Toronto Patio Guide: Parkdale
Parkdale is all about the backyard patios. Let's face it, street-side, the view in the neighbourhood isn't that interesting; unless your bar is called the Rhino or you count witnessing the occasional police smackdown required viewing during a round of beers. Otherwise, things are better in the back where there's ample space, plenty of picnic tables and decent enough pub grub.
Here's a rundown of 6 of the best patio options in Parkdale.
The Cadillac Lounge
With its leopard print and pink muscle cars, the Cadillac Lounge's retro/rockabilly vibe keeps it approachable and down-to-earth. Its giant back patio is the stuff of legends and what makes the Caddy a good place to start (or finish) a pub crawl. At 4,000 square feet, it's one of the largest in the city and even includes a pool table. But come early, because even with all this space you sometimes need to fight for a table to enjoy a bucket (6 bottles) of Amsterdam Blonde ($19.13). Bonus: a portion of the patio is heated - a huge plus for those unexpectedly chilly summer days.
Directly across from the Caddy, the Rhino is the granddaddy of bars in Parkdale. It has almost a gazillion types of beer on offer and it keeps bringing customers back for its laid-back vibe and friendly staff. 2 or 3 years ago it took over the parking lot next door which stretches from Queen to Milky Way so between beers it's only a short walk to check out the latest installation at 47. On the menu is standard pub fare, although regulars rave about the hearty and unforgivably delicious Rhino burger.
The bar's dark and eclectic interior - complete with a large, cloudy fish tank - weeds out everyone but the locals, but Mezzrow's lack of pretention is actually part of its charm. Hidden at the back of the bar is a north facing patio lined with communal picnic tables. It's fun but not for the fancy. To go along with the draft and bottled beer selection is predictable pub fare like burgers but the patio is geared toward the more liquid forms of consumption anyway.
Not My Dog
Not My Dog has one of the smallest and most secluded patios in Parkdale. You actually have to walk through the basement to get to it. This can be a bit of an issue: carrying pints up and down two flights of stairs while intoxicated can get messy. Nevertheless, the secret nature of the patio allows for that feeling of accomplishment once you've reached your destination. For food, they make a really good bowl of chicken curry.
Another Parkdale pillar, Mitzi's Sister is the musical epicenter for the `hood (well, if you don't count Wrongbar). Inside, the tavern like restaurant has live music almost every night of the week. First timers might be forgiven for not even realizing there's a patio here, but look closely past the stage and through the doors at the back and you'll find a small north-facing hangout where most of the tables are intimate booth-style seating. Good news is the kitchen makes the best grub in the 'hood including stellar nachos and poutine. Tip: for a daytime patio option, head to Mitzi's Cafe on Sorauren.
Poor John's Cafe
It's not a bar, but Poor John's has quickly established itself as a dependable source for cheap and good food in the neighbourhood, particularly tasty soups and gourmet sandwiches. Like many Parkdale patios, theirs is so hidden you might not even suspect it's there. But with its red posts and better than standard furniture, it gets my vote as one of the prettiest patios in Parkdale. Go early, though. Poor John's closes at 5pm most days which means it's likely better suited for the morning after your Parkdale patio crawl.
A special thanks to Bud Light Lime for sponsoring this section. Watch for 17 more neighbourhood patio profiles in the weeks to come.
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