Day or night, Toronto’s neighborhoods are a hotbed for food, entertainment, and culture. From morning to afternoon, every district has its own charm, and when it gets dark, Toronto’s vibrant nightlife illuminates each neighborhood. Here are some of the best spots to explore in the city once the sun has gone down.
Years ago, this lively and trendy part of the city was populated by warehouses and industrial buildings, it is now a well-known area for stylish dining and clubbing in the city. Aside from a vast number of bars and clubs (local favourites include Early Mercy, Bar Hop, Odd Thomas, and Locals Only), there is everything from swanky hotel rooftops (Thompson Hotel, Lavelle, and Bisha) to upscale lounges like The Addisons Residence, ping pong clubs such as SPiN, and pool hangouts at Roxy on King.
Queen West/West Queen West
Toronto’s Queen West has always been happening, even before Vogue called it the second coolest neighborhood in the world. There are plenty of bars that are really popular with the locals, Queen Street Warehouse, Bovine Sex Club, Rush Lane Co., Bar Fancy, Tequila Bookworm, Otto’s Bierhalle (look out for a secret button in the washroom) to name a few. A lot of people also end up partying at Queen Street’s artsy boutique hotels, The Drake and Gladstone Hotel. Another place to catch Toronto’s uber-cool crowd is Apt. 200, an upscale house party (a lot like The Addisons Residence), complete with chandeliers, pool tables, and arcade games.
Parkdale runs along Queen Street West from Dufferin Street to Roncesvalles Avenue. It’s a quirky little hood, and because it’s home to one of Toronto’s most diverse communities you can get some amazing food in the area. It’s a sought after destination on weekends thanks to all the cool watering holes and live music venues. Parts & Labour is a hip hangout; on the top floor you can grab delicious Canadian food while the lower level hosts DJs and bands. The Yukon has reasonably priced cocktails that you can pair with buck-a-shuck oysters, or grab a craft beer at Pharmacy Bar (formerly a pharmacy/methadone clinic) .Other popular haunts include Shameful Tiki Room, Miss Things, and Grand Electric.
Ossington Avenue has become one of the most vibrant strips in downtown Toronto. Over the years, a number of eclectic bars have popped up on Ossington between Queen and Dundas, transforming it into a great spot for going out. Sweat Betty is a no-frills nightlife landmark on Ossington, SP184 is one of Toronto’s not-so-secret secret bars; for local vibes head to Man of Kent and Bellwoods Brewery; you can find music at Painted Lady and Reposado; and Hawker Bar or Dakota Tavern are also good for a night out.
During the evening, the Annex is bustling with people hitting up the countless bars for drinks. It gets lively in these parts because the Annex borders the University of Toronto, and lots of students frequent the establishments. Lee’s Palace, Dance Cave, Coda, Brewhaha, and Madison Avenue Pub are the most happening, but if you fancy a midnight game of billiards, head to Annex Billiards.
There’s so much variety in the enclave of Little Italy! Cozy hubs such as Bar Raval, Mullins Irish Pub, and The Hogtown Pub and
The Church-Wellesley Village is the stomping ground for Toronto’s LGBT community, and the vibe is just awesome here. This the place to come for drag shows, dance parties, cocktails, pubs, and some of the city’s best nightlife. For drag, check out Crews and Tangos. Also, Woody’s is always lively because it has five bars, Boutique Bar serves up yummy cocktails, and leather-loving folks should go to Black Eagle.
Dundas Street West
Weekend jaunts in Dundas West are always novel. The area is constantly in flux, with places opening up all the time. Lots of joints in this locale have something unique to offer, and they are all worth checking out. Get Well has old-school game machines, while the funky, jukebox atmosphere at Communists Daughter is not to be missed. Grab a Harry Potter-inspired concoction at The Lockhart or some fantastic cocktails at namesake spot, Cocktail Bar. Other bars you should definitely visit are Montauk, Bambis, Archive, but this list could go on and on. Go a little further west for Famous Last Words, Hole in the Wall, 3030 Dundas West, and somewhat of a hidden gem in the likes of Unlovable.