to soak up the booze tomorrow morning.
Sometimes you don’t need a massive, over-the-top restaurant patty. That’s when you hit Extra Burger: a no-strings-attached burger joint on the Dundas West strip. The menu is decidedly un-extra – there are just four items. For the classic cheeseburger, three-ounce patties are cooked old-school on a griddle, seasoned, plopped on a Martin’s potato roll and finished with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and a super-juicy pickle. Adding crinkle cut fries (tossed in spices) to your order is highly recommended.
Bloor West’s Jerk King is one of the most reliable spots in the city for, well, jerk chicken. Dig into homey dishes like bone-in jerk chicken with oxtail gravy and chickpea curry. Prices are low – a meal is well under $10 – but servings are large.