Laid back restaurants for a fun first date in Toronto

Picking the perfect spot for a first date can be a daunting task. How do you impress a new love interest without looking like you’re trying too hard? Take the pressure off at these cool-yet-casual first date spots.

The Wren

1
1382 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1M9

This charming neighbourhood watering hole offers a laid-back vibe and elevated pub fare. The subtle saloon-style interior is decked out with rustic barn boards, exposed brick and an impressive chandelier constructed out of a wagon wheel. Friendly and attentive staff will be happy to help you navigate the menu of southwestern fare including pulled pork chimichanga and green chili chicken. Visit after 8 p.m. to avoid the family-dinner crowds.

La Libre

2
14 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R 1V3

This Annex-area taqueria boasts a uniquely romantic venue and a list of strong tequila-based cocktails to help calm your nerves. The covered patio is strewn with sand-washed tables and brightly painted benches that give the restaurant a beachy feel even when it’s pouring rain outside. The Yucatán-inspired small plates are ideal for sharing with your amore.

Pacific Junction Hotel

3
234 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A 1J9

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? The quirky interior and diverse crowd at this Corktown bar are great conversation starters. The riotously colourful interior is part tiki bar, part antique shop with plenty of kitschy accents throughout. The food menu is kept casual with Island-inspired offerings like Cajun fish tacos and conch fritters but the drink menu offers imaginative rum-based cocktails and margaritas available by the glass or bowl.

TERRONI

4
720 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E8

This authentic pizzeria is the perfect choice for a date night, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth. The rustic southern Italian menu features an assortment of pizzas, pastas and mains handmade with imported Mediterranean ingredients. The impressive wine list offers red and white varieties from the region by the glass, half litre or bottle. The Queen Street Terroni location boasts a leafy back patio illuminated by delicate string lights that create a cozy ambiance.

Emerson Restaurant

5
1279 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N7

You’ll probably have to make a reservation if you want to ensure you’ll nab a seat at this trendy Bloordale eatery, but you and your date will be happy you thought ahead. The seasonal dinner menu features mouthwatering mains like crispy Asian-style chicken, braised lamb shank with homemade gnocchi, and steak frites. Tip: save the signature Emerson burger (served with a delicious-yet-drippy Beemster cheese sauce) for another visit to avoid making a mess and embarrassing yourself in front of your dinner companion.

Toronto’s frigid winter months were made for curling up with a warm mug of hot cocoa. Escape the chilly air inside these local cafés where the hot chocolate is sweet, spicy and sinfully delicious.
Grabbing lunch or dinner around the TIFF Bell Lightbox? If you've a craving for thin crust, wood-fired pizza in an upscale atmosphere, stop in at one of these trendy King West trattorias where humble pizza pie gets the gourmet treatment.
With plenty of cinematic delights to take in, you’ll need to make sure your hungry brood is properly fuelled during TIFF. Forget the typical movie-theatre popcorn and indulge in a meal at one of these family-friendly downtown dining destinations around the TIFF Bell Lightbox. [Image credit: iStock.com/Nastia11]
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