The Best Patios in Toronto
The best patios in Toronto (the ones on this list, at least) excel in their own unique, lovely, sun-soaked ways. This is not a list of the best patios in Toronto overall, but rather, a list of patios that top the lot in one way or another; be it for brunch, for burgers, or for an awesome view of the lake. This list is intended to complement (not duplicate) our previously published lists for best restaurant patios, best backyard patios and best rooftop patios. It's our own curated list meant to offer additional ideas of where to go in Toronto when only a patio will do.
Here are 20 patios (in no particular order) that we think are among the best in Toronto, for one reason or another.
The Best Patio for a View of the Lake: Against the Grain
A stone's throw from Sugar Beach with a fantastic view of the water. Against the Grain's lake-facing patio practically begs you to toss off those those flip flops and prop your feet up (though you probably shouldn't, lest you risk glares from fellow patio patrons), offering the ideal ambiance for kicking back with a beer or a cheap Caesar. Just try to leave the cottage humour at home.
The Best Diner Patio: Rosedale Diner
The back patio at Rosedale Diner has found a nice middle ground between the uber-posh Rosedale patios and the typical diner's "ew, what's that stain?" vibe. Plenty of sun and green give this spot a charming backyard feel, while the menu's duck confit and vegan tajine evaluate the atmosphere beyond that of the run-of-the-mill diner. Great mojitos as well.
The Best Irish Pub Patio: Ceili Cottage
This is not your overly beer-branded, plastic-saturated patio. Ceili Cottage diverges from the common Irish pub patio with a nostalgic white picket fence and country mailbox out by its front entrance. And naturally, it just gets better by the tables. Count on plates of oysters and full Irish breakfasts on weekends, and a skating rink conversion for the space come wintertime.
The Best Patio to Run with the High-Rollers: One Restaurant
Some might say you can't put a price to dining alongside Toronto's social and financial elites. I'd say that price is actually around $50 per plate, but nevermind. This patio is another one of Mark McEwan's babies, spawned from the side of the Hazelton Hotel and regularly playing host to Toronto's bigwigs. You might be able to get away with a pint and app, while still leaving with your pocketbook intact.
The Best Patio to Catch the Game: Scallywags
No flowers, no frills, and thus, little risk of damaging decor when thrashing out in displeasure after the Leafs lose the puck again. And yes, you will be able to watch the Leafs on this patio since a portion of the space is open all-year-round (because we all know the team won't last long enough in the season for warm weather to come about). For now, though, a great place to watch the Olympics, a UFC fight, or a soccer game.
The Best Patio to Play Tourist: DEQ at the Ritz Carlton
Ah, that view. Perfect for scanning the skyline and creating an elaborate story about fleeing to Toronto after a family dispute back in Raleigh, North Carolina. Or something. This patio has an elegant and supremely sophisticated vibe with an outdoor fireplace and seasonal cocktails. This is a patio for creating your own muddled drink and your own detail-laden backstory.
The Best Patio for People-Watching: La Société
There's no better a scene to observe and take in than that unfolding right on Bloor. And La Société offers two levels of seats! Watch the drama streetside with cocktails and snacks on the French bistro's sidewalk patio, or head up to the second floor to look down (no pun intended) on the action while enjoying a full meal. Because conversation, clearly, has become passé.
The Best Patio for Cheap Drinks: Java House
Can't do much better than $4.00 pints. Well, maybe you can (though your own basement doesn't count), but few patios offer Java House's winning combination of cheap drinks and a great atmosphere. It's Queen West without the try-hard hipster "nonchalance," offering a solid list of beers on tap and an equally cheap menu of eclectic eats.
The Best Patio for a Glass of Wine: Midfield Wine Bar
The best patio for a pretension-free glass of wine, that is. Here you can sip your glass of Schioppettino care-free, with plastic chairs and folding tables bringing down the stuffiness a notch. Not that you'll find much of that at the corner of Dundas and Gladstone, mind you. Most glasses will run you around $12, with charcuterie and oysters acting as perfect wine patio compliments.
The Best Patio for a Stiff Drink: Cocktail Bar
Aptly named, of course, and living up to the lore. Cocktail Bar's patio is known for its finely crafted concoctions; a selection that only the true Vieux Carré-lovers can appreciate. Classics are textbook with the manhattan and negroni a step above, and the care that goes into each cocktail more than readily apparent. That said, this patio also serves beer.
The Best Patio for a (Pizza) Pie: F'Amelia
While we've already extolled the virtues of a few other pizza-proud patios (Terroni, Lil Baci, Pizzeria Libretto Danforth, to name names), F'Amelia's patio, too, offers a choice spot to dissect a pie. The vibe on the patio is just as an authentic pizza place should be; that is — loud — with strung lights flickering in the evenings and red wine on free-flow.
The Best Patio for Brunch: Smith
Cloistered and cosy, Smith's side patio is a bona fide hidden gem. This is the ideal morning-after patio, partially because there are virtually no passersby to gawk at your unruly (unintentional) bed head. The Smith waffles aren't too shabby, either, especially when paired with a Caesar to help cure last night's woes.
The Best Patio for a Burger & Beer: Hrvati Bar
Allen's already got its shout-out; now it's Hrvati's time to shine. With stuffed burgers and Ožujsko galore, this patio offers a Croatian twist on a favourite summertime pairing. The scene is "beer hall" all the way with long communal tables and bench seating; an unassuming spot to kick back with a beer and indulge in a mouth-watering pljeskavica.
The Best Patio for Bottle Service: Cube Nightclub
Yes, you can get bottle service on it's patio, and yes, it is important to look "ballin" (did I say that right?) even if you're outside. If bottle service is your thing (can you tell it's not mine?) you can enjoy the experience atop Cube's rooftop patio, all while basking in a superb skyline view. The crowd is a little older than the barely-legals on Richmond, and (coincidentally?) a little more refined.
The Best Patio to Bring your Bike: The Black Bull
Escape to the restroom in peace! Or else, with a least a little more peace of mind. The Black Bull's patio comes complete with a gated bike storage area, deterring would-be thieves from the snatch-and-ride while you remain blissfully preoccupied with your pint. As long as you don't mind sharing your Queen West spot with 100 fellow patio patrons, cycle on over.
The Best Patio for Vegetarians: Live Raw Food Bar
Nevermind choosing between a salad and the one lone veggie option on the menu; Live's patio is plush with cooked and uncooked vegetarians and vegan options. This patio, appropriately, has a decent amount of green, nestled right behind the Annex dining room and peppered with glasses of organic wine. And yes, there are raw, vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free deserts! (I know; what's left?)
The Best Patio in Lieu of the Green: Stout Irish Pub
If you can't actually manage to take a day off and head out to practice your putts, Stout Irish Pub's back patio offers the next best thing (or else, a painful reminder of what you could be doing). Yes, this patio sits on a ground of bright green AstroTurf, sandwiched between two buildings and decked out with classic wooden picnic tables. And don't feel bad; it's impossible to juggle a pitcher of Beau's on the ninth hole anyway.
The Best Patio for a Pitcher of Sangria: Cafe Diplomatico
This patio is a gathering spot for friends and Little Italy locals, so don't be surprised if you find a pitcher on nearly every table. The sangria here is killer and known to pack a lot of punch (and fruit), helping to raise the evening time volume on this already boisterous patio. Classic Italian comfort foods for when drink just isn't enough.
The Best Patio for Beer-Lovers: Only Cafe
Disastrous for those who are perpetually indecisive (guilty), but one of the top patios in Toronto if you know you love your beer. The back patio feels just like your neighbour's backyard, with the exception of a couple dozen beers on tap and nearly five times that in bottled varieties. It might be a bit of a sausage-fest back here — but hey, it's worth it for good beer.
The Best Patio for Take-Out: Ronnie's Local (top photo)
It sounds oxymoronic, but the sit-down patio at Ronnie's Local in Kensington Market is the ideal spot for take-out. Bike messengers and their Kensington compadres can sit here and sip back their tea ales and pales, while The Grilled Cheese across the street prepares and delivers sandwiches right to their patio table. I can't decide if this is an epic win for progress or a sorrow sign of our collective demise.
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Photos by Jesse Milns