Wednesday, July 3, 2013

HUG Summer Patio Guide

I think it's safe to say that summer is finally here!  After a grueling long Canadian winter, we vow to make the most of patio season so here's a roundup of our favourite places to catch some sun and sip on sangrias in downtown Toronto...

King West:

Bar Wellington - A historic hangout frequented by nearby condo dwellers and ad agency execs. This bar is typically less crowded (and rowdy) as it is tucked away from the poshy outdoor lounges that adorn the main King Street strip. They serve up tasty pub favourites and weekend brunch. $

Gusto 101 - (photo above) This old grungy mechanic's garage has transformed itself into a hip Italian restaurant with both a charming rooftop and street patio. The Focaccia and Ciabatta bread is made in house and absolutely delish. Main courses take on a modern twist on Southern Italian classics and of course, you can expect an extensive wine list. $$

Bier Markt - Beer lovers flock to this European-style restaurant that features over 150 beers and a brasserie-inspired menu. $$

Entertainment District:

Oasis - (photo above) This place is like having your cake and eating it! It's a big rooftop patio (above Gretzky's Restaurant) with a waterfall display and sweeping views of the city. Their blended frozen cocktails (especially the strawberry-pina coladas) are the bomb! $$

O&B Canteen - Located at the base of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, this is an Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant so you can expect top-notch food but in a casual, fresh market café setting. They serve an array of sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and even tasty ice cream floats. $$

Black Bull Tavern - Have your grub served up in this Queen West heritage building that used to be the Black Bull Inn in 1833 and debatably the oldest waterhole.  Renovated several times over the year, it now has one of the largest patios for people watching! $

Financial District:

The Keg on York St - Now who would have thought a mega chain restaurant would have such an awesome patio?! Wedged between skyscrapers with a beautiful green courtyard and wood terrace, this is the place to be after 5pm. They make a mean Caesar and you may very well end up staying for a steak dinner too! $$

Earls Kitchen & Bar - (photo above) This patio sits smack in the middle of the financial hub and is most popular on weekdays after 5pm. Rub shoulders (literally, as this place gets packed) with the well-heeled and suits. Catchup on stock trades, complain about your boss or just celebrate the end of a work day with a round of mojitos and tasty appetizers. $$

Watermark Restaurant - It can be a bit of a tourist trap by day but this patio has incredible views where you can catch a perfect summer's breeze off Lake Ontario while dining on Irish pub delights. $$

Against the Grain - (photo above) Heading a little ways East from Harbourfront Centre, this patio at the Corus Entertainment building is right next to Sugar Beach. It's the perfect urban tavern to soak up sun and get a clear view of the Toronto Islands while nibbling on pub fares. $$

King East:
Betty's On King - (photo above) If hip and urban watering holes are your thing then this is your joint (especially to watch a soccer game). Their menu of nibblers is extensive and so is their 24 brews on tap (ranging from local microbreweries to international labels). $

Beer Bistro - The patio is small but you can find everything from fresh market beer cuisine to exceptional ales and lagers in this polished, upscale space. They also have a crazy 8 egg benedict brunch on weekends. $$

The Distillery:
Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Seafood lovers can kick up their heels and order some champagne to go with the fresh Malpeques, melon accented Kumamotos and 'meaty' Fanny Bay oysters or come by Monday for all you can eat mussels. $$$

The Beer Hall - (photo above) Mill St. Brewery's new pub has opened amidst a charming collection of Victorian-era buildings, this sunny cobblestone patio serves locally-inspired pub food and is the only place in Canada that has "bierschnaps" (a clear and colourless beer-based spirit that’s distilled onsite and served as a shot). $$

One - (photo above) This L-shaped patio boasts the best views for star-gazing. Their appetizers and cocktails are on the pricey side (as expected in this part of town) but their bar menu is top notch. Try the signature One martini - a delish combination of apple and pear vodkas with fresh pineapple and lime juice, a dash of cinnamon and clove. $$$$

The Annex:
Duke of York - The front patio seats 40 but the back patio is twice as big and has umbrellas and picnic tables. Find your traditional British pub food here and some Indian dishes on the menu. $$


Ronnie's Local 069 - The favourite neighbourhood watering hole. This is the place to rest your feet, bob your head to some hard rock and grab a cold brew after shopping at the Market. $

Wanda's Pie In The Sky - (photo above) Welcome to a piece of heaven! Known for their baking, nosh on their mouthwatering pies (favourites include sour cherry and pear cranberry) and chase it down with an ice-cold lemonade made with fresh mint. $

Photo Credits: Oasis (, Earls (blogTO), Wanda's (, Against The Grain (Toronto Life).

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