The best under-the-radar romantic restaurants in Toronto

The classic restaurant date. It’s a safe bet, allowing for optimal conversation, minimal awkwardness, and best of all, a tasty meal. If it's date night and you're finding yourself wanting to avoid the downtown core, try these neighbourhood favourites and off-the-beaten-track gems, instead.

Via Mercanti

1
188 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L6

With fresh ingredients, great service, a casual atmosphere and a wood burning stove, you’ll leave little to chance at this Kensington Market pizzeria. Rumoured to have the best margherita pizza around, Via Mercanti is a quaint little slice of Italy with a street view of eclectic Augusta Avenue. Bonus: It won’t be too hard on the buyer’s wallet.

Nazareth Bar

2
969 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1L7

If your date eats vegetarian, they’re going to love this place (don’t worry, there’s still plenty choices for meat lovers – like the infamous beef tibs). This Bloorcourt spot might be cash only, but its mom-and-pop vibes and low-lit romantic interior make it an adorable destination for great Ethiopian food. Three people can eat off one plate for $11 – what more can you ask for?

The Gaslight

3
1426 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 3L5

The self-proclaimed hidden gem of the Junction Triangle, this place is great for a more casual date, either just for drinks or some tasty snacks. In the summer months, The Gaslight has a picturesque patio (complete with romantic flowers and vines) and offers small scrumptious plates to share. This cavernous canteen also makes a mean cocktail – try the spiked apple cider.

Branca

4
1727 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1V4

Looking for a place to set the mood? Check out Branca in Brockton Village for its perfect amount of ambient lighting, its hip-meets-cozy interior, and its impressive dining patio. Main courses are served on a wooden plank and cast iron pans at this Argentinian-inspired spot – and dishes like octopus, skirt steak, and other drool-worthy meat and fish options will have your date impressed.

Bricco Kitchen and Wine Bar

5
3047 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z5

At Bricco, casual Italian fare is paired with old-world wines amidst a stunning Scandinavian-inspired décor. With the seasonal menu in place, the food is always a perfect complement to your taste buds (be sure to try the rapini). Bonus: The owner is a sommelier, so all of your wine needs will be met.

Mr. Flamingo

6
1265 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X6

This little resto-bar in Little Portugal serves everything from miso lamb ribs to burrata to smoked trout with Yuzu hollandaise (and some stellar cocktails to boot) all in its sleek, parlour-for-hipsters digs. Mr. Flamingo is starting to gain some popularity, so if you’re venturing for Saturday night dinner, be sure to arrive early. Buck-a-shuck-oyster Wednesdays are always packed, so be sure to make a reservation.

Goods & Provisions

7
1124 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1K8

If you’re looking for more of cocktails-and-snacks location for your date, try out Goods & Provisions. It’s an intimate setting with old-world meets hipster-esque vibes at this beloved Leslieville gem – complete with curated, crooning music to match. The bread pudding is a must-try, alongside one of their signature cocktails – may we suggest the Old Fascist?

Midfield Wine Bar

8
1434 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y6

West-end vino lovers were long-pining for a great wine bar in the ‘hood, and Midfield was the answer to their prayers.. Featuring rustic Spanish dishes and fine wine, Midfield Wine Bar & Tavern is a classy-yet-mellow spot, perfect for a first-date conversation over a glass of red. As for food, everything is delish, but the cheese and charcuterie boards make a nifty sharing option. Also, potato waffles? ‘Enough said.

Actinolite

9
971 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6G 3V5

This little piece of Canadiana cuisine in Davenport Village may be a little on the pricey side, but its tasting menus are definitely an experience to share with someone special. If you venture to this dimly light destination, try their pork shoulder appetizer. Bonus: They offer an incredibly impressive seven-course dinner with wine pairings, and each round is steeped in a re-imagined Canadian culinary tradition.

The Beech Tree

10
924 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 1S5

This cozy dinning room in the upper Beaches may not look like much, but it’s a great casual date destination. With a seasonal British-inspired menu, The Beech Tree features locally prepared breads, pickled vegetables, sauces, and cured meat, and their cocktail and wine selections are superb.

Maybe you’ve got back-to-back class around Trinity College – or that new sweetheart you swiped right on does. If you’re hitting the books at Robart’s, make sure you’re good and fed. These lunchtime gems around the University of Toronto St. George campus will set you right up. [Image credit: iStock.com/Preto_perola]
Some like tequila, others like beer, but let’s not forget about the whiskey lover. We all know that person who prides themselves at the bar on being a whiskey connoisseur. If you want to take them to get their Jack Daniel’s on, or for a sampling of something a little more rare, we’ve got you covered. Check out this list of the best places to take a whiskey lover in Toronto. [Feature image: Boxcar Social]
Bloor Street. You’ve been there before and you’ll go there again because let’s face it: it’s a prime location in Toronto to enjoy some drinks with friends after a long day in the 6. Fortunately for you, there’s always a new spot (or nine) on the strip to enjoy a craft brew or unique cocktails with pals. [Feature Image: The Gaslight]
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