For a Fun Dinner

When the food is important but the vibe is key

Even though we don’t like to admit it, the dining experience isn’t just about the food. There are a few places that I’m willing to go largely to sit in their chairs, listen to their music, or generally be entertained by the spirit of the place. Have you ever organized a birthday party for a friend at a lame restaurant? Pick one of these restaurants to make up for that. Average price between $30-60 a person. 

Tried and True:

  1. OMAW: They call themselves an American eatery, but this is the kind of Contemporary Canadian cuisine I’m proud to take out-of-town guests to enjoy. Small elegant bites set in a cool setting, to be paired with fun cocktails.
  2. Bar Raval: Calling this place a Spanish tapas restaurant would be underselling this spectacular architectural destination that serves most of their gourmet food in tins.
  3. Dailo: Nick Liu is a creative genius and his Asian inspired bar is a lot of fun. Lo Pan as well.
  4. Soos: An upscale Malaysian eatery that brings all the right South Asian flavours you crave.
  5. Thoroughbred Food & Drink: It’s small but dishes like the Kung Pow Cauliflower pack a punch.
  6. Souk Table: I love Tabülè, and this new venture is casual Middle Eastern done in very Toronto way.
  7. Big Crow: This place is like an outdoor barbecue, all the time.
  8. Pai: One of my favourite Thai restaurants in Toronto, and the Regulars’ (the owners) best creation yet (until Kiin, of course). However, it is usually an unbearably-long wait to get in.
  9. Sabai Sabai: It’s kind of like Pai, but less hectic, and features a lot more Laotian dishes as well. Same owners, same fun vibe.
  10. Parts & Labour: Matty Mattheson has become a self-proclaimed “Instagram star” with his over-the-top brand that he shares with this restaurant.
  11. Oddseoul: The restaurant is hard to find (look for the name on the mailbox, but the Korean-focused snack food and fun cocktails will make you glad you came.
  12. Home of the Brave: It’s as American as it gets with fun cocktails and a punchy New American menu.
  13. La Carnita: A go-to for birthdays and get-togethers, this taco joint (there are multiple locations) is always lively.
  14. Midfield Wine Bar: There’s more wine than food, but if you love the former, you’re going to have a fun night here.
  15. Lamesa: the heart of the Filipino food movement in Toronto and the best place to go for a Kamayan-style dinner.
  16. Cantina: There are a few restaurants in the Playa Cabana family, but this one is my personal favourite to go for tacos and margs (it’ll even make you say margs).

On My Radar:

  1. Woodlot: Cantina, Dailo and Bar Raval are some of the best, and Woodlot is right there beside them (literally). I will go someday.
  2. 416 Snack Bar: I don’t even want to admit that I somehow have never made it here.

Last updated: August 2018