I’m only half kidding when I emphasize that patio season is an official season of Torontonians (and all Canadians, for that matter). There are only a few precious months of the year when we get to indulge in the sun, booze and comraderie all at the same time. It takes a special talent to be able remember all of the hidden gems found around the city, since some of the best patios are hidden on the roofs of buildings away from plain sight and others are secretly nestled in the back of your favorite bars and restaurants.
Below is a list of my favorite patios in Toronto, but first a BIG thank you to BlogTO for creating the most useful app of the summer: Toronto’s Patio Guide.
The app is quite impressive! The searchable fields pick up on all of the elements you may really care about: neighbourhood, capacity, accepted reservations, heating, coverage, open hours and patio type. What I especially like is that the types of beer on tap are listed for each establishment. Heaven forbid you get a coveted spot on a patio only to find out they no longer serve Blanche de Chambly!
As someone who is always searching for the perfect patio, I have two other criterion which are not included in this app: availability (no lines, please!!) and direct sunlight. In a city of condos and sky scrapers, it is hard to find a patio where I can feel the warmth of the sun’s rays while sipping my IPA. With that I present you with a few of my favorite patios in the city, including a couple that didn’t make it onto BlogTO’s list:
- Hooters (280 Adelaide St. E.) – No, I’m serious. This is one of my favorites. Show me another outdoor patio in the downtown core that always has direct sunlight – please, accept the challenge. I’d love to be proven wrong, but this is a hidden gem.
- Queen & the Beaver (35 Elm St. at Bay) – A neighbourhood favorite of mine whether indoors or outdoors, the drink selection is great, the snacks are tasty and it’s not hard to find a seat.
- The Oxley (121 Yorkville Ave.) – One of the few places I like in Yorkville and the newer sibling of the Queen & the Beaver, this back patio isn’t to crammed and is a nice urban oasis. Try their homemade ice cream – the stilton & black cherry is amazing!
- Poetry Jazz Cafe (224 Augusta Ave) – I only discovered this place at the end of the summer last year and am eager to get back. The backyard is beautifully decorated and you’ll have live jazz music coming through from inside.
- Paupers Pub (530 Bloor Street W) – An Annex favorite and a rooftop patio with character. There are plenty of tables and it is placed perfectly above the chaos of Bloor Street.
- Drake Sky Yard (1150 Queen St W) – Say what you will about the Drake, but for brunch and during the day, the pretention is absent, the seats are comfortable and sun is shining.
- Bar Neon (1226 Bloor St W) – This is a favorite evening patio of mine. Only open at night, Bar Neon has great cocktails, oysters, 90’s jams that will have you singing along, and tasteful lights that will welcome you to spend the night.
- Allen’s (143 Danforth Ave.) – Great food, an impressive beer list and plenty of tables to go around, Allen’s is legendary on the Danforth and well placed for a gelato stroll after your pint!
- Squirly’s (807 Queen St. W.) – I find great patios hard to come by on West Queen West, so I often find myself in the backyard patio at Squirly’s. Sit back, relax and share a pitcher of beer with friends. It’s not fancy, which is most of it’s charm.
What’s missing from my list? What are your favorite hidden gems in the city? Please share!