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.
Deep in the heart of Kensington Market is Grant van Gameren, Owen Walker and Nick Halligan’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.
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 and Robin Goodfellow’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.
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.
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.