Wednesday, October 26, 2016Clear 5°C
Eat & Drink

The top 10 patios for people watching in Toronto

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / June 25, 2014

Patios people watching torontoPeople watching in Toronto is one of my go-to activities -- and all the better when it's on a patio with a cold drink. Torontonians are utterly fascinating human beings. They have tacky floral pants, screaming toddlers, various bits of drama unfolding, and sometimes, cute dogs. Look at it this way: you could either people watch, or look at your phone. People are fresh and new, and sometimes hot. Your phone isn't going anywhere.

These are the best patios in Toronto for people watching.

The Rivoli
The Rivoli is one of three prime Queen West patios for taking in the street scene, joining the Black Bull and the Horseshoe as perfect midday drinking perches. If forced to choose between the three, the Rivoli has the edge on account of its size (bigger that the 'Shoe) and street position (the Black Bull is technically a side patio, where the Rivoli is right on Queen).

La SocieteLa Société
Settle in to the lower patio or a railing spot on the upper level, order a cocktail, and spy on the many bags marching by that cost four times your monthly rent! La Société does classic Parisian bistro cuisine, offers hookah pipes on the lower level, and does some impressive cocktails. This is, by far, the number one people-watching zone on the so-called Mink Mile.

Cabana Pool BarCabana Pool Bar
Watch the muscle-tanked dudes saunter by and contemplate signing up for a little plastic surgery at Cabana Pool Bar. If you're lucky, you might even catch a mermaid model floating by in a small bubble! But seriously, you can get some solid (if expensive) cocktails here, and chill with friends in private, flowing white cabanas, poolside. And, really, there's people watching, and then there's people watching those clad in only a bathing suit. It's a different experience altogether.

One Restaurant TorontoOne Restaurant
This might be the best place in Toronto to spot a Bugatti or Ferrari in Toronto. Mark McEwan's tribute to the well-heeled has the type of patio just filled with people who have good skin, the type that only truly rich people have. Gaze out at all the action on Yorkville Avenue as the premium cars cruise by and everybody tries their best to look like their bank account boasts seven figures.

Bellwoods BreweryBellwoods Brewery
Wanna pine after hot men with beards? Here's your patio. Located on Ossington just south of Dundas, the picnic tables at Bellwoods have room to squeeze in all your nearest and dearest. The focus, obviously, is on the Bellwoods beers, but there is also a rotating variety of snacks on offer, from bread and cheese to corn and meaty treats.

Lee RestaurantLee Restaurant
King West is where the beautiful people are -- or at least that's a prevalent myth. Test it out by scoping out the street from the confines of Lee's patio, which offers front row seats to all the action near King and Portland. There's plenty of shade, the coleslaw is amazing, and the bartenders will keep your head warm and fuzzy if you so choose.

Despite its diminutive size, Embassy's patio might be one of the best in Kensington for taking in the vibrant street action. Score a seat here for Pedestrian Sundays, and you're set. Situated on Augusta Avenue, the neighbourhood's main drag, the north-facing patio provides a great angle from which to people-watch as you sip on a Blanche de Chambly.

The RhinoThe Rhino
The Rhino's patio might be the best people-watching spot in Parkdale. Wedged between the bar and the building to the west, it feels covered enough to be inmate, but its street-central position means you can gaze out at folks rushing to the LCBO, lining up for Grand Electric, or showing off their tightest jeans and plaid combinations. Bonus points for an absolutely huge beer selection.

Museum TavernMuseum Tavern
Another shoutout to Yorkville is in order. Museum Tavern offers up the unique opportunity to spy not only on some of the city's most conventionally beautiful people, but cars, too! Maybe pick up a sugar daddy or two while you're at it? The trick is to sit near the outside of the elevated patio where you can see a parade of tourist going to the ROM or people out to shop it up with their platinum cards.

Statlers TorontoStatler's
There are, alas, only 14 precious seats on Statler's patio, but there's no better perch from which to spy on all the action going on in the Village below. Those who get to watch Pride from here are lucky ducks, indeed. The beer list isn't anything to write home about, but with this prime viewing location, who cares?


Future BakeryFuture Bakery
The Annex is pure people watching gold. Watch mini-adult students say "like" a lot as they grow into their souls. Watch yoga moms haul their kids around on leashes. Watch cute old people milling about and having a nice day. Or fighting, either or. Enjoy these shenanigans over a piece of their famous cheesecake, a cheap brunch, or a pint.

See also:

Photo of the patio at the Rivoli



Shawn / June 25, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Ewww Cabana is douchebag central.
MR / June 25, 2014 at 02:37 pm
Always west west west - sad editorial
alan / June 25, 2014 at 03:22 pm
last time I checked the black bull had this huge patio...lots of people in...lots of people waiting to get in and lots of people passing by...I guess nobody is watching...
Random Reader replying to a comment from MR / June 25, 2014 at 04:38 pm
because who wants to people watch on the east side?
"Oh look, another homeless person. Sure am glad we're sitting streetside."
Shaun replying to a comment from Shawn / June 25, 2014 at 05:00 pm
Pffff... Have you even been? It's amazing. Giant TV, massive pool, amazing music, O+B kitchen serving food, and the cities most beautiful girls walking around in their bathing suits.

You're EWW Shawn... You're EWW.
MR replying to a comment from Random Reader / June 25, 2014 at 05:35 pm
Well, good to know you've cleared out all homeless west of Yonge - bravo! C'mon - think about a bigger picture - just sayin' … anyway … relax.
Carl replying to a comment from MR / June 25, 2014 at 10:15 pm
Why are you so into the east. You must like the tv show under the umbrella tree.
corndog / June 26, 2014 at 01:32 am
when I was in France, everyone at patios would sit to one side of the table so they can all stare at the street
Andy / June 26, 2014 at 06:43 am
Funny how in most of these pictures most people are not people watching at all. Check out the Bellwood's Brewery photo people are actually looking away from the street, haha
LMIH / June 26, 2014 at 08:38 am
Cabana is awful. It's basically violence, meat-heads, assholes and a pool. Seriously, atrociously awful.
Sven / June 26, 2014 at 04:09 pm
Who is that handsome guy at the Embassy?
Krista / June 26, 2014 at 10:47 pm
Who, that douche on the phone?
realtalk / July 2, 2014 at 08:00 pm
Cabana= Jersey Shore. BARF.
rn / June 3, 2015 at 04:33 pm
Good thing the patio at the Rhino is covered enough to be inmate. Did the author write this on her phone? :D

Also I don't think you'd be aware that you were watching people rushing to the LCBO given that it's around the corner on Brock; Electric Mud, Duggan's.. Even Designer Fabrics, the little hardware store or the Viet place on the corner of Brock and Queen would be equally plausible assumptions depending on the time of day
Elvis / June 3, 2015 at 08:11 pm
The Beet!!!!
nicole / June 4, 2015 at 12:29 am
Sassafraz. On the corner of Yorkville and bellair.
Other Cities: Montreal