upstairs bar toronto

The top 10 upstairs bars in Toronto

Upstairs bars in Toronto will bring your drinking to new heights - literally. Ranging from classy establishments aimed at cocktail-minded guests to thrifty PBR-filled watering holes, these bars are more than worth climbing a few flights of stairs.

Here are my picks for the top upstairs bars in Toronto.

Bill Hicks
If you're on the east side, Bill Hicks is your best bet for an upstairs bar. Head up the illuminated staircase and you'll find a space filled with vinyl album covers, mismatched furniture, and a seemingly out of place tiki bar. This is the kind of place where PBR is considered to be akin to a fine wine, and I am perfectly OK with that.

Dance Cave
Instead of heading to Lee's Palace for a show, make a turn when you get through the doors and climb the stairs to Dance Cave. Inside you'll find an eclectic group of students and 20-somethings sipping on bar rail drinks and dancing to everything from top 40 to alt-rock. The space now doubles as a live music venue, so shows aren't out of the question.

The Boat
The Boat is a well-loved watering hole on Augusta serving up cheap drinks to the crowds of Kensington. The nautical-themed bar - complete with portholes - is admittedly not the classiest establishment, but it's often packed when the weekend rolls around. Plus, it's also a live music venue.

Round is another popular place to dance in Kensington Market. Less divey than The Boat, it's stepped the game up with themed events and more sophisticated decor. Aside from the dancefloor, the bar also has a pool table for those who couldn't coerce their group into going to The Rivoli and a seating area for those who need a break.

If you're on the hunt for cocktails near the Financial District, look no further than Nikai. Head straight for the stairs at Momofuku and walk up to the sleek second-floor bar, where you can sip on classic cocktails and a smattering of less common libations like sparkling absinthe. If you're feeling a bit adventurous, ask for a "Surprise Me".

Odd Thomas
Odd Thomas is your saving grace if you want the vibe of a dance club but can't handle the strobe lights and mini skirts. With unvarnished wood benches, a giant sign reading "GET WEIRD", and a roster of drinks that will put vodka cranberries to shame, this is the ideal spot for the more indie club goer. A bonus, If you need a dose of fresh air, you can always head to Mascot Brewery on the roof.

This upstairs club brings in top notch DJs and will get you on your feet with a drink in hand. Though the pricepoint is a far cry from The Lab - you'll be coughing up about $7 for a mix drink - you'll probably have more fun getting down on the dance floor than you would in a dingy bar.

Orbit Room
This live music venue and bar is hidden above a dental office on College. You'll find bands playing jazz, funk and R&B music almost every night of the week, making it the perfect destination for those that want to escape the trap of top 40 tunes and club wear.

Located above Italian Eatery, The Good Son, Wayward offers the perfect place to party post-pasta. Complete with chandeliers, wingback chairs, and marked up vintage paintings, this Victorian-themed bar will give your low brow mixed drink an air of sophistication. The exclusivity of being on an upper level only adds to this vibe.

Make a beeline for the stairs at Dailo if you're in the mood to grab a drink away from the crowded clubs on College. The upstairs dim sum snack and cocktail bar, LoPan, serves up a bevy of Asian-inspired beverages. Using ingredients like yuzu, lemongrass cordial, and shōchū, these drinks are anything but your pedestrian rum and coke.

What did I miss? Add your favourite upstairs bar in the comments.

Photo of LoPan

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