Bar Raval: Calling this place a Spanish tapas restaurant would be underselling this spectacular architectural stunner that serves dark and moody cocktails and (most of) their gourmet food in tins. Potential drawback: Most of the restaurant is standing room or tiny table only.
Barchef: This is one of my absolutely favourite bars in Toronto. Is a $30 molecular gastronomical cocktail called “Spring” served in a flower pot and poured over with pine-infused liquid nitrogen a bit pretentious? Sure. But it is incredible still. Potential drawback: Not everyone is willing to pay over $30 for a cocktail.
Midfield Wine Bar: There’s more wine than food, but if you love the former, you’re going to have a fun evening here. This place is an unpretentious sommelier favourite. Potential drawback: The vibe is extremely mellow (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)
Birreira Volo: A narrow, cozy beer hall that gives you the feeling of stumbling across a hidden gem on your Italian backpacking travels. Owned by brothers Tomas and Julian Morana, this is a twist on their original Bar Volo. Potential drawback: Only a few tables, and they are mostly communal.
Oddseoul: The Ossington Strip Korean-focused snack food and fun cocktail menu will make you glad you stopped by. Potential drawback: The restaurant is really hard to find on purpose (look for the name on the mailbox).
The Broadview Hotel: This is a stylish addition to the East End that is excellent for events and summer night gatherings that require excellent canapés. Potential drawback: I guess that it used to be a strip club, which may have feng shui implications for some.
Goods & Provisions: This Leslieville spot may be small, but it boasts an amazing cocktail menu and great food (oysters, fried chicken, scallop crudo) to go with it. Potential drawback: This place is pretty small.
416 Snack Bar: A very cool, laid back spot with great food and fits the Toronto brand. Potential drawback: They refuse to give you utensils (not a joke).
The 47: A neighbourhood-friendly spot on Bloor that has zero decor, but surprisingly luscious plates of authentic Italian pasta. Potential drawback: The menu is handwritten in Sharpie.
Bar Hop: This craft beer focused bar has been a saving grace for finding a spot on King West where you can show up without stilettos, and still get good snacks past 10:00 PM. They’ve just opened up a third location. Potential drawback: You can actually sit for a long time at a table here, which means you may have to wait awhile for a spot.
Famous Last Words: One of my friends loves this booked-themed cafe/bar so much, she closed it down for her (delightful) engagement party. If literature and literature-themed cocktails tickle your fancy, you should consider a visit here. Potential drawback: It’s more suited for a quiet evening than a rowdy one.
The Queen and Beaver: It is a proper British pub on Elm Street with a super cozy second floor, great for watching sports and grabbing fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding. Potential drawback: If you don’t love football (soccer), you best stay away during major games!
Shameful Tiki Room: If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to share a large bowl of spiked punch with 8 of your closest friends, surrounded by tiki torches and dry ice, this is the place to do it. Potential drawback: The food is not amazing, but it is a fun experience.
dbar: If you are feeling fancy, the Four Seasons’ swanky lounge and the downstairs nightcap spot for Café Boulud, is the place to be. Potential drawback: The rich and swanky aren’t always known for being the most chill.
WVRST: A King Street West biergarten with a focus on sausages and duck fat fries. Potential drawback: There isn’t much else to eat on the menu! DW Alexander
On My Radar:
Mahjong Bar: Not a mah jong bar my grandmother would’ve likely recognized!