View of the lake from Against the Grain Urban Tavern | Courtesy of Against the Grain
Toronto’s lively patio culture might come under threat this year, as municipal authorities debate a possible hike in licensing fees. There has been a significant uproar over the proposal, which could lead to a 350–400% tax increase that could be insurmountable for some small establishment owners. Even as the debate rages on, Culture Trip has collected a sample of Toronto’s patios – just in time for spring. Whether you want to have a leisurely dinner, coffee, or a few drinks while also enjoying the warm weather, here are eight of the best and most beloved patios across the city.
The Pilot Tavern
Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
"Flight Deck" at the Pilot in Yorkville | Courtesy of the Pilot
While the main level of The Pilot has a traditional pub vibe, the “Flight Deck” is well known as Toronto’s favorite rooftop patio. With a capacity of 185, the patio is open from March to December – but it’s during the spring and summer months that it really takes off, with retractable awnings, a light breeze, and the perfect mix of sun and shade. Ideal for a post-work drink while mingling with the stylish Yorkville crowd, The Pilot’s 70-year history is still going strong.
Against the Grain Urban Tavern | Courtesy of Against the Grain
Against the Grain Urban Tavern can be found in the heart of Harbourfront near Queens Quay and Jarvis, and its outdoor patio has a stellar view of Lake Ontario that makes this restaurant a perfect summer pick. Enjoy snack foods or a larger meal with a late-afternoon drink while overlooking Sugar Beach and the water beyond.
The Rosedale Diner has been a mainstay on Yonge since 1978, and its backyard patio is a great retreat when the city’s summer heat starts to get overwhelming. Serving far more than traditional diner fare – from burgers to Moroccan chickpea tajine – there’s something for every craving. With its charming red plastic chairs and retro décor, the patio strikes a balance between typical upscale Rosedale restaurants and the casual diner vibe.
If you’re looking for a great spot to enjoy cheap drinks, and also to people watch along the eclectic Queen West, head over to the patio at Java House. Offering $4 pints and a solid beer list along with a wide range of meal options – from perogies to pad Thai – you can enjoy the big patio without burning a hole in your pocket.
One of the most popular patios in Toronto, Café Diplomatico on College Street is a Little Italy hot spot during the balmier months of the year. With delicious Italian fare and offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their strong and fruity sangria is particularly sought after during the spring and summer, and the patio is bustling all day long.
Boxcar Social’s Summerhill location has one of the best café patios in the city. Taking up two floors of a Victorian house on Yonge, it’s a great spot to take a book or your laptop while enjoying coffee or a chai latte and a pastry. The large backyard patio is shaded by giant trees during the warmer months, making it a peaceful and secluded spot to enjoy the summer breeze.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Mexican, Contemporary, $$$
Evening patio time at the Barrio on Queen | Courtesy of Barrio
Barrio in Leslieville has not one, but two great patios, decorated with sofas and cushioned seating, hanging lights, and an oversized floral mural. There’s an outdoor bar and seating available for over 100 guests. Always lively, you can enjoy Latin-inspired food and colorful cocktails all summer long.
The patio at Tabülè on Queen East is a luxurious, cushioned spot that calls for a long summer night. Lantern-lit by evening, you can enjoy some of the city’s finest Middle Eastern cuisine while sipping a kumquat mojito, Jallab lemonade, or freshly squeezed pomegranate raspberry juice, all the while enjoying the enclosed patio area.