Patio-fever in Toronto is getting next level with a growing number of rooftop terraces at notable dining spots across the city. Whether the vibe is obnoxiously exclusive, quietly enchanting or weekend-level energetic, these restaurants offer a deliverance from the hustle and bustle of Toronto streets and a heightened view to the city’s epic skyline.
Heralded Hawthorne chef Eric Wood runs The Beverley’s kitchen, a contemporary Canadian industrial-style bistro tucked into the boutique hotel (named for its digs at the foot of Beverly Street on Queen Street West). Their lounge-y rooftop patio hosts white cushioned benches, sleek silver tables and lush palms that create an L.A.-meets-Miami vibe, appropriate since the hotel is a prime pick for TIFF-attending celebrities. The roof still hosts casual food options like salads and burgers, but my advice is to get fancy at the inside resto before heading up for a cocktail and some people watching on busy Queen Street below.
The family of Terroni restaurants is currently eight-strong in Toronto (with two additional locations in L.A.), each spot boasting its own vibe. Bar Centrale is a daytime café that turns exclusive wine bar when the sun goes down. Fresh insalate and antipasti selections complement a range of handmade pastas, all of which pair perfectly with a vino chosen from Terroni’s lengthy wine list. Like most of the culinary empire’s restaurants, this one gets packed, but its umbrella-covered rooftop overlooking hurried Yonge Street is worth the wait, sure to dissipate any waiting-irritation with its romantic wood panelling and warm fairy lights.
West Queen West’s infamous party and culture hub The Drake Hotel is in part known for offering every kind of space you could ever want on a night out, including one of the city’s original rooftop patios — around well before they became a fixture of upscale Toronto restos. With its own cocktail bar and several semi-enclosed and completely open spaces unto itself, the Sky Yard is the ideal spot to eat, drink and party throughout all four of Toronto’s extreme seasons. It’s also chic-meets-casual, so you can show up dressed to the nines, or in jeans and a blazer.
If we’re talking view, the panoramic restaurant on the 51st floor of Yorkville’s Manulife building is second to none (well, maybe the CN Tower but you’re definitely not getting any patio action there). Sample from the eclectic menu’s offerings — edamame risotto, citrus gravlax with caviar crème, pork tenderloin porchetta, or buttermilk-fried chicken and waffles, depending on your mood. Then head out to the butterflies-inducing terrace and get the rare experience of seeing 180 degrees of the Toronto horizon.
Not only is Gusto 101 a top spot for authentic Southern Italian eats (think stracciatella with lamb meatballs or Mediterranean-style branzino artfully prepared on the resto’s Tuscan wood-fired grill), it also hosts one of Toronto’s largest rooftop patios in its Fashion District digs, with a James-Bond-worthy retractable glass rooftop, and central air and heating for comfortable open-air dining all year round. Slide into a romantic two-person solid wood table or get a little more casual by grabbing a seat at one of the communal wraparound bar tables encircling gorgeous mini-Louvre glass pyramids, doubling as skylights for the dining area below.
This Bloor-Street French restaurant is a fascinating fixture on the Toronto patio scene. It’s also the subject of substantial debate, some claiming it’s the go-to spot for celebrity sightings and others arguing it caters more to tourists and the Bay Street post-work crowd. Either way, the second-story patio (for diners only — casual cocktails seekers can head downstairs to the streetside patio), has long transported diners to the vibe of a traditional Parisian restaurant, with a menu that includes classics like the endive, blue cheese and bacon Grenobloise salad, moules frites and escargots.